Read His Name Was Death by Fredric Brown Online


The title comes from Revelations 6:8, which in the King James Version says, "And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him."The hook is that each section starts with "His name was" or "Her name was." The book begins, "Her name was Joyce Dugan, and at four o'clock on this February afternoon she had no remote thoughThe title comes from Revelations 6:8, which in the King James Version says, "And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him."The hook is that each section starts with "His name was" or "Her name was." The book begins, "Her name was Joyce Dugan, and at four o'clock on this February afternoon she had no remote thought that within the hour before closing time she was about to commit an act that would instigate a chain of murders." The last section, just a couple of pages long, begins, "His name was Death, and he waited for ____."After Dugan, the focus moves around a few other people, primarily her boss, Darius Conn, who runs a print shop. The year before he'd killed his wife and gotten away with it, and now he's feeling bold and very confident. He's got a plan, and no one's going to get in his way....

Title : His Name Was Death
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780887390449
Format Type : Mass Market Paperback
Number of Pages : 139 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

His Name Was Death Reviews

  • Karl
    2019-03-13 22:59

    Limited to 200 copies, signed by Ed Gorman and illustrator Gwabryel. Introduction by Ed Gorman.This is copy 184 of 200 signed numbered copies.

  • Nancy Oakes
    2019-03-03 22:14

    If you haven't read Fredric Brown's work, you are missing something truly exquisite. Considering that the guy absolutely hated to write, what's come out of his brain is genius. His Name was Death makes two by Brown that I've read; between this one and Here Comes a Candle, the second one was far more intense and had me heebie-jeebied all the way through, but both are super books. Now waiting in the bullpen is Homicide Sanitarium -- oh god, what a great name! -- which I'm dying to crack open soon. That should give you an inkling of how much I like this author. Better known for his SF stories, Fredric Brown is a top-notch crime writer as well. 1940s Los Angeles is the setting for this very small book, with an opening line that whets your appetite right from the start: "Her name was Joyce Dugan, and at four o'clock on this February afternoon she had no remote thought that within the hour before closing time she was about to commit an act that would instigate a chain of murders."It isn't long until we find out who Joyce Dugan is and what she's done to "instigate a chain of murders," albeit unwittingly. Acting out of friendship, she starts a series of events that ends up in a gut-punching shocker of a finish. At the printing shop where she works one day, in walks Claude Atkins, one of Joyce's old boyfriends from high school. He's not there to see Joyce, but to pick up a check from Joyce's boss, Darius Conn, with whom he'd recently swapped cars with a little extra coming from Darius to make up for the difference. Joyce decides to give him money out of the petty cash box but there's not enough, so after a call to her boss, she writes out a check. But Atkins needs cash for the weekend. Just then Joyce remembers the envelope full of money in the office safe; she has Atkins endorse the check and pulls out $90 in brand new ten dollar bills, leaving the signed-over check in the envelope. Now everyone's happy. But wait.When Darius gets back to the office he discovers what Joyce has done and it's a big problem. The money Joyce gave Claude just happened to be counterfeit, part of a batch Darius was planning to parlay into a net profit of about $2500. The printing office is a front for his operation, and Joyce has just given nine of his newly-printed test bills to someone who, if he was caught with the fake money, would know just where it came from. Darius can't take that chance: "He had to get that money back from Claude Atkins. Somehow. No matter what the risk of doing that, it couldn't be any greater than the risk of doing nothing or the risk of running. Get it without killing if possible, but kill if that turned out to be the only way. He'd got away with murder once, hadn't he?"His plan: to improvise, to take the opportunity when it knocks -- even if it means he has to kill. Darius is still proud of himself -- the reader discovers early on that he's gotten away with murdering his wife just a year earlier -- so he figures if saving himself prison time for the counterfeit money means he has to kill again, well, it's what he has to do. He still gloats inwardly about having fooled the cops and acting the grieving husband; he even got to be friends with the detective handling his wife's murder case. The rest of the novel follows Darius as he tries to retrieve his fake funds -- but well, even quick-thinking Darius can't predict the hitches along the way. Considering the edge of darkness that you ride as you read through the novel, Brown is very economic in terms of story telling -- the novel is sleek, with absolutely nothing unnecessary weighing down the plot, a lesson many modern crime novelists really need to learn. The dimly-lit, seedy bars along with the city streets and back alleys of Los Angeles give an honest feel for place and time which enhances the story. He manages to hold you in suspense all along the way without resorting to the burdensome backstory to make his characterizations work, there is no unnecessary exposition, and there's even a good measure of black, sardonic humor thrown into this book. And then the classic Fredric Brown ending -- well, it's truly what you would least expect.Highly, highly recommended.

  • Williwaw
    2019-02-27 04:18

    This enjoyable, short novel of 1954 was recently reprinted by Centipede Press in a fancy, limited edition. I was familiar with Fredric Brown as the author of countless witty, short science fiction stories; and as an author who had a penchant for surprise or ironic endings. Until reading this book, my intake of Brown was limited to his science fiction offerings. So when I saw this book on the Centipede Press website, I thought perhaps I should purchase it and see why it was worthy of being reprinted in a limited, cloth edition. I also wanted a taste of how Brown would handle a crime story. One very nice feature of the Centipede Press edition is that about 33 original paperback covers and hardback dust jacket covers from early editions of Brown's work are reproduced in color on the first few pages. I'm a sucker for vintage book cover design, and there are lots of great examples here, so I'm definitely swooning over this. But enough of form. Let's get to the substance. "His Name Was Death" is written in a clean, simple style. Perhaps the most interesting thing about it is Brown's frequent change of viewpoints. The reader spends a fair amount of time in the heads of about nine different characters. Three of them end up dead, but only after the reader has had time to get attached to them (except for the murderer, who is absolutely psychopathic). Brown paints very convincing portraits of each character. With the exception of the murderer, they are completely ordinary, innocent, working-class folk with simple goals. "His Name Was Death" is an expertly crafted crime novel that in some ways reminds me of the work of Cornell Woolrich (in particular, "The Bride Wore Black," which also uses the technique of shifting viewpoints of soon-to-be murder victims, and also pulls a surprise ending). In a nutshell, the whole plot emerges from the crime of printing counterfeit money, and the criminal's attempts to cover his tracks after some of the money gets distributed accidentally.If you like intricately plotted crime novels, this would definitely be your cup of tea. It's heavy on interior monologue, so it lacks the atmospheric description that you'd expect to find in the novels of Chandler or Goodis. But this is nevertheless a highly entertaining book with an unforgettable ending. Take it to the beach if you can find a cheap copy! You won't regret it.

  • Michael Stewart
    2019-02-24 01:18

    A "Roman noir" without a femme fatale. A story illustrating how serendipity is the puppeteer of our lives.Counterfeiting, young love, greed and hubris make for a potent cocktail of murder and mayhem. (The events reminded me of the farcial parties on the sit-com FRAZIER - detailed and smug planning are no guarantee of success.) A quick read set in 1951 Los Angeles; I half expected DRAGNET'S Joe Friday to drop by seeking "Just the facts, Ma'am". My copy is from the BLACK LIZARD series of hard-boiled reprints. Highly recommended.

  • Randy
    2019-02-26 04:01

    Short and sweet, one of the best crime novels from the fifties. Darius Conn owned a small print shop and, when his secretary innocently cashes a check from cash in the safe, it sets Conn off on a series of murders to cover it up and recover the counterfeit money he was making before it could get out.Basically an honest businessman up until he murdered his shrew of a wife the year before, and gotten away with it, the next murder wasn't as hard, And the next.The ending took me by surprise. Didn't see it coming.

  • Mike Jensen
    2019-03-13 03:18

    I am not one of Fredric Brown's cult following and realize they will never understand my reaction of this skillfully written book, which is mild annoyance. It is overblown, overdemanding of my credulity, and the plot is overdeveloped, which is to say, contrived. Venerate Brown all you want, and I can't deny Brown's skill in developing this story or as a stylist, but I'll get off here, please.

  • the gift
    2019-03-21 21:09

    great hook, great plot, great economy with words. maybe i would prefer the characters more fully drawn, the sentiment less cliche. but then plot is all that matters. propulsive. absurd. very black humor. very fun in a macabre way, this recount of a murderer’s thoughts. good to the last page.

  • Ben Loory
    2019-03-22 02:50

    another really fun book by fredric brown. this one sorta dissolves when you think about it afterward (what exactly was the guy's plan??), but the idea is great and i really enjoyed the frantic thinking-in-circles... for a while.

  • David
    2019-03-20 03:05

    A noir classic with a simple yet effective formula.

  • K. Thomas
    2019-02-25 23:59

    Brown really knows how to fill the reader with dread. This is an effective, lean novel.

  • Angie Lee
    2019-03-02 21:07

    Great twisty little yarn that is so good at capturing a long ago time period

  • Bradley
    2019-02-23 20:13

    Soooo genius.

  • Clifdisc
    2019-03-11 19:55

    This book is infinitely more fun if you imagine the protagonist is Walter White. Still, I found the book a bit tedious.

  • Eric
    2019-03-08 22:59

    another amazing Fredric Brown book. He is nudging out Patricia Highsmith as my favorite "bad people in desperate situations" writer.

  • Gabriel Hardman
    2019-03-19 00:03

    A lean, smart book that ranks with Patricia Highsmith's work. Among the best crime/suspense novels I've read.

  • Eldonfoil TH*E Whatever Champion
    2019-03-12 04:17

    A wicked procession of events that follows Death through marriage, bars, dates, jobs..........and, of course, murder.

  • Alan
    2019-03-06 21:59

    Fascinating little book, loved the flow of the story and the twist at the end.

  • James Eckman
    2019-03-14 04:15

    Funny but somewhat dated.

  • Joshua
    2019-03-02 00:58

    Pretty taut little thriller. First book of Brown's that I've read. Brisk read, finished most of it in one sitting.