Re: RARA-AVIS: Fredric Brown

From: Scott Owen (
Date: 11 Oct 2002

I'd like to toss in my personal Fredric Brown mystery top 10 (in no particular order). I don't thing you can go wrong with any of these:

Fabulous Clipjoint Dead Ringer Screaming Mimi Compliments of a Fiend Night of the Jabberwock The Far Cry The Deep End Madball His Name Was Death The Wench is Dead

It's too bad Brown has been so poorly served by the reprinters. Several of these have been out of print for 40 years. Personally, I think reprinting the Ed & Am Hunter books in toto is a mistake. After the first couple, the series became very much a hit or miss affair. Brown was plainly not enthused about writing a series, and it shows. Although mediocre Brown still makes for good reading, I think Brown's reputation would be much better served by a reprint of The Wench is Dead than Death Has Many Doors or Mrs. Murphy's Underpants.

I would also append a caution to all readers of the McMillan "Detective Pulps" series. This is a great project, I love it, I have all of them, but readers should be advised that these books have it all: the good, the bad, and the ugly of Brown's short mystery fiction. Like most pulp writers, Brown produced no shortage of mediocre and forgettable stories as he learned his craft. There are many gems, but no shortage of dross. I can't blame a Brown neophyte being distinctly unimpressed after reading one of these.


I'd also like to qualify

Some will say, "Who cares?" or "Why bother?" I pity such lifeless souls. In an absurd universe, enthusiasm for meaningless tasks keeps you young at heart.

--Ed McNamara

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