In April 2015, B.K. Stevens debuted the blog series “The First Two Pages,” hosting craft essays by short story writers and novelists analyzing the openings of their own work. The series continued until just after her death in August 2017, and the full archive of those essays can be found at Bonnie’s website. In November 2017, the blog series relocated to my website, and the archive of this second stage of the series can be found here.
Earlier this year, in its July/August 2019 issue, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine published B.K. Stevens’ “The Tourist”—the last of her stories for the magazine, appearing nearly two years after her death in August 2017. I’ll admit that I didn’t know it was her final AHMM story at the time the issue arrived. Bonnie had become even more prolific in recent years, it seemed; the magazine had several of her stories in the pipeline when she died; and I’d grown accustomed—irrationally, of course—to thinking that we readers would somehow keep enjoying more of Bonnie’s great stories ahead. It’s still hard to believe that this one marks an end.
But while shrouded with sadness because of its place in her career, “The Tourist” is itself a joy to read—crisply characterized, precisely plotted, and distinguished by Bonnie’s always fine prose.
Just over two years have passed since I took over curating the First Two Pages blog series, and I’m grateful now for the opportunity to analyze the first pages of Bonnie’s final story for the blog that she herself founded. I appreciate Bonnie’s husband and daughters—Solomon Stevens, Rachel Stevens, and Sarah Gershone—asking me to carry forward the blog series and giving me permission to include “The Tourist” here.
Thanks go out as well to Linda Landrigan and Jackie Sherbow at AHMM for their efforts to celebrate “The Tourist.” Not only have they posted the complete story for free online at AHMM‘s website—read it here to find out what happens beyond those first two pages—but they’ve also offered to mail out some copies of the July/August 2019 issue to interested readers too. Just leave a comment on this post, and you’ll be entered to win one of those copies—and any comment is welcome: your own thoughts on “The Tourist,” a shout-out for another of Bonnie’s stories that stood out as a favorite, or even a memory of Bonnie herself.
For those of you who don’t know Bonnie, do check out her website at www.bkstevensmysteries.com for information on her story collection Her Infinite Variety: Tales of Women and Crime, her novel Interpretation of Murder, and her YA novel Fighting Chance.
This is the final First Two Pages entry of 2019. Thanks to everyone who follows the series, and best wishes for the holidays and for a great new year ahead.
Please use the arrows and controls at the bottom of the embedded PDF to navigate through the essay. You can also download the essay to read off-line.The-Tourist-1