RARA-AVIS: Madman on a Drum

From: abc@wt.net
Date: 07 Jan 2003

I'm still stuck in the '40s. Madman on a Drum is an obscure book by N. R. De Mexico, published as a paperback original by Cavalcade in 1944. Anthony Boucher gave it a rave review in his column (reprinted in The Boucher Chronicles II), and now Ramble House (publisher of the aforementioned Boucher book) has reprinted Madman. It's the best Woolrich pastiche you're likely to find outside George Hopley and William Irish. Larry Graham suddenly finds himself in a nightmare world where his apartment is no longer his, his job is gone, his girlfriend has been murdered. From there on, things just get worse. Everything happens in about 24 hours, so the pace is furious. Now and then de Mexico tries to drag in the reader by narrating passages in second person. It even sort of works. As far as I know, nobody knows whether de Mexico (also the author of the highly collectible Marijuana Girl) isa real name or a pen name. If it's a pen name, two people (including Larry Shaw) have been suggested as possibilities.

Bill Crider

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