[For the previous countdown post, click here.]
24. “Wrong Turn” (1994)
Here’s another narrative in which Partridge manages to pack a noir novel within the page count of a short story. Narrator Tom Cassady, Jr., is on tour promoting his tell-all book about his late father (a character actor known for playing “heavies and sad-eyed losers in poverty row quickies,” and a convicted murderer who once got too heavy-handed with his wife’s lover) when a hard-boiled half-brother he never knew about turns up with designs of his own. The story also has an American Gothic quality, with its emphasis on Tom Cassady, Sr.’s ugly legacy, and its use of doubling (the narrator’s “doppelganger” half-brother; the way characters’ actions reflect the storyline of Tom Sr.’s most memorable film). For readers who relish dark intrigue (with lots of twists), “Wrong Turn” leads straight to crime-narrative nirvana.