“I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance. I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun. I pu...more“I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance. I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun. I put them on and went out of the room.”
While working a missing persons case, Detective Philip Marlowe finds himself drawn into a murder investigation. Jailbird Moose Malloy knocks off the proprietor of a local watering hole in his pursuit of a gal named Velma. While assisting the cops in hunting him down, Marlowe backs off the case when he realizes he won’t be paid for his efforts. However it’s not long before another job falls in his lap when Marlowe is hired to accompany a man in a money-for-jewelry trade off. When his employer is tucked in for the big sleep, Marlowe tries to piece the crime together, taking a few lumps in the process.
As abrasive as a sheet of sandpaper coated in shattered glass, Philip Marlowe isn’t one to check his attitude at the door. He’s also an alcoholic, a racist, and unapologetically hardheaded. With all these character flaws, why is Raymond Chandler’s signature series so damn enjoyable? It probably has something to do with Chandler’s endlessly quotable prose.
The backbone of any story worth reading is the way the author’s prose plays out on the page. You could have the most exciting plot imaginable but if the writing isn't up to snuff, it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on, but sometimes an author can be so good that the plot is almost secondary. The true joy can come from random musings about life, death and everything in between or even the exceptional way an author crafts a setting or describes a character. Raymond Chandler is one such author and while the case surrounding Farewell, My Lovely isn't particularly outstanding, he is certainly a masterful storyteller.
Throughout the story, Chandler takes the reader in a multitude of directions and when Marlowe makes any sort of headway, a new element is introduced thus changing the case. It’s often a wonder Marlowe gets anything done when half the time he’s soaking himself in bourbon while seemingly trying to burn bridges with his smarmy attitude and general distaste for anyone he meets.
Farewell, My Lovely is an excellent novel and a more than worthy follow up to The Big Sleep. Chandler’s Philip Marlowe is one hell of an interesting character leaving me sad to know there are only six books in the series.
James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice is a structurally sound tent pole of the noir genre. While it inspired an entire generation of crime wr...moreJames M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice is a structurally sound tent pole of the noir genre. While it inspired an entire generation of crime writers, you’ll be shocked to know that it was met with a fair share of criticism when initially published. Due to a high volume of violence and sexuality (for its time), the book was shunned by critics and even so far as banned in Boston. Despite best efforts to keep the novel out of the hands and minds of American readers, the book’s originality and Cain’s undeniable talent ushered the novel into instant classic territory. It is now widely regarded as one of the most important crime novels of the 20th century.
Frank Chambers rolls into town with nothing more on his mind than his next meal. He finds himself in a quaint roadside diner and after jawing with the owner, he finds himself with a job. Before long, an attraction sparks between Frank and the owner’s wife, Cora. The two conspire to knock off her husband and hit the road but as one knows, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
Frank and Cora are made for one another; the two are about as rotten as politician’s promises. They’re blinded by desire and consumed with the idea of life on the road and it certainly doesn't do them any favors considering how likable their mark is. In the end, I guess that’s the key to really great noir fiction; you've got to make your protagonists as irredeemable as possible and ain't nothing worth saving when it comes to these two.
For those like me who were a little bewildered by the meaning behind the novel’s title, there’s an excellent explanation on Wikipedia that made me love the book that much more. Obviously there’s spoilers ahead if you choose to check it out but I recommend giving it a look.
A body is found near a local swimming hole and the brutality of the murder is frightening. Deputy Danny Upshaw is charged with finding the perp and cl...moreA body is found near a local swimming hole and the brutality of the murder is frightening. Deputy Danny Upshaw is charged with finding the perp and closing the case. When it’s discovered the victim was gay, Ellroy brings the reader into the homophobic culture of 1950s Los Angeles while pushing Upshaw to his limit in his drive to tag the guilty party.
Elsewhere, both Mal Considine and Buzz Meeks become entwined in the communist red scare. Mal is using it to his advantage in an attempt to advance his fledgling career while Buzz Meeks is shaking down unions accused of spreading red propaganda.
It isn’t long until all three men are frying together in the same pan.
With The Big Nowhere, Ellroy was cooking with all the same ingredients used in The Black Dahlia: the seedy crime culture of 1950s L.A., snappy hard boiled dialogue, and compelling characters. So what was missing? It took me a while to pin it down but I think it eventually boils down to the narrative style. For whatever reason, I seem to prefer my crime fiction told in a first person narrative style. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad but I like to really get inside the head of the protagonist and uncover the case with him/her. I’m not saying that if a crime fiction author chooses the third person style he/she fails immediately; I just find it difficult to become fully immersed in the presented case.
Why does it matter so much with this novel? I think it suffers due to my own comparisons with Dahlia and just how much I enjoyed that experience. That being said, The Big Nowhere is itself a compelling story that has everything you could want in a dark, gritty gangland tale. While in my opinion it falls short of the tremendous Black Dahlia, it shares a similar tone and fans of the first novel in the L.A Quartet series should find some enjoyment in its followup.
Since his incarceration, Daniel has been dubbed Saint Homicide by fellow cellmates. The man does not believe he is innocent; he fully understands why...moreSince his incarceration, Daniel has been dubbed Saint Homicide by fellow cellmates. The man does not believe he is innocent; he fully understands why he’s locked up. Declaring that he acted only in the service of God, Daniel did something very, very wrong and he’s going to explain why.
Daniel believes he is a good man. He studies the bible, cares for his ailing wife, and protests outside of abortion clinics by declaring the procedure murder. He says he allows the Lord to work through him, giving him strength and providing him with guidance. It isn't until the disappearance of his sister-in-law, that his life begins spiraling out of control.
I’m a big fan of Hinkson’s first two efforts, Hell on Church Street and The Posthumous Man, and Saint Homicide brings with it an author at the top of his game. Hinkson weaves together some outstanding storytelling and clocking in at only fifty-six pages, you get a sense that not a word is wasted. Throughout the story, I was carrying a sense of dread for what laid ahead for these characters and if a writer can grab me like that, they've got to be doing something right.
Suffering from amnesia, Jo stumbles into the lives of a struggling grunge band in mid-1990s Seattle. Initially unaware of her power over the opposite...moreSuffering from amnesia, Jo stumbles into the lives of a struggling grunge band in mid-1990s Seattle. Initially unaware of her power over the opposite sex, the musicians become inspired and begin writing new, powerful music that could break their status as “one-hit wonders”. Unfortunately, these flannel-wearing rockers are not the first men who have fallen under Jo’s spell as a figure from her past threatens their newfound success.
When I finished the final page of Pray for Rain, I had to go back and check out my thoughts on trades two and three to make sure I was reading the same series! This was a huge step in the right direction and could easily be considered the best of the four so far. I never doubted Brubaker and Phillips but I did feel like something just wasn't clicking. However, the dynamic duo is back in fine form and have given me several reasons to stay tuned in.
Phillips is just stellar here creating the gloomy, rainy atmosphere of Seattle which in turn fits well with Brubaker’s hopeless story. Not taking anything away from the narrative but Phillips’ work is probably the best reason to check this series out. As far as the story goes, there’s a lot of twists and turns involved that keep things interesting. The series established a weird Lovecraftian tone early on so when things take a turn to the supernatural, you’re never questioning the direction.
I’m excited for where they go from here. I may have to make this a monthly read rather than waiting until the trades are out.
When Mob enforcer Bobby Silver killed masked hero Doctor Daylight in cold blood, it sent shock waves through the Masked community. Now, in the eyes of...moreWhen Mob enforcer Bobby Silver killed masked hero Doctor Daylight in cold blood, it sent shock waves through the Masked community. Now, in the eyes of the heroes, the mob is their #1 enemy – and it’s war!
I wanted to write my own intro but I had a hard time coming up with a summary better than the one provided by the publisher.
It’s not often that I go to the library and check out something that has been both completely off my radar and without a single written review on Goodreads. My girlfriend found Masks & Mobsters nestled in the stacks and handed it over to me thinking it looked like it was right up my alley. How could I argue? It has superheroes and mobsters? It’s set in the mid 1900s? Sold.
I like the idea of putting the focus on the mob as they struggle against the peacekeeping superheroes rather than the other way around. The artwork is slick and the splatter style black on white treatment of blood is used effectively. There’s one chapter in particular near the end that opens up the storytelling in a creative way by showcasing the important dialogue and action in the background while an unconnected story plays out in the foreground. I’d like to see the creators take similar chances going forward.
It’s not perfect but the series has promise. Keeping with the majority of comics, single issues are released first and later collected into trades but with Masks & Mobsters, it’s strictly digital distribution through Comixology first and physical releases later.(less)
After the hellish events of World War Terminus, humanity decided to jump ship and establish colonies on Mars using the assistance of organic based and...moreAfter the hellish events of World War Terminus, humanity decided to jump ship and establish colonies on Mars using the assistance of organic based android slaves. Not everyone booked a one way ticket though, several have stayed behind; forced to live among radioactive dust and the ruins of a once prosperous planet.
Despite the bleakness of life on Earth, the one true solace you can take comfort in is owning an honest-to-goodness real life animal. As you can imagine, the price to bring one home can be astronomical and for Bounty Hunter Rick Deckard, taking down eight escaped androids – or andys as they’re dubbed – could potentially fund his animal owning dream. Or at least provide him with a healthy down payment.
I was so disinterested during the first fifty pages that I worried I would have to force myself to get through this – which is never a great feeling when you get around to picking up a novel so universally loved. When a classic fails to strike that same chord with you as it does with so many other readers, you begin to question your own literary pallet.
Thankfully, that particular brand of anxiety doesn't last long. As soon as Deckard is given his assignment and ventures out in pursuit of his prey, the story picks up and Dick starts to ask some very interesting questions of his audience. Just what exactly does it mean to be human? When does a life become significant and cease being expendable? He’s not going to give you an answer either. It’s all subjective anyway. I have friends who can empathize with animals more than they probably can with other humans – does that mean that as a species, we’re all going to become vegetarians? Probably not. The author just wants you to consider how self-righteous we are and if we have the capacity for change.
For all the importance Deckard puts on the Voight-Kampff scale and determining whether or not an android is capable of empathy, we sure shit the bed on that one ourselves by blowing up the whole damn world and everything in it.(less)