enhanced] DD-B

Book Note: Fredric Brown, The Lenient Beast

I read this book about 30-Oct-2001. This is the first time I've read this book. The book is copyright 1956. This note was last modified Monday, 27-Aug-2007 08:37:00 PDT.

This note does not contain major spoilers for the book.


Another mystery, by a guy with SF connections. Fun so far. There's a spoiler on the back cover copy (for something at the end of the first chapter), and another, worse, one in a quote inside the front cover, which is annoying.

Interesting structure; each chapter is from the point of view of one character, mostly the two policemen. The time sequence isn't jumpy; you don't see the same event from two viewpoints (at least yet), but you see things from 5 different viewpoints by the end of the book (if I can trust the table of contents). This is working very nicely. One thing it's demonstrating is that nobody is a villain in his own mind.

Says right here on page 161 that a heroin addict doesn't use alcohol. Can that be right? Doesn't match my other sources, anyway. Even if there's an implication (which there could be) that he means while actually high on heroin, rather than in a more general sense.

Huh; the murderer has Tokay in his refrigerator, ready to go. A man of refined taste, clearly.

Okay, finished it. It's a very good book. Fredric Brown has a high reputation, and deserves it. I think I'm going to keep this a no-spoilers review, because I don't see any real point in saying what goes on. By all means, track this down and read it. It's well-written, and all 4 of the main characters are distinct and well-drawn. The supporting characters are good too. And the different viewpoints presented on all the main issues of the book are believable and sensible. Really an excellent job of work.

There's a very modern feel to a lot of it; attitudes towards religion, sexuality, addiction, even marriage. Not that there aren't bits that look startlingly primitive, too. But I'm reminded that the intellectual framework for most of what looks modern now was solidly laid in the 50s. It's just taken this long for much of it to reach public acceptability.

[dd-b] [dd-b's books] [book log] [RSS] [sf] [mystery] [childhood] [nonfiction]
[dd-b] [site status] [pit]

David Dyer-Bennet