Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Reading reports: Pavia, Estleman, Wignall, Cerasini, Manchette

It pays to be sick: I was able to read quite many books during the time I was mainly laying on a sofa. Some reports:

Peter Pavia: Dutch Uncle: as I said earlier, this early Hard Case Crime effort is okay, but sadly nothing more. It drags on quite too long and I'd've omitted some of the scenes with the police.

Marc Cerasini: 24 - Trojan Horse: I haven't been fond of the TV series and haven't watched it regularly (every time I see it, Kiefer Sutherland is driving around in his car and talking to his phone, what action is that?). The tie-in novel by Cerasini - who's done lots of this kind of work - was okay, though, very fast-going and eventful. The characters were stritctly cardboard and there were some deus ex machina type of things in the end which weren't necessary. But, all in all, if you're willing to look away that these guys defend torture, this is quite a good way to spend couple of hours.

Kevin Wignall: Among the Dead (2003): I've understood that Wignall is one of the most revered of the new generation of British noir writers. It's no wonder, since Among the Dead is superb. It's no bang-slam type of noir novel and there's little, if any, violent action in the book - I'm more reminded of Richard Matheson's A Stir of Echoes (1958). Among the Dead seems to be drawing its inspiration from the more quiet noir and has some unnerving horror tones. Maybe there's some Shirley Jackson or Ursula Curtiss in this?

Loren Estleman: Sweet Women Lie (1990): some seem to think of Estleman as an example of bygone days who still insists on writing traditional private eye novels, but I really liked this and Estleman's snappy prose and catchy dialogue. Estleman's hero Amos Walker is a very likable man, even though there's a mean side to him as well.

Jean-Patrick Manchette: 3 to Kill (1975): one of the weirdest crime novels I've read in a long, long time. Very literary, it seems to be drawing its inspirations from the Roman nouveau of the fifties (very precise and detached style with emphasis on descriptions of people's clothes etc.), but also from the American hardboiled and noir crime novels. The story is about a man who finds a body on a highway and takes him to a hospital, only to find out that two killers are at him. He runs away after a violent burst of action at a gas station to find himself somewhere deep in the woods living with an old Stalinist. After the killers find him there, he decides to fight back and get back to his normal life. Manchette doesn't really give much weight to logical behaviour, but that would be beside the point; there are several clues about post-Marxist movements of 1968 and beyond to realize that this is a political novel - but about what, to that I found no answer. The English translation seemed too literary, too British to me.


Anonymous said...

Juri...your emailbox is full, it claims...so here's this thus:


Kevin Wignall said...

Juri, I just got a google alert telling me about your post. Very cool review - thank you. I'm not publsihed in Scandinavia but I have a good response there - Oyvind Holm of the Norwegian band, Deleted Waveform Gatherings, wrote a song about "Among the Dead".

If you send a mailing address to kevin@kevinwignall.com I'll send you a review copy of my new book later this year.

Thanks again.