Absolutely no one is sorry when the infamous Ruislip Wood Ripper, a serial killer who has already raped and murdered three women, ends up dead in the forest, shot by a hunter while on the cusp of attacking his fourth victim.
But there are just a few coincidences too many in this case for the taste of Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd. Was it really just pure luck that hunter Reginald Hargreaves just happened to be in the right place at the right time? And why did no one warn French tourist Anne Marie Sauvage that there was a killer on the loose in Ruislip Woods?
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Some background information:
- Open Season is a short story of 6200 words. This story is a digital premiere and has never been published previously.
- Like Old Mommark’s Tale, The Iron Border, Seeing Red, The Cork and the Bottle, Overdose and Bank Job, this story was written in response to the eight-hour e-book challenge instigated by Joe Konrath and continued by a bunch of people at KBoards. For information about the eight hour e-book challenge, see this website run by Donald Rump. I’m pretty sure Bank Job took longer than eight hours to write, though fewer than twenty-four.
- Open Season also marks the third appearance of Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd, her assistant Police Constable Kevin Walker and forensic medical examiner Dr. Rajiv. All three characters were introduced in The Cork and the Bottle, a previous eight hour e-book challenge story, and also appear in Overdose and Bank Job.Once again, Open Season was inspired by a crime short I’d read in a magazine where a young female jogger is saved from a would-be rapist by the deus-ex-machina like appearance of a hunter. The story didn’t work for me, because what are the odds that a hunter would just happen to be in the area to save the jogger? And then I thought, what if it wasn’t a lucky coincidence and Open Season was born.
- Ruislip Woods is a nature preserve in North West London and one of the few areas in Greater London where hunting (of pheasants) is allowed, making it the ideal setting for Open Season.
- There actually is a shooting club near Ruislip Wood (which I found out while researching the story), though the name Barnett Grange Shooting Club is entirely fictional.
- Helen’s ringtone is the punk classic “God Save the Queen” by the Sex Pistols. Coincidentally, that’s also my ringtone in real life.
- Madame Lafarge, the interpreter, is French, so of course Belgian writer Georges Simenon is one of her favourite mystery authors.
- The geeky Easter egg in Open Season (cause there’s always at least one) is Greystoke Lane, the street where the Graysons live. Lord Greystoke is of course the real name of Tarzan.
- There is also a reference to Richard Connell’s classic story “The Most Dangerous Game”.
- The cover image is a stock photo by photographer Pedro S. from Texas.