Knock Three-One-Two by Fredric Brown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Some devilish twists at the end so I won't say too much about what happens. The setup is that a psychopath is on the loose, having strangled two women already, and early on we get a couple of scenes from the killer's perspective as he tries for a third victim, but is thwarted both times. Although the omniscient narrative jumps around to a lot of different characters, the protagonist, however, is Ray Fleck. Ray is a gambler and he has racked up big losses that he can't pay back to his bookie. Ray is also a chiseler and a liar and a thief and worse. We see him at his worst trying to raise the money he owes. Ray and the psychopath will meet. Enough said. Brown dials up some neat plotting, but I was disappointed in this one because a lot of the narrative was exposition rather than scenes. That complaint is just my personal preference to scene based narratives and might not bother other readers. He also used a couple of other clunky narrative devices. For example, a character writes a letter to a psychologist friend to explain his theory about the psychopath. So deduction for clunky narrative techniques that detract from an otherwise good story. Add a star for the cover art.
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