Doctor," says Jacob Blunt, "I think I'm losing my mind." Is he going mad, as he fears, or is there some reasonable explanation for the terrible things happening to him?" |
We think, along with psychiatrist George Matthews, that Blunt is spinning a fantasy. After all, he arrives at the doctor's office wearing a scarlet hibiscus in his hair, announcing Joe told him to wear it. But who is Joe?
"Oh, he's one of my little men. The one in the purple suit. He gives me ten dollars a day for wearing a flower in my hair."
Okay, but who's Harry, the guy in the green suit who pays Jacob to have him whistle at Carnegie Hall? And what of Eustace, another little man who pays to have quarters given away?
Although first published in 1946, the colorful John Bardin has lost none of his extraordinary intensity of feeling nor his ability to shock the reader with a morbid psychology well ahead of his time -- although commonplace today. His link runs back to Poe, is contemporary with Highsmith, and hints at today's psychological masterpieces. The problems of the characters in Bardin's novels demand solutions that push the classic detective story well beyond the orthodox. The Deadly Percheron is as fresh and terrifying today as it was when written.