RARA-AVIS: Rare Books: Mr Bowling Buys a Newspaper

From: Jeff Vorzimmer (jvorzimmer@austin.rr.com)
Date: 09 Dec 2008

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    Donald Henderson's Mr. Bowling Buys a Newspaper (1944) was of course greatly admired by Raymond Chandler. It's set in wartime England where the eponymous Mr. Bowling is a serial killer who commits increasingly sloppy murders in an effort to get caught so he will no longer be able to kill anymore and thereby, presumably, no longer tormented by thoughts of killing.

    Although the book owes more in style and setting to the cozies rather than the milieu of hardboiled crime fiction, most list members would be interested in the narrative of a serial killer, which was still novel enough back in the forties, and probably one of the great attractions of the novel for Chandler. I also thought during the course of reading it that it could have been written by Patricia Highsmith, who surely must have read it.

    The English humor is the book is so dry and subtle that it might be lost to foreign readers and even most American readers. Even the choice of title is meant to be humorously mundane, equating how the sociopathic Bowling feels about the act of murder.


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