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The Deadly Percheron (Missing Mysteries) Paperback – December 19, 1998

4.3 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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...""events forced the sane to doubt their sanity, while the mad kept themselves under perfect control...
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Product Details

  • Series: Missing Mysteries (Book 7)
  • Paperback: 196 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (January 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1890208108
  • ISBN-13: 978-1890208103
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,918,884 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Dr George Matthews, a psychiatrist, encounters a patient who claims he is paid by a leprechaun to wear a flower in his hair. Another, he claims, pays him to whistle at Carnegie Hall during performances. A third pays him to give quarters away. Jacob Blunt wants Dr Matthews to confirm that he's mad. Dr Matthews is curious, so he accompanies his patient to a rendezvous with one of the leprechauns. His name is Eustace and he isn't at all pleased to see the doctor.
So begins the Deadly Percheron. After that it gets strange. First published in 1946 this unique murder mystery transcends the boundaries of the genre. It's noir, it's nightmarish, it's compulsive. John Franklin Bardin drags the reader into a world where the nature of identity is constantly questioned. Is our hero who he says he is? Can he be trusted? Is he, in fact, sane? Reality, as seen through his eyes, is a shifting kaleidoscope of memories.
As the murders mount up the fragments of his shattered psyche are slotted together. Slowly reality stabilises. At the end of the novel, but only then, it all makes sense. Who killed Frances Raye? Well, now, let's start at the beginning..."Jacob Blunt was my last patient. He came into my office wearing a scarlet hibiscus in his curly blond hair. He sat down in the easy chair across from my desk, and said, "Doctor, I think I'm losing my mind.""
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Format: Paperback
John Franklin Bardin was born in 1916 and during his lifetime he wrote ten dark or noir crime novels. He refused to recognize any difference between genres, once stating his belief there are only good and bad novels. According to Jonathan Lethem, who wrote a thoughtful and lengthy foreword to this edition, Bardin once said that Graham Green, Henry Green and Henry James were influential on his writing. The novel, Bardin's first, was published in 1946 and it is a very interesting noir novel indeed.

Amnesia and paranoia are the subjects and the characters, all unusual and distinct, sustain a complicated and bizarre plot through an abrupt but eminently satisfying conclusion. This is by no means a perfect novel, and the sixty-year-old style is sometimes disturbingly devoid of emotion. Shocking action is abruptly presented and just as abruptly disposed of. There is a fairly lengthy center section in which the amnesiac who is the protagonist, is established in his new and very much lower class life on Coney Island. Dr. George Matthews, a prominent psychologist, with a practice in midtown, and a comfortable upper class living, is confronted by a new client who arrives with a fresh hibiscus in his hair. For today's readers, especially those of us who lived through the seventies and eighties of the last century, that is nothing special, a man with a flower in his hair. In 1945, the sight was unusual to say the least.

We sense something odd and a little off kilter about the good Dr. Matthews, almost from the very beginning. He appears to have more than passing interest in the burgeoning sexuality he observes around him and he seems to identify rather too strongly with his new patient, Jacob Blunt, the man who wears a hibiscus.
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Format: Paperback
Dr George Matthews, a psychiatrist, encounters a patient who claims he is paid by a leprechaun to wear a flower in his hair. Another, he claims, pays him to whistle at Carnegie Hall during performances. A third pays him to give quarters away. Jacob Blunt wants Dr Matthews to confirm that he's mad. Dr Matthews is curious, so he accompanies his patient to a rendezvous with one of the leprechauns. His name is Eustace and he isn't at all pleased to see the doctor.
So begins the Deadly Percheron. After that it gets strange. First published in 1946 this unique murder mystery transcends the boundaries of the genre. It's noir, it's nightmarish, it's compulsive. John Franklin Bardin drags the reader into a world where the nature of identity is constantly questioned. Is our hero who he says he is? Can he be trusted? Is he, in fact, sane? Reality, as seen through his eyes, is a shifting kaleidoscope of memories.
As the murders mount up the fragments of his shattered psyche are slotted together. Slowly reality stabilises. At the end of the novel, but only then, it all makes sense. Who killed Frances Raye? Well, now, let's start at the beginning..."Jacob Blunt was my last patient. He came into my office wearing a scarlet hibiscus in his curly blond hair. He sat down in the easy chair across from my desk, and said, "Doctor, I think I'm losing my mind.""
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
My reason for buying this 1940s novel was that it was hailed as being a classic psychological thriller. It certainly lived up to the hype. Although dated, the storyline is excellent and leaves the reader unsure of who to trust. I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys a good mystery.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
John Franklin Bardin's 1946 novel shares most of its affinities with the genre of the noir novel (as perfected by writers like Cornel Woolrich or Dorothy B. Hughes), but it's something else besides... it starts out as a kind of humorous fantasy novel, much like something out of Thorne Smith, with a patient telling his psychiatrist three leprechauns pay him every day to complete different silly tasks such as wearing flowers in his hair. Then there's a murder, and then by the fourth chap[ter the novel starts all over again with the same narrator... who is being told he has a different name than he thought previously.

It would be wrong to give more away, but the whole work is certainly one of a kind, and partakes of many different genres and experiments greatly with the idea of an unreliable narrator (indeed, the great theme of the book is how much you can trust someone else's testimony). Its intriguing play with identity seems to anticipate later (and unfortunately better) books such as Patricia Highsmith's THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY, and it certainly is a page turner. But it's ultimately not a very good book. There are too many murders, too many revelations that everything you'd been reading was not what you had thought it was; and the central intrigue that ties the whole plot together (and is of course only revealed at the end) is too outlandish. You can see why Millipede Press included it in its superb and beautifully bound re-issues of horror novels, but as fine as its aspirations are, it never really takes off to the level of a Highsmith or a Woolrich at their best.
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