Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Book Review: The Third Policeman

The Third Policeman
Author: Flan O'Brien

I just completed reading this story and would like to suggest it to you.

The story is narrated by the main character. He and a friend (Divney) commit a murder (Mathers) for finical gain. Divney hides the cash box that Mathers was carrying.
Years pass and the box remains hidden. Just until the heat cools off of the murder, so says Divney. After 3 years the location is revealed and the narrator goes to get the box. INSIDE Mathers home.

Then things change. The narrator then comes across two Policemen with odd features conducting odd tasks speaking in odd terms. It's all very odd. The story carries on with the narrator speaking with and following around the Policemen while they show him around. He is shown a box one of hte policeman crafted. A beautiful work of art, inside which contained another identical but smaller box, inside which contained another identical but smaller box..smaller and smaller each box identical to the one before it until the 28th and smallest box visible only with magnifying glasses.

He is also introduced to the 'atomic theory of bicycles' which basically states that the longer one rides a bike the more the rider and bicycle become one another by exchanging atoms. Especially on a bumpy gravel road.

The story carries on. I do not wish to give away the plot twist. Perhaps you wish to read the wikipedia entry to find out.

I found that the plot is striking. It as memorable and good story as 1984 or Fahrenheit 451. Im not saying that government over-rule takes place, just that the story is as good.

The superb usage of alliteration and excellent visual descriptions was continuously interesting and helps 'paint the picture' so to speak. Here is an example of one of my favorite lines talking about fixing his bicycle:

"...felt his tyres with red knowing fingers and furbished his machine fastidiously."

Final Notes:
The narrator has an internal conscience who speaks up from time to time. His name is Joe and adds a bit of humor to the story. The narrator also has a fascination with a philosopher named 'DeSelby' and frequent tangents to the story about him appear at the bottom half of a page, occasionally for several pages. I found this distracting and the small print eventually led me to skipping all those pieces.

It is a good read and I suggest that you add it to your reading list today.


  1. LOL with the atomic bike and happy new year from all the crew at GO! Smell the flowers...

    Keep on blogging - you're in our blogroll thesedays! :0)

  2. Hi Joe,
    Thank you for an interesting reading Selection.
    I really have been into the police/ invetigation type of novels since the past year or two.
    I'am working through a series et in 18th century France with a young detective named NicolaS Le Floch.
    Have a nice day my friend.

  3. Thanks for commenting Barbara. Thou I should warn you that the books focus isn't really much about police/ investigations.

    The name LaFloch is ringing a bell. I will take a look at this closer.