RARA-AVIS: John Franklin Bardin

From: Al Guthrie ( allanguthrie@ukonline.co.uk)
Date: 26 Nov 2002

----- Original Message ----- From: "Robison Michael R CNIN" < Robison_M@crane.navy.mil>

> By the way, who is John Franklin Bardin?

1916-1981. Published ten novels, three of which, (THE DEADLY PERCHERON, THE LAST OF PHILIP BANTER, DEVIL TAKE THE BLUE-TAIL FLY) written between 1946 and 1948 are considered remarkable. I've only read the first of those. Although the ending is a little disappointing, I can concur that getting there is indeed remarkable. Quite a trip, in fact.

This is what I wrote about it some time ago for something or other.


Dr George Matthews, a psychiatrist, encounters a patient who claims he is paid by a leprechaun to wear a flower in his hair. Another, he claims, pays him to whistle at Carnegie Hall during performances. A third pays him to give quarters away. Jacob Blunt wants Dr Matthews to confirm that he's mad. Dr Matthews is curious, so he accompanies his patient to a rendezvous with one of the leprechauns. His name is Eustace and he isn't at all pleased to see the doctor.

So begins the Deadly Percheron. After that it gets strange. First published in 1946 this unique murder mystery transcends the boundaries of the genre. It's noir, it's nightmarish, it's compulsive. John Franklin Bardin drags the reader into a world where the nature of identity is constantly questioned. Is our hero who he says he is? Can he be trusted? Is he, in fact, sane? Reality, as seen through his eyes, is a shifting kaleidoscope of memories.

As the murders mount up the fragments of his shattered psyche are slotted together. Slowly reality stabilises. At the end of the novel, but only then, it all makes sense. Who killed Frances Raye? Well, now, let's start at the beginning..."Jacob Blunt was my last patient. He came into my office wearing a scarlet hibiscus in his curly blond hair. He sat down in the easy chair across from my desk, and said, "Doctor, I think I'm losing my mind.""


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