Short Stories 366:191 — “The Sherriff of Penbreigh,” by Jess Faraday

coverI mentioned last week that I basically leapt both feet into this story right after the conclusion of the previous one in Shadow of Justice. I did so because, quite literally, Simon Pearce, the gay constable I’d come to know and love through all the stories in this collection thus far, had finally hit an insurmountable obstacle and basically had to bolt to maintain his freedom and his life. I needed to know if Jess Faraday was still going to grant him some form of happiness, and I needed to know right away.

And thus we come to Penbreigh, where Simon Pearce has finally stopped running, and where he’s managed to get a job doing the same thing he was doing before, acting as a lawman, but this time it’s in a small rural community. To whit: the first thing he needs to do in this particular story is recover a stolen chicken. Only during the recovery of said chicken, Simon finds a body, and things get complicated, fast.

The small-town feel of this story is lovely, and for those who—like me—were left wondering about the villains of the previous tale, there’s a few lines to let you know how that turned out, and I appreciated them. More, we see Simon growing again, coming to terms with how many of his problems have come from his own choices, and we finally meet Elizabeth Bell, the doctor whose monographs Simon has been reading since the first tale, and who is a delightful sapphic character and new friend to Simon. The mystery of this particular tale is spun tightly, and I enjoyed seeing Simon lower his guard a bit with a few of the people in his new village home.

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