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Fletch Paperback – March 12, 2002

4.6 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews
Book 1 of 11 in the Fletch Chronicle Series

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“The toughest, leanest horse to hit the literary racetrack since James M. Cain, and it’s sheer pleasure to watch him make his run.” --Pete Hamill

“A top-rate thriller told in stripped down language that races to a climax.” --The Washington Post

From the Inside Flap

Fletch
He's an investigative reporter whose methods are a little unorthodox. Currently he's living on the beach with the strung-out trying to find to the source of the drugs they live for.
Fletch
He's taking more than a little flack from his editor. She doesn't appreciate his style. Or the expense account items he's racking up. Or his definition of the word "deadline. Or the divorce lawyers who keep showing up at the office.
Fletch
So when multimillionaire Alan Stanwyk offers Fletch the job of a lifetime, which could be worth a fortune, he's intrigued and decides to do a little investigation. What he discovers is that the proposition is anything but what it seems.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard; Reprint edition (March 12, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375713549
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375713545
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #392,572 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By RMurray847 VINE VOICE on May 29, 2003
Format: Paperback
I read Fletch more years ago than I care to admit. And I've read all the others (heck, it could be a parlor game just trying to put all these books in chronological order...McDonald wrote them in the most convoluted order!!). They are all excellent, but Fletch set the mold.
Fletch is an investigative reporter with an attitude. Assigned to cover drug dealing on the local beaches, and also hired by a rich man to murder him, Fletch has a lot on his plate. Naturally, he doesn't intend to kill the guy, but he certainly wants to figure out WHY the man wants to be killed.
This Fletch book best combines the elements of Fletch's biting, sarcastic humor with a REALISTIC mystery. It's far-fetched, true, but still feels grounded in everyday life. Later Fletch books presented more outrageous mysteries and off-the-wall solutions. They are entertaining, but when you're dealing with mysteries surrounding presidential contenders or people who've undergone sex changes, you see that the "silliness" quotient is upped.
But, the main reason to read Fletch is to enjoy the dialogue. Much like the incomparable Ed McBain (Evan Hunter), McDonald can go on for pages with absolutely nothing BUT dialogue. No "said Mr. Jones" or "He laughed." You pick up all the mood, intonation and knowledge of who is speaking simply through the incredibly skillful use of the dialogue. And how often, really, do you laugh outloud when reading novel. You will in this one. I really recommend this book (and all the other Fletch books...Flynn is a little harder to get into.)
(A word about the movie...Chevy Chase is NOT the Fletch of these books.
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Format: Paperback
I've seen the Chevy Chase movie, although it's been years. I remember it having some good one-liners, etc., although it was not a "great" film. Still, bargain bins are great things, and this book was too good a bargain to pass up.

I. M. Fletcher, "Fletch" to his friends, is a reporter chasing a drug story on the beaches of California. Here, he is approached by Alan Stanwyck, wealthy businessman, about doing a favor. It seems Stanwyck is dying of cancer, and wants Fletch to kill him at the end of the week. Fletch, intrigued, agrees. He naturally investigates Stanwyck while juggling the drug story, dealing with an editor he has no respect for (rightfully so), and dodging his ex-wives' (yes, wives plural) lawyers.

Let's face it, the real draw here is the dialogue. Kevin Smith is among many people who have said they learned how to write great dialogue from Gregory McDonald. And it's not hard to see why, as McDonald has a gift it. He simply lets his characters talk. There are no adjectives, adverbs, "he said," "she said" in his pages of speaking. He simply chooses his words (or his characters do), and everything is left to the reader to "see" and "hear"--tone, body language, etc. And it keeps the reader turning the page, hoping not to get caught in the crossfire as Fletch trades barbs with whatever "lesser" being he is forced to deal with as he pursues both stories.

Which isn't to say the plot is lacking. It's quite gripping. Actually the two disparate plot-lines are gripping, as Fletch moves in and out of his investigations, using solid detective work and a great deal of duplicity to get answers. Unlike the film, the two stories Fletch chases don't come together in any meaningful way, but the chase is in and of itself fun.
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Format: Paperback
A while back I heard director Kevin Smith (Clerks, Chasing Amy) comment that his dream project would be a new version of Fletch, shot the way the book was written. I wasn't quite sure what he meant so when I saw copies of the Fletch novels in my local bookstore, I couldn't resist. Admittedly, while the novel and the movie have quite a few things in common, the novel is far superior.
The plot of both the movie and the book are essentially the same but the genius of the novel is the crisp, concise dialog. Mcdonald relies not on narrative but dialog to convey the majority of the characterization and action. With Fletch, he crafts a dialog-driven, witty and unconventional mystery.
For those who enjoy mysteries or simply want to read a wonderfully written book, Fletch is a must.
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Format: Paperback
"Fletch" the novel is much darker than the Chevy Chase movie it subsequently became. Yes, the title character is working undercover on the beaches of L.A. when a millionaire asks him to kill him. But the story goes in a much different (and more believable) direction. The book also has far more tension than the movie as well as a much grittier edge. Recommended especially for fans of private detective fiction.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you haven't read a Gregory McDonald novel before, Fletch is a great place to start. McDonald has a somewhat unique style, his stories are almost entirely dialog. Instead of a flat description, he allows several different characters to comment, which allows you to see something from several different perspectives at once.

Every character in a McDonald story is fundamentally flawed, usually in interesting and humorous ways, especially his "heroes". I. M. Fletcher is no exception. He's snarky, lazy, and completely irresponsible, but that's what makes him so fun... He's really only good at one thing, investigative reporting, but he's extremely good at that. He also happens to be probably the luckiest character ever produced in fiction. Things like beautiful women and suitcases full of money just seem to fall into his lap... Literally.

Fletch was the first book written in the Fletch series and arguably the best. The series isn't written in chronological order and, for the most part, the books can be read in any order (although I recommended reading Fletch, Too immediately after Fletch Won or you'll miss a few inside jokes.)

The only real issue is price. Another instance of the publisher setting the ebook price higher than the new hardback price. The books are old enough that you can find a used paperback for less than a dollar.
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