Books: Loopy Locutions


by THOMAS BERGER 247 pages. Delacorte/Seymour Lawrence. $7.95.

A down-at-the-heels private eye named Russel Wren is suddenly victimized by a series of increasingly vigorous beatings. Someone, perhaps everyone, is out to get him, and Wren naturally wants to find out why. One good reason may be his mouth. A former college English teacher, the shamus speaks in Victorian grandiloquent, and the burden of his remarks is composed of snippets from the Great Books and library paste. Wren cannot even make a kinky pass at his secretary without providing footnotes: "Dante finds Beatrice in heaven, on one side of the...

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