There are some tropes and themes in literature that have been a bit overdone. ‘The chosen one’ along with ‘good versus evil’ and dare I say it irony especially when it’s done badly has been seen in literature, TV, film and video games. The Deadly Percheron has two overused tropes that usually make me roll my eyes when I come across them in something else. One is a character suffering from amnesia but remembers things later on, the other is long winded exposition from one of the characters (usually an antagonist), especially in a mystery novel. I can forgive The Deadly Percheron however, as I never felt bored whilst reading this. This was also written in the 1940’s and these tropes are applied better here than what you would see in a modern soap drama or film.
The Deadly Percheron is a mystery novel that’s also a psychological thriller. A man requiring the services of a psychiatrist says he thinks he’s losing his mind. He says a leprechaun is paying him to do random tasks such as putting flowers in his hair and whistling at Carnegie Hall (New York being the setting). The psychiatrist wants to understand more about his new patient and ends up going through one massive rabbit hole of a story which leads to murders, chases, living different lives and of course questioning of one’s sanity. It reminded me of a David Lynch film had someone in the film company kept telling David Lynch not to go too far with the plot.
As I was reading it I was engrossed with the story and my mind’s eye gave me a strong image of what the characters looked like due to Franklin Bardin’s prose. I pretty much read this from beginning to end quite quickly. I would have said it was a page-turner but I was reading the e-book version. I never felt pushed into having to get through this one.
The book is structured with major sections. Without giving too much away there’s the first half which involves the introduction, the crime itself, the mystery of the crime and the second half where the amnesia trope comes in, a new life and more crimes and mystery all wrapped up in the conclusion which is where the exposition comes in.
The exposition I was naturally not a big fan of at the end. I’d like to have my own theories and thoughts as how things will be concluded. Instead you get some small clues and then at the end you find out why everything happened the way it did. The narrator knows but he only gives you so much of his observations as he’s trying to remember despite his amnesia. It’s the antagonist at the end who tells you everything that ties things up and there’s a character I thought who was left a bit redundant once the author got their use of them.
I would give this one a go, as I say I flew through it, buy I don’t think I would reread it again. There could have been potential for it to be better, (especially when the psychiatrist wakes up in hospital) and redo the ending but despite that I did enjoy it.