Book Review: Son of Fletch by Gregory Mcdonald

Son of Fletch by Gregory Mcdonald(Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)
Son of Fletch Book Cover Son of Fletch
Fletch #10 (in the stories' chronological order #10); Son of Fletch #1
Fiction; Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
1993; ebook: April 19, 2010
e-book
241

Fletch has a son. He's a convict, a racist, a hate group organizer, and he's on the run after a prison break. Will Fletch help him out?

Plot

It was a dark and stormy night…

In eleven novels in the series, one of them was bound to start off like this, in a sense. Like most in the Fletch series, the story is off like a shot from the beginning, but then just a tad into the first act there’s another huge plot point (suggested by the title of the book) or known by the close reader who remembers Crystal Faoni who was a major (large?) character from Fletch’s Fortune.

I don’t know that I believed the convicts just taking Fletch’s word for where to hide out at the time, in part because the character development to make it plausible didn’t come until later. There was also a plot point involving the sheriff that I saw coming from a mile away that could/should have been much more subtle for a bigger surprise when it was revealed.

My biggest problem was that after some great build up I was expecting something really big or interesting from either Fletch or his son to close out the whole story. Sadly the end of the plot devolved in too quick and short a manner for a really satisfying pay off.

Of all of the Fletch books, so far this one seems to be the biggest influencer for the creation of portions of the movie Fletch Lives, which was otherwise made out of whole cloth based on the character. In some sense Cleavon Little’s character “Calculus Entropy” replaced Fletch’s son and big parts of the plot were heavily rewritten purely for entertainment’s sake.

Of all of the books which mention the seemingly ever-present Edward Arthur Tharp, Jr., this one seems to have more detail about it, particularly as in this story the book has finally been finished and it becomes a method by which Fletch and his son seem to probe each other about it. Oddly there was no mention or parallel between Fletch’s own mother as a writer and his having become a writer.

Character

Fletch’s girlfriend in this piece serves as pure plot and didn’t feel as multi-dimensional as she should have been given her role in the piece. She does serve well as the “better angel” as well as the gut reaction most readers will also be feeling through the story. But as always, one must just “trust” Fletch and his plan of where he’s going, even if he’s not sure himself.

Fletch himself seems to be much the same as we remember him, though I really wonder how and why he seems to have settled down into small town Tennessee life. Descriptions in the book make it sound like he’s still a man of the world, but somehow interesting people come to him instead of him going to see them. None of this really fits into the bigger character to me, but the story continues as if it doesn’t matter anyway.

Fletch’s son plays things very close to the vest, so his motivations and character aren’t really developed until much later in the piece, but in some sense he’s at least differentiated well enough from Fletch to be his “own man” here.

I liked that even the racists here were given some well done characterization so that despite their beliefs that one could actually feel bad for them in some sense. I will say it was relatively interesting to read in the timeperiod of the 2016 presidential election.

Summary

Overall this was a middle-of-the-road Fletch installment. (But still ranks relatively high on the mystery/suspense/detective genres). I suspect that it would have been more interesting to Fletch fans who hadn’t had an installment in a few years based on the time it was released. For a potential reboot of the series, or for kicking off a new series, it wasn’t a bad effort.

Reading Progress
  • 08/7/16 marked as: want to read; “The Rio Olympics reminded me that I’d gotten Carioca Fletch to read back in the 80’s and never got around to it, so I thought I’d come back and revisit the series.”
  • 11/26/16 started reading
  • 11/26/16 13.0% done; “Fletch has a son. He’s a convict and he’s on the run after a prison break. Will Fletch help him out?”
  • 11/28/16 25.0% done; “We’re off like a shot. Somehow it doesn’t seem terrifically believable that the escape convicts so easily take Fletch’s advice on where to hide, but he does a fantastic job of coralling them in the opeining.
    Some of the overt “Southernness” feels overdone to me, but perhaps it was the effect of Mcdonald’s many years living in Tennessee which had a tarnishing effect.”
  • 11/29/16 57.0% done; “We’re starting to go somewhere, but I can sadly already almost predict the ending. In particular, there was a ham-handed mention of a car that gave the whole thing away for me.
    Of all of the Fletch books, so far this one seems to be the biggest influencer for the creation of portions of the movie Fletch Lives, which was otherwise made out of whole cloth based on the character.”
  • 12/1/16 64.0% done; “This is where things begin to go sideways! Here comes the third act… Much of what I anticipated was going to happen has; the question now is how will he manage to extract himself (and his friends/family)?”
  • 12/03/16 Finished book

Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia

“Some villains decided to take themselves a little vacation from the federal penitentiary up in Kentucky, Carrie.”
“Can’t blame ‘em,” Fletch said. “We’ve been advertising Tennessee as a vacation spot. Take yourselves off to Tennessee. Isn’t that the slogan?”

Highlight (yellow) Location 44-46

Added on Saturday, November 26, 2016 10:47:45 PM

“Mister Fletcher. Miss Carrie.”
“Howdy, Sheriff,” Carrie said.
“Don’t Francie let you take a shower-bath at home anymore?”
“Says I keep leavin’ wet towels on the bathroom floor. So she sends me out every time there’s a hard rain.

Highlight (yellow) Location 56-59

Added on Saturday, November 26, 2016 10:47:59 PM

A few months before, two of the county’s cars had smashed into each other, in a parking lot.

Highlight (yellow) Location 112-112
Poor storytelling form here.

Added on Saturday, November 26, 2016 10:51:46 PM

“I don’t have a gun,” Carrie said. “What do I do if the wolf comes by?”
“What you charmin’ Tennesseans always do.”
“What’s that?”
“Say, ‘Hydy, Mister Wolf. How’s your pa?’”
“Which paw will I be askin’ about in this case? Right, left, front, back?”

Highlight (yellow) Location 124-129

Added on Saturday, November 26, 2016 10:53:09 PM

At first Fletch saw only the back of a soaking wet, lean male in his early twenties. The back of his denim shirt had stitched on it FEDERAL PENITENTIARY/TOMASTON. Fletch tisked. “You kids. You can’t wear anything without some sort of an advertisement or a slogan on it. Wouldn’t the usual beer logo or ‘YALE’ do just as well?”

Highlight (yellow) Location 217-220

Added on Saturday, November 26, 2016 10:59:30 PM

“It’s like being a beautician in the land of the ugly!”

Highlight (yellow) Location 381-382

Added on Saturday, November 26, 2016 11:26:14 PM

🔖 Bookmark on Location 537
Added on Sunday, November 27, 2016 11:50:34 PM

“Idea is, they could have Ms. Carrie hostage in one room while you’re sweet-talkin’ us.” “Me? Sweet-talk anybody?” Fletch grinned. “I understand.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 555-557

Added on Sunday, November 27, 2016 11:51:44 PM

“You got any of those Tharp paintings, Mister Fletcher?” “No. I guess I ran the price of them up too high for me to afford ‘em.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 561-563

Added on Sunday, November 27, 2016 11:52:12 PM

In this life, who are the bastards?” Jack muttered, “The fathers, or the sons?”

Highlight (yellow) Location 702-703

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 12:01:53 AM

“You escaped from a maximum-security federal penitentiary after only five weeks?”
“I didn’t like it there,” Jack said. “Noisy. Food could have been better. I’d read all the books in the library.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 715-717

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 12:02:55 AM

Ever since you wrote the book Pinto: The Biography of Edgar Arthur Tharp, Junior. That was a big success, wasn’t it?”

Highlight (yellow) Location 739-740

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 12:04:44 AM

“Big book,” Jack said. Fletch said, “It took a while.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 743-744

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 12:05:15 AM

“You believe in straight lines, don’t you?”
“Nature does not love the straight line,” Fletch said. “Man is compelled to it.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 769-771

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 12:08:03 AM

People here don’t really, really believe frogs drop from the sky in a hard rain.

Highlight (yellow) Location 815-815

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 12:11:08 AM

“I could sit here forever,” Carrie said, “feeling you inside me. What would you do if I sat here forever?” On his back, Fletch shrugged. “Send out for Chinese, I guess.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 841-843

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 12:13:45 AM

“Everything all right?” she asked. “All things being relative.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 851-852
Ha! Relative. Nice double entendre.

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 12:14:46 AM

“E=MC2!” Such was Carrie’s expletive. She considered the theory of relativity the most outlandish thing she had ever heard of.

Highlight (yellow) Location 897-898

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 12:17:26 AM

🔖 Bookmark on Location 910
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 2:06:45 AM

good, Fletch.

Highlight (gray) Location 951-951

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 2:10:25 AM

Turning, Kriegel went to Jack and clasped him by the shoulders. “This man is your father! Why didn’t you tell me? He is one of us! We are saved!” “Praise the Lord,” Fletch said.

Highlight (yellow) Location 974-975

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 2:12:50 AM

🔖 Bookmark on Location 1003
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 2:23:23 AM

Kriegel took a few steps toward Carrie and Fletch. It seemed his intent to take them by the hands. Fletch stuck his hands in the pockets of his shorts.

Highlight (yellow) Location 1008-1010

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 7:51:05 PM

“Shit,” she said. “He’s your son, all right. Clear as a church bell on a crisp night. He’s got your body.” “Oh, don’t say that,” Fletch said. “Last time someone said that about me and someone else, one of us got shot through a window.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1024-1027

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 7:52:34 PM

“You going to get married?” “These days you marry a woman and two lawyers. Beds just aren’t that big.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1055-1057

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 7:57:47 PM

“Hey.” Jack trotted behind the horse. “You’re riding a horse barebacked in shorts.” “Yeah,” Fletch said. “Just like a Native American.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1087-1089

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 8:17:39 PM

“Ah, Fletch. Don’t think of yourself as a Yankee anymore. You’re about gettin’ over it.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1136-1137
Like it was a disease

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 8:32:04 PM

Jack had been amazed to see Fletch come out of the henhouse carrying eleven eggs. “Wow!” he said. “You make your own eggs!” Then he said, “They’re dirty!” Fletch said, “You think they were hatched already scrambled with milk and butter?” Jack grinned. “I was hatched sunnyside up, I was.” “I see,” Fletch said. “So you scrambled yourself.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1138-1142

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 8:33:12 PM

“For a guitar picker, you sure know some different scales.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1226-1226

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 8:55:04 PM

Having been a print journalist, and someone who had written a book, Fletch persisted in believing there was not much future in electronics, generally.

Highlight (yellow) Location 1260-1261
But what about his technology platform in the prior book (Fletch and the Man Who)?

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:00:35 PM

We’re as slick as a boxer after the tenth round.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1339-1339
should have been noting these. this is the 20th of these goofy similies…

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:12:36 PM

“Describe him.” “Hispanic.” “I’m prepared to call that a good arrest, aren’t you?” “Absolutely.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1356-1358

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:14:19 PM

One way and another, Fletch had learned the importance of creating a diversion.

Highlight (yellow) Location 1370-1370

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:14:59 PM

Arms akimbo, Carrie said, “What are you? Only God and you know that, and I suspect you’re confused.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1405-1406

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:17:38 PM

“Besides,” Carrie answered in a milder tone, “generally, Fletch doesn’t hold much stock in simple questions. He says, when you ask a question all you get is an answer to the question, not the truth. He says, to get the truth it’s best to wait and watch and listen.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1436-1438

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:19:58 PM

“Oh, yes,” Carrie said. “Fletch calls you the tactile generation. For short, he calls you the scabpickers. What you know, what you do isn’t important, only what you feel.

Highlight (yellow) Location 1450-1452

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:21:24 PM

By golly, Ms.

Highlight (yellow) Location 1479-1480
Consistency of chapter opens?

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:26:55 PM

“All three hundred and fifty pounds of white and naked flab you all call Leary is dead to the world out on the back lawn,” Fletch said. “I swear, if we drag him down to the roadside, the slaughter truck will pick him up for the glue factory without even stopping to ask which nature of beast he is.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1487-1489

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:28:48 PM

apolitical

Highlight (gray) Location 1518-1519

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:31:49 PM

“Come, come,” Fletch said. “Jack and I will be with you. What have you to fear? You know Jack is a karate expert. And I? Don’t even ask. Never have I met man or beast to make me tremble in nose or lip.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1544-1546
I love the stilted language here to poke fun of the racist

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:35:15 PM

Pity if you escaped prison just for a zoological experience in a ditch.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1551-1552

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:36:00 PM

If biff came to bang, Fletch would be interested to see what John Fletcher Faoni would do.

Highlight (yellow) Location 1554-1554

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:36:18 PM

“Yes, I see,” Kriegel said. “Wasn’t it Julius Caesar,” Fletch asked, “who said something about divide and skinny through?” “He said, ‘All roads lead to Rome.’” “That, too,” Fletch agreed. “Quite a phrasemaker, that Caesar feller. I knew you know your military history.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1569-1573

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:37:18 PM

stanchions

Highlight (orange) Location 1612-1612

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:40:25 PM

Fletch shouted at Leary, “Now, hold on to that little cow!” Standing, with his feet spread, Leary grabbed the bull calf’s tail. As Carrie started the truck down the driveway, Leary’s boots slipped in wet manure already on the floor of the pickup truck’s bed. He landed on his ass. On the manure. Both his hands still held on to the bull calf’s tail. “Hold on to it!” Fletch ordered. “It’s shittin’ on me!” Leary yelled halfway down the driveway. It certainly was.

Highlight (yellow) Location 1614-1620

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:41:31 PM

Then Fletch watched Jack choking with laughter. “Oh, hello.” Fletch slapped Jack on the back. “How are you feeling?”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1625-1626

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:43:13 PM

Jack smiled. “Shall I sing a few bars of ‘Let the Punishment Fit the Crime’?”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1640-1641

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:44:52 PM

Jack said, “I’m amazed at the way you have kept us all weak, incapacitated.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1643-1644

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:45:37 PM

In the backseat, blinking slowly, Kriegel was waking up. The guitar was propped up on the seat beside him. Their shapes were similar. The guitar had the more attractive neck.

Highlight (yellow) Location 1669-1670
awesome description

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:47:33 PM

Kriegel asked, “Who is this Professor Josiah Black?” Neither Fletch nor Jack answered. Kriegel insisted. “What did you mean by ‘Josiah Black’?” Fletch did not answer. “It comes from an old American song, sir,” Jack answered. “What’s the name of the song?” Jack said, “‘Ol’ Black Joe.”’ “‘Ol’ Black Joe’?” Kriegel spluttered. “You called me an old, black Joe? Is that supposed to be funny?” “I had to tell him something, didn’t I?” Fletch asked. “Couldn’t say you are Santa Claus now, could I?”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1685-1693

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:52:48 PM

“I mean, don’t you realize you are the most despised person on earth?” “Who, me?” “You are the intelligent, educated to some degree, I gather, well-off, middle-aged, heterosexual white male. On this earth, you are distinctly the minority. Yet you and your kind have made the world, as we know it, what it is. For centuries, you have created the religious and political institutions, the businesses, the wars, laws that protect and suit you to the exclusion of others, while exploiting all people of color, Indians, Negroids, Orientals, even those less fortunate than yourself of the same tribe, the laborers, as well as all women and children.” “Wow.” Fletch well knew these sentiments. He had been confronted with such often enough. “And all this time I thought I was just gettin’ along best I could.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1698-1705

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:53:56 PM

“What, your being thirsty? Chew buttons.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1722-1722

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:55:17 PM

There is no place from the Balkans to the city of Los Angeles where tribal wars are not raging. Am I right? Humans basically are tribal, Mister Fletcher, something your government does not understand. There is the individual. There is the family. There is the tribe.

Highlight (yellow) Location 1736-1738

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 10:01:05 PM

“That tribalism is being used, around the world, by a lot of would-be tinpot demagogues and dictators, warlords, simply to grab power and all the good things for themselves. That that is what really goes on in the world, among whites, blacks, Orientals, women, children, always has and always will: power-mongering based on individual greed.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1758-1761

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 10:02:48 PM

“Ummm.” Fletch smiled at Jack. “Not the first time I’ve noticed that those who lecture, frequently don’t listen.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1772-1773

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 10:04:30 PM

Racism has taken off its coat,” Fletch said.

Highlight (yellow) Location 1782-1782

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 10:08:04 PM

“Best-laid plans,” Carrie said, “often get screwed up.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1838-1838
Reference To a Mouse by Robert Burns: “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.”

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 10:11:26 PM

The place looked like a wacky seven-year-old boy’s idea of heaven.

Highlight (yellow) Location 1881-1882
great description of a klan encampment

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 10:15:49 PM

“You came to my house to involve me.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1936-1936

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 10:20:02 PM

“Joe Rogers’s wife.” Jack sat to Carrie’s right. “Sheriff Joe Rogers?” Fletch asked. “Yeah,” Carrie said. Fletch said, “Must be a coincidence.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1969-1973

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 10:22:46 PM

Hello, Andy. How’s your head bone?”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1975-1975

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 10:23:07 PM

The governor of California has issued a statement reminding people that most of California is not affected by earthquakes at all. I suspect that bit was written for him by the Chamber of Commerce goaded by amusement park operators.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2003-2005

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 10:25:31 PM

Always he had noticed builders in this area of the South never left trees, or any source of shade, in their parking lots. Trees are pretty, give shade, lessen the need for air-conditioning, but golly gee, take up as much as a square foot of ground space.

Highlight (yellow) Location 2110-2111

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 10:34:09 PM

Apollonaris

Highlight (yellow) Location 2121-2121

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 10:34:52 PM

🔖 Bookmark on Location 2179
Added on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 12:34:21 AM

I hate to accept their food.

Highlight (yellow) Location 2180-2181

Added on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 1:37:20 AM

She tasted her chili. “Yee! It tastes like chopped horned toads and ketchup! These foreigners don’t even know how to make respectable chili!”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2187-2188

Added on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 1:38:15 AM

shifts

Highlight (yellow) Location 2196-2196

Added on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 1:39:41 AM

“Fletch, the license plate is from our county.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2227-2228
Major tell that Sheriff didn’t pick up escapees

Added on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 1:42:35 AM

She’s out of pocket.

Highlight (yellow) Location 2262-2263
I’m curious about where/when this phrase originated with the meaning of being “not available”? Perhaps with the invention of the cell phone that could fit into a pocket? Or earlier with a pool reference?

Added on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 1:45:17 AM

“This kid could be as crazy as a groundhog on ice.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2269-2270

Added on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 1:46:16 AM

“I suspect it’s not every man’s dream to discover his son is a cop-killing, escaped convict, racist, hate-group organizer.”

Highlight (blue) Location 2276-2277

Added on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 1:46:53 AM

“I always want to know the truth.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2282-2282

Added on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 1:47:18 AM

“I am Commandant Wolfe!” “I’m Shalom Aleichem.” Fletch stuck his thumb toward Carrie. “This is Golda Meir, as a girl.” “Doctor Kriegel has warned me of your sense of humor, Mister Fletcher.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2316-2319

Added on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 1:49:27 AM

🔖 Bookmark on Location 2326
Added on Wednesday, November 30, 2016 1:45:26 AM

“Ah, Fletch! You’re not going to give me that one-world crap, are you?”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2326-2326

Added on Wednesday, November 30, 2016 1:45:35 AM

Softly, Fletch said, “Since the beginning of time, a few have taken the fact of economic competition, no matter how great the resources, and used it to create hatred and violence to satisfy their own greed.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2328-2330

Added on Wednesday, November 30, 2016 1:45:56 AM

“How can I object?” Jack said. “I am a result of selective breeding. Aren’t I?”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2351-2352

Added on Wednesday, November 30, 2016 1:48:02 AM

🔖 Bookmark on Location 2352
Added on Thursday, December 1, 2016 12:08:04 AM

“My, my,” Fletch said to Carrie. “This is being taped.” “‘Vanity, vanity,’” Carrie said. “‘All is vanity.’” “More than that,” Fletch said. “Like their predecessors, they are carefully documenting their own history.” “So later they can deny it, right?”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2365-2369
very remniscent of Trump

Added on Thursday, December 1, 2016 12:08:59 AM

Ethnic cleansing. Separatism.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2392-2393

Added on Thursday, December 1, 2016 12:11:21 AM

In the wasteland of Karoo, South Africa, Orania is the name of the headquarters of the Afrikaner Resistance Movement.

Highlight (yellow) Location 2453-2454

Added on Thursday, December 1, 2016 12:15:46 AM

There, standing, staring at them, openmouthed was their friend, the sheriff, Joe Rogers.

Highlight (yellow) Location 2490-2490

Added on Thursday, December 1, 2016 12:18:53 AM

I’ll believe that when catfish meow and climb trees.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2500-2500

Added on Thursday, December 1, 2016 12:19:44 AM

If it were not the nature of these people to blame others for their ills, Fletch reasoned, they would not be here.

Highlight (yellow) Location 2546-2546

Added on Thursday, December 1, 2016 12:22:23 AM

I mean, get the E=MC2 out of here!”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2576-2576

Added on Thursday, December 1, 2016 12:25:09 AM

🔖 Bookmark on Location 2576
Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 1:29:41 AM

🔖 Bookmark on Location 2686
Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 2:05:44 PM

Fletch heard Toninho say,

Highlight (yellow) Location 2710-2711
Quick reference back to Carioca Fletch

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 2:11:09 PM

“Animals? These aren’t the chosen people?” “No. You are the chosen people, Mister Fletcher. All this I do for you.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2756-2757
Sounds like something Jesus would say

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 2:16:10 PM

“Never judge a leader by his followers.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2759-2759

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 2:16:18 PM

“We are just using these fools, these psychotics, toward an end.” “‘Using’ them,” Fletch repeated. “Of course. Using them. I wish I didn’t have to. There are many reasons you should be grateful, supportive toward my efforts.” “Sorry, I never carry my checkbook.” “Where would these psychotic fools be tonight, what would they be doing if they were not here bashing each other’s brains out?” “Home baking cookies?” “They have to belong to something, something bigger than they are, something secret, of which they can be secretly proud. By their natures, these fools are gang members. They are incapable, you see, of standing on their own, as individuals. We’re just taking advantage of their natures. We direct their energies. We organize them. They need the discipline we give them.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2762-2771

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 2:17:11 PM

Jack said to Fletch: “What do you know? I’ve killed a cop.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2888-2888

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 2:26:54 PM

Sabotage Corps is

Highlight (gray) Location 3082-3083
typo extra line return

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 2:44:09 PM

And you know the one thing people never can remain silent about is silence.” Andy remained silent.

Highlight (yellow) Location 3246-3247

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 3:01:35 PM

Carrie quoted Fletch: “‘We’re all mysteries awaiting solution.’” Fletch said, “We’re all histories awaiting execution.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 3303-3304

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 3:05:12 PM

“God! We’ll never get rid of that damned body!”

Highlight (yellow) Location 3347-3348

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 3:07:54 PM

Jack had awoken in time to set up the sound system for The Reverend Kriegel’s religious service, prayer meeting, sermon, harangue, newly scheduled for eleven o’clock.

Highlight (yellow) Location 3357-3358

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 3:08:54 PM

The Reverend Kriegel then had said a few words over the grave. To the men’s amusement, he commented on the appropriateness of “burying the cook cheek to jowl with roasted beef.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 3362-3363

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 3:09:39 PM

we will take just the men you have here—having chosen a small, fairly isolated city, in the Southwest, South, Midwest, West, it doesn’t matter—gather intelligence on it, turn off its power and water, attack it in force, and liberate from that town’s banks and other businesses what I think you Americans call ‘cash money.’

Highlight (yellow) Location 3465-3468

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 3:28:45 PM

Fletch realized he had the advantage. She was backlit by the fading light in the window behind her. The attendant had closed the door behind Fletch. He could see her amazing outline. She couldn’t see him at all.

Highlight (yellow) Location 3558-3559
Interesting use of “amazing”

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 3:36:02 PM

“If you had raised a son, he would have rebelled against you, dissented, probably become the opposite of everything you are and everything you stand for. Sons do that.” “Some sons, I guess.” “Your son would have. I’m certain your son would have. Not knowing you, Jack adores you.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 3605-3608

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 3:39:43 PM

“His name is John Fletcher Faoni?” “Yes.” “Who’s John?” “You wanted more of Irwin Maurice maybe?”

Highlight (yellow) Location 3625-3627

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 3:40:56 PM

Strooth

Highlight (orange) Location 3690-3690

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 3:45:38 PM

“I’m not clucking.” It was getting dark outside and Fletch’s mind was settling on pizza. “I’m expostulating.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 3695-3696

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 3:46:12 PM

For a moment, Fletch was unsure whether it was Wolfe’s idea to shoot at Jack and Fletch, or to shoot himself.

Highlight (yellow) Location 3882-3883
What a dull ending if this is it.

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 4:07:43 PM

“I’ve heard that about you. You once reported a murder to your editor and asked him to tell the photographers to give the widow time to get home to report the murder.” “Did I?”

Highlight (yellow) Location 3899-3900

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 4:08:48 PM

Fletch said to Jack, “A woman named Slavenka Drakulic, a victim of the most recent Balkan ethnic-cleansing wars, wrote in The New York Times Sunday Magazine: ‘We are the war. I am afraid there is no one else to blame. We all make it possible. We allow it to happen. There is no them and us. There are no numbers, masses, categories. There is only one of us and, yes, we are responsible for each other.’”

Highlight (yellow) Location 3977-3980

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 4:13:28 PM

While Jack studied his ticket, Fletch said to Jack, “A woman named Slavenka Drakulic, a victim of the most recent Balkan ethnic-cleansing wars, wrote in The New York Times Sunday Magazine: ‘We are the war. I am afraid there is no one else to blame. We all make it possible. We allow it to happen. There is no them and us. There are no numbers, masses, categories. There is only one of us and, yes, we are responsible for each other.’” “Got a pen and piece of paper?” Jack asked. “In the glove compartment. Just thought that quote might add something to your story, if it fits in anywhere.” “How do you spell her name?” “By golly. The kid can even work pen and paper!”

Highlight (yellow) Location 3977-3984

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 4:14:06 PM

“I doubt you’d attempt anything without accomplishing it. Even murder.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 4005-4005

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 4:15:13 PM

His new T-shirt had a logo on it which read: WHY HUG THE ROAD WHEN YOU’VE GOT ME? He had a choice of either that logo or a beer advertisement.

Highlight (yellow) Location 4009-4010

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 4:15:45 PM

Carrie answered. “Hello?” “Hello.” “Where are you?” “I’ll be home in a few minutes.” “That’s good. Hey, Fletch! Guess what?” “What?” “I made a firecracker cake!” Fletch said, “Oh, boy.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 4017-4023
After a half dozen mentions of the stupid firecracker cake, this is almost funny now.

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 4:16:37 PM

Guide to highlight colors

Yellow–general highlights and highlights which don’t fit under another category below
Orange–Vocabulary word; interesting and/or rare word
Green–Reference to read
Blue–Interesting Quote
Gray–Typography Problem
Red–Example to work through

Syndicated copies to:

Book Review: Fletch Reflected by Gregory Mcdonald

Fletch Reflected by Gregory Mcdonald(Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)
Fletch Reflected Book Cover Fletch Reflected
Fletch #11 (in the stories' chronological order: #11); Son of Fletch #2
Gregory Mcdonald
Fiction; Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
1994; e-book: April 11, 2006
Kindle e-book
226

Receiving word from an old flame who has recently become engaged to a billionaire inventor's son, Fletch and his newfound son, Jack, learn that a member of the billionaire's household staff may be targeting her future father-in-law for murder.

Character

Oddly, even after two books with Jack as a character, there isn’t very much differentiation between he and a young Fletch. I do feel like he’s a bit more reserved and not quite as ascerbic in his humor, but there’s just something missing to make him a completely differentiated character. I had missed Crystal, so it was nice to have her back, but she didn’t seem to have the same sort of spark or confidence, which I missed from her earlier appearance in Fletch’s Fortune. Fletch himself seems to have slowed down a bit, but he also wasn’t taking the lead in this either. I don’t think there was a single adverse reference to Irwin Maurice by Fletch in the entire text, yet there was one neutral to positive mention of it by Fletch, followed by a questioning disparagement of it by Jack.

I did like the Mortimer character and his long time hatred for Fletch, though some of the dialogue read/played more comedic than as a more appropriate brewing hatred. There is some scant background about Mortimer’s character and past with Fletch, but it could potentially play out as another entire Fletch backstory in itself. Without a really well motivated plot, I’m not sure I’d want to read that prequel though.

Plot

There is only the slightest of pauses between this book and the prior Son of Fletch. Except for the denouement of action in the prior book, this one simply picks up with what’s happening on the following day. Unlike most in the Fletch series where the plot gets off like a shot on page one or page two, the motivation for the major plot of the book doesn’t drop until about a fifth of the way in. Also different from most in the series, this book has a primary plot which follows Jack while there’s a secondary plot following Fletch and Crystal. I presume that Mcdonald meant for the two books about Jack to be a spin-off of sorts and so maybe he was changing the model a bit?

While I appreciated the close out of what Fletch did to help Crystal after the last installment and the Mortimer character did provide some entertainment, I could have done without the B plot here. I’d have preferred more action with Jack and maybe even Fletch on the “compound”. There is an interesting juxtaposition between the compounds of the last book and this book in terms of their functions and socioeconomic statuses within the two works.

The ultimate murder of Radleigh was unfulfilling though Fletch did get a few nice rejoinders as a result. The ending nearly mimiced the all-too-quick wind down of Son of Fletch and was generally underwhelming for me. I suspect the general problem with the piece overall, was that Jack didn’t really have to work too hard at hiding himself and wasn’t directly in danger at all during the entire piece which left some of the suspense out. Leaving all of the suspense on Radleigh’s shoulders just didn’t do enough for me.

Summary

While relatively entertaining, this is one of the least interesting and motivated stories in the Fletch canon. I’d rank it toward the bottom of the pantheon, though it was at least more fun to read than Fletch Too, which was just painful.

Reading Progress
  • 08/7/16 marked as: want to read; “The Rio Olympics reminded me that I’d gotten Carioca Fletch to read back in the 80’s and never got around to it, so I thought I’d come back and revisit the series.”
  • 12/04/16 started reading
  • 12/06/16 11.0% done
  • 12/07/16 12.0% done
  • 12/09/16 14.0% done
  • 12/18/16 22.0% done
  • 12/19/16 49.0% done; “This one immediately follows Son of Fletch, literally by few hours. It didn’t start out with the same type of bang that most of the Fletch series has, instead it was about 20% into the story before we knew quite what ride we were on. Now that’s it’s going, it’s as interesting as most Fletch tales.”
  • 12/20/16 78.0% done
  • 12/22/16 100.0% done; “I think this was the first (and only) in the Fletch series with an A and a B plot going on simultaneously. There wasn’t as much mystery or whodunnit as past books despite the number of suspects in something like Fletch’s Fortune. The ending was relatively interesting and certainly unexpected. I wouldn’t say it was very satisfying. I’d rank this one toward the bottom of the series overall.”

Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia

“I know your name is Jack Faoni. The weekend we spent together you had me call you Fletch.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 25-25

Added on Sunday, December 4, 2016 1:02:47 AM

“We didn’t do all that much talking, as I remember. We went at each other like bear cubs.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 62-63

Added on Sunday, December 4, 2016 1:04:53 AM

🔖 Bookmark on Location 68
Added on Sunday, December 4, 2016 1:14:22 AM

“Chester Radliegh. He invented the perfect mirror.”
“Oh, yeah. The guy who straightened out our left from our right, right from left when we look at ourselves in a mirror.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 74-76

Added on Sunday, December 4, 2016 3:34:12 PM

“Boxers appreciate his mirror, too.”
“They do?”
“They don’t get blindsided so much these days. Haven’t you noticed?”
“Guess I haven’t.”
“More fights go the whole ten, fifteen rounds now.”
“Is that good?”
“Think of the philosophical, psychological, to say nothing of poetic ramifications of the perfect mirror. I mean, for centuries we were seeing ourselves wrong, weren’t we? Not as others saw us, as they say.”
“Do we ever, anyway?”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 79-87

Added on Sunday, December 4, 2016 3:35:06 PM

“Oh. You called to invite me to your wedding? I’ll send a present. Shreds of my flannel shirt, as a keepsake, or a dust-cloth, whichever you need the more.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 93-94

Added on Sunday, December 4, 2016 3:35:57 PM

“This place is so big, there are so many people wandering around, you wouldn’t even be noticed.”
“Yeah, I do a pretty good imitation of a potted palm.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 112-114

Added on Sunday, December 4, 2016 3:37:09 PM

“…Sounds homey enough. Does it come complete with pricks?”
“Homey enough if your last name is Windsor.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 156-158

Added on Sunday, December 4, 2016 3:40:22 PM

“What did you say your relationship is with Mister Fletcher?”
“Relationship?” Jack would be damned before he would state his “relationship” with the member of the Board of Directors of Global Cable News, Consulting/Contributing Editor Irwin Maurice Fletcher.

Highlight (yellow) – Location 219-221

Added on Sunday, December 4, 2016 3:45:18 PM

“Things are tight here now, Jack. There’s so much competition in this business. We have difficulty, you see, in persuading all American businesses they should spend as much as eighty percent of their gross income on advertising. A few still resist the idea.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 262-264

Added on Sunday, December 4, 2016 3:48:01 PM

wallahs

Highlight (orange) – Location 280-280
He really does love this word.

Added on Sunday, December 4, 2016 3:49:18 PM

“I know what I’ve heard. One never knows what’s true.”
“One doesn’t?” Jack’s mouth was dry. “Isn’t that what this business is about?”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 283-285

Added on Sunday, December 4, 2016 3:49:42 PM

“As a journalist, never be the rooster who believes it is only his crowing which brings up the sun.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 323-324

Added on Sunday, December 4, 2016 3:52:32 PM

“But gee, Dad, it really crimps the vanity, you know? I coulda been a see-leb-pretty.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 356-356

Added on Sunday, December 4, 2016 3:54:36 PM

“What are you going to do now that GCN has given you your walking papers?”
“Visit an old girlfriend in Georgia.”
“How close an old girlfriend?”
“She’s getting married. To someone else.”
“The best kind.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 377-380

Added on Sunday, December 4, 2016 3:56:07 PM

“Why? Doesn’t sound like there’s a story there.”
“Does there always have to be a story?”
“You’ve got to keep yourself in Pepsi and pizza, boy.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 387-390

Added on Sunday, December 4, 2016 3:56:42 PM

“‘To collect characters for the long ride,’” Jack quoted.
“Isn’t that what I’m supposed to say at this point?”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 396-397

Added on Tuesday, December 6, 2016 1:59:01 AM

“How is Carrie?”
“Didn’t I just say? She’s crazy. She likes you. She loves me.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 407-409

Added on Tuesday, December 6, 2016 2:00:27 AM

“Just wanted you to know where I’ll be,” Jack said. “Tell my mother, please.”
“Sure,” Fletch said, turning the van left at the intersection. “Call if you find work.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 409-411

Added on Tuesday, December 6, 2016 2:00:33 AM

“Blair didn’t give you a job?”
“He gave me what he called ‘fatherly advice,’ to wit: get lost.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 421-422

Added on Tuesday, December 6, 2016 2:01:42 AM

🔖 Bookmark on Location 426
Added on Tuesday, December 6, 2016 2:03:09 AM

She was an enormous mound of mostly useless flesh in an outsized nightgown and bathrobe.

Highlight (yellow) – Location 430-430

Added on Wednesday, December 7, 2016 1:44:38 AM

“What did he say to you?” Fletch smiled.
“He told me to be careful not to let you fall on me again.”
After looking at Fletch a moment from the bed, Crystal laughed. “This time, I’d crush you to death.”
“Flatter than a manhole cover.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 446-449

Added on Wednesday, December 7, 2016 1:46:01 AM

“You’re back like the second half of a hurricane on a seaside resort!”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 461-461

Added on Wednesday, December 7, 2016 1:46:53 AM

coaxial sword

Highlight (yellow) – Location 474-474
Great description of a cable news network!

Added on Wednesday, December 7, 2016 1:48:21 AM

“…One thing I absolutely will not do for you is serve as your pallbearer. We’ll have to plant you with a crane.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 493-494

Added on Wednesday, December 7, 2016 1:50:00 AM

“I have done something about it.”
“What have you done? Send out for Chinese?”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 495-496

Added on Wednesday, December 7, 2016 1:50:23 AM

“Crystal, the public cannot afford you. Not you and schools and the police and fire departments, too.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 502-503

Added on Friday, December 9, 2016 12:59:19 AM

“Mortimer.”
“Hi, Mister Mortimer. This is Fletch.”
“Who?”
“I. M. Fletcher.”
“Oh, no.”
“Did I call you at a bad time?”
“Yeah. I am not dead yet.”
“How have you been otherwise?” Fletch was using the phone in the handicap van. He had not left the front driveway of Blythe Spirit.
“Well enough to hang up on you.”
“Oh, don’t do that.”
“Why not?”
“I might have something interesting to say.”
“You always do. That’s why I’m hanging up. I’m too old to be interested in anything you have to say.”
“Come on, now.”
“Last time I listened to you is how I got so old.

Highlight (yellow) – Location 513-525

Added on Friday, December 9, 2016 1:00:24 AM

“…I’d rather be in jail. I would have known what I was doing in jail. What am I doing in Wyoming? There would have been more people I know in jail. We would have had a lot to talk about. I don’t know anybody in Wyoming. All the people here talk about is something they call beef cattle and the twelve deadly sins.”
“Seven.”
“Seven what?”
“I think it’s considered there are only seven deadly sins.”
“In Wyoming, they got twelve.”
“It is a big state.” “I can’t figure out whether Wyoming is big or just empty.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 532-539

Added on Friday, December 9, 2016 1:02:33 AM

“… Tell them all about my great life spent watching the mountains in Wyoming not move.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 545-545

Added on Friday, December 9, 2016 1:04:14 AM

“Beef cattle. Two legged beef cattle. That’s all they have out here: beef cattle. Four legged beef cattle, two legged beef cattle.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 550-551

Added on Sunday, December 18, 2016 2:08:33 PM

“… The other one, the sixteen year old, Ricky, actually thinks his muscles are pretty, if you’d believe it.”
“Doesn’t every sixteen year old?”
“The only opponent that interests him is in the mirror. And he likes him too much to get close. Even though they’re both wearing deodorant. Can you believe that? Ever hear of a boxer who insists on wearing underarm in the ring?”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 559-563

Added on Sunday, December 18, 2016 2:09:35 PM

Crystal asked, “Where are you taking me?”
“Wyoming.” There was a long pause. “Fletch? Is that you, Fletch?”
“You were expecting Charon maybe?”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 591-594

Added on Sunday, December 18, 2016 2:11:37 PM

“You can see out the windows. Nice scenery?”
“Yeah. The back of billboards.”
“All the fronts say is KEEP AMERICA BEAUTIFUL.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 615-617

Added on Sunday, December 18, 2016 2:12:58 PM

“I see. And you’re not much on farm laboring, I expect. It’s dry work, all right. I escaped a farm when I was a kid.” The man slapped the side of his stomach. “I wanted to wear a white shirt and have a gut.” He laughed. “See? I’m a success!”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 653-655

Added on Sunday, December 18, 2016 2:15:52 PM

“Is this The Magic Kingdom?” Jack asked the blue-and-white uniformed guard.
“You almost got it right,” the guard said. “You got a pass?”
“Yeah.” Jack handed the guard his laminated pass. “Winnie the Pooh dropped his.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 704-707

Added on Sunday, December 18, 2016 2:19:22 PM

He had entered the sort of world God might have created if He had money, to use an old wheeze.

Highlight (yellow) – Location 718-719

Added on Sunday, December 18, 2016 2:20:27 PM

“You count that as three possible attempts on his life.”
“There was a fourth, this morning.

Highlight (yellow) – Location 800-802
We’ve finally come to the motivating plot about 20% of the way into the book. usually it’s on page 2 if not before.

Added on Sunday, December 18, 2016 2:31:07 PM

🔖 Bookmark on Location 883
Added on Monday, December 19, 2016 10:11:19 AM

“Is modern man ever more relaxed than when whizzing along a highway at the speed of a hurricane?”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 890-891

Added on Monday, December 19, 2016 10:12:00 AM

“Chester Radliegh lives in Georgia.”
“Ah, the state that originally banned lawyers. And slavery. First came the lawyers. Then slavery. Things haven’t changed much since.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 899-900

Added on Monday, December 19, 2016 10:12:41 AM

“His family always had been in either the ministry or banking.”
“There’s a difference?”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 912-913

Added on Monday, December 19, 2016 10:13:52 AM

Thanks for your work, my good man. I’ll practice ’Git Along Little Dogies’ so I can sing it for you next time. In the key of Lee Marvin.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 1000-1001

Added on Monday, December 19, 2016 10:20:07 AM

“Radliegh,” Crystal said after the van had gone another ten miles. “First he creates the perfect mirror, then he tries to create the perfect image. The first was scientifically possible—”
“And the second,” Fletch said, “is a goose’s chase.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 1008-1010

Added on Monday, December 19, 2016 10:20:35 AM

“Plants; weeds,” she continued muttering at the soil: “Just like children.” She pinched a dead leaf off an azalea. “Nurture some plants beautifully, give them everything they want and need, and some of them just curl up ugly. Beat some weeds to death and they just keep popping up, growing, proliferating. If we had genuine respect for character, we’d cultivate weeds and send the plants to mulch.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 1016-1019

Added on Monday, December 19, 2016 10:21:38 AM

“I don’t even want to go to heaven,” Mrs. Houston said as she dug her fingers into the soil, “unless they have some work for me to do there.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 1041-1042

Added on Monday, December 19, 2016 10:23:11 AM

“For sure, you’re the sickest thing I ever saw in a health store.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 1364-1365

Added on Monday, December 19, 2016 10:53:29 AM

While they talked, Fletch picked up all the wastepaper from their store-bought dinner and placed it in a nearby rubbish bin. Whether the American people realize it or not, Fletch thought, we are eating our trees.

Highlight (yellow) – Location 1765-1766

Added on Monday, December 19, 2016 1:00:39 PM

I swanee down the back.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 1951-1951
What does swanee mean here? I’ve never heard this as a verb. A river yes, but never a verb.

Added on Monday, December 19, 2016 1:28:23 PM

🔖 Bookmark on Location 1959
Added on Monday, December 19, 2016 1:28:58 PM

🔖 Bookmark on Location 2141
Added on Tuesday, December 20, 2016 7:09:55 PM

“… Most people, I figure, never do anything unusual, they just go along with whatever it is, mediocrity, corruption, because they can’t stand the idea of being unique, alone, isolated.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 2284-2285

Added on Tuesday, December 20, 2016 7:28:33 PM

“There are gay members of Congress now.”
“Not from Georgia. Not at this time, there aren’t,” Shana said. “Sodomy laws have been removed from the books so recently here you can still see the dust from the eraser.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 2403-2405

Added on Tuesday, December 20, 2016 7:37:16 PM

“What happens to a black hole when it disappears?” Radliegh smiled. “You mean, what happens to the information within?”
“I don’t know what I mean.”
“It would be fun if it elongated into a line so narrow that its cut length would be a speck so small it might be invisible.”
“Why would that be fun?” Jack asked.
“Because it might help define the indefinite we’re prone to think of as the infinite.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 2656-2661

Added on Tuesday, December 20, 2016 10:26:20 PM

“Your grandmother, the defective novelist,” Fletch said.

Highlight (yellow) – Location 2711-2711

Added on Tuesday, December 20, 2016 10:30:28 PM

“So pleased to meet you, Doctor Fletcher.”
“No doctor at all,” Fletch said. “Not even a patient. Call me Irwin.”
“Irwin?” Jack muttered. “Since when Irwin?”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 2718-2721

Added on Tuesday, December 20, 2016 10:30:58 PM

Enjoying the flora and fauna of the garden paths, Fletch said, “Gridlock in paradise. Could it be otherwise? I’ve always suspected Adam and Eve sinned out of pure boredom.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 2764-2765

Added on Tuesday, December 20, 2016 10:34:00 PM

“You must not spend all night every night reading. Man does not live by literature alone. You need sleep.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 2858-2859

Added on Tuesday, December 20, 2016 10:40:12 PM

Mortimer answered the phone. “Hello? Oh, my God, it’s that Fletcher bird. I thought we got rid of you, Fletcher. Please at least tell me you’ve left the state of Wyoming?”
“I’ve left the state,” Fletch said.
“That’s the best thing I’ve heard about Wyoming since I’ve been here—you’ve left.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 2862-2865

Added on Tuesday, December 20, 2016 10:40:47 PM

“I seem to remember you on the ground, on your back.”
“I tripped.”
“That’s what Schmeling said.”
“What happened to gratitude?”
“It came in last in the last race at Hialeah. Hasn’t been heard from since.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 2882-2886

Added on Tuesday, December 20, 2016 10:42:06 PM

“… She’s waiting for a mare to drop her filly.”
“Why would a Mayor drop cream cheese?”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 2923-2924

Added on Tuesday, December 20, 2016 10:44:18 PM

🔖 Bookmark on Location 3117
Added on Thursday, December 22, 2016 1:48:37 AM

Fletch said, “I killed Chester Radliegh.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 3130-3130

Added on Thursday, December 22, 2016 1:49:30 AM

“Tell me the one about why the turtle crossed the road.”
“To get to the Shell station.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 3130-3132

Added on Thursday, December 22, 2016 1:49:46 AM

“… An obdurate man, no matter how brilliant, is an idiot.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 3138-3138

Added on Thursday, December 22, 2016 1:50:19 AM

“Doctor Radliegh died after dinner.”
“How? Did someone kill him?”
“Yeah. I did.”
“How did you do that?”
“Just by talking to him.”
“Mister Mortimer said no one should ever listen to you.”
“He’s right, I guess.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 3232-3237

Added on Thursday, December 22, 2016 1:57:55 AM

Fletch yawned again. “Thanks died at Hialeah, or something.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 3244-3245

Added on Thursday, December 22, 2016 1:58:51 AM

🔖 Bookmark on Location 3270
Added on Thursday, December 22, 2016 4:35:25 PM

“He spoiled it. He killed it with care.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 3305-3305

Added on Thursday, December 22, 2016 4:37:45 PM

oriole

Highlight (orange) – Location 3321-3321
I suspect he meant oriel: “A bay window in an upper story, supported from below by projecting corbels, or brackets of stone or wood.” This typo appears twice in the text.

Added on Thursday, December 22, 2016 4:38:39 PM

He asked his father, “This guy any good?”
Fletch said, “If he were any stupider he’d need a bar code.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 3349-3350

Added on Thursday, December 22, 2016 4:40:35 PM

“Homey,” Fletch commented. “Makes me want to ask when my flight to Tulsa leaves.”
“Do airlines still give out that kind of information?” Jack asked.
“Not voluntarily,” Fletch answered. “Or reliably.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 3362-3365

Added on Thursday, December 22, 2016 4:41:34 PM

I couldn’t sell a ticket to a nun

Highlight (yellow) – Location 3568-3568

Added on Thursday, December 22, 2016 4:54:40 PM

At that moment, Fletch did not expect to be listening to a sixteen-year-old boxer in Montana recite poetry to him by long-distance telephone.

Highlight (yellow) – Location 3579-3580

Added on Thursday, December 22, 2016 4:55:34 PM

“Oh, no.” Jack put the car in gear.
“I work for the truth.” Slowly he drove the little car around the groups of people in the semicircular driveway.
“Humph,” Fletch said. “Good line.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 3877-3879

Added on Thursday, December 22, 2016 5:38:03 PM

“Where did you get an airplane like that?” Slowly, Jack drove Fletch toward the airplane. “The Smithsonian? Don’t they miss it?”
“I bought it from a friend. He needed the money.”
“And you learned to fly it?”
“Not really. I use a road map and stay out of traffic.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 3927-3931

Added on Thursday, December 22, 2016 5:42:16 PM

🔖 Bookmark on Location 3950 – Finished!
Added on Thursday, December 22, 2016 5:45:35 PM

Guide to highlight colors

Yellow–general highlights and highlights which don’t fit under another category below
Orange–Vocabulary word; interesting and/or rare word
Green–Reference to read
Blue–Interesting Quote
Gray–Typography Problem
Red–Example to work through

Syndicated copies to:

Chris Aldrich is reading “My Favorite Books of 2016”

My Favorite Books of 2016 by Bill Gates(gatesnotes.com)
Bill Gates shares his list of best books he read in 2016. The list includes “String Theory” by David Foster Wallace, “Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight, “The Gene” by Siddhartha Mukherjee, “The Myth of the Strong Leader” by Archie Brown, and “The Grid” by Gretchen Bakke.

“The Gene” by Siddhartha Mukherjee, “The Myth of the Strong Leader” by Archie Brown, and “The Grid” by Gretchen Bakke all sound the most interesting.

I’ve heard there was a lot of dubious science discussed in Mukherjee’s book when it came out, but Gates doesn’t mention any of the controversy in his review. The last two books I listed above are lesser known, and I hadn’t heard about them previously. I’ll have to take a look at them over the coming holidays.

Syndicated copies to:

Book Review: Fletch’s Fortune by Gregory Mcdonald

Fletch's Fortune by Gregory Mcdonald(Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)
Fletch's Fortune Book Cover Fletch's Fortune
Fletch #3 (in the stories' chronological order: #7)
Gregory Mcdonald
Fiction; Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
1978; e-book: March 2002
Kindle e-book
256
Amazon.com / Overdrive

He hadn't been a practicing journalist for years, although people remembered him and he still has a few contacts. And he's pretty sure he hasn't paid his dues to the American Journalism Alliance anytime recently. But somebody has.

Enjoying himself on the French Riviera, developing a killer tan, and sleeping with the neighbor's wife, Fletch is feeling pretty flush. But when CIA agents Eggers and Fabens show up with a little more information about Fletch than is comfortable and an invitation to the A.J.A. convention, how could he refuse?

So he finds himself enlisted as a spy among his peers. But before he can even set up his surveillance, there's a murder. And almost everybody's a suspect because a lot of people were employed by Walter March, and most of them had a reason to hate him.

Fletch’s Fortune has a great high concept plot, which is really saying something for Fletch novels which all seem to have a high concept start from a sprinting position. It also allows for a fairly closed setting and lots of satire. The fact that Fletch is somehow both journalist and not journalist allows for some interesting dynamics.

For a parlor-type mystery, there were almost too many characters/suspects, but given the potential size of the conference, I’ll let Mcdonald take a flier on it as he did an excellent job fleshing out each of the characters to make them unique enough to stand on their own without giving up too much. I also suspect that he may have thought of cute little character descriptions over one afternoon and then assigned them to people as they appeared–some of them are really delicious particularly:

The man’s shoulders were little more than outriggers for his ears.

One of my favorite constructs in this book that sets it apart from others in the series were the conference session titles being used deliciously as chapter openers. Many of them provide some hilarious counterpoint to the plot and certainly add to the humor of the overall piece.

Another interesting turn was the romantic portion of the plot in which one of Fletch’s unfortunate choices of pseudonym finally gets him into trouble, though not in the way in which one might otherwise suppose. The sub-plot with Freddie was hilarious and tense without actually coming to a final head. (Writing this after I’ve now read Fletch and the Man Who makes me even more glad that it didn’t. Their relationship is like the unrequited Sam/Rebecca pairing in the NBC television series Cheers, which this book preceded by several years.)

The humor at Crystal’s expense was all great if perhaps maybe even too much, though it was done with enough warmth that it’s obvious that Fletch is doing his part in the nicest way. (Now that I’m in the midst of Son of Fletch, it’s interesting to think back on his relationship with Crystal.)

This book read very quickly and was well plotted though the ending was perhaps all too quick. I would have preferred a slower unfolding in the third act. At least in this one, we get the payoff in the end of seeing some of Fletch’s machinations coming to a head all at once–something we didn’t get to see in Fletch when he set both of his ex-wives up to unwittingly move in together with each other while thinking that they were getting back together with him.

This is sure to rank at the top of my favorite Fletch novels by the time I’m done with the series.

Reading Progress
  • 08/7/16 marked as: want to read; “The Rio Olympics reminded me that I’d gotten Carioca Fletch to read back in the 80’s and never got around to it, so I thought I’d come back and revisit the series.”
  • 09/23/16 marked as: currently reading
  • 09/23/16 14.0% “As usual, a great zinger of an opening… Mcdonald knows how to open a first act.”
  • 09/24/16 22.0% “Things have slowed down a smidge, but the forward momentum of the murder investigation begins to move things along a bit.”
  • 09/28/16 53.0% “Making good progress, hope to finish tomorrow. There are certainly some interesting characters here, though perhaps feeling like too many, particularly since most seem to potentially have committed the murder.”
  • 09/29/16 100% “The second half read incredibly fast. The plot particularly began unfolding in the end almost too quickly. I wish the last act could have lasted a bit longer. I really enjoyed the Crystal character and the snide banter she continually spouts with Fletch. The wrap up with Freddie was generally unexpected, but delicious in its oddity in the larger canon. There was surprisingly little talk of Fletch’s ex-wives or even of his potentially adding another to the collection. Some of my favorite jokes were the chapter headings of the schedule of the conference along with even funnily named rooms in which the sessions were taking place.I’ll hope to write a longer review shortly.”

 

Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia

“C.I.A., Mister Fletcher.”
“Um. Would you mind spelling that?”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 26

“The name’s Arbuthnot,” Fletch said. “Freddy Arbuthnot.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 33
Yet another of Fletch’s many pseudonyms.

“Coffee?”
“If we wanted coffee,” said Fabens, standing up, “we would have made it ourselves.”
“Part of the C.I.A. training, I expect,” Fletch said. “Trespass and Coffee-Making. A Bloody Mary? Something to raise the spirits on this Sunday noon?”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 52

Trans World Airlines

Highlight (yellow) – Location 97
Apparently he’s got stock in TWA. (The original Fletch book also referenced TWA.)

“Yet here you are, living in a villa in Cagna, Italy, the Mediterranean sparkling through your windows, driving a Porsche … unemployed.”
“I retired young.”
“In your lifetime, you have paid almost no federal taxes.”
“I had expenses.”
“You haven’t even filed a return. Ever.”
“I have a very slow accountant.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 121

“Did you have a nice flight?”
“No.”
“Sorry to hear that. Why not?”
“Sat next to a Methodist minister.”
“What’s wrong with sitting next to a Methodist minister?”
“Are you kidding? The closer to heaven we got, the smugger he got.”
“Jesus, Fletch.”
“That’s what I say.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 178-182

Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:03:45 PM

“They weren’t gentlemen.”
“Sorry to hear that. We usually send only our finest abroad. I haven’t made it yet.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 233-234

Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:09:42 PM

“I’m working on a book about Edgar Arthur Tharp, Junior.”
“You’re working on a book about an American cowboy painter in Italy?”
“It brings a certain perspective to the work. Detachment.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 347-349

Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:19:44 PM

“What’s your name?”
“I. M. Fletcher.”
“Fletcher? Never heard of you. Why so pompous about it?”
“Pompous?”
“You announced your name, I am Fletcher. As if someone had said you weren’t. Why didn’t you just say, Fletcher?”

Highlight (yellow) Location 354-357
I noticed this in the last book too. Surprised he didn’t make more ‘I’m’ jokes.

Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:22:21 PM

“You have nice hands.”
“One on the end of each arm.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 363-363

Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:23:56 PM

“Arbuthnot,” she said.
“Arbuthnot?”
“Arbuthnot. Fredericka Arbuthnot.”
“Freddie Arbuthnot?”
“You’ve heard of me?”

Highlight (yellow) Location 373-375

Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:25:49 PM

Helena Williams pushed the mental button for A Distraught Expression.

Highlight (yellow) Location 429-430
Mcdonald also makes references to people putting on a face in Fletch and the Man Who, particularly when describing the political candidate there. (Annotation added on 12/1/16)

Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:32:02 PM

“Now you must tell me all about yourself, Fletch. Whom are you working for now?”
“The C.I.A.” He looked openly at Freddie Arbuthnot. “I’m here to bug everybody.”
“You’ve always had such a delightful sense of humor,” Helena said.
“He’s bugging me,” Freddie muttered.
“I’ve heard that joke,” Fletch snapped.

Highlight (yellow) Location 452-455

Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:38:07 PM

“Would you children like to share a room?” Helena asked.
“We are sort of crowded—”
“Definitely not,” Fletch said “I suspect she snores.”
“I do not.”
“How do you know?”
“I’ve been told.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 456-458

Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:38:42 PM

episcopally

Highlight ( orange ) Location 461-461
One doesn’t see this word often, much less in an adverbial form.

Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:39:31 PM

🔖 Bookmark on Location 494
Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:45:44 PM

pellucid

Highlight (orange) Location 546-546

Added on Saturday, September 24, 2016 9:20:59 AM

“I was pregnant.”
“How could anyone tell?”
“Pardon me while I chuckle.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 595-597

Added on Saturday, September 24, 2016 9:30:50 AM

“What else do you know about the murder, Crystal?”
“That it’s going to be the best reported crime in history. There are more star reporters at Hendricks Plantation at this moment than have ever been gathered under one roof before. In fact, I suspect more are showing up unexpectedly, simply because of the murder. Do you realize what it would be worth to a person’s career to scoop the murder of Walter March—with all this competition around?”

Highlight (yellow) Location 617-619

Added on Saturday, September 24, 2016 9:33:09 AM

sybarite

Highlight (orange) Location 630-631

Added on Saturday, September 24, 2016 9:34:51 AM

“Experts,” he said, “are the sources of opinions. People are the sources of facts.”

Highlight (blue) Location 644-645

Added on Saturday, September 24, 2016 9:37:09 AM

“Did you tell the other reporters about him?”
“No.” She said, “I guess it takes nine times being asked the same questions, for me to have remembered him.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 707-709

Added on Saturday, September 24, 2016 9:51:06 AM

“Good night, sweet Princess.” He turned out the bedside lamp. “Dream sweet dreams, and, when you awake, think kindly on the Bumptious Bandit! ‘Daughter, did you hear hoofbeats in the night?’” He left a light on across the room, to orient her when she awoke. “‘Father, Father, I thought it were the palpitations of my own heart!’”
Letting himself out, the telephone information sheet firmly in hand, Fletch said, “‘It were, Daughter. Booze does that to you.’”

Highlight (yellow) Location 776-779

Added on Saturday, September 24, 2016 9:58:07 AM

🔖 Bookmark on Location 780
Added on Saturday, September 24, 2016 9:58:25 AM

audiencé

Highlight (gray) Location 874-874

Added on Sunday, September 25, 2016 3:07:52 PM

“The Administration has decided not to ignore us completely,” Crystal Faoni said, “just because we’ve taken to stabbing each other in the back more openly than usual.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 890-891

Added on Sunday, September 25, 2016 3:14:47 PM

“My, my,” Fletch said of his marvelous machine, “it walks, it talks, cries ‘Mama!’ and piddles genuine orange juice!”

Highlight (yellow) Location 961-962

Added on Sunday, September 25, 2016 3:45:05 PM

“I take it we’re not sleeping together?”
Fletch said into the phone, “Who is this?” It was 1:20 A.M. He had been asleep a half-hour.
“Damn you!” said Freddie Arbuthnot. “Damn your eyes, your nose, and, your cock!”
The phone went dead. It wasn’t that Fletch hadn’t thought of it. He knew she’d washed her knees.

Highlight (yellow) Location 1082-1086

Added on Sunday, September 25, 2016 4:20:42 PM

🔖 Bookmark on Location 1087
Added on Sunday, September 25, 2016 4:21:06 PM

“I. M. Fletcher?”
“One of us is.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1272-1273

Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:19:06 AM

“Will you be needing equipment, sir?”
“I guess so. Also a partner. Playing tennis alone takes too much running back and forth.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1274-1275

Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:19:25 AM

“Hendricks. H, as in waffle.”

Highlight (blue) Location 1309-1309

Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:22:30 AM

You’re unemployed?”
“Presently unencumbered by earned income.”
“You have no outlet?”
“Only the kind you can flush.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1320-1322

Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:23:38 AM

“That was a little song I was taught. As a child.” She was blushing more. “The ‘Wash Me Up’ song.”
“Oh!” Fletch said. “There is a difference between boys and girls! I was taught the wash-me-down song!”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1387-1389

Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:37:12 AM

“Would you please go get dressed?”
“Why are people always saying that to me?”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1397-1398

Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:37:53 AM

bonhomie

Highlight (orange) Location 1521-1521

Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:48:54 AM

“Hey, Bob. We’re supposed to be journalists, aren’t we? Journalists live it up. I saw a movie once.…”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1572-1572

Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:52:22 AM

The man shook hands as would an eel—if eels were familiar with human social graces.

Highlight (yellow) Location 1583-1583

Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:53:46 AM

Other journalists referred to Lewis Graham as “the Reader’s Digest of the air.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1591-1592

Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:54:41 AM

Trouble was, his colleagues read the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlanta Constitution, the Los Angeles Times, Time, Newsweek, Foreign Affairs, and the Old Testament as well as he and could identify the sources of his facts, insights, and understandings, precisely, night after night.

Highlight (yellow) Location 1589-1591

Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:55:07 AM

He painted quite a picture. Sailing off into the sunset, hand in hand with his childhood sweetheart, sitting on his poop or whatever it is yachts have.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1633-1634

Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:59:44 AM

catamaran

Highlight (yellow) Location 1635-1635
Mcdonald seems to like these boats, or they’re the only kind he knows??

Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 9:00:22 AM

“How do,” the Major said.
“Do I have the honor of addressing Irwin Maurice Fletcher?” The drawl was thicker than Mississippi mud.
“Right,” said Fletch.
“Veteran of the United States Marine Corps?”
“Yes.”
“Serial Number 1893983?”
“It was. I retired it. Anyone can use it now.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1679-1683

Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 9:04:23 AM

“Anyway, this here sharp-eyed old boy—he’s from Tennessee—I suspect he was pretty well-known around home for shooting off hens’ teeth at a hundred meters

Highlight (yellow) Location 1687-1688

Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 9:05:00 AM

“Major, do you have a point? This is long distance. You never can tell. A taxpayer might be listening in.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1699-1700
Mcdonald shows a bit of his upbringing and time period here. He seems to have a “hangup” (pun intended) about telephones as this mirrors some of the snide remarks made in the original Fletch with Alan Stanwyk’s dad’s conversation about telephones.

Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 9:05:59 AM

You asked the question. You could wear an elephant down to a mouse.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1819-1819

Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 9:14:22 AM

🔖 Bookmark on Location 1888
Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 9:20:03 AM

“Now I’ve got the Fletch story to cap all Fletch stories! Tousle-headed Fletch kneeling by his bed, lisping, ‘Now I lay me down with sheep’!”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2080-2081

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 5:54:39 PM

Crystal said into her parfait.

Crystal does a lot of talking to her food. In fact, in general, Mcdonald seems to be having way too much fun with Crystal’s food obsession.
Highlight (yellow) Location 2230

putting us up in their best hotel, which had the ambience of a chicken coop,

Highlight (yellow) Location 2245-2245
great description

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 6:08:57 PM

🔖 Bookmark on Location 2307
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 6:14:56 PM

Would you care for some coffee?”
“I don’t use it.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2313-2314
In the 80s drug culture this sounds interestingly illicit.

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:14:17 PM

What’s keeping the wolf from the door?”
“My ugly disposition.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2319-2320

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:14:56 PM

WOMEN IN JOURNALISM:
Face It, Fellas— Few Stories Take Nine Months to Finish
Group Discussion
Aunt Sally Hendricks Sewing Room

Highlight (yellow) Location 2387-2390

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:21:31 PM

“Of course I’m at the Star. Would I be home with my god-awful wife if I could help it?”
“Ah,” Fletch said. “The Continuing Romance of Jack and Daphne Saunders. How is the old dear?”
“Fatter, meaner, and uglier than ever.”
“Don’t knock fat.”
“How can you?”
“Got her eyelashes stuck in a freezer’s door lately?”
“No, but she plumped into a door the other night Got the door knob stuck in her belly button. Had to have it surgically removed.”
Fletch thought Jack remained married to Daphne simply to make up rotten stories about her.

Highlight (yellow) Location 2460-2465

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:27:05 PM

“Okay. You want background or gossip at this point?”
“Both.”
“Walter March was murdered,”
“No foolin’.”
“Scissors in the back.”
“Next you’re going to say he fell down dead.”
“You’re always rushing ahead, Jack.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2480-2484

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:29:08 PM

“How do I know? If it is true, it happened at a dangerous age for Rolly—fifteen or sixteen—I forget which. Loves and hatreds run deep in people that age.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2507-2507

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:30:59 PM

The world’s greatest practitioner of the sufferin’-Jesus school of journalism.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2512-2513

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:31:31 PM

“If that’s an ivory tower, I’m a lollipop.”
“I can lick you anytime.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2542-2543

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:33:59 PM

“Sure, Jack, sure. Anything for ‘old times’ sake.’ “

Highlight (yellow) Location 2561-2561
Typo: there’s an extraneous single quote, and the closing double quote is facing the wrong direction.

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:35:19 PM

🔖 Bookmark on Location 2628
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:41:04 PM

Fletch said, “Oh. Well, you haven’t identified yourself.”
The man shook his head. “I.R.S.,” he said. “I.R.S.”
“But what do I call you?” Fletch asked. “I? I.R.? Mister S.?”
“You don’t need to call me anything,” I.R.S. said. “Just respond.”
“Ir.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2756-2759

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:58:00 PM

Fletch looked at I.R.S. The man was almost entirely Adam’s apple.

Highlight (yellow) Location 2773-2774

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:59:48 PM

The man’s shoulders were little more than outriggers for his ears.

Highlight (yellow) Location 2774-2775

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:00:00 PM

“Crystal? I’m going to say something very, very rotten to you.”
“What?”
“The dining room is still open for breakfast.”
“Rat”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2789-2791

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:01:07 PM

“As a matter of personal curiosity, may I ask why you have not filed returns?”
“April’s always a busy month for me. You know. In the spring a young man’s fancy really shouldn’t have to turn to the Internal Revenue Service.”
“You could always apply for extensions.”
“Who has the time to do that?”
“Is there any political thinking behind your not paying taxes?”
“Oh, no. My motives are purely esthetic, if you want to know the truth.”
“Esthetic?”
“Yes. I’ve seen your tax forms. Visually, They’re ugly. In fact, very offensive. And their use of the English language.

Highlight (yellow) Location 2799-2805

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:02:47 PM

wallahs

Highlight (orange) Location 2807-2807

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:03:19 PM

Address by Horsch Aldrich

Highlight (yellow) Location 2868-2869
What do you know? An Aldrich made it into the story! A long lost relative apparently…

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:10:24 PM

“Almost everyone here has made a point of telling me how important he or she is. Such a lot of important people. The seas would rumble and nations would crumble if I kept any of you out of circulation for many more minutes than I had to.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2908-2909

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:20:52 PM

“Right,” Crystal said solemnly to her fruit salad. “News does not happen unless a reporter is there to report it.”
“For example,” said Fletch, “if no one had known World War Two was happening.…”
“Actually,” Crystal said, “Hitler without the use of the radio wouldn’t have been Hitler at all.”
“And the Civil War,” said Freddie. “If it hadn’t been for the telegraph.…”
“The geographic center of the American Revolution,” Fletch said, “was identical to the center of the new American printing industry.”
“And then there was Caesar,” Crystal said. “Was he a military genius with pen in hand, or a literary genius with sword in hand? Did Rome conquer the world in reality, or just its communications systems?”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2913-2919

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:22:25 PM

Did you try those blueberry muffins this morning?”
“I tried only one of them,” Freddie said.
Crystal said, “The rest of them were good, too.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2921-2923

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:23:22 PM

“It’s been like trying to sing ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ while your head’s stuck in a beehive.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2925-2926
Creative description

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:23:48 PM

Neale was paying more attention to the remainder of his salad than Crystal would do after trekking across a full golf course.

Highlight (yellow) Location 2954-2954

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:26:39 PM

“Oh, yum!” said Crystal. “Who cares about death and perdition as long as there’s chocolate cake?”

Highlight (blue) Location 2963-2963

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:29:10 PM

Who’d ever want to kill the Vice-President of the United States? One could have a greater effect upon national policy by killing the White House cook.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 3228-3229
Your Superfluous Excellency?

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 11:25:46 PM

And while the General was making this big entrance, landing in a helicopter on the back lawn, the Vice-President of the United States was arriving at the front of the hotel in an economy-size car—completely ignored.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 3231-3232

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 11:26:18 PM

Bushwa

Highlight (orange) Location 3418-3418

Added on Thursday, September 29, 2016 12:13:05 AM

“‘Live like journalists,?’ ” Fletch quoted. “‘Disgusting.’ ”

Highlight (gray) Location 3444-3444
The comma and quotes here need to be tweaked.

Added on Thursday, September 29, 2016 12:18:30 AM

Guide to highlight colors

Yellow–general highlights and highlights which don’t fit under another category below
Orange–Vocabulary word; interesting and/or rare word
Green–Reference to read
Blue–Interesting Quote
Gray–Typography Problem
Red–Example to work through

Syndicated copies to:

Book Review: Fletch and the Man Who by Gregory Mcdonald

Fletch and the Man Who by Gregory Mcdonald(Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)
Fletch and the Man Who Book Cover Fletch and the Man Who
Fletch #6 (in the stories' chronological order: #9)
Gregory Mcdonald
Fiction; Mystery and Suspense
Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
August 1, 1983; re-released September 1, 2004
e-book
226

“A girl jumped off the motel’s roof. Five minutes ago.” "Give it to me straight. Does the girl have anything to do with us? I mean, with the campaign? The presidential candidate?" "It's your job, Fletch, to make damned sure she didn't." FLETCH and the Man Who When Fletch arrives as the new press representative for Governor Caxton Wheeler’s presidential campaign, he isn’t sure which mystery to solve first: what his new job actually is or why the campaign has been leaving dead women in its tracks. FLETCH and the Man Who He finds himself on the other side of the press, a human shield deflecting the questions he is asking himself. Are the murders just coincidence, or is a cold-hearted killer looking for a job in the White House? FLETCH and the Man Who When the campaign shifts into high gear, Fletch’s skills are working overtime in a desperate bid of his own to find the killer and to make sure the governor doesn’t lose any more votes.

I’m slowly nearing the end of the entire Fletch series, but they still manage to stay relevant and interesting. Fletch and the Man Who is certainly no exception. In fact, I might argue that it is not only still very relevant to modern culture, but that it has actually ripened with age.

Caxton’s Technology Platform

The most interesting portions of the book were the prescience of the role of technology in modern life that were described within it. Mcdonald wrote this in 1983 long before the advent or ubiquitization of satellite communications, cellular phones, desktop computers, and even the internet. Yet somehow the discussion being pushed by the lead presidential candidate in the story feels very forward thinking and is highly relevant even today. Given the rise of Twitter and Facebook, it may actually be more interesting and relevant today than when the book was written in the early 1980s. Interestingly it feels like we have yet to figure out where technology is taking us. This book brings up a lot of philosophical ideas that we’re still heavily grappling with and on even deeper levels. Some of the mentions of religion and politics are all still alive and well in the modern political scene (though Communism/Marxism have died and disappeared after this book was written) and are just as touchy in their relation to technology. The recent presidential campaign certainly highlighted some of these technology issues, particularly with relation to the effect on political communication via fake news and Facebook. Mcdonald takes aim at the idea of “truth” within a political campaign and having a well informed electorate.

Political Satire

There is some really great satire on politics in the book. Oddly, not much of it originates with Fletch or his views on life. While there are a handful of good zingers that Fletch delivers in his wry signature fashion, this book seemed like a major departure in that the supporting characters take on the typical Fletch role of smartasses. This felt interesting and almost natural from a storytelling point of view as Fletch himself actually throws off his typical rebel character mantle to “join the establishment” and run interference for the presidential candidate’s press corps. Most interesting to me a lot of the mentions about politics still play as well today as they did 30+ years ago.

Other observations

We meet one of Fletch’s old war buddies and learn a few new pieces of backstory that flesh out his character a bit more, which is something I didn’t expect as much of at this point in the series.

There isn’t as much sexual tension in this as in some of the past works, but Freddie Arbuthnot makes a reappearance and really forces Fletch to work overtime for her approval. This seemed more interesting to me than some of Fletch’s past sexual exploits which seemed to come too easily for him. It’s more interesting to see him have to work at creating a relationship, particularly with a woman who had previously thrown herself at him.

Of interest to me with regard to the plotting and the reveal at the end was that there were a nice number of potential suspects. Better, despite my decade+ affair with Law & Order and similar procedurals on television, there was just enough psychological subtlety and distance that the reveal of the killer was not only well motivated but also hidden enough to be entertaining right up to the end. (No spoilers here…)

One thing I did miss was the complete lack of phony characters invented by Fletch as cover stories. To my recollection there were none in this installment. I did however notice that a despicable character in the plot had the name Hanrahan which was (probably not coincidentally) one of the fictional names that popped up in a cover story Fletch spun in the film version of the first book:

Well now, you know that and I know that, but… somebody’s bucking for a promotion. Probably that pederast Hanrahan. I don’t know. All I know is if I don’t go back with something, you and your son-in-law are going to be the scapegoats of the week.

This book would have been out and available well in advance of the May 31, 1985 release of the film.

There were a few tidbits that could have been better resolved at the end (what was Caxton really doing during those disappearances?), but overall, this was a very satisfying and interesting read. It’s certainly made me think about politics and the philosophy of technology in a different way than I have been recently, and for that this may have been to me the most interesting book in the series so far. Some of the philosophy in particular deserves additional thought and study, and may motivate me to actually re-read this one.

Fletch and the Man Who
Fletch and the Man Who
Reading Progress
  • 08/7/16 marked as: want to read; “The Rio Olympics reminded me that I’d gotten Carioca Fletch to read back in the 80’s and never got around to it, so I thought I’d come back and revisit the series.”
  • 11/03/16 started reading
  • 11/03/16 02.0% done
  • 11/05/16 03.0% done
  • 11/08/16 04.0% done
  • 11/11/16 08.0% done
  • 11/20/16 18.0% done
  • 11/21/16 21.0% done; “Fletch has a new job, and like usual, the first few minutes of the book throw us right into a riveting high concept. Where we’re ultimately headed is anyone’s guess…”
  • 11/22/16 22.0% done
  • 11/23/16 35.0% done; “Usually Fletch is the one with all the sharp, ascerbic statements, but in this installment I’m noticing that he’s the tame one and everyone else is somehow playing the part he usually does.”
  • 11/24/16 56.0% done
  • 11/25/16 Finished book; “There’s some great stuff in the last half of the book about Wheeler’s platform that is eerily prescient of the situation we now find ourselves in with regard to a heavily internet connected world and who owns it. It’s also an odd feeling reading this after experiencing what’s recently happened in the 2016 presidential election and it’s ensuing results.”

Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia

On a presidential campaign, all the crises are biggies. You’ve only got a few minutes to learn that.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 26-27

Added on Thursday, November 3, 2016 11:39:44 PM

tout
Highlight (orange) – Location 41-41
This is a great word that’s usually only used in horse racing settings. I suspect that it’s second most-oft used setting is politics, so it’s certainly at home here.

Added on Thursday, November 3, 2016 11:41:19 PM

“I knew you had something other than pretzels between the ears.”
“Potato chips.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 75-76

Added on Thursday, November 3, 2016 11:44:42 PM

“Going my way?” he asked.
“No,” she answered. “I’m on my way up.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 91-92

Added on Thursday, November 3, 2016 11:46:06 PM

“You don’t read Newsworld?”
“My dentist doesn’t subscribe.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 104-105

Added on Thursday, November 3, 2016 11:46:52 PM

“You don’t read the Newsworld Syndicate?”
“Not on crime. Gross stuff, crime. Reports on what the coroner found in the victim’s lower intestine. I don’t even want to know what’s in my own lower intestine.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 106-108

Added on Saturday, November 5, 2016 11:06:02 PM

“You couldn’t have gotten here that fast from New York or Los Angeles or—or from wherever you hang your suspicions.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 132-133

Added on Saturday, November 5, 2016 11:07:46 PM

“The Press is The People, sir.”
“Funny,” said The Man Who. “I thought the government is.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 163-164

Added on Saturday, November 5, 2016 11:10:36 PM

The living room was decorated in Super Motel. There was a bad painting on the wall, oil on canvas, of a schooner under full sail.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 166-167
Fletch always does enjoy commenting on art, and this bit of satire about the sameness of motel rooms is no different in allowing him some commentary.

Added on Tuesday, November 8, 2016 2:16:39 AM

“Motels and gas stations expect even presidential candidates to pay their bills. It’s the American way.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 186-187

Added on Friday, November 11, 2016 9:36:20 PM

they’d desert us faster than kittens leave a gully in the January thaw.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 190-191

Added on Friday, November 11, 2016 9:37:00 PM

“Working on a book,” Fletch said.
“On politics?”
“On an American western artist. You know: Edgar Arthur Tharp, Junior.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 219-221

Added on Friday, November 11, 2016 9:39:22 PM

“Isn’t American politics a crusade of amateurs?”
“Who said that?”
“I did. I think.”
“You’re wrong. But it has a nice ring to it.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 229-232

Added on Friday, November 11, 2016 9:40:09 PM

“I understand the job of press secretary is to keep paintin’ the picket fence around the main house. Just keep paintin’ it. Whatever’s goin’ on inside, the outside is to look pretty.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 281-282

Added on Friday, November 11, 2016 9:46:35 PM

“Where’d you get the money?”
“You can save a lot of money by not smoking.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 296-297

Added on Friday, November 11, 2016 9:48:09 PM

“And do you have any good ideas?”
“Just one, for now.”
“And what would that be?”
“To be loyal to you.” Fletch grinned. “Until I get a better offer. Isn’t that what you just said politics is all about?”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 304-307

Added on Friday, November 11, 2016 9:48:48 PM

“Don’t know how the press will accept him,” the governor said. “Fletch looks like breakfast to someone with a hangover.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 332-333

Added on Friday, November 11, 2016 9:51:55 PM

Ups
Highlight (gray) – Location 519-519
Should have been “lips”.

Added on Sunday, November 20, 2016 9:38:17 AM

“You know how to make the best of a bad situation, Fletch. And a presidential campaign is one bad situation after another.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 535-536

Added on Sunday, November 20, 2016 9:52:16 AM

“Walsh, you’ve been drinking.” She stood up only partway.
“Had to spend some time in the bar, Mother. Something happened. This girl—”
Doris Wheeler slapped her son, hard.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 563-566

Added on Sunday, November 20, 2016 9:58:41 AM

“Well,” Walsh finally said, “I’m glad I gave you my lecture on loyalty, before you saw that.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 574-574

Added on Sunday, November 20, 2016 9:58:55 AM

“Dearly beloved,” said the governor.
“Now you’re leaving out Arbuthnot!” said Joe Hall.
“All creatures great and small?” asked the governor.
“Why’s that man up there calling us a bunch of animals?” Stella Kirchner asked Bill Dieckmann loudly. “Trying to get elected game warden or something?”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 585-590

Added on Sunday, November 20, 2016 10:00:49 AM

“Good morning,” Fletch said. “As the governor’s press representative, I make you the solemn promise that I will never lie to you. Today, on this bus, we will be passing through Miami, New Orleans, Dallas, New York, and Keokuk, Iowa. Per usual, at midday you will be flown to San Francisco for lunch. Today’s menu is clam chowder, pheasant under glass, roast Chilean lamb, and a strawberry mousse from Maine. Everything the governor says today will be significant, relevant, wise, to the point, and as fresh as the lilies in the field.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 610-614

Added on Sunday, November 20, 2016 10:05:24 AM

“Is it true you saved Walsh Wheeler’s life overseas?” Fenella Baker asked.
“That’s another thing,” Fletch said. “I will never evade any of your questions.” He turned the microphone off and hung it up.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 624-627

Added on Sunday, November 20, 2016 10:06:40 AM

“How does it feel to be an adversary of the press?” From her seat on the bus, Freddie Arbuthnot grinned up at Fletch.
“Some people,” announced Fletch, “think I always have been.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 628-630

Added on Sunday, November 20, 2016 10:07:28 AM

“You’re a help.”
“You’ll never make it.”
“I know it.”
“That’s all right.” She patted him on the arm. “I’ll destroy you as painlessly as possible.”
“Great. I’d appreciate that. Are you sure you’re up to it?”
“Up to what?”
“Destroying me.”
“It will be easy,” she said. “Because of all those conflicts in yourself. You’ve never tried to be a member of the establishment before, Fletch. I mean, let’s face it: you’re a born-and-bred rebel.”
“I bought a necktie for this job.”
She studied his solid red tie. “Nice one, too. Looks like you’re already bleeding from the neck.”
“Got it in the airport in Little Rock.”
“Limited selection?”
“No. They had five or six to choose from.”
“That was the best?”
“I thought so.”
“You only bought one, though, right?”
“Didn’t know how long this job would last.”
“Glad you didn’t make too big an investment in your future as a member of the establishment.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 655-671

Added on Sunday, November 20, 2016 10:12:26 AM

“The definition of a press representative. You are game as fair as any, seasoned, roasted, carved, and chewed.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 686-687

Added on Sunday, November 20, 2016 10:13:54 AM

“We’re being overcome by machines.” Freddie sat up again. “They’ll have their day. Or so they predict. And they’re always right. Right?”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 748-750

Added on Sunday, November 20, 2016 10:19:14 AM

Your Bookmark on Location 811

Added on Sunday, November 20, 2016 11:50:32 PM

“Vic Robbins! Upton’s advance man?”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 839-840

Added on Monday, November 21, 2016 12:01:09 AM

speechwriters Phil Nolting and Paul Dobson
Highlight (yellow) – Location 831-831

Added on Monday, November 21, 2016 12:01:26 AM

Lee Allen Parke
Highlight (yellow) – Location 827-827

Added on Monday, November 21, 2016 12:01:49 AM

Barry Hines, the campaign’s communication chief
Highlight (yellow) – Location 833-833

Added on Monday, November 21, 2016 12:01:59 AM

Flash Grasselli
Highlight (yellow) – Location 869-869

Added on Monday, November 21, 2016 12:02:51 AM

Michael J. Hanrahan
Highlight (yellow) – Location 906-906
His last name is the same as the pederast’s name in the film Fletch during the Poon scene; it also would have been written in time to have been read and included into the movie.

Added on Monday, November 21, 2016 12:06:32 AM

scabrous
Highlight (orange) – Location 919-919

Added on Monday, November 21, 2016 12:07:43 AM

He put his chin up at Fletch, who was still on the stairs of the campaign bus, and tried to give Fletch a penetrating look with bloodshot eyes, each in its own pool of poison.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 925-926
great bit of language for a vile character

Added on Tuesday, November 22, 2016 4:20:14 AM

Even Hanrahan’s neck was turning red. “You know how many readers I got?” he shouted.
“Yeah,” Freddie said. “Everyone in the country who can’t read, reads Newsbill. Big deal.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 948-950

Added on Tuesday, November 22, 2016 4:22:00 AM

Dr. Thom spoke with extraordinary slowness. “Anyone trying to handle the press can have anything he wants from me: poisoned gas, flamethrowers, machine guns, hand grenades. If I don’t have such medical and surgical tools on hand, I shall secure them for you at greatly reduced rates.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 968-971

Added on Tuesday, November 22, 2016 4:24:11 AM

“Do you really think so? Neither the substance of America’s favorite sport, politics, nor the substance of America’s favorite food, the hot dog, can bear too much analysis. If the innards of either American politics or the American hot dog were too fully revealed, the American would have to disavow and disgorge himself.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 976-979
similar to Bismark on laws and sausage

Added on Tuesday, November 22, 2016 4:25:06 AM

Fenella Baker and Betsy Ginsberg. I had been talking with Bill Dieckmann
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1006-1007

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:07:07 AM

Of course, if I ever come across a lawyer lying on the sidewalk, I’ll tread on his face.”
“You don’t like lawyers either?”
“Even lawyers’ mothers don’t like lawyers. If you do a survey, I think you’ll find that lawyers’ mothers are the strongest advocates of legal abortions in the land.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1013-1017

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:08:02 AM

“Ask me some questions.”
“Ask anything?”
“Anything your heart desires. You know a man more from his questions than from his answers. Who said that?”
“You just did.”
“Let’s not make a note of it.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1081-1084

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:13:37 AM

The governor was smiling. “The American people don’t want anyone with deep convictions as President of the United States. People with deep convictions are dangerous. They’re incapable of the art of governing a democracy because they’re incapable of compromise. People with deep convictions put everyone who disagrees with them in prison. Then they blow the world up. You don’t want that, do you?”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1098-1101

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:15:01 AM

“Didactic but not dogmatic is the rule for a good politician. Who said that?”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1110-1110

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:15:43 AM

poltroon
Highlight (orange) – Location 1128-1128

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:16:59 AM

Then Fletch said in a rush, “Ideology will never equalize the world. Technology is doing so.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1136-1136

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:17:41 AM

“Yeah, but Newsbill’s readers are too ashamed to identify themselves to each other.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1166-1167
This sounds a lot like many Trump supporters before the election. They wouldn’t identify until after-the-fact.

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:19:22 AM

“Arbuthnot and Hanrahan.” The governor was smoothing his jacket. “Sounds like a manufacturer of pneumatic drills.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1262-1263

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:25:09 AM

“Are we at the right school?”
“Oh, yes,” the governor said. “They couldn’t have played ‘America’ that badly without practicing it.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1322-1324

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:34:41 AM

“What kind of a story did some of you find to phone in? I saw you at the phone.”
“You don’t know?”
“No idea.”
“Some press rep. you are. You ever been on a campaign before?”
“No.”
“You’re cute, Fletcher. But I don’t think you should be on this one, either.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1336-1341

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:36:05 AM

“I used to pray in school,” Roy Filby said from the seat behind Betsy. “Before every exam. Swear like hell afterward.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1356-1357

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:37:18 AM

To Betsy, Fletch said, “I have a question for you, okay?”
“The answer is yes,” she said. “Anytime. You don’t even have to bring a bottle of wine.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1382-1384
What a way to proposition someone…

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:39:17 AM

Fletch too wondered why Fenella Baker’s face didn’t itch. Surely some of that powder had been on it since the days of Jimmy Carter.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1401-1402

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:40:26 AM

Freddie said. She continued reading Jay Daly’s Walls.
Highlight (green) – Location 1442-1442
Walls is a work of fiction from 1981 in which “Frankie O’Day, an incurable graffiti writer, has to deal with pranksterish friends, an alcoholic father, and a new romance.”

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:43:07 AM

“Yes. Drinking rum toffs.”
“What’s a rum toff?”
Highlight (orange) – Location 1495-1496
I suspect he’s making a reference to rumptopf (or rum pot) here

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:47:17 AM

“Somebody in a presidential family ought to marry a Ginsberg. We do nice table settings.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1525-1526

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:53:21 AM

“Irwin!” Roy Filby echoed. “I’d rather see one than be one!”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1532-1532

I read this little snipe at Fletch (and the ubiquitous mention of his disliked first name) as a blatant reference to the Gelett Burgess nonsense poem Purple Cow first published in 1895. One will note the reference comes via verbal transmission rather than direct as the line is slightly modified.

I never saw a Purple Cow,
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I’d rather see than be one. [1]

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:53:41 AM

“How did you know my name is Irwin?” Fletch asked.
The bus driver said: “Just guessed.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1551-1552

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:54:59 AM

“Guess they don’t think too badly of bribing schoolchildren.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1569-1569

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 2:04:32 PM

“Sweet Wheat, the breakfast cereal that makes kiddies yell for more.”
“Yell with the toothache,” Paul Dobson said. “They’re yelling because it makes their teeth hurt!”
“Make ’em hypertensive with sugar at breakfast,” Phil Nolting intoned, as if quoting, “then slap ’em down at school.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1572-1576
Could these two have been the inspiration for Larry and Ed on the television show The West Wing?

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 2:05:14 PM

“I don’t think the American people are apt to consider an older man handing out coins to little kids as Beelzebub.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1623-1623

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 2:08:55 PM

“Who was the first one to say ‘If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen’?”
“Uh—Fred Fenton?”
“Who was he?”
“Cooked for Henry the Eighth.” The governor gave him a weird look. “Buried under the chapel at the Tower of London. Forgot to take the poultry lacers out of roast falcons.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1638-1642

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 2:10:20 PM

“… It used to be that what happened in New York and Washington was important in Paramaribo, in Durban, in Kampuchea. Nothing was more important. Well, things have changed. Now we know that what happens in Santiago, in Tehran, in Peking is terribly important in New York and Washington. Nothing is more important.”
Fletch said: “Wow.”
“… The Third World, as it’s called, is no longer something out there—separate from us, inconsequential to us. Whether we like it or not, the world is becoming more sensitive. The world is becoming covered with a network of fine nerves—an electronic nervous system not unlike that which integrates our own bodies. Our finger hurts, our toe hurts and we feel it as much as if our head aches or our heart aches. Instantly now do we feel the pain in Montevideo, in Juddah, in Bandung. And yes, my friends in Winslow, we feel the pains from our own, internal third world—from Harlem, from Watts, from our reservations of Native Americans …”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1705-1713

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 2:19:01 PM

“… You and I know there is no theology, no ideology causing this new, sudden, total integration of the world. Christianity has had two thousand years to tie this world together … and it has not done so. Islam has had six hundred years to tie this world together … and it has not done so. American democracy has had two hundred years to tie this world together … and it has not done so. Communism has had nearly one hundred years to tie this world together… and it has not done so.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1718-1722

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 2:20:04 PM

“… You and I, my friends, know that technology is tying this world together, is integrating this world in a way no theology, no ideology ever could. Technology is forming a nervous system beneath the skin of Mother Earth. And you and I know that to avoid the pain, the body politic had better start responding to this nervous system immediately! If we ignore that which hurts in any part of this body earth, we shall suffer years more, generations more of the pain and misery of spreading disease. If we knowingly allow wounds to fester in any particular place, the strength, the energies of the whole world will be sapped!”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1742-1746

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 2:23:02 PM

At the edge of the platform, The Man Who shook hands with the congressperson as if he had never seen her before, keeping his arm long, making it seem, for the public, for the photographers, he was greeting just another well-wisher.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1755-1757

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 2:31:09 PM

Your Bookmark on Location 1766

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 2:32:14 PM

“What did the governor say?” Kirchner asked.
“Well,” Fletch said, “roughly he said the world is getting it together despite man’s best ideas.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1831-1833

Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 12:34:30 AM

“Part of the process of a political campaign is to go around the country listening to people. At least, a good politician listens. You said something this morning that struck me as eminently sensible. Something probably everybody knows is true, but no one has yet said. Probably only the young have grown up with this new reality in their guts, really knowing it to be true.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1862-1864

Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 12:36:52 AM

“There’s a difference between ideas and facts,” the governor said. “The people of the world will be better served with a few facts.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2003-2005

Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 4:15:48 PM

Your Bookmark on Location 1991

Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:01:08 PM

The governor narrowed his eyes. “Is it crap?”
Doris Wheeler’s voice became that of a reasonable lecturer. “Caxton, you know damned well the farmers and merchants of Winslow, of the U.S.A., do not want to hear about the Third World. They want to hear about their taxes, their health programs, their Social Security, their defense, their crop subsidies. The voter is a totally selfish animal! Every time the voter hears the name of a foreign country, he thinks it’s going to cost him money.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2023-2027

Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:08:02 PM

“Used to hear you through the wall in Virginia. Key of C in the morning, F at night.”
“I take a cold shower in the morning.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2100-2102

Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:19:55 PM

“Get the space, baby. Get the network time and the newspaper space. Builds familiarity. Recognition of the candidate, you know? What the candidate is actually saying or doing is of secondary importance, you know?”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2146-2148

Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:23:45 PM

statesmanship has no place on a political campaign. A campaign is punch and duck, punch and duck. Fast footwork, you know? Always smiling. The voters want to see fast action. Their attention won’t hold for anything more.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2159-2161

Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:27:10 PM

“Longer than that, I. M., longer than that. Something ol’ Vic taught me, and it’s always proved to be true: statesmanship has no place on a political campaign. A campaign is punch and duck, punch and duck. Fast footwork, you know? Always smiling. The voters want to see fast action. Their attention won’t hold for anything more. From day to day, give ’em happy film, and short, reassuring statements. If you really try to say anything, really ask them to stop and think, they’ll hate you for it. They can’t think, you know? Being asked makes us feel inferior. We don’t like to feel inferior to our candidates. Against the democratic ideal, you know? The candidate’s just got to keep giving the impression he’s a man of the people—no better than they are, just doin’ a different job. No one is ever elected in this country on the basis of what he really thinks. The candidate is elected on the basis of thousands of different, comfortable small impressions, not one of which really asks the voters to think.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2158-2166

Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:28:31 PM

Eulogies to a relationship never need encouragement from the listener.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2186-2186
Fantastic aphorism

Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:30:11 PM

“Wow, a presidential campaign. What’s it like, Fletch?”
“Unreal, man. Totally unreal.”
“I believe you. On television you were wearing a coat and tie.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2264-2267

Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:36:02 PM

“I’m doin’ my best, Mr. Persecutor. It’s like trying to put out a fire in a circus tent, you know? I can’t get anybody to admit there is a fire.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2302-2303

Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:38:44 PM

“Sent any woe-begones to jail lately?”
“Two yesterday. No outstanding warrants on you, though. I check first thing every morning.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2326-2328

Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:41:16 PM

“California can always use a few more people who wear suits.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2330-2330

Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:41:30 PM

“Simple enough deal,” Fletch said. “Tit for tat.”
“Tits for that,” Judy said.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2410-2411

Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:49:38 PM

There are some old books in the cabin—Ellery Queen, S.S. van Dyne. He reads them sometimes, in bed.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2517-2517

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 2:43:29 AM

“Why shouldn’t I help them out?” Flash Grasselli asked reasonably. “I’m bigger than they are.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2556-2557

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 2:46:51 AM

Abruptly Walsh sat up in his chair. “You’re always making jokes. Is that how you escape?”
Slowly, carefully, Fletch said, “No. That’s why the chicken crossed the road.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2703-2704

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 2:58:20 AM

“As sure as God made anchovies.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2711-2711

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 2:59:21 AM

“I take from the unhealthiest doctor I could find. He’s a wreck. Fat as the federal budget. He smokes like a public utility; drinks as if he has as many different mouths as a White House source. When he breathes, you’d think someone is running a caucus in his chest. Thought he’d be easy on me. Tolerant. Relaxed. Not a bit of it. Still he gives me that old saw, ‘Don’t do as I do; do as I say.’ I guess I should. Already he’s invested in a burial plot, he tells me. And he’s only thirty-two.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2868-2872

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 3:10:08 AM

Campaigns at first need idealism and youth. Once the primaries are won, cynicism takes over and idealism gets a bus ticket home. You don’t mind being used?”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2909-2910

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 3:14:29 AM

“You look like your heart just sat down and took off its shoes.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2947-2947

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 3:17:32 AM

Your Bookmark on Location 2998

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 3:22:48 AM

“I’m talking about the gathering and dissemination of information,” the governor said, “instead of weapons.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3004-3005

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 12:57:58 PM

Fletch had been in funeral processions that went faster.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2989-2989

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 1:00:02 PM

“Through this technology, the people of this earth are beginning to recognize each other, know each other, and realize their commonality of interest.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2993-2994

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 1:03:51 PM

Lansing Sayer wasn’t getting much into his notebook.
“Am I wrong to think that most of the bad things that happen on this earth happen because people don’t have the right facts at the right time? It’s all very well to believe something. You can go cheering to war over what you believe. You can starve to death happily over what you believe. But would wars ever happen if everybody had the same facts? There is no factual basis for starvation on this earth,” Governor Caxton Wheeler said softly. “Not yet, there isn’t.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3012-3016

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 1:12:03 PM

“Facts are facts,” said The Man Who. “I’m not talking about faith, belief, opinions. I’m talking about facts. How come most children in this world know Pele’s every move playing soccer, know every line of Muhammad Ali’s face, and yet this same technology has not been used to teach them the history of their own people, or how to read and write their own language? How come a bank in London can know, up to the minute, how much money a bank in New York has, to the penny, but a kid in Liverpool who just had his teeth bashed out doesn’t know three thousand years ago a Greek analyzed gang warfare accurately? How come the governments of this world know where every thermonuclear missile is, on land, under land, on sea, under sea, and yet this technology has never been used for the proper allocation of food? Is that a dumb question?”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3018-3024

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 1:14:56 PM

Anyone who thinks he’s absolutely right is capable of anything, including murder.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3097-3098

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 1:55:45 PM

“So this is how you live.” Freddie looked around his hotel room. “Your suitcase is dark brown. Mine is light blue.”
“Yeah,” Fletch said. “That’s the difference between boys and girls.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3161-3163

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 2:03:34 PM

“Got to make clothes last on a trip like this.”
“I never wear that jacket.”
“Then why do you carry it?”
“That’s the jacket I carry.” He pointed to one on the unmade bed. “That’s the jacket I wear.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3190-3193

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 2:06:12 PM

“Relationships between men and women can be nice. I guess.” He watched her from the chair where he was sitting. “Can’t say you never had one, Freddie.”
“I live out of a suitcase, Fletcher. All the time. Anything that doesn’t fit in the suitcase can’t come with me.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3202-3205

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 2:07:24 PM

“Next to Solov, Maxim Gorky would seem a fun date.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3293-3293

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 2:14:13 PM

“Guess you got to take that chance, jackass. If I can’t print something that looks like answers, I’m going to print something that looks like questions.”
“Oh, I see,” Fletch said brilliantly. “That’s why people refer to what you write as questionable. ’Bye, Mike.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3328-3331

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 2:17:07 PM

Your Bookmark on Location 3333

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 2:18:05 PM

“Young people always think it’s clever to disparage our institutions.”
“It’s not?”
“Politically, it’s suicide. As I said last night. You can knock the institutions on their goddamned asses,” her voice grated, “as long as you always give them lip service. That’s the only reality.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3426-3429

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 3:23:19 PM

“I wouldn’t vote for your husband for dogcatcher!” the driver shouted. “He doesn’t know a bitch when he sees one!”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3472-3473

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 3:29:59 PM

The wind, the sound of traffic in the parking lot, the noise of jet airplanes passing overhead made the governor look like a frantic, laryngytic opera singer.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3492-3493

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 3:31:58 PM

to draw up a sort of international constitution guaranteeing that no one—no nation, no political party, no group—gets to control too large a share of the new technology.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3753-3755

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 4:21:02 PM

Bushwa
Highlight (orange) – Location 3808-3808
Mcdonald has used this at least once before in another Fletch book

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 4:28:09 PM

Buy him a one-way ticket to Tashkent.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3936-3936

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 7:24:10 PM

Cason’s
Highlight (gray) – Location 3957-3957
Was this meant to be Caxton’s?

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 7:25:34 PM

“Yeah,” Fletch said to Freddie Arbuthnot in the airport terminal. “I lost my job again.”
“You’re good at that.”
“I think it’s what I do best.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 4330-4333

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 8:02:31 PM

“Gee, Freddie.” He took the tickets away from her and shoved them into his own pocket. “Why do you want to make a mystery out of everything?”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 4391-4392

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 8:11:08 PM

Your Bookmark on Location 4448
Finished with book

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 8:11:22 PM

Guide to highlight colors

Yellow–general highlights and highlights which don’t fit under another category below
Orange–Vocabulary word; interesting and/or rare word
Green–Reference to read
Blue–Interesting Quote
Gray–Typography Problem
Red–Example to work through

References

[1]
Gelett Burgess , “The Purple Cow,” Academy of American Poets, 06-May-2005. [Online]. Available: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/purple-cow. [Accessed: 26-Nov-2016]
Syndicated copies to:

Book review: Carioca Fletch by Gregory Mcdonald

Carioca Fletch by Gregory Mcdonald(Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)
Carioca Fletch Book Cover Carioca Fletch
Fletch #7 (in the stories' chronological order: #5)
Gregory Mcdonald
Fiction; Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
1984
Kindle e-book
190
Amazon.com / Overdrive

(Description from the publisher) Fletch's trip to Brazil wasn't exactly planned. But it's Carnival time in Rio and he has plenty of money. And it took him no time to hook up with the luscious Laura Soares. Fletch is beginning to relax, just a little.

But between the American widow who seems to be following Fletch and the Brazilian widow who's fingered Fletch as her long-dead husband, he suddenly doesn't have much time to enjoy the present or even get a wink of sleep.

A thirty-year-old unsolved murder, a more recent suicide, an inconvenient heart attack--somehow Fletch is connected to all of them and one of those connections might just shorten his own life. From Rio to Bahia and back again, at the height of Carnival, Fletch has to keep moving or get stopped cold.

Following a few months after the original book Fletch, Carioca Fletch begins with a jolt of plot as an old woman from one of the favelas of Rio de Janeiro identifies Fletch as the reincarnation of her long dead husband and wants to know who murdered him 47 years ago. Everyone apparently believes her wholeheartedly and there’s nothing Fletch can do but go along with what might be an elaborate joke. Nearly simultaneously Fletch runs across a widow who he says will think he killed her husband! And so the mystery begins???

Mcdonald does an excellent job of introducing the reader to a particular flavor of Brazilian culture which presages the pace of the plot. As a reader I felt nearly as frustrated with the pace of life and the style of culture (which heavily parallels the plot) as Fletch must have in his own evolving situation. This treatment makes me identify with I.M. much more closely than I might have otherwise, so kudos to Mcdonald for that.

As it turns out the woman Fletch initially dodges because he says she’ll think he killed her husband is Joan Stanwyk. She’s had him tracked down so that she can confront him about her husband’s death as well as a large amount of money that has gone missing. Seemingly only minutes later, Joan disappears just before Carnival and there isn’t much Fletch can do to find her. I had hoped for more mystery on this front, but the solution is wrapped up in a few scant pages right at the end.

Travelogue

There’s some great description and depiction of the Brazilian culture and the piece feels like a reasonable travelogue in some sense. Sadly it means it’s a bit thin on plot. Things start off with a nice bang, but then plod along for most of the book before things begin to pick up again in the last quarter of the book. There was so much more that Mcdonald could have done with the plot. Joan Stanwyk tracking down Fletch for a confrontation, Fletch and the Tap Dancers disposing of a friend’s body in a scene that presaged the entire plot of the film Weekend at Bernie’s (1989), the detective portion relating to who killed Junio all those years ago… Instead Mcdonald seemingly lets all the plot points work themselves out without any real work from our protagonist who just floats along through the culture. However, I will give him huge points from an artistic standpoint as he’s done a great job instilling a particular pace and cultural way of life into the text in such a manner that it really seems natural and satisfying that things work out the way they do.

Wrap up

Yet, in the end ultimately I’m conflicted as I’d have preferred more Fletchness, but I find it to have been enjoyable–at least it was better than Fletch, Too which still sits poorly with me.

I am left a bit adrift at the end with respect to the Tap Dancers who were so pivotal to most of the plot. What happened to the promised trip back to the brothel? Somehow they just seem to drift out of the plot.

Why wasn’t there better development of a romantic interest?

I don’t recall if this or something else set things in motion from a cultural standpoint, but as I recall the mid-80s, this would have ridden at the forefront of the zeitgeist of Brazillian culture in North America with several other books, television shows, and even movies which featured Brazil and even capoeira at the time.

Reading Progress
  • 8/7/16 marked as: want to read; “The Rio Olympics reminded me that I’d gotten Carioca Fletch to read back in the 80’s and never got around to it, so I thought I’d come back and revisit the series.”
  • 09/05/16 marked as: currently reading
  • 09/05/16 14.0% “An interesting start with a nice dash of the cultural part of what it means to be a Brazilian to set the stage of what is to come in the book. The reader is nicely made to feel the cultural clash of American and Brazilian along with the frustration Fletch surely feels.”
  • 09/09/16 34.0%
  • 09/10/16 61.0% “The plot seems to have slowed down significantly since the opening, but is just finally getting moving again.”
  • 9/13/16 71%
  • 09/16/16 100%
Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia

“You have not heard of queima de arquivo?”

“It means ‘burn the record'” Marilia said.
“It means ‘cover up,'” Laura said. “It is the Brazilian way of life. That is why we are so free.”

—Loc 65 & 68: One of the motivating concepts within the book and an interesting life philosophy. There are dozens of appearances of the word burn throughout the book.

“Half your diet should be carbohydrates.”
“You’re reading about diets?”

—Loc 266: I find it interesting that this discussion predates some serious anti-carb literature that appears in the culture about a decade or more hence.

“Anyone can make up a story and say it is the past.”

—Loc 234

“Have you ever been paralysed?”
Toninho’s big brow eyes swelled. “I have the wisdom to know that one day I will be.”

—Loc 462: An interesting life philosophy

“É preciso terno?”
Such was a tourist joke. In Brazil a suit was never necessary.

—Loc 808

Fletch gathered in the stern line. “Not in the S.S. Coitus Interruptus.”

—Loc 1300

Colombo, a sparkling clean tearoom noted for its great pastry

—Loc 1958: Who can resist a pastry reference?

The sound is overpowering. It is perhaps the maximum sound the earth and sky can accept without cracking, without breaking into fragments to move with it before dissipating into dust.

—Loc 2287: Mcdonald does a really good job describing the music of Brazil throughout. I particularly liked this passage.

…cheering on the biggest and most amazing human spectacle in the world except war.

—Loc 2426: a nice description of Carnival; apparently one so apt that he uses it multiple times.

Then he remembered his other ear had slipped into the personality of a tomato.

—Loc 2560: great description of an ear after a brutal fight

“Fletch, you always seem to be someplace you’re not supposed to be, doing something you’re not supposed to be doing.”
“Got any other news for me?”

—Loc 2684: Quintessential Fletch description and rejoinder

Fletch had come back to life. He was in a closed coffin.

—Loc 2939: A great pair of sentences just by themselves, but they also have a nice parallelism to where Fletch is within relation to the plot at the time.

(a waitress to Fletch) “Have an accident?”
“No, thanks. Just had one.”

—Loc 2979: Witty dialogue

“I was worried about you. I’ve been stood up for dinner before, often, but seldom for breakfast.”
“Not very nice of me.”
“It’s okay. I had breakfast anyway.”

—Loc 2986: Witty dialogue

“I mean, everyone needs a vacation from life. Don’t you agree?”
“A vacation from reality.”

—Loc 3068

“She fell out of her cradle. She’s enjoying a few moments crawling around the floor.”

—Loc 3097: great description of a grown woman

“I learned some things.”
“I’d love to know what.”
“Oh, that the past asserts itself. That the dead can walk.” Fletch thought of the small carved stone frog that had been under his bed. “That the absence of symbols can mean as much as their presence.”

—Loc 3100

Edgar Arthur Tharp, Junior

—Loc 3106: Fletch indicates that this artist will be part of his future purpose; The name reappears in Confess, Fletch as a tangential part of the plot.

Intersting words
  • scudding
  • the sails luffed
  • sibilant
  • calunga doll
  • bateria of drums
  • maté
Syndicated copies to:

Book Review: Confess, Fletch by Gregory Mcdonald

Confess, Fletch by Gregory Mcdonald(Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)
Confess, Fletch Book Cover Confess, Fletch
Fletch #2 (in the stories' chronological order: #6)
Gregory Mcdonald
Fiction; Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
1976
Kindle e-book
192
Amazon / Overdrive

When Fletch stumbles upon the nude corpse of a beautiful young woman in his borrowed Boston apartment, he must match wits with the determined Inspector Francis Xavier Flynn as he tries to clear his name and find the real killer. Winner of the Edgar Award.

I had originally meant to read all the Fletch canon in chronological order from the perspective of the stories’ timeline. Unfortunately the immediate availability of the books threw a small curve into the process, so I’ve read this slightly out of order. Doing so has thrown me as I’ve been under the assumption that Fletch was generally a journalist working for the same Los Angeles paper the entire time.

The Order I’ve read the series in so far

Fletch Won #1
Fletch and the Widow Bradley #3
Fletch, Too #2
Confess Fletch #6
Carioca Fletch #5

At the opening of this he’s going by the name of Peter Fletcher which was quirky, even knowing how much I.M. dislikes his given names, and he seemed to have a far more Italian flair and a rich man’s flâneur attitude toward life compared with his previous character. Gone was the ne’er-do-well under employed hero and in his place was a well-to-do more suave man. What was I missing/forgetting from the intervening books? It wasn’t until about halfway through the book that the Fletch character I’ve come to enjoy popped out of the woodwork as himself.

In stark contrast to the almost no plot line of Fletch, Too, which I found disappointing, this one starts off like a shot. The opening scene of the story starts out with Fletch in an apartment swap and calling the police to report a body of a dead woman in the flat which he’s staying for the next few weeks.

“This is the Police Business phone.”
“Isn’t murder police business?”
“You’re supposed to call Emergency with a murder.”
“I think the emergency is over.”
“I mean, I don’t even have a tape recorder on this phone.”
“So talk to your boss. Make a recommendation.”

The following morning he’s on the hunt for the missing art collection of an Italian nobleman who’s been kidnapped and presumed dead.

What follows is a nicely developed set of A and B plot lines that rival even those of the original Fletch. (N.B. I’ve still yet to reread the original, so it’s been over 25 years that I’m making this comparison.) The characters are great and the dialogue as witty and snarky as ever. This is Fletch as it was meant to be. Reading this after Fletch, Too brings my faith back for Mcdonald’s work.

I just hope the rest are just this good.

The added benefit is that apparently Mcdonald spun off the Frances Xavier Flynn character from this work into another series, and he’s a sufficiently complex and interesting enough character that I’m glad the Fletch odyssey isn’t really over once I’m done with these eleven.

From a time period perspective, I’ll again note, as I did for Fletch and the Widow Bradley, that this book (written in 1976) had some very progressive views about gay/homosexual lifestyle that I wouldn’t have expected.

Syndicated copies to:

Book Review: Fletch Too by Gregory Mcdonald

Fletch, Too by Gregory Mcdonald(Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)
Fletch, Too Book Cover Fletch, Too
Fletch #9 (in the stories' chronological order: #2)
Gregory Mcdonald
Fiction
Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
1986
Kindle e-book
256
Overdrive

(Description from the Trade Paperback edition:) After a few delays, it looks like Fletch is finally getting hitched. It’s a small affair, just a few friends, the bride’s parents, the groom’s mother, and, just maybe, his father. Except Fletch’s father is supposed to be dead.

But somebody delivered the letter, signed Fletch (senior) and containing an invitation (and a pair of plane tickets) to visit the old man in Nairobi for the honeymoon. Never mind Fletch and his bride were planning a ski trip to Colorado. No sooner does the couple land in Africa, than the search for Fletch’s father begins. There’s a murder at the airport, reports of the old man’s incarceration, and the hospitality (and evasiveness) offered by pop’s best friend, who flies them across the continent, just a step or two behind (or maybe ahead of) the old rascal.

The plot opens up just days after we left Fletch in Fletch Won as we follow Fletch and his new bride Barbara on a honeymoon neither of them anticipated taking. It took much longer than I would have liked to get into the first few chapters, and never really got moving along even when it seemed like something interesting could happen.

I really can’t believe I had the patience to make it through to the end. There was a minor twist at the bitter end which was poorly foreshadowed and a bit too predictable. There was no real mystery at all and definitely no “detective” work or journalistic probing which usually moves the plot in Fletch books along. I would almost suspect that the long-time editor of the series died and no one else could reign the writer in to produce something more compelling.

I kept wondering where the plot was going and why I should keep carrying. So far, of the 4 I’ve read in the series, this was, by far, the least gripping book in the series. The dialogue was poorly attributed, if at all, which made reading and understanding things even more of a chore. It also wasn’t as sharp or witty as usual and characters are “off” and unsympathetic. The plot was just generally flat and didn’t pay off despite what could have been an interesting twist with Fletch witnessing a murder well before I would have anticipated as the end of the first act.

I’m hoping that though it was the second in the chronological story timeline of the Fletch canon, the fact that it was one of the last written means that Mcdonald was just getting tired of the formula and trying to close out the series in some stilted way. I still have higher hopes for the others remaining on my list.

In an odd way, the title was interesting from both a character standpoint as well as it being a follow up to Fletch Won.

Reading Progress
  • 8/7/16 marked as: want to read; “The Rio Olympics reminded me that I’d gotten Carioca Fletch to read back in the 80’s and never got around to it, so I thought I’d come back and revisit the series.”
  • 8/14/16: marked as currently reading
  • 8/14/16: 10%
  • 8/18/16: 30% “Took a bit to get into the first few chapters, but eventually gets moving along. The plot opens up just days after we left Fletch in Fletch Won.”
  • 8/29/16: 64% “I keep wondering where this is going and why I should keep caring. So far this isn’t the most gripping book in the series. Dialogue isn’t as sharp as usual and characters are off. The plot is just generally flat.”
  • 9/2/16: 100%
Syndicated copies to:

Book Review: Fletch and the Widow Bradley

Fletch and the Widow Bradley by Gregory Mcdonald(Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)
Fletch and the Widow Bradley Book Cover Fletch and the Widow Bradley
Fletch #4 (in the stories' chronological order: #3)
Gregory Mcdonald
Fiction; Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
May 5, 2010
e-book
160
Overdrive

When Fletch finds a wallet with $25,000 in cash inside, he doesn’t realize it’s the last piece of good luck he’s going to see for a while. Because when he calls in to the News-Tribune, he discovers a story he’s written is causing quite a sensation, and not the good kind. He might just be out of a job permanently.

If Tom Bradley, the chairman of Wagnall-Phipps and one of Fletch’s principal sources, and not incidentally, the source of his paper’s embarrassment, is dead, who’s been signing his name to company documents, and why doesn’t the company treasurer seem to know? If he’s alive, how come his widow, Enid, has Tom’s ashes on the mantel?

Fletch may have more questions than answers on his hands, but he knows he’s a pretty good reporter, and if he’s going to get his reputation back, not to mention his job, he’s going to have to get to the bottom of more than one mystery.

This didn’t have as much of the biting humor as others in the Fletch canon or as much interesting character development or motivation. This was a bit more more up-the-middle in terms of plot, though the twist at the end was relatively well foreshadowed yet still surprising, particularly for the time frame in which it was written.

Fletch’s romantic interest Moxie was quirky, but didn’t do very much for the plot. His quest within the story was fairly straightforward, but wasn’t very well motivated from an internal perspective given his lackadaisical viewpoint in life and his general inability to afford his situation.

The finding of the $25,000 was an interesting opening, but sadly and quickly took a back seat in the plot. Given subsequent events, it could have played a better tangential role as a more integral B-plot. The final wrap up in the closing scenes was very unsatisfying for our viewpoint of Fletch as a hero and could have had a better twist. I’m getting the feeling that Mcdonald is still coming into his own at this point in his career and that the success of the 1984 film version of Fletch had a more significant influence on subsequent character development.

Most surprising was that the major plot twist occurred in a book in 1981, making it far more prescient of American culture to come in the new millennium. Barring the differences in the current state of journalism, this plot would still easily fit into the zeitgeist today from a cultural standpoint.

Given that the series is set in Los Angeles, I was curious to see if Tom Bradley, the dead character that motivates the plot, bore any resemblance to long time Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley. The real Bradley had been mayor for nearly 8 years (of an eventual 20 year reign) at the time the book was written, but I couldn’t discern any direct political satire in the naming of the character, though my knowledge of early 80’s Los Angeles politics is sketchy at best.

Syndicated copies to:

Book Review: Fletch Won

Fletch Won by Gregory Mcdonald(Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)
Fletch Won Book Cover Fletch Won
Fletch #8 (in the stories' chronological order: #1)
Gregory Mcdonald
Fiction; Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
April 7, 2010
e-book
272
Overdrive

As a fledgling reporter, Fletch is doing more flailing than anything else. That and floating around from department to department trying to figure where he fits in. His managing editor’s got him pegged for the society pages, but the kind of society Fletch gets involved with is anything but polite. His first big interview, a millionaire lawyer with a crooked streak and an itch to give away some of his ill-gotten gains, ends up dead in the News-Tribune’s parking lot before Fletch can ask question number one. So Fletch ends up going after the murderer instead, and ends up learning a thing or two about crime and punishment. At the same time, he’s supposed to be covering (or maybe uncovering) a health spa that caters to all its clients' needs, and gets hired as a very personal trainer. Never mind that he’s supposed to be getting married at the end of the week; Fletch has a few other engagements to take care of first.

I don’t remember the original Fletch (book) having the awesome biting, wry humor I found in this which is more reminiscent of the adapted feature film version. But it’s a hilarious little romp of entertainment. While not as tightly crafted in terms of plot as I remember the introductory book, which I read more than 25 years ago, it was terrifically enjoyable from start to finish.

The Rio Olympics reminded me that I’d gotten Carioca Fletch to read back in the late 80’s and never got around to it, so I thought I’d come back and revisit the series. This certainly didn’t disappoint, so I’ll be delving back through the rest to fill in some entertainment in the late end of the summer. Since I couldn’t get my hands on the second in the series from a publishing chronology, I thought I’d read them in the series timeline order instead. (Or as closely as I can from the perspective of obtaining them in this order.)

I read an e-book version of the text which was fair obviously an OCR’ed version of an earlier paperback version. There were a handful of egregious spelling errors and typos that should have been fixed, but fortunately the quality wasn’t too horrific. Hopefully the quality of OCR is maintained or improved throughout the remainder of the series.

Syndicated copies to:

My Review Copy of The Big Picture by Sean Carroll

On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself

I’m already a major chunk of the way through the book, having had an early ebook version of the text prior to publication. This is the published first edition with all the diagrams which I wanted to have prior to finishing my full review, which is forthcoming.

One thing I will mention is that it’s got quite a bit more philosophy in it than most popular science books with such a physics bent. Those who aren’t already up to speed on the math and science of modern physics can certainly benefit from the book (like most popular science books of its stripe, it doesn’t have any equations — hairy or otherwise), and it’s certain to help many toward becoming members of both of C.P. Snow’s two cultures. It might not be the best place for mathematicians and physicists to start moving toward the humanities with the included philosophy as the philosophy is very light and spotty in places and the explanations of the portions they’re already aware of may put them out a bit.

I’m most interested to see how he views complexity and thinking in the final portion of the text.

More detail to come…

Syndicated copies to:

Eugenia Cheng, author of How to Bake Pi, on Colbert Tonight

The author of one of the best math (and cooking) books of the year is on Stephen Colbert's show tonight.

Earlier this year, I read Eugenia Cheng’s brilliant book How to Bake Pi: An Edible Exploration of the Mathematics of Mathematics. Tonight she’s appearing (along with Daniel Craig apparently) on the The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. I encourage everyone to watch it and read her book when they get the chance.

How-to-bake-pi

You can also read more about her appearance from Category Theorist John Carlos Baez here: Cakes, Custard, Categories and Colbert | The n-Category Café

My brief review of her book on GoodReads.com:

How to Bake Pi: An Edible Exploration of the Mathematics of MathematicsHow to Bake Pi: An Edible Exploration of the Mathematics of Mathematics by Eugenia Cheng
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While most of the book is material I’ve known for a long time, it’s very well structured and presented in a clean and clear manner. Though a small portion is about category theory and gives some of the “flavor” of the subject, the majority is about how abstract mathematics works in general.

I’d recommend this to anyone who wants to have a clear picture of what mathematics really is or how it should be properly thought about and practiced (hint: it’s not the pablum you memorized in high school or even in calculus or linear algebra). Many books talk about the beauty of math, while this one actually makes steps towards actually showing the reader how to appreciate that beauty.

Like many popular books about math, this one actually has very little that goes beyond the 5th grade level, but in examples that are very helpfully illuminating given their elementary nature. The extended food metaphors and recipes throughout the book fit in wonderfully with the abstract nature of math – perhaps this is why I love cooking so much myself.

I wish I’d read this book in high school to have a better picture of the forest of mathematics.

More thoughts to come…

Syndicated copies to:

Brief Review: The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason

My brief review of The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason (2004, Dial Press)

The Rule of FourThe Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A nice little thriller about an obscure text from the Renaissance (quattrocento) set in modern times. This falls into the genre of historical fiction that’s similar to Dan Brown‘s Robert Langdon series or films like the Nicolas Cage National Treasure series, though not quite as “rompish.” I have to imagine that those who liked Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, Gentlemen and Players, and The Thirteenth Tale will enjoy this quite a lot.

Those who are fans of historical fiction, cryptography, puzzles, books about books, and history in general, are sure to enjoy it.

Spoilers follow:

The Vincent Taft character could have been a better “heavy” but was pretty functional in the story given his limited appearances in the actual plot. I saw the Savonarola portion of the plot a mile away, but to most unaware of this part of history this will be an interesting historical diversion/lesson. I thought the ending was a bit too literary given the more plot-motivated feel of the rest of the narrative, but in all, it was relatively satisfying given Tom’s full back-story. I can see this being adapted into film, but it will take some creative ideas to better linearize the plot and to make the ending a bit bigger for the screen.

View all my reviews

Syndicated copies to:

Breaking the code | The Economist

Breaking the code(The Economist)
Brief book overview of Matthew Cobb's "Life’s Greatest Secret" from The Economist.

For those interested in some of the history behind genetics, evolution, biology and information theory, the following book, which I just saw the attached review in The Economist, is likely to be of interest:

Life’s Greatest Secret: The Story of the Race to Crack the Genetic Code. By Matthew Cobb. Basic Books; 434 pages; $29.99. Profile Books; £25.

In 1953 James Watson and Francis Crick, with the help of Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins, described the structure of the molecule at the heart of life. Deoxyribonucleic acid, better known as DNA, was, they said, a double helix, two spirals joined across the middle by pairs of four chemical bases, like a twisted ladder. That work earned Messrs Crick, Watson and Wilkins a Nobel prize and a place in the history books. The image of the double helix now often stands for biology, or even science, itself.

But this was merely the most visible breakthrough in a long struggle to understand the engine of life—how traits are inherited, mutated and weeded out by natural selection, and how the whole mysterious process works at the biochemical level. It is that lesser-known history that Matthew Cobb, a professor of animal behaviour at the University of Manchester, aims to sketch in his book, which has been shortlisted for the Royal Society’s Winton prize for science writing.

The result is a fascinating reminder of just how hard-won are the seemingly obvious facts of modern biology. The development of genetics was a tale of confusion, accident, frustration and the occasional flash of insight. It was, says Dr Cobb, as important as the Manhattan or Apollo projects, but with no government support and little money, carried out by scientists interested in the question for its own sake.

The researchers started from almost total ignorance. William Harvey, better known for describing the circulation of the blood, wondered in the 17th century what could explain why children’s skin colour was often a blend of their parents’, whereas they share a sex with only one, and can have an eye colour different from either.

In the late 19th century a monk, Gregor Mendel, established, through experiments on pea plants, the basic rules of inherited traits. A Danish biologist, Wilhelm Johannsen, coined the term “gene” in 1909 to describe whatever it was that Mendel had found. But as late as 1933 scientists were still debating whether genes were physical things or just useful abstractions, and how they could transmit traits. Scientists knew that DNA existed, but many considered it a boring bit of scaffolding in the cell. Proteins, which come in zillions of different varieties, were seen by many as the only things exciting enough to account for all the diversity seen in life.

After the second world war, ideas from information theory, arising out of wartime work on computers and automation, percolated into biology. Once the structure of DNA had been established, those ideas helped crack the problem of how the four chemical bases do their job. Proteins are built by stringing together 20 different sorts of amino acid. Strings of three bases within a DNA molecule represent these amino acids, but with 64 such triplets, there is much redundancy which information theory alone could not fully explain. Years of painstaking lab-work were needed to reconcile theory with reality.

Dr Cobb is good on the human side of the story, showing science as fuelled by rivalry, jealousy, competitiveness and wonder. The only downside is that he must marshal hundreds of scientists across several disciplines into around 300 pages of narrative. The results can sometimes be dense, and readers without a command of biological jargon will frequently find themselves consulting the glossary for guidance. But the cracking of the code of life is a great story, of which this is an accomplished telling.

Source: Breaking the code | The Economist, 

 

Life’s Greatest Secret

Popular Science Books on Information Theory, Biology, and Complexity

The beginning of a four part series in which I provide a gradation of books and texts that lie in the intersection of the application of information theory, physics, and engineering practice to the area of biology.

Previously, I had made a large and somewhat random list of books which lie in the intersection of the application of information theory, physics, and engineering practice to the area of biology.  Below I’ll begin to do a somewhat better job of providing a finer gradation of technical level for both the hobbyist or the aspiring student who wishes to bring themselves to a higher level of understanding of these areas.  In future posts, I’ll try to begin classifying other texts into graduated strata as well.  The final list will be maintained here: Books at the Intersection of Information Theory and Biology.

Introductory / General Readership / Popular Science Books

These books are written on a generally non-technical level and give a broad overview of their topics with occasional forays into interesting or intriguing subtopics. They include little, if any, mathematical equations or conceptualization. Typically, any high school student should be able to read, follow, and understand the broad concepts behind these books.  Though often non-technical, these texts can give some useful insight into the topics at hand, even for the most advanced researchers.

Complexity: A Guided Tour by Melanie Mitchell (review)

Possibly one of the best places to start, this text gives a great overview of most of the major areas of study related to these fields.

Entropy Demystified: The Second Law Reduced to Plain Common Sense by Arieh Ben-Naim

One of the best books on the concept of entropy out there.  It can be read even by middle school students with no exposure to algebra and does a fantastic job of laying out the conceptualization of how entropy underlies large areas of the broader subject. Even those with Ph.D.’s in statistical thermodynamics can gain something useful from this lovely volume.

The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood by James Gleick (review)

A relatively recent popular science volume covering various conceptualizations of what information is and how it’s been dealt with in science and engineering.  Though it has its flaws, its certainly a good introduction to the beginner, particularly with regard to history.

The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin

One of the most influential pieces of writing known to man, this classical text is the basis from which major strides in biology have been made as a result. A must read for everyone on the planet.

Information, Entropy, Life and the Universe: What We Know and What We Do Not Know by Arieh Ben-Naim

Information Theory and Evolution by John Avery

The Touchstone of Life: Molecular Information, Cell Communication, and the Foundations of Life by Werner R. Loewenstein (review)

Information Theory, Evolution, and the Origin of Life by Hubert P. Yockey

The four books above have a significant amount of overlap. Though one could read all of them, I recommend that those pressed for time choose Ben-Naim first. As I write this I’ll note that Ben-Naim’s book is scheduled for release on May 30, 2015, but he’s been kind enough to allow me to read an advance copy while it was in process; it gets my highest recommendation in its class. Loewenstein covers a bit more than Avery who also has a more basic presentation. Most who continue with the subject will later come across Yockey’s Information Theory and Molecular Biology which is similar to his text here but written at a slightly higher level of sophistication. Those who finish at this level of sophistication might want to try Yockey third instead.

The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature by Matt Ridley

Grammatical Man: Information, Entropy, Language, and Life  by Jeremy Campbell

Life’s Ratchet: How Molecular Machines Extract Order from Chaos by Peter M. Hoffmann

Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos by M. Mitchell Waldrop

The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself (Dutton, May 10, 2016) 

In the coming weeks/months, I’ll try to continue putting recommended books on the remainder of the rest of the spectrum, the balance of which follows in outline form below. As always, I welcome suggestions and recommendations based on others’ experiences as well. If you’d like to suggest additional resources in any of the sections below, please do so via our suggestion box. For those interested in additional resources, please take a look at the ITBio Resources page which includes information about related research groups; references and journal articles; academic, research institutes, societies, groups, and organizations; and conferences, workshops, and symposia.

Lower Level Undergraduate

These books are written at a level that can be grasped and understood by most with a freshmen or sophomore university level. Coursework in math, science, and engineering will usually presume knowledge of calculus, basic probability theory, introductory physics, chemistry, and basic biology.

Upper Level Undergraduate

These books are written at a level that can be grasped and understood by those at a junior or senor university level. Coursework in math, science, and engineering may presume knowledge of probability theory, differential equations, linear algebra, complex analysis, abstract algebra, signal processing, organic chemistry, molecular biology, evolutionary theory, thermodynamics, advanced physics, and basic information theory.

Graduate Level

These books are written at a level that can be grasped and understood by most working at the level of a master’s level at most universities.  Coursework presumes all the previously mentioned classes, though may require a higher level of sub-specialization in one or more areas of mathematics, physics, biology, or engineering practice.  Because of the depth and breadth of disciplines covered here, many may feel the need to delve into areas outside of their particular specialization.

Syndicated copies to: