The Unused Prom Dress by Earl Staggs

The Unused Prom Dress by Earl Staggs
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (9 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewer: Astilbe

Police Officer Patti Johnson is torn between duty and lost love. The fugitive hiding in the ladies room of the Pizza Hut is the only man she ever loved. Has he come back to her and will all her dreams finally come true?

Sometimes the past doesn’t stay buried. Will Patti be able to reconcile old, painful memories with the present when she runs into an old flame unexpectedly?

As soon as Patti rushes into the Pizza Hut without backup I realized how much I admire this police officer. Her courage in an extremely dangerous situation says a lot about her character and her values. She is the kind of person I would want to respond to my 911 call because I know she’d do everything in her power to diffuse the tension in the room and prevent the criminals from hurting anyone.

While reading this story I wondered if its genre had been mislabeled. The mystery elements of it were such a small part of the plot that I think it would have been better to market it as contemporary fiction instead. Patti’s discoveries are much more related to her own personal development than they are to the resolution of a traditional mystery.

I was also thrown off by how easily Timmy Wilson, the fugitive, was able to emotionally manipulate Patti early on in the tale. Her initial surprise was completely understandable, but I would have expected a police officer who probably has several years of experience by Patti’s age to be able to quickly regain control of an unexpected situation.

With that being said, the pacing in this piece is excellent. Mr. Staggs threw me into heart-pounding action from the very first scene, and the tension kept mounting for the next nine pages. The flashbacks only served to heighten the stakes as I learned more about the kind of person Timmy was when Patti knew him well.

The Unused Prom Dress is full of tense moments that quickly build up upon one another. I recommend this book for anyone who has ever unexpectedly run into someone they would rather not seen again as this author captures that awkward flux of emotions quite well.

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