I very much enjoyed this book, which is a narrative rhyming poem on a murder-mystery theme. But if you're thinking of buying it, you should probably b...moreI very much enjoyed this book, which is a narrative rhyming poem on a murder-mystery theme. But if you're thinking of buying it, you should probably be warned, it's a small-format book and 28 pages of verse -- shorter than a typical chapbook, and takes about ten minutes to read. At $6.95 it's a bit of a cha-ching experience if you part with your hard-earned.
That said, it's a clever genre-bending piece.(less)
This book is invaluable to crime fans for its many mentions of forgotten noir classics. It's also got some political observations of varied value. Ini...moreThis book is invaluable to crime fans for its many mentions of forgotten noir classics. It's also got some political observations of varied value. Initially, the author's perspective shows some interesting perspectives on Mike Hammer fascism vs. left-of-center Lew Archer, et al. Unfortunately, most of the political writing in here has nothing to do with the cold war directly, but fixates on what seems to be a sort of crypto-Marxist interpretation of consumerism, suburbia, and race and class in America. I'm not bagging on Marxists -- I remain largely neutral on that odd German who seems to obsess the academic community. But here, Haut is not entirely up-front about his political orientation, so his more snide left-wing "critiques" come across as passive-aggressive and kinda Berkeley.
Probably more importantly, most of this book is a very densely text-based analysis of certain noir writers, consisting of summary-analysis, summary-analysis what felt to me like ad infinitum. Some of the analysis is deeply insightful, but much of the rest of it struck me as just plain self-important pseudo-intellectual lefty wanking.
Personally, I do not like text-based analysis; I find it passable when done in brief, but tedious when it becomes extended, as it is here.
That said, there is some amazing stuff outside the framework of the text-based analysis, particularly about the politics of the time; I very much appreciated the look at Mike Hammer as a rabid right-winger, but it's the briefest treatment in the book, maybe because calling Mike Hammer a fascist is like shooting fish in a barrel. Much of the rest of the analysis is interesting, but so dense it reads almost like a book report.
There's enough to justify a read for noir fans and those who like wanky text analysis, but I am way more interested in the broader social aspects of the era, from a genesis of historicity rather than text-analysis, particularly when it's got kind of a pushy ideological subtext.(less)
I love this concise, clever, insightful, and factual history of the development of the American school of detective writing in America from the early...moreI love this concise, clever, insightful, and factual history of the development of the American school of detective writing in America from the early 20th Century through the '50s. Goulart is a great stylist and displays an infectious excitement for the material without ever lapsing into a fannish admiration. He's extremely straightforward with his observations and in most cases he relies on the quoted opinions of contemporaries, fans, and editors to place the work in historical context, rather than picking them apart psychologically or politically. This is a book not so much about text or subtext as about context; the content is viewed through the lens of overriding trends within the literature, rather than obsessively the way text-analysis would have it (the way you might expect, for instance, from a lit professor).
However, that said, there are enough insights, enough historical context, and enough observations on trends within the field to make Dime Detectives feel emotionally meaty and inspiring. Above all, Goulart's style is a pleasure to experience. The result is an immensely readable history that is a must-read for hardboiled fiction history buffs.
This is probably, so far, my favorite non-fiction work on crime fiction. Goulart's my new hero.(less)
Before Howard Hunt became a Watergate burglar, E. Howard Hunt was a crime-thriller writer. House Dick is very much a by-the-numbers early-'60s noir bo...moreBefore Howard Hunt became a Watergate burglar, E. Howard Hunt was a crime-thriller writer. House Dick is very much a by-the-numbers early-'60s noir book, but the fact that it's typical -- more typical than the higher-quality novels Hard Case publishes -- actually makes it more fun. It's at once effective as a crime story and campy-goofy because it's so average. That makes me love it. It's packed with stereotypical dialogue, a detective who grins, sleazy characters, swaggering mobsters, and insulting observations about how disgusting the fat lady is. A total document of its times! This is EXACTLY the kind of book that I love to stumble across, and HCC gets major kudos from me for reprinting it. Basically, it's just a straight-up fun read.(less)
This book would get four stars or even five, up to about the last 50 pages. Then this taut, edgy police procedural/courtroom drama turns in the most l...moreThis book would get four stars or even five, up to about the last 50 pages. Then this taut, edgy police procedural/courtroom drama turns in the most ludicrous ending I think I've ever read in a crime novel Whodunnit? Wow, Connelly. That was lame.
The rest of it is so good that it hurt to read. I haven't read a police procedural I loved this much since Silence of the Lambs. Too bad he blew it at the end.
I liked the book enough that I'm going back to read the series from the beginning, so I can't have hated it that much, I guess. But man. That twist was lame.(less)
I keep having to give Connelly novels mediocre reviews because I absolutely love them but then, at they end, they have some BIZARRE twist that spoils...moreI keep having to give Connelly novels mediocre reviews because I absolutely love them but then, at they end, they have some BIZARRE twist that spoils it for me. The good news is, I'm shocked every time. The bad news is, I find his ending-twists sort of ludicrous.
It's still worth the ride, though. This one is no exception. It's much shorter than a usual Bosch novel, was written as a serial for The New York Times Magazine, and has a tighter, quicker plot with a terrorist angle. It's more of a thriller, though still very much a mystery, and it works despite having that strange Connelly sucker punch at the end that leaves me rolling my eyes. Still engaging, though.(less)