Created by Marion Mainwaring
“You’re so wonderful, Spike,” she muttered, “All those ugly scars….your broken nose…and the ear that’s chopped off…How could they do it, Spike? How could anyone bear to hurt you?”
“The ones who did it are dead,” I told her. “People who cross me usually end up that way.”
Murder in Pastiche (1954) is some kinda classic; a sharp, spot-on spoof of fictional detectives that lays waste to nine (count ’em, NINE!) of them.
Subtitled Nine Detectives All at Sea, it finds the world’s greatest gumshoes find on board the R. M. S. Florabunda as it sails from Liverpool to New York. Of course, murder soon rears its ugly head, as a much detested journalist is beaten to death. M. Atlas Poireau (spoofing Hercule Poirot), Sir Jon. Nappleby (Sir John Appleby), Jerry Pason and Stella Deet (Perry Mason and Della Street), Broderick Tourneur (Roderick Alleyn), Trajan Beare (Nero Wolfe), Miss Fan Sliver (Miss Silver), Mallory King (Ellery Queen), and Lord Simon Quinsey (Lord Peter Wimsey) rush to discover the culprit.
But by far the funniest– and sharpest, or definitely most savage–spoof is that of SPIKE BLUDGEON, a spot-on riff on Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer. Naturally, the dead journalist was a close friend of his, and Spike has vowed to find the killer and extract some bloody, hands-on vengeance.
As one does…
The trigger-happy Bludgeon is a complete whack job, more than ready to blast away just about anyone on his way to whatever the hell he’s looking for (Vengeance? A dame? A sandwich? A beer?), and there are a slew of in-jokes for those familiar with Spillane’s work.
But adding to the fun is the fact that Mainwaring also apes each author’s writing style with frighening accuracy, relating each detective’s contribution in the style fans have become accustomed to. Almost disturbingly so.
Really. If you’re a mystery buff, this is the one parody/pastiche you need, and the more you’re familiar with the targets, the more you’ll enjoy Mainwaring’s deadly aim.
But oh, that riff on Hammer is worth the price of admission alone.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marion Mainwaring (no relation to Daniel) may have been a serious scholar having scored a (PhD in English at Harvar, but she definitely had a talent for parody and pastiche. Besides Murder in Pastiche, Or Nine Detectives All at Sea, her other works include The Buccaneers (1993), her celebrated completion of an unfinished novel by Edith Wharton, and the non-fiction Mysteries of Paris: The Quest for Morton Fullerton (2001), a scrupulously researched biography of the well-connected scoundre and literary gadfly, trotted out in the form of a true crime tell-all.
- “The fog was like sweat, great and damp and beady, and the ocean was like the grey cold gravy you get in Bowery hash-houses. Looking in from the deck, the lights in the Lounge were warm and pretty, like twinkly bulbs on a Christmas tree, till you thought about the ship and you saw what it really was, a rotten tub with a cargo of dirt. Human dirt. A floating sewer. The Florabunda. A place where murder had been done.”
— from the memoirs of Spike Bludgeon
- “A caprice, for connoisseurs.”
— Kirkus Reviews
- “… brilliantly funny, sometimes painfully accurate and is quite a reasonable mystery in its own right.”
- “…no multiple [mystery fiction] pastiche has ever succeeded in dissecting each of its subjects with such wickedly flawless accuracy. That anyone can catch each flaw and each virtue of the prose styles of authors as disparate as Michael Innes and Earle Stanley Gardner all but passes my belief–or that anyone can think a plot in precisely the manner of, in turn, Mickey Spillane and Ellery Queen. The fullest enjoyment of this wondrous book may be limited to those who know intimately the annals of all nine detectives; but if you know even so much as one of them, I think you’ll agree that this is a permanent addition–both as criticism and entertainment–to the detective bookshelf.”
— Anthony Boucher
- It’s Hammer Time!
Send-ups & Put-Downs of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer
THE DICK OF THE DAY
- May 19, 2023
The Bottom Line: The much loved Murder in Pastiche (1954) lampoons nine of the world’s greatest detectives, but its savage, hilarious riff on Mike Hammer may be worth the price of admission alone.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.