“Brothers”, a novelette written by Ed Gorman and Richard Chizmar, is a dark crime tale about brotherhood and loss. Chet’s and Michael’s mother died when they were teenagers, their father, a cop and a drunk, was emotionally absent from their lives. Chet, the oldest, raises Michael. As adults, Chet can’t let go of his perceived responsibility. Chet helps Michael straighten out his life after he finds trouble with gambling and booze. He gets Michael on as a police officer, finds him a wife. And when Michael begins backsliding into is old ways, Chet once again tries to save him.
“Brothers” is an example of what Ed Gorman did so well—dark, melancholy tales with characters as real as our own neighbors, friends, siblings, and spouses. A subtle pre-determination that—no matter how hard the characters struggle and plan—will lead them to failure and sorrow. A bleakness counteracted by the portrayal of the flawed individual as worthwhile and human.
“Brothers” is an expansion of a short story Ed published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine in 2006 (I think). A significant amount of story was added, including an interesting childhood event that adds depth to Michael. While the original short story is excellent, this collaboration is even better.