The Fabulous Clipjoint

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Categories: True Crime
Publisher: RosettaBooks | Date published: 01/30/2002


Fredric Brown's The Fabulous Clipjoint comes from a now-vanished world of crime fiction that once satisfied the same appetites in the audience that are now fed by television programming. Neatly crafted and loaded with atmosphere and humor, The Fabulous Clipjoint, published in 1947, follows the exploits of an unlikely pair of amateur sleuths--a teenaged boy and his uncle, who follows the carnival--in solving a disturbing murder. The victim is a drunk, who seems to have gotten rolled and winds up lying dead in an alley. A cop discovers the body, and a routine inquiry turns up nothing more than sad and pitiful evidence--another blasted life that ends in another random murder. But the victim has a son, 18-year-old Ed Hunter, who is not willing to let his father's death be dismissed so quickly. He has no one to help him, so he turns to the only person he can trust, his Uncle Ambrose, a carny he has not seen in years. Ambrose agrees to help Ed, and the two set out on a most unlikely murder investigation. It takes them down dark and abandoned Chicago streets, confronting a gallery of unsavory characters in the underworld, armed only with a crazy kind of courage and an ever-growing determination to discover the truth. The Fabulous Clipjoint was Fredric Brown's first full-length novel, though its assured skill comes from the author's experience in turning out hundreds of detective stories for magazines in the 1930s and 1940s. Ed and Ambrose are an couple of offbeat heroes, foolish enough to get themselves in extraordinary situations. Brown creates a rollicking world for them to explore, filled with vivid characters and plenty of danger--a sleek, suspenseful read.