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Maigret Travels
Georges Simenon
Progress: 2/169 pages
Toward the Radical Center: A Karel Capek Reader
Arthur Miller, Peter Kussi, Peter Kussi
Progress: 246/416 pages
The Dark Descent
Clive Barker, Stephen King, Shirley Jackson, Ray Bradbury, David G. Hartwell, John Collier, Joyce Carol Oates
Progress: 166/1011 pages

My "Essential Reads"/Defending the Picks: Night of the Jabberwock & The Sleep Police


I don't mind how weird things get in a Mystery, as long as it all makes sense, in the end. If things get brilliant, so much the better.


It looks like Night of the Jabberwock has been tagged with an SF tag, here and there but not everywhere, and it's really not true. It may seem like a Science Fictional, or Fantastical, explanation is around the corner - along with the murderer - but no matter how "Alice in Wonderland" things get, wait for the mists to start clearing and see what you make of one of Fredric Brown's strangest, and yet most satisfying, Mysteries. It's books like these from him that give people a hard time throwing him in with everyone else in the Noir, Hardbolied group.


Another gorgeous mind-fuck would be The Sleep Police by Jay Bonansinga. You know you've got trippy goings-on when the main character - a cop who can't sleep, has hallucinations, and isn't exactly getting set right with therapy - gets a video-tape from himself in the mail that he doesn't remember making, during the hunt for a serial killer. This is a Mystery with a generous helping of non-stop action Action-Thriller; I've rarely been so buzzed during the chase and escape sequences of a book. Looking back, I probably should have figured some stuff out, but the book's intensity makes it hard to stop, breathe, and think.


My notion is that if you want two very strange but skillfully-made gonzo Mysteries that make their own rules, you will have a good time down both rabbit holes. In the end, though they are both rather forgotten and certainly represent a broad approach to what's "Essential" and why, I loved them too much to ignore.Sometimes I want a bit of fun with my freak-out (or, maybe it's less worrisome to say it the other way round...).