Sat 31 Oct 2009
FREDRIC BROWN – Night of the Jabberwock. E. P. Dutton, hardcover, 1950. Paperback editions include: Bantam #990, April 1952; Morrow-Quill, 1984. British edition: T. V. Boardman, hc, 1951.
Based on two pulp stories: “The Gibbering Night” (Detective Tales, July 1944) and “The Jabberwock Murders” (Thrilling Mystery, Summer 1944).
After hearing several people tell me about this book, I just had to read it. I went up to the loft and searched but to no avail. Fortunately a couple of days later, when I was looking for something else, I stumbled across my copy.
Doc Stoeger, the narrator, is the proprietor/editor of a small town newspaper and a huge fan of the work of Lewis Carroll. After putting the paper to bed and getting home for the evening, he faces a night of catastrophic events, including a mysterious bank robbery, an escaped lunatic, a midnight gathering of the Vorpal Blades in a haunted house, and more.
Most of them are unconnected, but after a murder for which he has been framed, Doc is fighting for his life and an explanation that will make sense of what has gone on.
That the explanation makes as much sense as it does is a tribute to the plotting abilities of Fredric Brown, who has weaved a tangled web of intrigue. This madcap, humorous affair is a pleasurable romp with a satisfying ending, and I enjoyed the reading of it.
Brown is an author that I am underexposed to, having previously only read Madball, which was only so-so, and The Fabulous Clipjoint, the first in the Ed and Am Hunter series, which I somehow didn’t take to.
Editorial Comment: Happy Halloween, everyone!