Friday, August 08, 2014

FFB: Shoot the President, Are You Mad? -- Frank McAuliffe

This post appeared in slightly different form back on May 14, 2010.  

Frank McAuliffe wrote some of my favorite crime novels, a three-book series featuring Augustus Mandrell, a professional assassin. When I picked up the first book, Of all the Bloody Cheek back in 1965, I don't know what I expected, but it sure wasn't what I got, which was one of the most original crime novels I'd read up to that time. 45 years later, it still is. (See my earlier post here.) Sort of. In 1968 and 1971 McAuliffe published two sequels. But they're not exactly sequels. All three books are made up of a series of linked novellas that play off each other and intertwine in ways that still amaze me after all these years. Taken together, they're really one big, hilarious, incredible book. You should find all three, which besides Of all the Bloody Cheek include Rather a Vicious Gentleman and For Murder I Charge More.

In 1975, McAuliffe submitted another novel to Ballantine books. The Ballantines thought it was too soon after the Kennedy assassination for a comedy crime caper about presidential assassination, and the book was turned down. It took another 35 years for it to appear in print. So it was forgotten for a long, long time.

I'm afraid it might be forgotten again, since it's been published by a small press called The Outfit Now defunct). You can still order the book from Amazon, though.

What you'll get is a book unlike any other you've ever read, unless you've read the earlier three. This one's more conventional than they are. It's not a series of linked novellas, but one caper. It's narrated by Mandrell in his usual style, which, let's say, is a unique form of stream-of-consciousness with snarky asides, comments addressed to the reader, and lots more. It's full of narrow escapes, sometimes one after another, and at times it's almost like watching a Marx Brothers movie. Maybe I'm the only one who likes stuff like this now. Others might not get it at all, but it connects with me just like it did in 1965. It's great to have this book in print. I hope it's not forgotten.


Anonymous said...

You're not the only one. There's me too. Although I must admit that I bought this book and still haven't read it yet. You see, I figured I would reread the earlier Mandrell books first and I still haven't quite got around to starting.

Real Soon Now.


George said...

This 2010 review motivated me to go back and reread the MCAulifle books including the new one. Great Stuff!

Graham Powell said...

I think MacAuliffe is best at novella length, but STPAYM certainly had its moments.

Steve Lewis said...

Amazon has a neat feature that helps me out every once in a while. I followed your link there, only to be told I already bought this book, on May 28, 2010.

I wonder where I put it.