Friday, October 24, 2008

Forgotten Books: FAT CHANCE (aka DEADFALL) -- Keith Laumer

A number of Keith Laumer's SF novels have a nice hardboiled feel to them ( and A Trace of Memory and Dinosaur Beach come to mind), but Deadfall, published in paperback as Fat Chance is a straightforward Chandler pastiche and homage. The dedication reads, "Dedicated to the incomprable Raymond Chandler and his peerless private eye, Philip Marlowe."

Some readers might find Laumer almost too good at doing Chandler, but I really liked the novel. The first-person narrator, a p.i. named Shaw, is hired to find the daughter of a man who hasn't seen her in 25 years. As always, complications ensue. Lots of them.

The movie version of the book was called Peeper, and as you can see from the photo to the left, it starred Michael Caine. And Natalie Wood. I saw it when it hit the theaters and liked it a lot. I may be the only person who remembers it. At any rate, I recommend both the forgotten book and the forgotten movie. You can decide for yourself how tongue-in-cheek they're supposed to be. Well worth a look.

8 comments:

  1. I thought I had seen every Michael Caine movie too. Wow.

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  2. My dad likes the SF that Laumer wrote. I wonder if he's ever read this one. Kinda like Alistair MacLean's one western (that I knoew of). I'm going to a few book fairs this autumn, starting tomorrow in Bellville. I'll keep a look out for this one.

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  3. I like early Michael Caine. I will probably check the movie in this case first.

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  4. Richard Heft1:27 PM

    Let me see if I have this straight: in 1968, Michael Caine starred in a movie entitled DEADFALL, based on a novel of the same name by Desmond Cory. Then in 1975, he starred in a movie entitled PEEPER, based on a novel called DEADFALL by Keith Laumer; but the book is also called FAT CHANCE, just to muddy the waters a little more.

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  5. Sounds right to me. Desmond Cory would be a good candidate for a "forgotten book" post, too.

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  6. Bill I'm sure you remember when liking Laumer's work was fashionable then unfashionable. He was quick and sometimes sloppy but there are three or four of his novels and maybe a dozen of his stories that I reread from time to time. And they hold up very well. Think of how many turns of the sf wheel you and I have seen in our lifetimes. We even pre-dated The Cosmic Pen Pal Club or whatever it was.

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  7. Those were the days, Ed. I never wavered in my liking for a lot of Laumer's work, though I've sure never managed to read it all. Many of the Retief stories still make me laugh.

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  8. Bob Randisi10:04 PM

    I aleady had Peeper on my Netflix.

    RJR

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