Sunday, March 02, 2008

Fredric Brown

Noted author and book columnist Dick Adler has an especially fine article about the crime fiction of Fredric Brown in general and The Fabulous Clipjoint in particular in today's edition of the Chicago Tribune. This is a must-read.,1,4147554.story

By coincidence I'm about halfway through one of the Browns that very few people seem to like, Five Day Nightmare. Yes, the ending is a cheat (but then it was a cheat when Christie introduced the ploy forty years earlier) and it's in no way major Brown, reading more like a solid but not great "lead novel" in one of the pulps.

But I like it because of Brown's usual wry but gritty take on this ship of fools. Unlike most of his lead characters, our narrator is a businessman, an investment consultant no less. Also unlike most of Brown's milieus, this one is middle-class circa 1962. If you're curious about that era here's a tourist guide--golf, martinis, weekend trips to Vegas. Sounds like today, doesn't it?

The aspect common to much of Brown is the failed marriage that makes the kidnapping all the more bitter for the husband. He is haunted by the the angry last words he had with his wife.

Except for the end, the plot shows off all Brown's skills with storytelling. He was occasionally possessed of genius; and he was almost always a superior craftsman.

This is the third or fourth time I've read this book over the years and I like the hell out of it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't think I've ever read any of Frederic Brown's crime fiction. I wish the parenthetical comment about the cheat at the end of Five Day Nightmare had been left out because I suspect the cheat is now obvious.

(Aside from Rex Stout and some historcal mystery writers, most of the mysteries I read are by women.)

Hope you enjoy the book.

Ann Nichols