Sunday, June 19, 2011

Vintage Mystery Sunday: Night of the Jabberwock

It's Vintage Mystery Sunday and time to step into my vault of classic mysteries and choose one to feature that I read and loved before blogging took over my life and I began reviewing everything I read. This week the spotlight is on Night of the Jabberwock by Fredric Brown (1950).

Probably b
est known for his story, The Fabulous Clipjoint which garnered an Edgar Award for outstanding first mystery novel, Fredric Brown was a prolific author of hundreds of pulp short stories and several novels. He considered his best work to be in the science fiction arena, but a good two-thirds of his work were mysteries/thrillers. His story quality is high and attention to plotting is very unique.

The Night of the Jabberwock is exactly what the title indicates--the story of one Thursday night in the small town of Carmel City. Doc Stoeger, the editor of the city's newspaper, the Clarion, has just put the Friday edition to bed and is on his wa
y to his favorite bar. He is wishing that something, anything, more interesting than the lead story's church rummage sale would happen to make his newspaper more exciting to read. Little does he know that the night ahead holds the answer to his wish. And you know what they say: Be careful what you wish just might get it. Before the night is over a couple of big-time mobsters will roll into town, the bank will be robbed, and a lunatic will escape from the local asylum. By the time morning has come, four people will be dead. Stoeger is also a Lewis Carroll fan and while he is trying to cope with the night's madness he finds himself dealing with an odd little man who claims he can take Stoeger through the looking glass. But "beware the Jabberwock, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!" And the most disturbing thing of all--Stoeger will find that none of the events of the night are printable.
I remember this mystery as an incredibly bizarre--but wonderfully so--story of murder. There is an odd feeling of being in the middle of a Lewis Carroll dream world, but Brown brings it all together with an ingenious wrap-up and fine writing. Highly recommended.


J F Norris said...

My memory of this book is forever tainted by the fact that the protagonist seems to spend an inordinate amount of time drinking to excess and waking up hung over. Somewhere on the internet is an old review of mine where I call it "alcohol soaked." I do remember the weirdness and bizarre aspects as well, but I thought I'd like it a lot more than I did.

Yvette said...

Never heard of this, Bev. But I LOVE your post anyway. So much to learn, so much to read. When will it end? HA!!

I definitely want to read this. FOR SURE.