Hardly a Man is Now Alive – Herbert Brean (1950)

HardlyAManI wasn’t going to let more than a few months go by without catching back up with Herbert Brean.  My first encounter with him was with Wilders Walk Away; seemingly the only book that people connect with his name.  There’s good reason for it.  The blend of small town New England with a clever tale stacked high with mysteries does more than give the best of Ellery Queen’s Wrightsville novels a run for their money – it flat out beats them.

The only other Brean novel that seems to get any press is Traces of Brillhart, which was a logical next step.  However, a few comments pointed me towards Hardly a Man is Now Alive, suggesting it was a hidden gem.  Having finally laid my hands on both, I had to give in to the one with the vintage cover style that I so love.

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Wilders Walk Away – Herbert Brean (1948)

WildersWalkAwayIt took me a while to track down a copy of this book for the price that I wanted to pay for it – mostly because I’m a stickler for getting an edition with a cover that I want – and finally won out when a friend got me the IPL edition for Christmas.  Leave it to fate that immediately after finishing reading this, I stumbled upon a vintage Pocket Books edition for $5, but that’s my life…  And hey, an IPL is always more than welcome in my home.

Wilders Walk Away has this interesting reputation: an excellent read, a unique take on the impossible crime, and yet not a book to read solely for the impossible elements.  And, as it happens, if you want to save yourself some time, I’m basically going to grouse on and one about those exact points below.

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