I discovered Thorne Smith in my teens from an entry in a book entitled A Reader’s Guide to Fantasy edited by Beth Meacham (among others). The suggestion by the guide was that Smith’s fantasies were funny, but never achieved lasting status because of his ribald reputation. Sex comedy? Of course a teenage boy was interested. Thus began my love affair with the screwball genre that continues to this day.

Unfortunately, there really is not much funny in this novel, and the sexual references, while possibly alarming in their day, are almost as tame as Saturday morning on NBC. Instead of his normal fantastical subjects, Thorne Smith tries to write a murder mystery. The result is interesting, but it is easy to see why Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler never needed to go into funny fantasy.

[Finished 23 November 1997]


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