The conceit of this story from Crime Travel feels tailor-made since I’m such a spec-fic lover, but not only did “On the Boardwalk” have so many layers of the crime short built into its small page count, it managed to also be a genuinely moving tale of friendship going above-and-beyond: the architect of the time-travel in this story, Jacob, is someone has always existed somewhat on the outside, and his best friend, Ruby, is the one who is dying has made the time-travel request.
Now, in another author’s hands, this could be Ruby’s request to save herself—perhaps an earlier diagnosis or forewarning might have stopped the cancer in its tracks?—but instead Moss takes a different turn and it becomes about preventing the death of her twin brother in 1975, so that when she passes from her cancer, her parents haven’t lost both of their children. The two end up in the past chasing down what she can remember, alongside what they learn, and race the clock to prevent his death.
The end result isn’t just a whodunnit, as Ruby always felt her twin’s death was no accident, but while the tale unfolds, Jacob struggles with the sensory overload, and Ruby tries to push a failing body to save her brother and they are both trying so hard it reels the reader right in. Once the mystery is revealed, and they get their shot, Moss brings a few more deft touches to an already strong tale, and I was left just pausing for a while after reading, and letting it all settle.