Years ago I read "Christine Falls," an intriguing rather gothish, noir mystery by an author (pen) named Benjamin Black. It was good enough to have rem...moreYears ago I read "Christine Falls," an intriguing rather gothish, noir mystery by an author (pen) named Benjamin Black. It was good enough to have remained RAM-ready for recall in the intervening years, whereas, say, when I (re)purchased the book "Crimson Petal and The White" it was not until page 400 or so did I get that first flicker of recognition. Sadly, even Annie Proulx's Pulitzer masterpiece had mind-floated away from me into that frigid, churning sea until Qouyle finally dawned on me 2 or 3 chapters in. I read too much, apparently, in the early '90s ; )
Black has certainly mastered the art of crafting noir, which does require a certain ambience, a mood and a nod to time, place and characterization. Black isn't Black, just so you know. He is John Banville, who wrote "The Sea," which won The Booker Prize. That too was a superbly crafted piece of work. Nothing like this series though. Apparently this is a trio although I haven't read the one in the middle, "The Silver Swan." The books do stand alone but Quirke, Dr. Quirke that is, along with his daughter Phoebe make more than a few passing references to the traumatic experiences that ostensibly happened between Book 1 and Book 2. So I suppose that one will be coming up soon for me.
Dr. Quirke is a pathologist with a drinking problem who seems to find himself enmeshed in matters of intrigue better left to Scotland Yard. In "Elegy For April" there are as many Doctors involved in the storyline as there are Detectives, with a few femme fatales thrown in. It's not noir without your well-corseted, sultry, beauty, exhaling her cigarette smoke with a certain flair, a savior faire that is long dead and her kind is not to be found in any other genre. She drinks her scotch neat and thinks hard about staying the night when the circumstances invariably arise. More often than not he's watching her scarf flutter in the wind as she flys round the bend, going 50 in her Roadster, past the flickering light at the corner, leaving him gazing at the dark trees looming ominously like a portent of bad things to come.
April is a friend of Phoebe. She is missing. Or is she? She is an up and coming young Doctor, related to a wealthy, prominent family whose lives are immersed in Medicine and Politics. By all appearances their good name and social standing are far more important than solving the mystery of what might have happened to their daughter, their niece, their granddaughter. Phoebe and April are part of a larger circle comprised mostly of young Doctors, medical students, a journalist and a rather famous young actress. They are split on the issue if anything untoward has occurred at all. April has a reputation for indiscretion. But the deeper Quirke, and his old pal Inspector Hackett dig into the mystery surrounding April Latimer's last days before she disappeared, the more they are convinced someone is going to great lengths to cover-up a terrible crime. Long before DNA and CSI this one will have to be solved the old fashioned way—with intelligence. (less)
"Three Seconds" was awarded Best Crime Fiction of the year in 2009 by the Swedish Academy of Crime Writers, and deservedly so. Easily on par with Stie...more"Three Seconds" was awarded Best Crime Fiction of the year in 2009 by the Swedish Academy of Crime Writers, and deservedly so. Easily on par with Stieg Larrson, Roslund and Hellström are clearly at the top of their game. "Three Seconds" was riveting for anyone interested in the genre. (less)
This is the fourth in a series apparently, or maybe Ms. Larrson's fourth book? Anyway, for me, it's my first. I would read another of her books, if on...moreThis is the fourth in a series apparently, or maybe Ms. Larrson's fourth book? Anyway, for me, it's my first. I would read another of her books, if one came by my way. I like Swedish fiction— literature. The book kept my interest and was a quick easy read. (less)
I'm sick. Afflicted with a disorder, one all would dread, one affecting neural transmitters, affecting the way a thought might be ordered, or worse? W...moreI'm sick. Afflicted with a disorder, one all would dread, one affecting neural transmitters, affecting the way a thought might be ordered, or worse? Written. Losing an arm or leg might not have this profound an affect on me, personally; my brain being something I placed a mighty high value on. Sadly, that's neither here nor there, for what is, is where I go from here. How I deal the hand dealt. But then, like Arturo Belanos, I'm nothing if not multi-faceted, multi-layered, complicated, a human being. IN FULL GLORY.
Which brings me to "The Savage Detective" and the genius of Bolaño. He gives us this birds eye view. A 360° arial ever-widening, far-reaching grasp of all these perceptions of his maybe•kinda•sorta•semi-autobiographical, main character, Arturo Belanos. We begin to feel we know him, we do, but he, like all of us, is all these different people, to so many people he becomes, in time ineffably HUMAN.
With every insight into a human's frailties and misfires, their joys and sadness, perversions, delusions and fuck-ups, all the myriad loves gained and lost—"The Savage Detective's" is all this and more. O! It's so much more than this. There is a world in this here book. A world of Poetry. Longing. Despair. Twilight nights of a Beauty-a Mexican Beauty. There is Humour. Sex. Los Sucidas Mezcal. It's the Mother of All Road Trips. And always, always, always The Writing.
It comes back to the writing. It comes back to do or die. Finding new paths—pathways. New ways. The old ways are done. Finite. Gone are the days of old, when my affliction was verb-eee-ahh-sah-tee. Putting in every f n word u c? Even throwing in, for good measure, the purina, bowl and the kitty. Lessons Learned? Don't put in-What you can't take out. It was the writing that tipped me off to this being a "real" problem, it giving pause to things like grammar and editing.
I can thank God that like a lot on this beautiful planet, these things have a way of re-generating. Amazing. I feel it happening now. It makes me feel like a Savage. A Detective of my own body. A Savage Detective.
Lesson Two? Don't jump in a moving Impala making a quick qet-away. Oh my Juan, we hardly knew ye. We cry for you, we who remember you at all. And I do. (less)
"A murdered revolutionary . . . A vicious serial killer . . . A city in chaos . . . All lead to Rosa. " ~from Rosa by Jonathan Rabb
This is another hardcov...more"A murdered revolutionary . . . A vicious serial killer . . . A city in chaos . . . All lead to Rosa. " ~from Rosa by Jonathan Rabb
This is another hardcover I have sitting upon one of my real wooden shelves. A well-written thriller weaving fact and fiction into the threads of this tightly constructed story, which is backdropped by the mysterious disappearance of revolutionary Rosa Luxembourg. (less)