Friday, August 13, 2010

Two new private eye novels: Coleman and Winslow

I've been reading some new private eye novels, as I'm writing an article on them (my research ain't what it used to be and seems like I'll have to do only with some interviews, but such is life). There was a boom in private eye fiction from, say, 2005 on, at the same time new interest in hardboiled and noir came forth, but it seems like the economic depression and the publishing crisis almost made the boom diminish and many writers are now publishing with smaller outfits or doing self-publications.

Still there are new interesting books. Don Winslow and Reed Farrel Coleman aren't exactly new, but both bring fresh voices to the genre that's been deemed defunct several times after Raymond Chandler's death. This is the case especially with Coleman, whose Moe Prager books are very touching and moving, even though there's not much action and Moe Prager is a pretty ordinary guy. It's just that his life is full of mistakes, lies, secrets and agony. The private eye's tragedic life has become a bit of a cliché nowadays (look for example at Declan Hughes's Ed Loy books or Russel McLean's The Good Son), but Coleman makes the theme much more real than many of his contemporaries. The Moe Prager books form an epos, starting from the seventies, ending up in the present day, and the newest one, Empty Ever After, is just as good as any in the series. (It's maybe slightly better than the previous one, Soul Patch, which suffered a bit from Moe Prager's stream of consciousness; I thought those bits were unnecessary.)

Don Winslow's Boone Daniels is a different case altogether. He's not doomed or tragedic, he only wants to surf. To make some money, he works as a reluctant private eye from time to time. He first appeared in The Dawn Patrol, which I recently read and liked quite a bit, even though there was too much of Robert B. Parker in it. I don't really care for the macho posturing about the honour code and all that, even though Boone Daniels keeps his mouth shut about these things more than Spenser. I liked the bits about the cultural and geographical history of surfing in California. There could've been more action in the book, though.

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