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Madman or murderer? That was the question and it was Police Inspector Omar Collins who had come up with the answer. All he had to go on was: the victim - Earl Genneman, wealthy president of Genneman Labs; the scene- right in the middle of a busy state park; the murder weapon - a shotgun that was still missing; the witnesses - Myron Retwig, Red Kershaw, Bob Vega, and Buck James, all friends or employees of the deceased; the motive - unknown; the suspects - everyone!  Then he got a lukewarm tip from a real cool corpse, and a few clues started to click into place. But it wasn't till the third party turned up that the inspector was sure he was hot on the killer's trail. And by then, Collins knew he had very little time left to stop his madman from murdering again...!

At first it seemed as though only the Madman Theory could explain the brutal shotgun slaying which lay in wait for the friendly group of back-packing hikers. But Inspector Omar Collins, lean, gloomy-eyed, black-haired, was a painstaking man. The more he pursued it, the less he believed in the Madman Theory.

The Madman Theory - cover pocket book edition, Pocket Book N° 50435,  August 1966.The Madman Theory - cover pocket book edition, Signet 451-Y6715, October 1975 (1st)A Fine and Private Place/The Madman Theory - cover pocket book edition, Signet Double Mystery 451 AE1855, August 1982.The Madman Theory - cover Kinnell Publications, London,  1988 (was initially released with an erroneous dustjacket "The Mad Man Theory", caused when the title was given to the printers over the phone) (Illustration Mark Foreman)The Madman Theory - cover Kinnell Publications, London,  1988 (corrected cover)  (Illustration Mark Foreman)The Madman Theory - hardcover Kinnell Publications, London, 1988.

Earl Genneman, owner of a successful pharmaceutical company, is murdered, apparently from ambush, while on a backpacking expedition with several friends and employees. It’s up to Inspector Omar Collins of the Fresno County Sheriff’s office to find the murderer.

List of Characters at the beginning. Ghost-Written by Jack Vance. Vance specialist Richard Chandler asked himself if there were any clues in the novels themselves that gave away their true owner. He starts off by saying that all three stories Vance wrote for Queen are set in California with a very strong sense of place. Although finding The Madman Theory one of the least satisfying Vance EQ mysteries Chandler found the authorship clues were clearly present. How about Bain’s Sporting Goods (referring to the Joe Bain mysteries) or this passage?

From Suggs Meadow the trail rose once more. The timber grew smaller and more redolent of pitch and resin. The sun passed behind the mountain, the far slope glared bright. Collins rode in shadow tinted with cold blue skylight.

However, there is a marvelous passage which to me is so 'redolent' of Vance:

He shrugged, touched switches. The trains halted; the fountains stopped playing before the palace of Glinda the Good; the lights went out in the Emerald City.

When I read this, I tried to recall the Vance passage it was so reminiscent of. It took a few minutes before I remembered:

The game ended. No further manikins roamed the Carabas.
No Dirdir hunted an empty Zone. The players stiffly descended from their booths; those who had won free of the Zone took their winnings. The Dirdir returned to Khusz beyond the South Stage.

The Dirdir
was first published in 1969

("The Case of the Missing Vance", Richard Chandler in Cosmopolis N° 37, April 2003)

Nevins wondered if Vance knew that the Oz books were among Fred Dannay's favorites and did he just share Fred's love? The referral to "The Land of Oz" in Madman Theory was no coincidence since given Vance’s own repeated and enthusiastic declarations regarding Baum, as well as the obvious parallels between Vance’s favorite Oz book (The Emerald City of Oz) and several of his own stories.

Recently the manuscripts of the three Vance Queens were partially recovered. They were restored and made available.  So this story was published under its original title The Man who Walks Behind as a supplemental volume to the Vance Integral Edition in 2006.The Madman Theory - cover audiobook Blackstone Audio, Inc., read by Mark Peckham, April 1. 2015The Madman Theory - cover Road (September 22, 2015)
More recently the manuscripts of the three Vance Queens were partially recovered. They were restored and made available.  So this story was published under its original title The Man who Walks Behind as a supplemental volume to the Vance Integral Edition in 2006. Evidently one of 400 copies printed. Sources report only 100 copies of this volume were printed which explains why it's a really rare find offered at prices ranging from $45 to $122,5 

De Loslopende Gek - cover Dutch edition, Het Spectrum Prisma-Detective N° 452, 1980 (1st)Einer fällt aus - cover German edition Ullstein BucherEiner fällt aus - German edition Ullstein Bucher Nr.10089Assassinio no parque - Cover Portuguese edition, 1996Il seme della follia - cover Italian edition, Collana dei Gialli Mondadori Nr 1906, 1985הרצח במחנה - Cover Israelian edition, 1970Ο τρελός δολοφόνος - cover Greek edition, Viper 1974 Nο. 482

The Mad Man Theory Translations:  
Dutch/Flemish: De loslopende gek
German: Einer fällt aus  
Greek: Ο τρελός δολοφόνος  

Hebrew:  הרצח במחנה  
Italian: Il seme della follia  
Portuguese: Assassinio no parque  

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Other articles on this book

(1) Tipping My Fedora The Madman Theory
Sergio  (Aug 9. 2013)
(2) New York Journal of Books Russ Stover (Sep 18. 2012)
(3) University at Buffalo Special Collections
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