THROWBACK THURSDAY: REVIEWING A REISSUE
It must be fun to work for Dover Publications and dig up some of these older books and offer them up for sale again. Many of their reissues are absolute treasures … but treasures that I hadn’t been familiar with beforehand. This is just such a case.
Originally from 1939 comes the satirical mystery, The Mysterious Mickey Finn, by Elliot Paul. The book features amateur detective Homer Evans, a man who takes great pleasure in doing as little as possible. He’s in France, so of course art takes on a role, and here we have a Norwegian friend, Jansen, of his who’s been paid by an American millionaire, Hugo Weiss, to spend a year in Paris to learn and paint. The year is almost up, the money gone, Weiss is in France, and Jansen has almost nothing to show for his time.
Evans concocts a scheme to help Jansen, but when Weiss goes missing after meeting with Jansen and the authorities get involved, things get out of control and the normally laconic Evans has to get busy to protect his friends and discover what really happened to Hugo Weiss.
There’s a fair amount of humor here. It’s not always laugh-out-loud sort of humor (though I did do that a few times), but it’s satire. Think M*A*S*H by Richard Hooker , or Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, or even A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. These are all books considered humorous, but are typically satire, providing a biting commentary on a personal, social, or political aspect. Now toss in a mystery, and you have The Mysterious Mickey Finn.
This is not the easiest of reads, but I’ve often found satire to be challenging to read. You must pay very close attention to pick up on the humor, meaning that the reading goes much slower than normal (for me, leastwise). But for the astute reader, it pays off.
I saw a fair amount of Hawkeye Pierce and Yossarian and even Ignatius J. Reilly (M*A*S*H, Catch-22, and A Confederacy of Dunces, respectively) in the character of Homer Evans, though perhaps given the publication dates, it safer to say that a little bit of Homer Evans is in each of the above named characters. Ultimately, it is Evans who makes this story worth reading.
Looking for a good book? Mixing satire and mystery, The Mysterious Mickey Finn, by Elliot Paul, is a fun read, though you might have to work at it a little bit.
I received a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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The Mysterious Mickey Finn
author: Elliot Paul
publisher: Dover Publications
paperback, 256 pages