Thursday, June 16, 2022

 Frederic Brown, Night of the Japperwock

I just finished re-reading Frederic Brown's masterpiece Night of the Jabberwock (a masterpiece  in my opinion, anyway).  Of course, almost any tale that makes good use of Lewis Carroll's "Alice" is likely to be worth your time.  If you aren't familiar with the plot, the potted version is that the owner (Doc Stroger) of a small Illinois town newspaper receives a late-night visitor, Yehudi Smith.  Smith claims to be a member of an exclusive society, the Vorpal Blades*.  And he's there to engage Stroger in a midnight incursion into a house on the outskirts of town.  He wants Stroger to accompany him, and Stroger, who is a devotee of the "Alice" stories agrees.  Surrounding that, we have the tribulations of running a small-town newspaper and ruthless bank robbers.  Also dead bodies in the trunk of a car.  A poisoning. And much more.  Despite the centrality of the "Alice" stories, I would not call this a cozy mystery--the body count is somewhat too high for that.  I don't know how, exactly,  to categorize it.  (I will say that I don't understand how Stroger can function, given the quantity of whisky he  ingests over the course of the night--the ability of anyone to function after drinking that much whisky would be beyond me, anyway.  I will also suggest that, if you come across a tiny bottle with a label "Drink Me" on it, you abstain.)

I would strongly recommend that, if you have not read Night of the Jabberwock, you do so.  And if you have read it, re-reading it would be a treat.
This might be a good time.

*I would join the Vorpal Blades instantly if I had the chance.

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