Books: At His Boozy Best

THE SCARPERER by Brendan Behan. 158 pages. Doubeday. $3.95.

To scarper is to make off, to run away, to escape, in Irish slang. And to scarper is what the young Brendan Behan must often have dreamed of doing in the six years he spent soberly behind bars, rather than convivially touring them. He put those dreams to good use in this merry and murderous mock-suspense story about a professional impresario of escapes at work in the underworld of Dublin, and Paris.

By masterminding a successful jailbreak for a rich client every couple of years, the...

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