Friday, November 21, 2008

Forgotten Books: THE DADA CAPER -- Ross H. Spencer

Ross H. Spencer started writing late in life, but when he started, he wrote fast and he wrote a lot. His first series was about a p. i. named Chance Perdue, and the first book in that series was The Dada Caper. I think I can say without fear of contradiction that this series is unique.

Spencer eschewed (I've always wanted to say that) most punctuation, though he did use periods and question marks. All his paragraphs are one sentence long. Each chapter begins with some words of wisdom from the sage known as Monroe D. Underwood. The setting is Chicago, and the plots pretty much don't matter. The intent is humorous, and I think you'll either get it or you won't. I enjoyed every book in the series, but I can see that the style might get a bit wearisome to others. I also found the books very funny, for the most part.

"Tough, Tight-Lipped, Incompetent, Chance Perdue Is One of a Kind and the Kind Women Love."

He said oh flaming Heavenly Father.
I shrugged.
I am very good at shrugging.
I can just shrug up a storm.
I said look Mr. Ammson.
I said Williams met this chick in the hotel lounge.
I said he got her looped.
I said he took her upstairs.
I said it looked like just the old routine.
I said how was I to know she was Mrs. Williams?
I said my God I didn't know Mrs. Williams from a side of beef.

And so on. You get the idea.

I highly suggest you read this piece by Mike Resnick about Ross H. Spencer. The man himself was as incredible as his books. If you're a writer or would like to be, or if you're just interested in good stories, check it out.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks, Bill. You knowledge of the genre is overwhelming.

Anonymous said...

I read one and I think it took me all of seventeen minutes. I enjoyed it but never dared try another one.

Corey Wilde said...

I love Spencer's books, especially the Chance Purdue books. Glad to know I'm not the only one. How about a rousing chorus of 'When the Golden Beer Is Foaming In Wyoming?'

Anonymous said...

I got it too, Bill. I even got my Chance Perdue collection signed by Ross Spencer at the 1984 Bouchercon.


Kent Morgan said...

Maybe I should finally get around to reading Spencer's Kirby's Last Circus that has been in my baseball fiction collection for years. Birch Kirby is a Chicago PI who drinks too much and enjoys singing Irish barroom songs. The CIA forces him to go undercover as a bullpen catcher for the Grizzly Gulch No Sox in the hope that he can help break a case where the KGB is tramsmitting secret messages.

Lee Goldberg said...

The first book was hilarious...the rest, less so.

BioSphereMind said...

Read this 20 years ago - laughed my sick over some of the scenes, conversations and the finale ending! I bought the novel used from an eclectic little independent dealer who was so surprised that anyone would buy it - then a few years later - I sold the book to a different dealer, who later told me he thought it was the craziest thing he'd ever read - I just now found it again, online used - and I bought it - this time I will keep it indefinitely. Can't wait to re-read it again.

Unknown said...

You'd probably enjoy the others in the series, but don't read too many in a row.