Short Tuesday #5: “Death in the Moonlight” by Archibald Rutledge

This is the third work I’ve read from the short story anthology S.O.S.: Chilling Tales of Adventure on the High Seas. The text can be found here if you want to read it. Just so you know, I found a couple typos in the Field and Stream edition (pretty sure “goulash” is meant to read “ghoulish” lol) but it’s all comprehensible. FYI that there are spoilers down below…

This was another short story that I was just so-so about. I’m not sure exactly when this was first published, but it reads old. I noticed the author relying a ton on adjectives, as if with just one more word the readers will at last fully comprehend how scary this shark was. But I almost always find that heaping on the adjectives ends up taking away from the writing. Give us some run-ons or fragments instead, or maybe a cool simile. We all like a cool simile, right? But instead we just got a ton of vocab. Goulash, indeed.

Speaking of sharks, that’s all the plot was: we were fishing, and there was a shark. A different author could make that amazing, but given that the writing itself wasn’t wowing me, I had a hard time getting swept up in this scene piece. “Death in the Moonlight” sounds cool, but as far as making sharks scary (you know, sharks—those primitive blood-loving death machines with sharp teeth), this didn’t do it for me.

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