I have to admit, I wasn’t really ‘looking’ to get sucked into a story when I found Left Holding the Bag. Profmom and I were drafting out our first article on co-writing and were looking for teams of writers to interview for content. I went trolling through Twilighted to find threads on co-written stories, when lo and behold, there was Left Holding the Bag.
I contacted the writing team – Ahelm and Mpants via PM to ask them if they would be willing to talk about their experiences in co-writing a fic. At the same time, it felt inappropriate to ask them for input without reading their story. So I grabbed a Diet Coke and tucked in for what, at the time, was about eight chapters of reading.
It’s a good thing I had a quiet afternoon and no one needed anything. It wasn’t like I would have dealt with them anyway. Left Holding the Bag sucked me in hook, line, and sinker. Smart story? Check. Well written? Check. Edward in a Fedora? Oh yeah, check.
Left Holding the Bag pays tribute to the fabulous film noir crime dramas of the 40’s and 50’s. The story kicks off in 1926 with the introduction of very cynical Edward Masen. He was a beat cop for the Chicago Police until a tragic event took the life of his partner and friend. That loss is followed soon after by the death of his parents to the Spanish Influenza. Disillusioned with life, Edward moves to New York City to take care of his Grandfather Alistair and opens up shop as; you guessed it, a private investigator.
Not too long after ‘opening up shop,’ Edward takes on a secretary - someone to be a welcoming face in the front office, lend a little sunshine. What he ends up with is a partner in crime by the name of Alice Cullen, who doesn’t play second fiddle to anyone. The daughter of the city coroner and ‘a flapper to the core,’ Alice becomes a trusted confidant and side kick for Edward as he establishes his credibility as a PI.
And then, one dark and stormy night, the staple in any good noir story, in walks a broad named Bella Swan that will change both their lives.
Sorry. I couldn’t resist. But that is the joy about Left Holding the Bag. Not only is it a fabulously clever story that weaves drama, mystery, and romance around the disappearance of Bella’s brother Emmett, it is incredibly grounded in the life that was 1926.
“Be safe,” I’d said, and I wondered if she knew that I was imploring her to do so. I doubted she had any idea I thought she was the bee’s knees or how completely balled up I was over her.
As I walked downstairs to my car, I realized that Bella was no ordinary jane. She was quite the Sheba, and she didn’t even know it. When I reached my car, I got in and sat for a moment. I realized that I wasn’t sure how long I’d be able to hold out. I was no longer sure that I could continue to treat her like a regular dame, one I’d pass on the street, do business with, and go about my day.
I didn’t want to.
The research that has gone into this fic is incredible. Imagery, dialogue, slang, the in’s and out’s of prohibition are all here in flawless form. Factor in phenomenal family dynamics (I won’t give away who or how, but there are some things in here that just might surprise you) and spot on dialogue, and I find myself laughing, ooohing, and gasping on a regular basis.
Not only is Left Holding the Bag truly original in its premise, it abandons the typical structure of Edward and Bella driving the story. While Edward and/or Bella are the consistent ties to most everyone in the story, Jasper and Alice are just as important to the narrative. The point of views switch every chapter amongst one of those four, and their changes in dialogue, perspective, and emotional state give the story a very unique flavor that I personally have not experienced in fanfic. By seeing the evolution of the story through all four of their perspectives, we have a better understand of the chemistry, connections, and character nuances of people like Rosalie, the proprietor of Lilly’s Back Door (a local speakeasy) or Carlisle Cullen, City Corner and father of Alice.
And since I went there, let’s be very honest. Chemistry? Yeah, um, that would be an understatement. There have been points in multiple chapters where I was literally leaning into my screen, holding my breath. Will he? Will she? I am not going to go too deep into the story, because I don’t want to ruin anything for you. Let’s just say they keep me guessing.
To bastardize a quote that classic Noir File, Double Indemnity, That's a honey of a story you're weaving, Jasperlurks.
So if you like a little mystery, smart dames, and a smart talking dick hanging out at a juice joint called Lilly’s, this is just what the doctor ordered. In spades.
Hmonster4 is the author of Deconstructing Dracula and co-author of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. She’s also part of the evil genius team responsible for the Indie Awards. When not elbows deep in fan fic or trying to convert readers to the Emmett train, she can be found in the role of mom/sports freak/general instigator.