Sunday, April 16, 2006

From Al Guthrie to Hank Jason

We are on Easter holiday by Elina's parents' house. The rest of the bunch is out on the drive somewhere and the weather is simply beautiful, but I've been sick enough with flu to stick inside.

Due to sickness, I've been able to lie down and read. I finished Allan Guthrie's paperback thriller Kiss Her Goodbye from Hard Case Crime two nights ago. It's a great piece, very relentless and full of action, even though I thought that there were four of five pages too much of interrogations. I wanted to move along. But very good nevertheless - very grim to the bitter end.

It was fun to compare the real British (Scottish, actually) hardboiled novel set in the UK with the pseudo-American hardboiled crime novel by a British author: after Guthrie I decided to get back to my "Pulpografia Britannica" project and headed for a Hank Janson title, Lust for Vengeance. They are called Hank Jason in Finland, though - I don't really know why.

I don't know who actually wrote the book in question, but I don't think it's one of the original Hank Janson books that Stephen Frances penned in the fifties. I believe it's by Harry Hobson. He was at least a better writer than James Moffat (who's best known for his Skinhead books as by Richard Allen). The thing moves along pretty quickly and it's an entertaining read, even though the on-going escapade with every woman Hank meets gets pretty tiresome. The climax wasn't much - I don't really know why. Maybe I just wanted to get over with it.

In case you don't know, Hank Janson (I think him as "Jason" all the time) is a Chicago-based crime reporter who acts more like a private eye. There's no hint of realism or social attitudes that elevate the writings of, say, Chandler or Hammett and the pseudo-Americanisms are too obvious, but the books are fun to read. Jason/Janson drinks a bottle of Scotch in no time and doesn't even get drunk and all the women think him cute. He drives a Jaguar and no one sees he's tailing the baddies. In this book, he spends a week in a cage with no drink or food and manages to escape by sheer force. Yeah, right. But there's always a soft spot in me for books full of clichés.

I don't think Hank Janson were ever brought to the US. Maybe they thought no one would think them as real. That's the main point in them, though.

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