“The Fabulous Clipjoint” (1947), by Frederic Brown, is a coming-of-age story about Ed Hunter, whose father is murdered in a Chicago alley. Ed, age 18, is living with his stepmom and stepsister. He heads to Wisconsin to see his Uncle Ambrose, who works in a carnival. Ambrose immediately leaves with Ed, determined to find who killed Ed’s father and Ambrose’s brother.
The novel moves along at a nice pace. The interaction between Ed and Ambrose is interesting, as are the tactics Ambrose uses to track down the killer in Chicago’s underworld. You see wise old Ambrose, a very street-savvy sort, mentoring Ed and steering him toward manhood. Along the way, Ed learns much about the father he never truly knew–that he was not the weak, pathetic man he thought he was.
I found this book as a freebie epub somewhere on the internet and read it on my ColorNook. Frederic Brown won the 1947 Edgar Award for “Best First Mystery Novel” with this book, having already published hundreds of stories in pulp magazines.
This was a very good book, and since it was free, I consider it a great find. I understand that there are six more books featuring Ed and Ambrose.