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69 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ...And what colour is the sky in your world?
There can be few more chilling discoveries in life than to be rambling around Amazon.com and find that there are 311 reviews of The Celestine Prophecy and only one, ONE!, of Flann O'Brien's The Third Policeman.
This book, along with Gravity's Rainbow, The Recognitions, Auto da Fe, The Burn, and a small handful of others, is a masterpiece of the 20th century - a...
Published on April 1, 1999 by cathalkelly@hotmail.com

versus
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Denis Donoghue should be tarred and feathered!
WARNING! A man with half a brain wrote the intro to this book.

What kind of critic GIVES AWAY THE ENTIRE PLOT in the forward!

This idiot is not qualified to write the intro to a BBQ cookbook!
Published on May 21, 2009 by Capt. McPl0x


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69 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ...And what colour is the sky in your world?, April 1, 1999
This review is from: The Third Policeman (Paperback)
There can be few more chilling discoveries in life than to be rambling around Amazon.com and find that there are 311 reviews of The Celestine Prophecy and only one, ONE!, of Flann O'Brien's The Third Policeman.
This book, along with Gravity's Rainbow, The Recognitions, Auto da Fe, The Burn, and a small handful of others, is a masterpiece of the 20th century - a book people will be reading while they pilot their spaceships toward a hard day's work on Venus or some such thing a kajillion years into the future. It is also one of the few satire's that doesn't succeed by denigrating us and one of the few post-modern works that does succeed by making us howl with laughter.
I dare anyone to read the first line and then put this book down. Undoubtedly the best first line in English literature (though Garcia Marquez's first line in 100 Years of Solitude is probably the best first line in all of literature).
I won't go on about plot twists - only urge fans of literature that expands understanding while entertaining to pick up this book by the greatest of Irish writers (you read right, THE greatest).
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76 of 82 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Warning!, September 11, 2006
By 
Amazon Customer (North Canton, Ohio United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Third Policeman (Paperback)
Let me just say this... don't read the Forward before you read the book. The entire story will be quickly and without warning ruined for you.

Now let me also say this is an interesting if unconventional story, a quick read but also lots to chew on.

I recommend
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56 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funniest Book Ever, March 29, 2005
By 
S. A. Keister (Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Third Policeman (Paperback)
No point in going to great lengths to describe the plot of this most brilliant and hysterical novel, "The Third Policeman," as that ground has been thoroughly tramped over by others on this page. Leave me just confess that this book will alternately have you laughing so hard you will be forced to put it down or risk suffocation, and will then propel your innocent little mind through the roof of your house. Reading this book is like taking acid, then watching Mony Python perform the works of Albert Einstein wearing English police uniforms. And speaking of Monty Python, after a few passages of this book you will realize where all the English satirical groups of the 20th century got their material. And when you're done laundering the pants you have soiled through uncontrolled laughing, you will gasp in intellectual astonishment at the enormity and profundity of O'Brien's logic.

Flann O'Brien is a flat-out genius of language and satire. You should really do yourself a favor and read his other books as well: "At Swim-Two-Birds," "The Hard Life," "The Poor Mouth," and "The Dalkey Archive." Say no more. A pint of plain is your only man.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strange and Blackly Funny, July 25, 2000
By 
Richard R. Horton (Webster Groves, MO United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Third Policeman (Paperback)
This is one of the strangest novels I have ever read. It was written in about 1940, but not published until 1967, a year or two after the author`s death. O`Brien is a pseudonym for the Irish writer Brian O`Nolan, who was also a celebrated newspaper columnist using the name Myles na gCopaleen, the latter name apparently Gaelic. O`Brien`s other masterpiece is At Swim-Two-Birds, which was published in 1939. His "Myles" columns is also well-regarded, and such novels as The Poor Mouth and The Hard Life are well worth reading.
The Third Policeman is quite funny, quite absurd, and, at bottom, very disturbing. The narrator is a very unpleasant man, who announces in the first sentence "Not everybody knows how I killed old Phillip Mathers, smashing his jaw in with my spade;" not only is he a murderer, but a very lazy man who ruins his family farm, and spends his life researching the works of a madman named De Selby, who believes that, among other things, darkness is an hallucination, the result of accretions of black air. The narrator relates his early life briefly, leading up to his association with another unsavory character, John Divney, who parasitically moves in with the narrator and helps squander his inheritance. Divney and the narrator plot to kill their neighbor, Phillip Mathers, to steal his money. After the murder they decide to leave the money for a while until the coast clears: however they distrust each other so much that they never leave each others company. Finally they go to Mathers`s house to fetch the strongbox with his money: then Divney sends the narrator ahead to the house alone, while he stands lookout, and things get very strange!
The narrator meets Phillip Mathers, acquires a sort of soul which he calls "Joe", and sets out looking for three mysterious policemen. The first two are easily found, and the narrator discusses bicycles, boxes, and other unusual subjects with these policemen. Finally they decide to hang him (for bicycle theft, I think), but he is rescued by the league of one-legged men (the narrator himself has but one leg). He returns to Mathers` house where he encounters the third policemen, and eventually is reunited with John Divney.
The above summary, obviously, does not represent the action or interest of the book at all. The book is full of off-the-wall philosophical speculations, some based on the mad works of De Selby, others original to the policeman (the latter including a theory about bicycles and their riders which has to be read to be appreciated, also a mysterious trip to an underground cavern where anything you can imagine can be created). There are a lot of footnotes discussing De Selby and the controversy surrounding his work: these make the book somewhat reminiscent of Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov (also reminiscent in being the first-person narrative of an insane murderer).
Wholly original, blackly funny, brilliantly written. A wonderful book.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Speculative/Detective/Science Fiction, Book!, April 16, 2006
By 
Olaf Johnson (Anchorage, AK 99505) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Third Policeman (Paperback)
I picked this book up because people on a few of the ABC's LOST forums were raving about it. As you probably all know by now, the Desmond character on LOST Season 2 Episode 1 (or 2) was seen reading this book, so naturally all the die hard LOST fans went out and bought this book the next day. I waited around until I found time to read it, which is now.

I must say that the book exceeded my expectations. I expected the normal genre western european comedy filled with stock characters and quirky pre-industrial social satirical situations, but "The Third Policeman(TTP)" was much more than that, I was amazed to find myself drenched in philosphies, physics (there is an entire part where the narrator whiles walking along his 19th century Irish countryside crosses into a one dimensional plane where the people are also one dimensional and he describes it in such detail and humor that it rivals, if not outshines, the historically famous "Flatland" book), other parts and characters (especially de Selby's theories) discuss love, psychology, houses, fashion, violence, environmentalism, roads&cities planning, bicycles...I can go on and on. Everything is written really clear, funny and the dialogues are so timeless and quick to relate to, yet you are in the middle of another place (Ireland) at another time (pre-1900).

I'm surprised that this book wasn't a requirement for High School or College reading materials since it is filled to the brim with great SAT & GRE words and consistent withj well written sentences, dialogues and synthesizes great plot formation.

I'm also surprised that this book has not yet been adapted into a screenplay of movie as yet. It is so fresh and timeless that a keen screenwriter can adapt TTP novel into a piece that could be set at any time (future, present or past) and any place.

At any rate, my biggest dissapointment is that the book has NO more to do with the plot of the ABC LOST show than I would anything else in life or on TV. I was hoping to crack the infamous 4 8 15 16 23 42 LOST numbers or at least get an idea of what the ultimate plot is for the elusive Season 2 of ABCs LOST.

I will add that The Third Policeman gave me much better satisfaction than any singular episode so far (as of 4/16/06) of LOST in its second season conglomerate.

Enjoy!
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So good it makes me giggle, October 19, 2003
This review is from: The Third Policeman (Paperback)
First, a few quibbles. Strictly speaking, this book is not "surrealist," as a few reviewers aver. Nor is it a mystery, nor science fiction, probably. The closest thing to it I have read is Stanislaw Lem, though the feeling is closer to Swift.
O'Brien spins an incredibly imaginative, voluble, funny, inventive yarn. Our nameless protagonist meets policemen, visits eternity, and develops a relationship with a bicycle. His soul, Joe, enjoys proclaiming that he (the protagonist) is "Signor Bari, the eminent one-legged tenor!"
The protagonist is a literally amoral person. In other words, he is not troubled by any dilemmas other than how best to preserve his own hide (and possibly to publish his work on bogus savant de Selby.) His role in this book is not to simulate a real person, in other words. Like Gulliver, he observes O'Brien's world and in reacting to that world, acts as a proxy for the reader. But more on that below.
Having committed a self-serving though impulsive murder, he begins to meet odd people and have odd conversations. He meets a curiously circumlocutory policeman, and after a mind-bending conversation, he begins to talk in similarly loopy style, in a hilarious attempt to fit in: "Those chests... are so like one another that I do not believe they are there at all because that is a simpler thing to believe than the contrary."
O'Brien displays amazing virtuosity with the English language, especially considering it is his second language (his first is Irish.) And yet his characters talk in a (to my untravelled ear) a peculiarly, and hilariously, Irish way: "Only myself has the secret of the thing and the intimate way of it, the confidential knack of circumventing it." But there are also passages of limpid beauty
But what is he making fun of? Self-obsessed scholars and their exegetists, undoubtedly. But there are also themes of punishment and guilt, both felt and adjudicated. After a few hours of consideration, I might hazard that O'Brien is making fun of, and cherishing, greed, selfishness and the desperate desire to avoid justice. When visiting eternity the protagonist discovers he can have literally anything, so he requests and receives bricks of gold, jewels, small but frightful weapons, etc.; he generally displays venality and defensiveness. When it turns out he cannot bring any of it with him, he bursts into tears. When a policeman sympathetically offers him a piece of candy, he cries even harder.
So although the protagonist is amoral, the book is basically a morality play. In fact it turns out that the entire book is a long description of the hapless protagonist's comeuppance. O'Brien's Catholic upbringing shows through, I suppose. Humanity's lot is justly a poor one, yet one cannot blame them for longing for better. Perhaps it is just best to have a sad whiskey.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Metaphysical Fable About Recurring Hell, March 5, 2006
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This review is from: The Third Policeman (Paperback)
A lot of interest has sparked about this novel, which I read six years a ago, now that the novel showed up in the hatch on a Lost episode. Don't worry. Reading the novel won't ruin the plot of Lost or give you definitive details. What the novel will do is give you an allegory that may parallel Lost. The allegory is the following: An inept young man with no moral backbone allows himself to be persuaded by a devilish man to kill someone for money. After the crime, the ninny finds himself quite lost in a world that is no longer recognizable to him. He starts to ask himself, like the cast of Lost, "Where the heck am I?" It appears in fact he is suffering perdition for his crime and he must go through life in a hellish repitition for which there seems to be no end. That this book was inserted by the Lost writers into their show attests to how sophisticated their influences are for a TV program that is quite unusual for being so popular while at the same time being "literary," visionary, and highly original.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DON'T READ THE INTRODUCTION!, June 9, 2000
This review is from: The Third Policeman (Paperback)
For some bizzare reason the ending of this wonderful book is given away in the introduction and the publisher's note at the end. If the publisher objects to a story being told sequentially, why didn't he or she just print the book in reverse or random order? I first read this book 25 years ago and I rebought it and just enjoyed rereading it. It's one of the best!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Denis Donoghue should be tarred and feathered!, May 21, 2009
By 
This review is from: The Third Policeman (Paperback)
WARNING! A man with half a brain wrote the intro to this book.

What kind of critic GIVES AWAY THE ENTIRE PLOT in the forward!

This idiot is not qualified to write the intro to a BBQ cookbook!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The joy of our Flann, June 1, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Third Policeman (Paperback)
Undoubtedly one of the finest books I have ever read, a sentiment echoed by the several people I distributed the book to after reading it myself. After a relatively straightforward opening chapter the plot just takes off, leaving you asking yourself what the hell is going on. The atomic theory, DeSelby, bicycles - it's hard to believe this book is a product of pre-war Ireland. And it ends well too. A book that you will want to tell your friends about in the pub. By the way, the Poor Mouth is great too, although it's aimed much more directly at an Irish audience.
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The Third Policeman
The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien (Paperback - March 1, 2002)
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