GREGORY MCDONALD – Fletch and the Widow Bradley. Fletch #4. Warner, paperback original, 1981.

   Taking a rather unusual marketing approach for a mystery paperback original, Warner has apparent;y tried to promote the book as a potential bestseller. When it first came out, B. Dalton had copies set up in a huge floor display at the front of the store, for example, and the title is embossed on the front cover with big gold lettering.

   There is a price tag to match. For your money [$2.95 rather than the usual going rate of $2.25 or $2.50], you get nearly 300 pages of big print on cheap paper, and yards and yards of crackling good dialogue, in Mcdonald’s customary laid-back style.

   For those of you who have come in late, Fletch is a reporter by profession, and with his usual casual approach to living come the inevitable jams he keeps finding himself getting into. This time around he ends up getting fired — in working on his latest story he somehow manages to quote a man who’s been dead for quite some time. He also finds a wallet with $25,000 in it. For some reason the owner does not want to be found.

   Fletch is also an idealist of sorts, a world-saver with bare feet. He is also a surprisingly bit naive. Even after he has almost worked out the truth behind the dead man’s strange demise, he still has to have it explained to him. Personally, I knew what was going on (although not necessarily why) from about 200 pages earlier on.

   Incidentally, and this probably doesn’t mean anything, but either Mcdonald or Warner Books seem to have a weird way of spelling certain words. Not once, but consistently.

–Reprinted in slightly revised form from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 6, No. 1, Jan-Feb 1982.