Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Book Review, Sunday, February 5, 2012: Fletch and the Man Who

Presidential politics 2012---or 1983?

Madame L found this book quite by accident in a Portland bookstore, the fabulous Murder by the Book, where it cost her exactly one dollar, plus no tax. 

The fabulous Gregory McDonald wrote a whole slew of "Fletch" books, two of which were made into movies, one of which (with Chevy Chase) was not too bad. Madame L read a lot of these books back when they were first published.

And here's the thing about "Fletch and the Man Who," which was published in 1983: The fabulous Fletch gets involved in a presidential campaign in which the candidate (and his staff and the media and the voters) all face the exact same issues we're facing in the 2012 campaign.

(Madame L is going to try to use the word "fabulous" at least once in every paragraph of this review.)

At one campaign stop, Governor Wheeler, one of several candidates vying for his party's nomination, performs some harmless but fabulous magic tricks for the children at an elementary school, finding coins in the children's pockets, behind their ears, and so on; and giving each child the coin at the end of the trick. 

Naturally, some vicious and not-so-fabulous TV shows go after him for giving money to some of the children but not all of them. Sanctimonious psychologists comment on the damage this will do to the tender psyches of the children who receive the coins and those who don't, and some pundits say this gives the appearance that the governor thinks everyone should be on the dole while others suggest he thinks kids should grow up expecting to receive something for nothing.

When the governor gives a fabulous speech that his speech-writers didn't write and campaign manager didn't approve, various bits of non-fabulous brown stuff hit various fans, and the current president takes on the issue of his own while the other candidates vilify the governor.

But here's the fabulous thing about this story: As always, Fletch has to use his fabulous deductive skills to figure out who is responsible for a series of murders being committed at the last five cities where the governor has campaigned. 

Is it one of the reporters, only one of whom is fabulous and all of whom are anxious to write the best (i.e., most damning) story about the governor? 

Or one of his staffers, none of whom is fabulous some of whom are cynical and hateful? 

One of the hangers-on or volunteers or candidate groupies? Could it be the fabulous governor himself, or his witchy wife?

As always, Fletch figures it out, using his fabulous sense of humor and his ability to think on his feet, through the murk of other people's misdirection, and all around the facts.

Oh, yeah, read this book. Madame L promises you'll be marking pages and passages with fabulous lines that could have come straight from this very year. 

Maybe it's true that there's nothing new under the sun; all we have to do is read Aesop's fabulous fables to know that. 

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