A Jolly Good Fellow (novel)

Infobox Book |
name = A Jolly Good Fellow
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption =
author = Stephen V. Masse
illustrator =
cover_artist =
country = United States
language = English
series =
genre = Crime novel
publisher = Good Harbor Press
pub_date = 2008
english_pub_date =
media_type = Print (Paperback)
pages = 203 pp
isbn = ISBN 0-97-996380-X

"A Jolly Good Fellow" (2008) is a novel by American author Stephen V. Masse.

Plot introduction

Shortly before Christmas, Duncan Wagner kidnaps Gabriel Booker, the son of State Representative Winthrop Booker. Wagner soons finds that Gabriel is a runaway who ismore curious than scared. In an old apartment in downtown Boston, the odd pair makes for a complementary team.

Plot summary

Two weeks before Christmas in Boston, Duncan Wagner, a lone down-and-outer who has been living in self-imposed exile for several years, kidnaps Gabriel Booker, the eleven-year-oldson of State Representative Winthrop Booker. Wagner takes the child to his apartment and ties him to a chair in front of the television, then leaves for work as a self-employed charity Santa Claus. When Wagner returns to his apartment, Gabriel is no longer in the chair. Thinking the boy has fled, Wagner goes into his room and finds him sleeping on the bed.

In spite of a lingering edginess, the two grow more cordial toward each other. Wagner locks Gabriel’s ankle to a long chain to make sure he doesn’t run away. Gabriel hounds Wagner to supply him with Christmas decorations and other goodies to help pass the time. Wagner awkwardly complies. Gabriel turns out to be a vegetarian. And a bed wetter.

After a day, Wagner makes a ransom demand for one hundred thousand dollars from Representative Booker. Almost immediately the missing child case turns into an
Amber Alert and dominates news headlines.

One night Wagner, bothered by the clinking sound of the chain, unlocks Gabriel’s ankle in order to have a decent sleep. In the morning, Gabriel is gone and with him, all Duncan’s charity money. Duncan goes to town in his Santa suit, hoping to elude hoards of police he is sure will swarm to his apartment. While in town, he helps a street artist, Martina, whose purse is being rifled by a pair of thieves. He realizes Martina has an eye for his Santa character, though he also realizes that by kidnapping Gabriel, he has imprisoned himself as well.

Back at his apartment there are no police. Later on, Gabriel shows up in disguise after spending the day exploring Boston and buying money orders with Duncan's cash.

The friendship is solidified, although the ransom deal seems to be going sour. Winthrop Booker makes a televised statement that he is not going to submit to terrorism and extortion. Duncan Wagner delivers a final note with Gabriel's latest loose tooth and some bloodied cotton. The deal works, thanks to the tooth and Wagner's only adult contact, Dick Murphy. Murphy is a construction worker whom Wagner knew years ago. Wagner talks Murphy into making a pickup and delivery of the ransom on Christmas Eve, telling him the money is pooled charity. Wagner stashes the money in a pay locker at the South Station bus terminal.

Wagner decides to spend a last dinner with Gabriel, relishing the pain he is causing Gabriel's parents by making them wait until the morning. After Gabriel goes to sleep, Wagner puts toys under the tree for him, and then dresses up as Santa Claus to pick up his money. On the way home, he is mugged by three assailants, and loses the ransom. He goes home beaten and bleeding, his Santa suit ruined.

Before dawn he awakens to the smell of smoke. His building is on fire. He wakes Gabriel up and they leave the building by the fire escape. Later on the boy is recognized by a police officer. Wagner is arrested, but claims to have saved the boy from three assailants. Gabriel verifies his story, saying he was kept in a blindfold and could not see the kidnappers.

Investigators continue to work on the kidnapping, and finally conclude that Duncan Wagner was the only person ever seen with the boy. Wagner admits the crime, although he manages to have the kidnapping charges dropped because of circumstances revealed only to readers of the book.

Awards and nominations

* 2008 Independent Publisher Book Awards, silver medal (U.S. North-East - Best Regional Fiction)

Publication history

* 2008, USA, Good Harbor Press ISBN 10: 097996380X, ISBN 13: 978-0-9799638-0-3 Paperback

* 2008, USA, Calderwood Books ISBN: 978-1-934614-34-1 Electronic Book

External links

* Good Harbor Press [http://www.goodharborpress.com]
* Calderwood Books [http://www.calderwoodbooks.com/#/ajollygoodfellow/4530706521]
* 2008 Independent Publisher Awards [http://www.independentpublisher.com/article.php?page=1231]

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