This was a great find. One of the pulp paperbacks I picked up as part of a bundle at the Peddlar’s Market a while back, Frederic Brown’s collection of crime short stories, Mostly Murder, has some real zingers in it. They aren’t all terribly mysterious, but his obsession with carnivals and circuses, tough guys and sweet women, keeps them interesting all the way through.
One of my favorites, ‘The Four Blind Men,’ was perfectly predictable, but the dialogue and characters, sketched briefly in this very short story, shone for me. Even the elephant. Another, ‘The Motive Goes Round and Round,’ really resonated with me again because of the characters. I see my First Reader in the unassuming main character, and I really liked the ending.
Some of the tales, particularly ‘A Voice Behind Him,’ ‘I’ll Cut Your Throat Again, Kathleen,” and ‘Little Apple Hard to Peel,’ are truly examples of horror, and will stick with you. Ghastly deaths are glimpsed, not shown in technicolor, and the stories are the more horrible for it. Madness lingers in many of Brown’s tales.
This is not the sort of book I would ordinarily review, it’s not easy to find, the paperback version I have is available on Amazon, but for about $13. However, in the process of reading it, my First Reader pointed out that Frederic Brown is perhaps better known for his science fiction. Here was a man after my own heart, splitting his passion between SF, and mystery. I set out to learn more, and in the process found that you can acquire all of his collected shorts on Amazon for cheap, $0.99 (click on icon below).
I highly recommend them, the man had a way with words I have rarely seen equalled, and if you are a writer, the gift of telling a taut short story is worth studying. I do enjoy a good twist ending, and boy, does he deliver!