Friday, December 19, 2014

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

This is a repost from May 14, 2010.  I'm sad to say that what was a new book then is a forgotten book now, and that's a shame.

Okay, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, this is a new book. How can it be forgotten? Crider's finally lost it. You're probably right, as much as I hate to admit it. But here's my thinking.

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, which as far as I can tell doesn't even mention the book on its website. You can order it 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.


George said...

I loved this book and the books that preceded it. Frank McAuliffe was an astonishing writer. His amoral humor is unique.

Graham Powell said...

I thought that Mandrell works better in shorter bits, but this was a very good novel. Nobody really writes like McAuliffe.

Anonymous said...

I read the first three years ago and bought the new on when it came out, planning to reread the earlier books and read the new one.

One of these days I will.


Grant Thiessen said...

From my bookselling records, it appears he also wrote a western called Hot Town, which appeared under the name Frank Malachy (Permabooks 1956), and under the McAuliffe name also released a book called Bag Man (Zebra 1979). I've not read either one, but do recall really enjoying the Mandrell books.

Unknown said...

BAG MAN is okay, but it's nothing like the Mandrell books. I haven't read the western.