Read His Name Was Death by Fredric Brown Free Online
Book Title: His Name Was Death|
The author of the book: Fredric Brown
Date of issue: July 2nd 1991
ISBN 13: 9780679734680
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 5.18 MB
Read full description of the books His Name Was Death:If you haven't read Fredric Brown's work, you are missing something truly exquisite. Considering that the guy absolutely hated to write, what's come out of his brain is genius. His Name was Death makes two by Brown that I've read; between this one and Here Comes a Candle, the second one was far more intense and had me heebie-jeebied all the way through, but both are super books. Now waiting in the bullpen is Homicide Sanitarium -- oh god, what a great name! -- which I'm dying to crack open soon. That should give you an inkling of how much I like this author. Better known for his SF stories, Fredric Brown is a top-notch crime writer as well.
1940s Los Angeles is the setting for this very small book, with an opening line that whets your appetite right from the start:
"Her name was Joyce Dugan, and at four o'clock on this February afternoon she had no remote thought that within the hour before closing time she was about to commit an act that would instigate a chain of murders."
It isn't long until we find out who Joyce Dugan is and what she's done to "instigate a chain of murders," albeit unwittingly. Acting out of friendship, she starts a series of events that ends up in a gut-punching shocker of a finish. At the printing shop where she works one day, in walks Claude Atkins, one of Joyce's old boyfriends from high school. He's not there to see Joyce, but to pick up a check from Joyce's boss, Darius Conn, with whom he'd recently swapped cars with a little extra coming from Darius to make up for the difference. Joyce decides to give him money out of the petty cash box but there's not enough, so after a call to her boss, she writes out a check. But Atkins needs cash for the weekend. Just then Joyce remembers the envelope full of money in the office safe; she has Atkins endorse the check and pulls out $90 in brand new ten dollar bills, leaving the signed-over check in the envelope. Now everyone's happy. But wait.
When Darius gets back to the office he discovers what Joyce has done and it's a big problem. The money Joyce gave Claude just happened to be counterfeit, part of a batch Darius was planning to parlay into a net profit of about $2500. The printing office is a front for his operation, and Joyce has just given nine of his newly-printed test bills to someone who, if he was caught with the fake money, would know just where it came from. Darius can't take that chance:
"He had to get that money back from Claude Atkins. Somehow. No matter what the risk of doing that, it couldn't be any greater than the risk of doing nothing or the risk of running.
Get it without killing if possible, but kill if that turned out to be the only way.
He'd got away with murder once, hadn't he?"
His plan: to improvise, to take the opportunity when it knocks -- even if it means he has to kill. Darius is still proud of himself -- the reader discovers early on that he's gotten away with murdering his wife just a year earlier -- so he figures if saving himself prison time for the counterfeit money means he has to kill again, well, it's what he has to do. He still gloats inwardly about having fooled the cops and acting the grieving husband; he even got to be friends with the detective handling his wife's murder case. The rest of the novel follows Darius as he tries to retrieve his fake funds -- but well, even quick-thinking Darius can't predict the hitches along the way.
Considering the edge of darkness that you ride as you read through the novel, Brown is very economic in terms of story telling -- the novel is sleek, with absolutely nothing unnecessary weighing down the plot, a lesson many modern crime novelists really need to learn. The dimly-lit, seedy bars along with the city streets and back alleys of Los Angeles give an honest feel for place and time which enhances the story. He manages to hold you in suspense all along the way without resorting to the burdensome backstory to make his characterizations work, there is no unnecessary exposition, and there's even a good measure of black, sardonic humor thrown into this book. And then the classic Fredric Brown ending -- well, it's truly what you would least expect.
Highly, highly recommended.
Read information about the authorFredric Brown was an American science fiction and mystery writer. He was one of the boldest early writers in genre fiction in his use of narrative experimentation. While never in the front rank of popularity in his lifetime, Brown has developed a considerable cult following in the almost half century since he last wrote. His works have been periodically reprinted and he has a worldwide fan base, most notably in the U.S. and Europe, and especially in France, where there have been several recent movie adaptations of his work. He also remains popular in Japan.
Never financially secure, Brown - like many other pulp writers - often wrote at a furious pace in order to pay bills. This accounts, at least in part, for the uneven quality of his work. A newspaperman by profession, Brown was only able to devote 14 years of his life as a full-time fiction writer. Brown was also a heavy drinker, and this at times doubtless affected his productivity. A cultured man and omnivorous reader whose interests ranged far beyond those of most pulp writers, Brown had a lifelong interest in the flute, chess, poker, and the works of Lewis Carroll. Brown married twice and was the father of two sons.
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