Second Horseman Out of Eden
Comments from George C. Chesbro
A kind of coda to "The Valhalla Trilogy" (Beasts, Two Songs, and Cold Smell), I hadn't yet tired of whacking away at some of my favorite targets.

The circumstances and lives of the Fredericksons have changed dramatically, necessitating the need for a whole new approach on my part to figuring out just what they're up to, and why.

A primary problem in constructing the first 3 novels in the series (Shadow, City, and Affair) was the question of just where Mongo's cases were going to come from. He's an esteemed professor of criminology, presumably making a good living teaching. However, his need to overcompensate for his dwarfism leads him to moonlight as a private investigator, but it's highly unlikely that a dwarf PI is going to get a lot of walk-in business; people looking for Sam Spade are not going to be impressed by Mongo. Consequently, his cases in the first 3 novels all come from people who are already impressed with him---friends and colleagues. In Shadow and Affair, faculty colleagues bring him work, and in City it is his former circus boss.

Garth is an NYPD detective, and this is most convenient for Mongo (and me) as he proves, on occasion, to be an invaluable source of information.

But after their adventures in "The Valhalla Trilogy," both Fredericksons are without their former "day jobs"; betrayals have led Mongo to leave teaching; Garth is no longer a cop, but has joined his brother in the firm, Frederickson and Frederickson. They have become famous because of publicity surrounding Mongo's odd cases in the past, and with fame has come a comfortable level of financial security. They now spend their days earning large fees doing things like vetting potential CEOs for Fortune 500 companies. Their days of living in constant peril seem over, and their guns are locked away in a safe.

Well. The Fredericksons' life situations may have changed, but they have not (and Garth has developed a dangerous new edge). They still react quickly to injustice, and are willing to risk everything, including their lives, in the proper cause. But now these "proper causes" usually arise because of personal crises and choices, not the professional contingencies of being PIs. So it is in Second Horseman when Garth, playing Santa Claus, picks a letter from an abused child out of a box at the post office....


Christmas time usually finds Mongo, George C. Chesbro's intrepid dwarf detective, in a jolly mood. It is the custom of Mongo and his brother, Garth, to celebrate the season by fulfilling the fantasies of needy children. Yet there is no joy in this year's task, for the Frederickson brothers must race against the clock if they are to bestow the precious gift of freedom on a little girl who is lost in a sinister "secret place."

Their only clues are traces of exotic soil found in the creases of a letter to Santa, and a cryptic reference that suggests the child's tormentor may be a man with whom the detectives are all too familiar---a renegade televangelist who is a murderous zealot as well as a fugitive from justice. Their worst fears are realized when they discover that not only the safety of one innocent child but world peace my hang in the balance.

A desperate search leads the brothers first through New York City---from the Botanical Gardens to the opulent Manhattan suite of one of the world's richest and most powerful men---then into an eerie futuristic world within a world. Here ,Mongo must face the ultimate challenge. He must defeat the villainous giant who has dogged his every footstep---while seeking to avert the global holocaust that may be just a heartbeat away.

Time magazine has praised George Chesbro's Mongo as one of the "successful challengers to the bruiser class" of hard-boiled detective heroes. In Second Horseman Out of Eden, Mongo proves himself no longer a mere challenger but now a champion in the most ambitious Mongo novel to date.

---From the dustjacket of the Atheneum edition
Quotes from the novel
  • "You guys are to trouble what a magnet is to steel filings." -Malachy McCloskey
  • "...why does Christ need an avatar on earth in the first place? It seems to me that He's been taking care of His own business for upwards of two thousand years." -Mongo

  • I had always believed that at the bottom of every political and religious zealot's heart was a death wish. They were, in every sense of the word, enemies of humanity, creators of hell on earth, infecting generation after generation down through the centuries, their lineage of paranoia, hatred, and terrorism going all the way back to the dawn of humankind's tenure on earth. -Mongo

Copyright © 2018, Hunter Goatley. All rights reserved.
Last updated 25-MAR-2018 21:42:21.00.