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THE MAN WHO KILLED HIS BROTHER Thread
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 23, 2013 5:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Been years since Dam-sel bought me all four Man Who books. Time for a re-read...
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 12:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For the first time, I'm reading the "Man Who" books. The sometimes-abrasive protagonist Mick "Brew" Axbrewder may be heavily burdend with alcohol addiction and guilt, but his heart's in the right place when it needs to be.

Quote:
"Come on, Captain," I went on. "You're playing games with me. Why don't you cut out the bullshit and tell me what's really going on?"

His fingertips began to touch each other lightly. "The man's name is Charles Saunders, and he's from Cleveland. We're trying to get in touch with his wife. The doctor says he may have a ruptured kidney." Then his hands jumped into fists. "Goddamn it, Axbrewder! Haven't you ever heard of minimum force?"

"'Minimum force?'" I countered. "What's that?"

"He could sue you for every penny you ever had!"

"Is that a fact?" Deliberately I imitated Cason's tone.

"We can probably get you off the hook if you let this thing drop."

I felt like it was my turn to get angry, but I held back. "So let him sue me. That's my problem. I don't give a shit what he does as long as he does it in jail."

"Smart-ass!" Cason barked. "I wish you still had a license, so I could get it pulled for this."

"Yeah, well I appreciate your consideration. But I'm just a private citizen. I saw a crime being committed, and I intervened. I went in hard because there wasn't time for anything else. He had a knife. I didn't have a chance to ask him if he was going to use it." I tried not to sound too angry, but I couldn't swallow all of it. "What the hell's the matter with you, anyway? You like rape? You want clowns like this Saunders running around loose?"

"Shut up, Axbrewder," he said softly, "or I'll stuff it down your throat."

"Just what we need around here," I shot back. "More police brutality."

"All right." He was furious. "That's enough. You want to be cute? I'll give it to you straight. This Sanguillan--he made her name into an insult--"is just another Mex chippy who tried to back out when she didn't get enough money. It happens all the time. That's why she was out on the street alone at night. Saunders just got sucked in. He's a tourist here, and he deserves an even break. A ruptured kidney is a hell of a price to pay for not having enough cash on him. This won't go any farther. You're not going to testify."

"Because he's Anglo," I said carefully.

"If that's the way you want to put it." His hands were flat on the desk, as if everything was settled.

I got to my feet. "Teresa Sanguillan has a perfectly respectable job as a domestic in the Heights. That'll be easy to prove. She was on the street at night alone because that's the only way she can get home. But even if she is 'just another Mex chippy,' it doesn't make any difference. She was being raped!" I couldn't stop myself. I hammered my fist onto the top of his desk so hard that a couple of files fell off onto the floor. "If you try to sit on this, I'll go to the DA." District Attorney Martinez was notoriously un-sympathetic toward racist cops. "He might like to find out how many rape investigations you've quashed since you got your promotion."

Captain Cason was standing behind his desk, and his hands were twitching, and he was saying, "You sonofabitch, you--!"

But I wasn't listening. I'd had enough of him. I threw open the door and went out into the duty room.




Encountering the younger sibling of one of the vanished girls later found dead reveals a softer, more conscientious side to Brew's personality. He's compelled to gather whatever evidence he can to solve the case of the disappearing schoolgirls, yet has guilt about using a child to get the evidence he needs. And he's never so wrapped up in his own troubles as to lose sensitivity for the plight of others.

Quote:
I was still considering my nonexistent options when a kid came up the driveway toward the house. She looked to be about nine or ten--a cute kid with straight blonde hair, braces, and one of those loose-jointed tomboy bodies that promises a lot of future development. She stopped in front of me, studied me gravely for a long minute.

Not having any better ideas, I said, "Hi."

"Hi," she said. Then abruptly, "Are they drunk again?"

That sounded like a dangerous question, and I was leery of it. But the seriousness in her child-face demanded an honest answer. Finally I said, "I think so."

"Oh, damn." She made damn sound as innocent as sunlight. All at once, she dropped herself on the porch beside me and put her chin on her knees. "They're going to blame it on me."

"Why would they do that?"

"I'm late. When I'm late, they always use it as an excuse. They say they're worried sick about me." Her sarcasm underlined the hurt in her voice.

I waited a moment. Then I said, "But you don't think that's the real reason."

"Of course not." This time I heard real bitterness. "I come home late because I know they're going on one of their binges. I stay away as late as I can."

I nodded. "It must be rough."

"Yeah." She stared in front of her as if her whole future were a desert. "They think I'm going to turn out like Marisa."

All of a sudden, the Lutts went click in my head and started to make sense. Now I knew what they were going through. I'd seen a lot of it in the last two days. Your thirteen-year-old daughter suddenly runs away for no reason in the world, and when she turns up dead months later you're told she's a junky whore. So who do you blame? It must be your fault, she's a little too young for you to pin it all on her, but to save your soul you can't think what you did wrong. You can't trust yourself anymore--and that means you can't trust anybody. Not even your ten-year-old.

"That's why they drink," I said quietly. "Because of what happened to her."

"Yeah," she assented. "And then that pig came. The cop. At first I thought you were him. He was big, too. I didn't hear what he said, but when he was gone Mom was crying and couldn't stop, and Dad looked like he was going to be sick."

I was thinking fast now--and what I came up with disgusted me. I felt rotten just considering it. But I didn't see any other way. After a minute I said, "My name is Brew."

She looked over at me, made an effort to smile. "I'm Denise."

"Denise," I said carefully, "I'm a private investigator. I'm trying to find a girl who ran away from home. Just like Marisa. Right now, it looks like they're connected. The same thing is going to happen to this girl unless I can find her in time. But I'm not getting anywhere, and I need help. Your parents--well, they're too upset to understand why I need to talk to them."

She peered at me intensely. "You can ask me. I know all about it. They didn't want me to hear, but I listened at the door." She was eager to help. Probably her own self-respect wasn't exactly in great shape. She needed to do something, make a positive contribution in some way.

I gave her the best smile I could muster. "There's just one thing I really need. After she ran away, Marisa wrote your parents a note. That's where the connection is. In the note. I need it"

For a second while she looked at me, her eyes brightened. Then she jumped up. "I know where it is." Before I could regret what I'd gotten her into, she hurried into the house.

She wasn't gone long. I heard shouts as if her parents were yelling at her. Then she came back out and handed me a piece of paper. A half sheet of good twenty-pound bond, neatly torn along one edge. What the messy handwriting had to say wasn't more than three words different than Alathea's note. By this time I could recognize the watermark at fifty paces.

I got to my feet. Talking fast so I could finish before either of the Lutts came out after Denise, I said, "Now listen. When your parents are sober, I want you to tell them about me. Tell them Marisa didn't run away. She was kidnapped. I don't know how or why, but I'm going to find out. I'm going to nail whoever did it. Your parents don't have any reason to hate themselves. And they don't have any reason to be worried about you."

If Ginny had been there, she would've tried to stop me during that whole speech. I didn't have any business making promises like that, and I knew it. But I felt dirty about the way I'd used Denise, gotten her in trouble with her parents when she had already had more than she could handle. I had to give her something in return.

If it turned out that I couldn't keep my promises, I could always go back to drinking. One shame more or less wouldn't make any difference. Alcohol doesn't care about details like that.



I enjoy the contrast between Brew's intuitive leaps (shown at various points in the story) and Ginny's well-honed deductive reasoning skills (evident in the quote below).

Quote:
Losing the notes made me a whole lot sicker than just one jab in the stomach. But there was no way around it--I had to face Ginny. While I was still mad enough to make decisions, I yanked up the phone and called her service. As it turned out, she was at home, and they patched me through.

"Brew. What's happening?"

Almost puking with self-disgust, I told her, "I just had a run-in with Acton. He took the notes."
____________________________________________________________________

"Anyway"--I gritted my teeth and said it--"I've pretty well blown the case. Now we've got nothing."

"He's a cop," she snapped. "What could you do, eat the damn things?"

"I shouldn't have been carrying them around."

She dismissed that without hesitation. "Forget about it. They were safe enough. We just didn't know that Acton was going to get desperate. Anyway, she went on before I could object, we don't need them now."

I said, "Huh?" Always the brilliant conversationalist.

"Acton wouldn't destroy them. Too many people know about them. And I've already got what I need out of them."

"Which is what?"

"Brew, I finished checking out the other schools." My head must've been clearing--I finally started to hear the vibration of excitement in her voice. "I'll spare you the details. The point is that everything fits. Every one of these girls disappeared from school at a time when she was scheduled to be alone."

"You already knew that. It's in the school board files."

"Exactly!"

"Exactly what? It still doesn't prove anything. Why call attention to yourself running away when you've got a perfect chance to sneak off every day of the week?"

"Well that's true, of course," she admitted, "if you look at it that way. Let me ask you a different question, Brew. Is there any proof in those notes? Proof the girls didn't write them, or wrote them under duress? I'm talking about hard evidence, the kind that stands up in court."

I thought about it for a long time. Then I said, "No."

"Damn right. As far as we know, they were all addressed correctly. But that's minor. The main thing is that all the notes were addressed to the right parents."

I said, "Huh?" again. It was getting to be a habit.

"Marisa Lutt wrote, 'Dear Mom and Dad.' So did Esther Hannibal. So did Ruth Ann Larsen, May-Bell Podhorentz, Dottie Ann Consciewitz, Carol Christie. We don't know about Rosalynn Swift. But Alathea wrote, 'Dear Mom.' Mittie wrote, 'Dear Dad.'"

It still didn't mean anything to me. "So what? Most kids know how many parents they have. If they've only got one, they can usually tell if it's male or female."

"Of course! That's the point!" She was hot on a trail I couldn't see. "Just look at it from the other side. We know those notes are wrong. We have good reason to believe they were all dictated by the same person. Well, nine girls who live in nine different neighborhoods and go to six different schools aren't going to end up having the same person dictate their notes by accident. So what does that tell you?"

"Kidnapping." I grated. I already knew that.

"Right! But if that's true, then the girls didn't run away at all. So it isn't a question of figuring out why the girls ran away while they were alone. The question is, how did the kidnapper know they were going to be alone? How did he know they were going to be somewhere that he could get at them without being seen? For that matter, how did he know he could get them to come with him? And how did he know their addresses? How did he know how many parents they had?"

I said, "Research?" Feeling like an idiot.

"Now you're getting it. Tell me, Brew. If you wanted to research nine different girls in six different schools, and find out the answers to all these questions, where would you go?"

That was it. Finally I understood. "The school board. The files." She was right, I could feel it. The bastard we were looking for got his information from those files. It was the only answer that made sense.
Maybe he was even on the board.


Overall, an enjoyable debut to the series, and the case of the vanishing schoolgirls was just scary enough to make the story compelling. The friction between Ginny and Brew keeps it interesting for me, as well. I also like that Brew's never too proud to poke fun at himself.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 2:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Brew isn't as dumb as he seems to think he is, that's for sure. Smile Plus he gets the occasional zinger in.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2014 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You're right, aliantha: Brew is not, and occasionally he does... Wink
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2020 11:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Resurrecting this thread after 5 years ...

I really like these stories, and it might be time for a reread. I will say that Donaldson's writing style does make for some overwrought prose at times - which works better in a more fantastic setting than a gumshoe novel, I think - but the characters and dialogue are where the novels shine, as usual for SRD.

Does anyone know whether there was a UK hardcover edition published for Brother, under the Reed Stephens name? I have Collins hardcover editions of Partner and Away, but not the for the first.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2020 2:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hunchback Jack wrote:
Resurrecting this thread after 5 years ...

I really like these stories, and it might be time for a reread. I will say that Donaldson's writing style does make for some overwrought prose at times - which works better in a more fantastic setting than a gumshoe novel, I think - but the characters and dialogue are where the novels shine, as usual for SRD.

Does anyone know whether there was a UK hardcover edition published for Brother, under the Reed Stephens name? I have Collins hardcover editions of Partner and Away, but not the for the first.


I've done a search on "UK hardcover Reed Stephens The Man Who Killed His Brother", Hunchback Jack, but unfortunately the only UK editions of the original version of Brother attributed to "Reed Stephens" are in paperback. Sad
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PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2020 6:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, CH. Do you know of a good resource to look up information like this?

I found a couple of bibliographies online that included different editions, but I wasn't able to find one that included the Collins hardcover of "Risked his Partner", which does exist - I own a copy. So I'm not sure whether "Killed is Brother" was likewise missing.
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PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2020 7:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I found some information on the isfdb (internet speculative fiction data base), Hunchback Jack, but I note with frustration that the Collins hardcover you mention is not listed. http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/title.cgi?593901


Here is a larger bibliography of Donaldson, with the Man Who mystery novels listed at the bottom of the page, but I fear that even this bibliography is not truly complete. http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/ea.cgi?1021


I'll try another search, this time specifying British publications of Donaldson's work, and hope for better results.
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PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2020 8:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cord Hurn wrote:
I'll try another search, this time specifying British publications of Donaldson's work, and hope for better results.


This site has British editions, but no Reed Stephens version of TMWKHB, unfortunately. https://www.waterstones.com/author/stephen-donaldson/1869168/page/2

And there is this: https://biblio.co.uk/donaldson-stephen/author/44467

But none of these show a hardback copy of the Reed Stephens version of The Man Who Killed His Brother, so I have no reason to think it exists.
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PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2020 7:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks so much! I wasn't expecting you to go to so much effort - I was hoping you already had a go-to place for this info - so I really appreciate it.
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