The Dead Ringer is set in a carnival, which explains the peeping gorilla. But was its name Tom?
As you may know, when Fredric Brown wasn’t writing mysteries, he wrote a lot of SF. As a SF writer, he was possibly best known as a master of the short-short, or what we usually call flashfic these days. (Well… he might really be best known for the short story “Arena,” which was very, very, very loosely adapted into a Star Trek episode where Captain Kirk fights a toga-wearing rubber lizard man, is pummeled by a foam boulder, gets his shirt torn to strips, and makes gunpowder out of dirt. But aside from that….)
Anyway, Brown’s ultra-short stories were infamous for their puns and wordplay (e.g., spoiler alert, the one about a were-deer that turns out to be an absurdly convoluted setup for a witch to say she’d like to keep the first buck she ever made… I know, but the joke kind of works… kind of… anyway). While I haven’t read the novel you’re sharing the cover of, I would say that if any midcentury pulp writer was going to put a peeper in a story and name him Thomas just so he could have a cheesy dad joke buried in the text, that midcentury pulp writer would almost certainly be Fredric Brown. Or Richard S. Prather. One of those two, for sure.
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