Evan Hunter’s “The Last Spin” was first published in the September 1956 issue of Manhunt and I suspect that may have been the last time the ending to this story wasn’t obvious to everyone who read it.
“The Last Spin” is about two young New York boys from opposing gangs (referred to here as clubs) who are forced (by their respective clubs) to play Russian roulette against one another in an attempt to settle a dispute. The entire story takes place in one location over a short period of time and relies heavily on dialogue to convey mood and mindset. While the dialogue works for me, in that I found it convincing, I found it hard to care about the characters and the shit they’ve gotten themselves into.
I can’t help but compare this to other stories where Russian roulette was used as a plot device and “The Last Spin” unfortunately pales in comparison. Take The Deer Hunter or 13 Tzameti for example; the tension in the Russian roulette scenes is palpable, the anxiety is insurmountable.
“The Last Spin” does not deliver any real fear and while the ending is bleak, its lack of an overall feeling of doom made it really hard for me to enjoy. The whole thing felt cheap and tawdry, using the combination of youth and death to shock the reader.