Sunday, June 23, 2013

Book Review: Gil Brewer, A Devil for O'Shaugnessy (1973)

(The following review does not contain spoilers; the plot element described below does not appear in the published version of A Devil for O'Shaugnessy.) In 1973, with his career in decline for more than a decade, Gil Brewer completed a new noir thriller, A Devil for O’Shaugnessy. A throwback, the novel would have fit as one of his lesser Gold Medal paperbacks of the late 1950s, memorable primarily for the appearance of a deranged pet monkey as a major character. Brewer’s agent submitted the manuscript to Coward, McCann, and the publisher sent detailed suggestions for revision, including the possibility that “there might be a neater ending in which Fisk and Miriam are killed together (in a chase scene, for example).” Brewer dutifully responded to the publisher’s criticisms, only to have his revision rejected outright. In their kiss-off letter, Coward, McCann made substantial (and legitimate) objections to aspects of the plot that they had implicitly endorsed previously. As well, they panned Brewer’s new ending, complaining that “the car chase, another cliché, seems an awfully familiar device. Haven’t we seen this already too many times before?” Feel Gil Brewer’s pain. Grade: C

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