|Simon & Schuster, 1977|
_____, Shadow of a Broken Man, London: Severn House, 1981
_____, Shadow of a Broken Man, New York: Signet (reprint), ca 1983
_____, Shadow of a Broken Man, New York: Dell, December 1987 (my edition)
_____, Shadow of a Broken Man, Apache Beach, October 1999
Shadow of a Broken Man at Goodreads
Shadow of a Broken Man at IBList
- For more Friday's Forgotten Books, please visit Patti Abbott's blog
- For my review of the novella that inspired this novel, please visit "Strange Prey"
- For all things Chesbro, please visit Dangerous Dwarf
Shadow of a Broken Man is set several years following the events of "Strange Prey." Detective Mongo is hired to find the missing architect. For those reading the novel without having read the novella, the secret to Rafferty's disappearance is one discovered alongside our detective's own investigations, while those who have read the novella are aware of many of the facts Mongo is in the process of unveiling, and there is less suspense offered to the reader. I had read "Strange Prey" a number of years ago, but was not aware of its connection to the novel, and only when I was well into the book did I realize that the elusive Victor Rafferty was the sympathetic character in Chesbro's novella, which as a pre-teen was among my favourite AHMM stories.
|Severn House, 1981|
Shadow of a Broken Man begins as a conventional mystery, as Mongo is hired by the former Mrs. Rafferty's new husband to investigate the possibility that Mr. Rafferty is still alive. Our detective follows the expected path in interviewing and investigating, and it isn't until we're quite drawn into the case that the reader becomes aware that there is a supernatural element involved, and even later as to the extent of that element. The work is quite solid and satisfying, and though I like "Strange Prey" and loved it as a kid, I do wonder how I would have responded to the novel not knowing the nature of our mysterious Rafferty; namely how I would have responded to the supernatural element and its introduction into the mystery.
One clear distinction in the novel form is the incorporation of action and violence. I mentioned that the work fuses elements of mystery and the supernatural, but the novel also interweaves elements of the thriller, as acrobatics are provided and bullets whizz by, many making their mark and leaving a bloody path of corpses. Not my thing usually, but I didn't mind it here. There was some violence in "Strange Prey," but primarily the defensive kind as Rafferty protects himself by lunging out with his mind. Chesbro does nonetheless manage to sneak in some flying bullets.
|Apache Beach, 1999|
Comparisons aside, the first Mongo novel is highly entertaining, competently written, and well plotted. The resolution becomes obvious and what really is going on in that climactic scene is not something the reader can't figure out as soon as the scene begins. In a sense, though we are witnessing events occurring years after "Strange Prey," the ending is essentially the same, only Rafferty himself is a different person. As far as I know there are no additional sequels or stories featuring Rafferty, as Mongo finds new supernatural mysteries to detect over the course of another nineteen years and thirteen novels.
Many a cover has Shadow of a Broken Man seen. The first edition Simon & Schuster is quite excellent, and I like both the Signet paperback reprint (ca. 1983) and the Apache Beach from 1999. I like the Dell (1987) which was a mass market series reprint, though the image of those ghostly sensual hands has no bearing on the story. Dell projects a cool, sexy Mongo, while that Severn House from 1981 is satisfied with a more emotional and reactive detective.
|Signet reprint, 1983 (?)|