Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Fourth Postman - Pulp Fiction Review

           Craig Rice is known as the Queen of Screwball Comedy and it shows in The Fourth Postman.  As far as a book with a zany plot goes, this definitely fits the bill. 

           The cast of characters is enough to make readers laugh.  John Malone, the little lawyer who is always short of funds and asks his secretary to pay his bills out of her own pocket.  Huntleigh, the butler, who makes a living as Boris Karloff’s stand in.  Or the stray mutt that Malone refers to as the Australian hound who doesn’t eat dog food but drinks beer from a bowl in different bars throughout the book. 

            Of course, there are other characters and plenty of one liners.   Malone refers to one character who seems to be dressed as if he emptied garbage cans for a living.  Then there is the police chief Von Flanagan, who is taking acting classes at night and is about to create a scene in the story.  

            As far as the plot goes, three postman are murdered and it’s up to Malone, Helene and Jake Justus to get involved and solve the murder.   How does Malone come into the picture.  Someone throws a rock at him and the person said that he meant to hit a dog that was always coming into his yard.  Then the two argue about why people should not throw rocks at dogs.  

            The plot device moves on clues to the killer but it seems lost with the comic mishaps of John Malone.  Malone getting a check for $10,000 but no one wants to cash it because they think the person who paid Malone is nuts.  Malone stopping at several bars to give his dog beer.  Then there is the mystery of the disappearance of Jake Justus and Malone trying to hide this from Helene because he wants to find Jake although there is a simple explanation for the whereabouts of Jake. 

            There are times in the book that the humor goes too far and makes the book unbelievable.  For example, in the dialogue, Malone tells Von Flanagan to shut up several times and Von Flanagan doesn’t answer him back.  That doesn’t seem right considering that he is supposed to be the Chief of Police in the book. 

            If you’re wondering if the story is easy to follow as a result of all this zaniness, I would say that the answer is no.  There are a lot of characters to keep up with and the story seems to get lost.   By the time I learned who the killer was, I was lost and being that the killer was a minor character in the story didn’t make much sense to me.  

            I enjoy Craig Rice books and I think the majority of the humor in the book is great, her best yet.   I hope to read one of her books and give it five stars.  This isn’t the one.  I’ll give it four stars.  

Ron Hummer

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