Short Stories 366:144 — “An Elaborate Scheme,” by Marie Bilodeau

coverAnyone who has read any Marie Bilodeau might know to expect some punchy dialog and a generous slice of humour—and I do— “An Elaborate Scheme” had me snerking out loud multiple times despite being prepared. That she got to play with ‘Whix and Terk makes it all the better, as those two are some of my favourite side-characters in the Clan Chronicles. Like the vast majority of the stories in The Clan Chronicles: Tales from Plexis, you don’t need to know anything about the characters involved to get and enjoy the story (in fact, you get the nascence of this epic partnership between the previous story and this one), and it would stand perfectly well on its own.

‘Whix and Terk aren’t quite partners yet (they’re partnered with other aliens, in fact), and they have their own individual approach to doing their job as enforcers (think elite rangers keeping the peace throughout the galaxy, say), a superior has seen their unique qualities and assigns them both to just, y’know, “fix all that stuff” going on during a difficult time in Plexis (the interstellar shopping mall in which all the stories are set in this collection). ‘Whix is investigating an art theft that isn’t at all what it seems. Terk found a bomb. (They decide to work on the bomb first, which seems prudent.)

What follows is a funny, wild, and entirely engrossing little caper as Terk and ‘Whix realize their completely separate and strange cases aren’t so separate, and the intersection and revelations of who was doing what and why and with whom had me laughing out loud—especially a particular plea from those responsible once they’re caught. Bilodeau just has a way with dialog that I’d envy to total distraction if I wasn’t too busy enjoying. This alien-bird scientist and big-bruiser human partnership frankly seems born for her style of storytelling.

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