Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Blue Hammer

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 The Blue Hammer (Alfred A. Knopf, 1976).

Excerpts from a Mad Magazine parody of a Lew Archer novel (unpublished in the periodical):

"I really liked that toothpaste. I'd like to hire you to find it and bring it back."
"Is there anybody else who could have been in this bathroom?"
"My daughter. She's at the university, but why would she have taken my toothpaste? No. She wouldn't."
"You mean she's thought about stealing toothpaste before?"
"She might have done. She hasn't been the same since she slipped in the shower fifteen years ago."
"Who installed the tile?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"The shower tile. Who installed it?"
"Elmo Anderson. He normally does drywall. He vanished ten years ago."
"Your daughter, is she on the drugs?"

* * *

"Kid, I need to know where the toothpaste is. Also what happened to Elmo Anderson and who's supplying you with the drugs."
"Man, it's cosmic. There are birds. There's oil. I'm fragile."
"Oil? What's Elmo Anderson's connection with the oil company?"
"His uncle. He was a retired admiral."

* * *

I found the guy who sold Anderson the grout while walking to the hobo camp. I followed a trail of blood to get there too late. Of course, I found out back on page 22 that the girl who was on the drugs had the toothpaste and I suppose I could have told my client that, but I get paid a hundred dollars a day and figured I could make three days out of this once I tied in twelve or thirteen other unsolved crimes and missing persons cases. Long as I have a client.

This parody was later published as The Blue Hammer, Ross Macdonald's final novel.

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