Friday, July 16, 2010

Forgotten Books: The DADA Caper by Ross H. Spencer

Ross H. Spencer most likely did NOT invent a whole new style of storytelling. I’m guessing his peculiar technique had been used before. But when The DADA Caper was unleashed upon the world in 1978, it was certainly new to me. And probably to most other folks too.

Just what is that style? In a nutshell, it’s very short chapters with one-sentence paragraphs and no quotation marks. Some chapters read more like poetry than prose.

Most folks thought The DADA Caper was pretty cool back in '78, and it was successful enough for Spencer to follow up with four more adventures of detective Chance Purdue. I remember reading three of them. I suppose the gag could get stale after a while, but on this first reading in over twenty years it was fresh and new, and a nice interlude between “normal” works of fiction.

Here’s a sample chapter. Yep, this is a complete chapter:

___Chance Purdue.
___That is my name.
___Private Detective.
___That was my occupation.
___I handle anything.
___That was my slogan.
___Room 506 Braddock Building.
___That was my address.
___One-year lease.
___Three hundred a month.
___That was my mistake.

Here’s another, also complete, chapter:

___Betsy would breeze into the office about eleven in the morning.
___Almost every day.
___Betsy worked nights usually.
___She would sit in the client’s chair.
___After she had dusted it.
___With wild swooping motions.
___So I would know that she knew nobody had sat in it.
___Betsy would lean back and cross her long legs.
___Betsy wore very short skirts.
___And black underclothing.
___Most of the time.
___She would say how goes it Philo?
___I would shrug.
___I would say oh just great.
___Betsy would say how good is just great?
___I would say right now I am running down a few missing space capsules for NASA.
___Betsy would toss her head.
___Her blonde hair would shimmer.
___Her pale blue eyes would twinkle.
___She would say horsecrap.
___Then she would say I’ll take you to lunch.
___I would say okay.

And the fun doesn’t stop there. Instead of numbers or titles, each chapter is introduced with a few words of wisdom from an old coot named Monroe D. Underwood, who also drifts in and out of the story. A few samples:

…oncet there was a woman who took no for an answer…they stuffed her and put her in a museum…

…you show me a man what asks questions first and I’ll show you a man what is still looking for a right answer…

…oncet I knowed a man who had seven sons…named all of the Horatio…soon as they growed up they lynched him…

…feller what said every cloud got a silver lining didn’t know aluminum foil when he seen it…


I read this book in about two hours and came away happy. So yeah, I’ll be moving on to the next two already in my collection. Will I seek out books 4 and 5? We’ll see.

Check out all of this week’s fabulous Forgotten Books at pattinase.

65 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

I've never heard of these books. They sound very interesting. Gonna have to check bookmooch and see if I can find any.

Deka Black said...

Well. Seems very ppoetry-like, yes. And very fast to read. The problem is if is too fast.

Cullen Gallagher said...

I'll admit, at first I was apprehensive about the style, but once I read those two "chapters" you posted I was sold. Very funny stuff! These three lines were my favorite:

One-year lease.
Three hundred a month.
That was my mistake.

George said...

I loved these books when I read them long ago. Ross H. Spencer is an underrated writer.

Anonymous said...

I agree with George. I loved them too. In fact, I have the 5 books inscribed by Spencer at the 1984 Bouchercon. I should reread them - won't take long, right?

Dawson said DADA stands for Destroy America Destroy America.
I whistled.
I said they must mean it.
I said they said it twice.


By now you should know if this appeals to you or not.

Jeff M.

Bill Crider said...

I had some comments on this same book about this time last year. I also recommended this site (http://novelspot.net/node/1584) that has some great info on Spencer. Check it out.

Richard R. said...

Unlike Cullen, the quotes you gave turned me away from any interest in the book. Like the cover art though.

Anonymous said...

I am a huge fan of the late Ross H. Spencer's work. While he is most famous for his character Chance Purdue and the writing style he used for the series, he did write other comedic mysteries in a more conventional style. All of his main characters shared certain traits. All were hard luck losers who loved the city of Chicago and booze. All were chased by at least one pulp stereotyped female.

Lacy Lockington was his only other character to make it in more than one book (The Fifth Script, The Devereaux File, and The Fedorovich File.

Other comedic mysteries were Echoes of Zero, The Missing Bishop, Monastery Nightmare, Kirby's Last Case, and Death Wore Gloves.

I enjoyed all of them.

After Mr. Spencer's death his daughter wrote a book which if I remember right featured Ross. Unfortunately like most book addicts that book is lovely stored away in some box where I can't find it. Does anybody here remember more about it, like the title?

michael

Evan Lewis said...

Thanks for the info, guys. I'll be looking further into Mr. Spencer.

Tom K Mason said...

An excellent choice. I've read all the Chance's and loved them, but haven't read anything else by him. Somewhere on my shelf is Kirby's Last Circus - I think it's time for that.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

I, too, have read them and have them in a box somewhere. I recall being at the same Bouchercon as Jeff and meeting Spencer, but I can't recall if I got any books signed. I believe Pronzini didn't like them and they were mentioned in Son of Gun in Cheek.

Anonymous said...

generic xanax what does a xanax 2mg pill look like - xanax drug identification

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol online ultram tramadol hydrochloride tablets - buy cheap tramadol online

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol online whats better tramadol ultram - tramadol 50 mg stronger than vicodin

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol online tramadol vs hydrocodone addiction - tramadol extended release tablets dosage

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol online tramadol no prescription mastercard - tramadol 50mg for dogs safe for humans

Anonymous said...

carisoprodol 350 mg carisoprodol for sleep - carisoprodol 350 mg alcohol

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol online buy tramadol line usa - buy tramadol online in usa

Anonymous said...

buy carisoprodol no prescription buy cheap carisoprodol - carisoprodol buy online no prescription

Anonymous said...

xanax online buy valium xanax online - xanax no prescription no membership

Anonymous said...

buy carisoprodol soma carisoprodol tablets 250 - buy soma carisoprodol online

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol online tramadol 50 mg for canines - buy tramadol online no rx

Anonymous said...

buy xanax online forum xanax withdrawal can't sleep - xanax dosage fear flying

Anonymous said...

buy carisoprodol carisoprodol false positive - carisoprodol 350 mg generic for

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol online tramadol online ireland - tramadol-ratiopharm 50 mg kapszula

Anonymous said...

carisoprodol without prescription carisoprodol unrecognized drug abuse - soma carisoprodol 250

Anonymous said...

tramadol 100mg where to buy tramadol online - tramadol 50mg tablets high

Anonymous said...

buy cialis online cialis daily tadalafil - cialis 20 reviews

Anonymous said...

buy cialis online cialis how does it work - cialis 40 mg price

Anonymous said...

xanax online xanax for mri anxiety - xanax recreational use effects

Anonymous said...

xanax online buy alprazolam 2mg online no prescription - xanax during pregnancy

Anonymous said...

xanax online xanax vs xanax xr - xanax drug interactions prozac

Anonymous said...

cialis online buy cheap generic cialis online - buy cheap generic cialis u. k

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol tramadol 50mg for dogs usa - tramadol 625

Anonymous said...

http://landvoicelearning.com/#63987 can you buy tramadol dominican republic - buy tramadol with american express

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol online tramadol and high blood pressure medication - tramadol dosage 150

Anonymous said...

http://landvoicelearning.com/#51602 buy tramadol online no prescription usa - buying tramadol online forum

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol online help buy tramadol - tramadol hcl 50 mg vs percocet

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol tramadol 100 mg experience - tramadol for dogs same for humans

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol online tramadol yahoo - tramadol 50 mg recreational use

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol buy tramadol online pay cod - tramadol hcl urban dictionary

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol online tramadol withdrawal help - tramadol hcl pregnancy

Anonymous said...

http://landvoicelearning.com/#51438 tramadol withdrawal clonidine - tramadol online american pharmacy

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol tramadol 400 mg dose - tramadol 50 mg many get high

Anonymous said...

http://landvoicelearning.com/#23561 tramadol 100 mg side effects - can tramadol hcl 50 mg get you high

Anonymous said...

tramadol no prescription tramadol 50 mg lexapro - buy tramadol no prescription cod

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol buy tramadol online without rx - tramadol 100mg/1ml

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol buy tramadol cheap no prescription - 2 50mg tramadol

Anonymous said...

generic tramadol cope tramadol addiction - order tramadol online with mastercard

Anonymous said...

ways to buy ativan online ativan withdrawal message board - ativan to quit drinking

Anonymous said...

http://reidmoody.com/#53287 lorazepam online kaufen ohne rezept - ativan 4mg

Anonymous said...

http://reidmoody.com/#45570 ativan urban dictionary - ativan withdrawal and depression

Anonymous said...

ways to buy ativan online ativan etoh withdrawal - ativan and alcohol recreational

Anonymous said...

buy xanax online xanax pills side effects - xanax retard 1 mg bijsluiter

Anonymous said...

http://staam.org/#50589 tramadol hcl 50mg 627 - can you buy tramadol online

Anonymous said...

buy xanax online 1mg ativan vs 1mg xanax - xanax drug test positive

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol india tramadol hcl 50mg tab for dogs - generic name tramadol hcl

Anonymous said...

buy xanax online xanax lasting time - buy cheap xanax from canada

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol online tramadol trade name generic name - buy tramadol in usa no prescription

Anonymous said...

buying xanax online no prescription generic xanax 15mg - drug interactions xanax naproxen

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol no rx buy tramadol online with mastercard - order tramadol no prescription

Anonymous said...

buy misoprostol online no prescription - buy mifepristone cytotec ru486 misoprostol - buy cytotec

Anonymous said...

viagra soft generic cheap discounted cheapest online [url=http://flavors.me/p3vori8j/#order-cheap-Duricef-in-USA-online]Duricef In Australia Buy Online[/url] female viagra brand ingredients sibutramine xenical cheap cialis daily professional http://viagrasublingual508.pen.io/#soft-viagra-sublingual viagra online in canada

Anonymous said...

dj

Anonymous said...

Голден геймс казино