Deadly Percheron
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Deadly Percheron

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  215 ratings  ·  26 reviews

"The opening chapter defies description. Imagine one of those 1930s screwball comedies with the crazy situations, but substitute malevolence for humor."-Karl Edward Wagner

"Doctor, I'm losing my mind." So begins John Franklin Bardin's unconventional crime thriller in which a psychiatrist attempts to help his patient lead to a dead-end world of amnesia and social outcasts....more
216 pages
Published (first published 1946)
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Dustin Reade
a truly weird, madcap detective novel that left my head spinning. It was kind of like walking through green smog, but it smelled nice, like a joke, or carnival food.

The basic story: a man claims a leprechaun paid him to be somewhere at a specific time. He goes there and a woman is killed. There is a vague mention of a horse. People can't remember who the main character is. He thinks he might be crazy. He meets several circus freaks.

and so on.

Dergrossest
It’s not easy being green. The New York Psychiatrist at the heart of this story finds that fact out the hard way in this bizarre whodunit involving small men, large horses and lots of hard luck dames. New York City was apparently a very nutty place during WWII for the civilian population left behind and this extremely well written book goes straight to the source of the insanity: Coney Island. Sure, some of the psychoanalytical mumbo-jumbo sounds hokey and the ending is a little flat. But where...more
Brian
* The Brits' rediscovery of this book in the 1970s was based on its psychological elements, and that is how it comes to us now, as an early psychological crime novel. The edition depicted here (not my own) features a Salvador Dali painting on the covers that is clearly intended to suggest a certain surreal quality to it all. One internet reviewer tells us the book is a "deadly serious excursion into identity formation and the psychology of guilt." How such a book was overlooked to begin with is...more
Tim Mayer


Dr. George Matthews is an established psychiatrist in New York City. He's in his 30's, happily married, and has much to be proud about in his life. One day a young man, nicely dressed, walks into his office wearing a flower in his hair. This is not something that happens on a regular basis in 1943. The young man, named Jacob Blunt, tells the good doctor that he is going insane. Little men keep paying him money to do ridiculous things. Sometimes it's wearing flowers in his hair, sometimes it's gi...more
Tyler Hayes
Short version: I enjoyed this book, but I think it shows its age. Bardin writes a nicely psychological story that really throws the reader for a loop early on and guaranteed that I stuck around for the end; I loved how such a ridiculous setup was made to seem chilling and even riveting, and I actually think the way it was resolved was inventive and interesting. The prose is also very strong, and Bardin seems to have a good handle on the psychology of his main characters--it's easy to tell all th...more
Eduardo Sangarcía
El libro es bueno y se lee con fluidez; plantea una diferencia a la novela policíaca tradicional por el hecho de que el investigador no sólo debe salir a buscar pistas en el exterior, sino que debe hacerlo en sí mismo puesto que le han hecho perder la memoria; además, el hecho de que tal investigador sea un psiquiatra incide de buena manera en la anécdota, pues los cambios de identidad hacen pensar en desajustes mentales del personaje - al estilo de Lost Highway de David Lynch - y no en la elabo...more
M.R. Dowsing
I came to this in an unusual way. One of my favourite films is 'Mona Lisa', which I was looking up on IMDB to see if anyone had any words of wisdom about the significance of the white rabbit. I discovered that, not only is one of the characters reading 'The Deadly Percheron' in the film, but that the film is apparently full of references to it. There are no white rabbits in the book but it turned out to be quite a find all the same.

It's hard to believe this was written in the '40s - it seemed to...more
Andy Weston
Never have I read such a murder mystery as this. Certainly it is different; in fact the murder and mystery play a relatively small role in the entertainment provided by Bardin's novel.

I read without looking at jacket notes deliberately, and so to see aft wards that this was written as a first novel, and first published in 1947 is astonishing.

It tells the story of a psychologist who comes undone, and tries desperately as the novel proceeds to pull himself together again. The twists taken are qu...more
Alpinebixby
Jan 31, 2013 Alpinebixby marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
For its influence on the movie "Mona Lisa."
Djerzinski
Probablemente no sea justo valorar este libro con una puntuación baja, ya que seguro que para la época en que fue escrito resultaba original. Pero el caso es que ya no lo resulta, al menos para mí. Es una clásica novela policíaca, muy fácil de leer. Para pasar el rato, leer algo ligero, no está mal. No estaba deseando saber lo que iba a pasar a continuación porque no me parecía una historia tan interesante como para eso, aunque bueno, te mantiene ahí, que no sabes lo que está pasando. Me pasa ig...more
Ericpegnam Pegnam
I finished this book about a month. I found it very entertaining, strained my belief at times but always managed to make even its most outrageous suprises fit within the boundaries of the story. Critics have described this book as surreal but it actually reminds me of Pirandello in particular his Henry IV in which the main characters indentity keeps shifting and one is unclear even at the end whether the character is mad or feigning madness or perhaps a bit of both. The only weakness of the dead...more
James
This was a somewhat fantastic and whimsical noir crime novel. The author kept the action going and there were enough twist and turns to keep me reading, if only to mollify my confusion. The main character, a psychiatrist named George Mathews, is led into a series of adventures that almost cost him his life, yet I was never worried that he would not succeed in figuring his way out of the confusion into which he had entered. A satisfying entertainment (as Graham Greene would say); entertaining yet...more
Nora
La primera mitad es buena, pero luego se torna cliché. Seguro en su tiempo fue novedosa pero no envejeció bien.
Karoly G
This novel keeps you intrigued and on your toes at all times. It is a shame that it is so hard to find!
Ben
A decidedly bizarre and unsettling mystery that begins with a man's worried confession to his psychiatrist that 'little men' (that may or may not be imaginary) have been paying him to perform strange tasks around town. While not as mind-blowing as I had been hoping, it is still a highly entertaining enigma with a healthy amount of psychological horror. The surreal qualities it possesses bring to mind 'Night of the Jabberwock' and 'The Red Right Hand'.
Jesse
Between a frustrating, random opening and a dissapointingly cliche ending are a hundred pages or so of fine, fascinating work. Here's the best passage:

"In all other ways I was cut out of the same bolt of cloth as everyone else: I had a small job, I was lonely, I had little security. But I did have a bright scar on my face..." (74)

I'm looking forward to The Last of Philip Banter.
k
Exciting! I've been catching some good mid-1940s detective books lately, with this and Ross MacDonald. I can really see this as an old noir movie, complete with unrealistic but incredibly satisfying pat ending. Hitchcock would have loved it. Very fun.
Lucysnow1851
Very intriguing. Is Jacob crazy or not? Just because you wear a flower in your hair, hand out quarters to strangers and whistle at the Opera because the leprechauns are paying to $10 a day for each task doesn't mean anything. Or does it?
Jeannette
Murder mystery with many unthinkable twists and turns including a self proclaimed leprechaun, amnesia, a percheron horse that keeps showing up at crime scenes and confusing characters. Hard to keep everything straight but unique book.
Andrewh
Totally bizarre rare noir featuring a living leprachaun and a deadly horse (percheron) - the book reeks of post-war psychoanalysis, but is very well constructed and rarely falters, except at the end. Readable and fun.
Lauren
Some great stuff about this book, but ultimately the little people angle was a convenient, antagonistic plot device. Too serious for its own good.
Daniel Ritz
Solamente es divertido y aunque a ratos parece ingenioso, es completamente predecible y totalmente irrelevante
Jim
I love this freaky book. It is absurd, surreal, and funny until it's very dark and bleak. That whipsaw really works
Peggy
I enjoyed this intriguing, twisting who dunnit. Kept you guessing till the very end. A nice quick read
Alan
Couldn't put it down, riveting the whole way through.
Heather
Very silly, but enjoyable.
Deepthy
Deepthy marked it as to-read
Jul 13, 2014
Peretdesnos
Peretdesnos marked it as to-read
Jul 06, 2014
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John Franklin Bardin was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on November 30, 1916. During his teens, he lost nearly all his immediate family to various ailments. As he approached thirty, he moved to New York City where during his adulthood he was an executive of an advertising agency, published ten novels and taught creative writing as well as advertising at the NEW SCHOOL FOR SOCIAL RESEARCH.

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