Gascoyne
Created by Stanley Crawford

Gascoyne (Putnam, 1966) by Stanley Crawford qualifies as an unknown classic, I think. Presented in 1st person, present tense. Guy drives and lives in a '55 Nash, switching from time to time to a Kaiser. But he's wealthy and has buildings bearing his name. He frequents Big Daddy serve-yourself gas stations, using products like Big Daddy's Cool Enhancing Water Additive. The police commissioner is named O'Mallolly. There's The Apotheosis Insurance Company, The Resurrection Assurance Company, Rex Auto Wrecks, Ben Hur Boulevard. One of the characters likes to wear a specially-constructed tree sloth costume (made from genuine sloth hair), especially when having sex. But the crimes are serious and there are seriously hardboiled and suspenseful passages.

Here's how the dustjacket describes it: "An amalgam of Perry Mason, Alfred Hitchcock, jungle war novels, science fiction, mad doctor movies, Westerns, James Bond, 18th Century mock epics, Greek tragedy and hardboiled detective stories."

Might be an overstatement, but it's close. Actually, Gascoyne is like a parody of Andrew Vachss' Burke, written twenty years too soon.

Another thing -- I just dusted off the book and noticed something I'd forgotten. Whenever the name appears, it's GASCOYNE, not Gascoyne. All in small caps, like a trademarked name. One more bizarre touch.

As far as I've been able to find out, Crawford only published this one book. Shortly after it appeared, a squib in Variety stated that Tony Curtis had optioned it. Might have made an interesting flick, though I suspect it would have wound up looking like one long car chase.

UNDER OATH

NOVELS

Report respectfully submitted by Dick Lochte.


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