The Lenient Beast

This cover is from an editon in the 1960's I believe, possibly a British editon.

This cover is from an editon in the 1960’s I believe, possibly a British editon.

Fredric Brown was a master of the flash fiction form long before the term was coined. Back in the Forties, Fifties, and Sixties, when genre publications labeled such pieces “vignettes”, Brown wrote scads of them, many of which were collected in Nightmares and Geezenstacks, which I recommend if you can find a copy. His other great claim to fame that I knew of, was What Mad Universe, a novel he wrote in the Fifties about a man trapped in an alternate universe that sprang from an adolescent sci-fi fan’s brain. What I didn’t know until the advent of e-readers was that Brown was a prolific writer of mystery novels as well. Many of them have been re-released in e-book editons at very reasonable prices. I’ve been checking them out and enjoying them a lot.

The Lenient Beast is latest one I’ve read, and it’s a real piece of work, a hybrid: crime fiction, romance, suspense, horror, genre fiction on the cusp of literary spiced with social commentary. Set in the Fifties this tale involves a serial killer, an hispanic cop with an eidetic memory and an alcoholic wife, his boss and his detective partner, all of whose viewpoints the reader enters. In fact, every chapter a different character becomes the viewpoint.

The Lenient Beast stands the test of time well: In 2013 if someone very gifted were to write an edgy period piece set in the ifties, it might read a lot like this–only with more F-bombs and graphic violence. The book is a treat and I recommend it. Fifty years after its publication, it’s still in print for good reason. I found it in the Kindle store.

About kentmcdanielwrites

Writer and musician.

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