Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Confess, Fletch

What I try to do with reviews at this Bookshelf blog is keep it simple and spoiler-free, and let you know whether I'd recommend you pick up a copy of what I just read. Seems to work okay. This time, a brief review of Confess, Fletch (1976).

I have to tell you, following Gregory Mcdonald's Fletch series has proven more of an interesting challenge than I thought it would be. McDonald did not write the series in chronological order, and I love that. The first of the novels, written, turned out to be the fourth in the series. The second written, Confess, Fletch, is the sixth. I picked up a hardcover omnibus that contains stories four, five and six - these would be the books written first, seventh and second. You with me so far, or did you drop out to follow something sensible?

Well, book five - slash - seven, Carioca Fletch, was a huge disappointment. Set in Brazil after Fletch found himself incredibly wealthy at the end of story four - slash - one, it seemed to be a case of the character caught up in other peoples' events and never affecting the outcome of anything himself. Fortunately, Confess, Fletch proved to be a massive treat, almost as good as Fletch's introduction.

In this story, Fletch returns to the States claiming to be researching a painter for an art history biography, but finds a body in the apartment that he's rented. This would be a pain in the neck had Fletch caught any fictional detective to give him, and his unlikely story, the once-over, but he has the great misfortune of having a real bulldog called Frances Xavier Flynn assigned to the case. Flynn would prove popular enough to get his own series of four novels. Watching the cat and mouse game that these two play is a complete joy, because Fletch doesn't want anybody to know the real reason he's come to Boston to talk about paintings, or why he left California in such a rush two years previously.

I really love the way that Mcdonald structures this story. Fletch has a very complicated scheme in mind, and it requires lining up an awful lot of pieces to make it work. Mcdonald carefully and deliberately puts all these pieces together without giving anything away, or letting the audience know what the hell Fletch is up to. The payoffs are beautiful in every way, and with an adversary like Flynn opposing him, he really doesn't get off easy. I enjoyed this tremendously and recommend it wholeheartedly.


Bruce said...

There are also I think four Flynn books that can easily be found. And I also really enjoyed Confess, Fletch

Grant, the Hipster Dad said...

Yes, the first of the Flynn books is in my read pile. I'm looking forward to it!