Miami Blues: A Hoke Moseley Novel by Charles Willeford
originally published 1984
Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, 1st edition, 2004
Genre: Crime fiction
Jacket copy: After a brutal day investigating a quadruple homicide, Detective Hoke Moseley settles into his room at the un-illustrious El Dorado Hotel and nurses a glass of brandy. With his guard down, he doesn’t think twice when he hears a knock on the door. The next day, he finds himself in the hospital, badly bruised and with his jaw wired shut. He thinks back over ten years of cases wondering who would want to beat him into unconsciousness, steal his gun and badge, and most importantly, make off with his prized dentures. But the pieces never quite add up to revenge, and the few clues he has keep connecting to a dimwitted hooker, and her ex-con boyfriend and the bizarre murder of a Hare Krishna pimp.
Chronically depressed, constantly strapped for money, always willing to bend the rules a bit, Hoke Moseley is hardly what you think of as the perfect cop, but he is one of the the greatest detective creations of all time.
Book report: Why the subject came up on one of my news aggregate sites, I still don’t know, but someone there posted a short excerpt from Miami Blues, and I had to read it. And because of that anonymous person, I have a new favorite author. Charles Willeford, I love you. Why I didn’t catch on back in the days of MCBF, I do not know (because I do remember Cockfighter–and its desirability–being mentioned at least once by John Marr), but I shall be catching up posthaste. Read the rest of this entry »
Scalped: Indian Country
DC Comics, 2007
Genre: Noir, comics
Book Report: Fifteen years ago, Dashiell “Dash” Bad Horse ran away from the abject poverty and utter hopelessness on the Prairie Rose Indian Reservation searching for something better. Now he’s come back home to find nothing much has changed on “The Rez” — short of a glimmering new casino, and a once-proud people overcome by drugs and organized crime.
At the center of the storm is Tribal Leader Lincoln Red Crow, a former “Red Power” activist turned burgeoning crime boss who figures that after 100 years of the Lakota being robbed and murdered by the white man, it’s time to return the favor.
Now, armed with nothing but a set of nunchuks, a hellbent-for-leather attitude and (at least) one dark secret, Dash must survive a world of gambling, gunfights, G-men, Dawg Soldiers, massacres, meth labs, trashy sex, fry bread, Indian pride, Thunder Beings, the rugged beauty of the Badlands … and even a scalping or two.
Indian Country introduces us to Aaron’s world in Scalped: the Prairie Rose Reservation, and all the people therein. The first chapters were slow, and I was readying myself for disappointment, but by the time I reached the Hoka Key chapters, I was hooked. Here was not just sex and violence, but high drama and tragedy, and all the noir a girl could want. Read the rest of this entry »
Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Sixteen Skeletons from My Closet edited by Robert Arthur
Dell, 1st printing, 1963
Genre: Horror, suspense, thriller
Synopsis & Review: Another AHP collection, this time of sixteen stories, and with an emphasis on mystery, thrillers, and crime fiction. Perhaps I’m picky, and just don’t like any crime fiction that’s not by Woolrich, Chandler, or Thompson; I don’t know. But this collection did very little for me. It was a bit of a chore to finish.
It’s a much more contemporary collection than Stories My Mother Never Told Me, with no stories from before 1957 or after 1961. So I would hazard a guess that they were all published in contemporary magazines about that time, and that this ought to represent the creme de la creme of thrillers of the day. But it doesn’t. Many of the efforts seem almost amateurish and transparent at best, and hopelessly uninteresting at worst. Read the rest of this entry »
Black Alibi by Cornell Woolrich
Originally published 1942
Ballantine, 1st printing, 1982
Genre: suspense, roman noir, crime fiction
Synopsis & Review:Americans Jerry Manning and Kiki Walker have relocated to the South American city of Ciudad Real, finally meeting with success; she’s become a local entertainer of some fame, and he’s her agent/manager. To further fan the flames of the public’s interest in Kiki, Jerry brings her a tame black jaguar, insisting that she take it out on a leash for the photo opportunities. She makes a sensation at a local restaurant, but then someone startles the creature, and it escapes, terrifying the restaurant goers and making a fool of Kiki. The jaguar disappears into the city, giving rise to rumors as the local gendarmes unsuccessfully try to track it down.
As rumors about the jaguar and its possibly supernatural powers inundate Ciudad Real, teenage Teresa Delgado is forced by her mother into the darkening city to fetch charcoal. Frightened by the rumors, Teresa tries to refuse, but her mother is insistent. Teresa first tries their local bodega, but it’s just closed, so she takes a long, heavily shadowed route under the viaduct to another, managing to catch the owner and purchase the charcoal for her family. Nearly paralyzed by fear, she wends her way back through the dark passage, hunted by something almost unseen, making it to the very door of her home, where her mother ignores her terrified cries. When the door is finally opened, nothing is left of Teresa but torn flesh and blood. It seems obvious to all that Teresa was attacked by the jaguar, and police captain Robles summons Manning to the morgue to show him what his foolishness has wrought. click for the rest of Black Alibi!
Black Angel by Cornell Woolrich
Originally published 1943
Ballantine, 1st printing, 1982
Genre: roman noir
Synopsis & Review: Alberta Murray’s husband calls her “Angel Face,” or he did. He just calls her Alberta now. She’s caught a few lies from him, too, and seen him with another woman’s powder compact. And then one day his other suit is missing. And Alberta finds his bag packed and ready to go. Instead of sinking into misery at his defection, however, Alberta suits up and goes to confront The Other Woman—only to find her dead, smothered in her boudoir, with only a matchbook cover to hint that someone else had been there. Returning home, she tries to call her husband, to warn him away from the murder scene, but is too late. The circumstances all point to Murray as the killer, and he is convicted on that circumstantial evidence, and sentenced to the chair. Convinced of his innocence, Alberta begins searching The Other Woman’s acquaintance for a name that matches that on the matchbook cover she found, a search that will take her all over New York City. In her pursuit of the killer, Alberta will travel the city’s seedy underbelly, visiting the Bowery’s flophouses, seeing firsthand the sordid world of narcotics, even working as a showgirl in a mobster-owned club. None of the lives she insinuates herself into will be the same once she’s done with them, and as Alberta hunts, leaving shattered lives in her wake, so too does she change, into something rich and strange. click here to continue reading about The Black Angel
Rendezvous in Black by Cornell Woolrich
Originally published 1948
Ballantine, 1st printing, 1982
Genre: roman noir
Synopsis & Review: A quiet night in a small Midwestern town. A boy and girl in love, mere weeks before their wedding. And a terrible freak accident. Without his girl, Johnny Marr is adrift in an ocean of uncaring strangers, passively waiting for her return. When pushed out of his intertia, however, Johnny Marr vows to them pay. The people responsible for the death of his girl will suffer along with him, by losing the people they most love.
A fascinating reprisal of Woolrich’s Avenging Angel theme, Rendezvous in Black casts a male in the role occupied by Julie Killeen in The Bride Wore Black, and demonstrates his mastery of the genre. This is one of his best, with a relentless pace that makes it difficult–if not impossible–to put down. Most startling and fascinating is Johnny Marr’s transformation from piteous victim into monstrous golem. Readers will experience a shocking and disorienting emotional 180, and find themselves rooting against Johnny and for the detective Cameron, hoping against hope that just one of Johnny’s innocent victims will survive. click here to read more about Rendezvous in Black