Drooling on the Pillow

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Hard Life, The Easy Way 

I read mostly history and biography. As for fiction, it's been years since I've been able to get through anything other than genre. An occasional Sci-Fi jag, alternative history, but mostly crime. For the past six months I've been eating up neo-noirs like a juice-head shotgunning his first six of the day.


You can tell within a few paragraphs whether someone is able to write in this style or not. The heroes are so self-involved, the villains are so bitterly conscienceless and the plots are so numbingly brutal it takes a real pro to make you want to follow him into the alley. If it's not working I just ashcan the book and reach for the next one. If it does work I go out and buy every book he wrote and sit there til I'm done. Here's the names of some writers who work: James Swain, Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly, Harlan Coben, T. Jefferson Parker and the one I'm reading now, George Pelecanos.

Pelecanos has several different series' going, all based around Washington, DC and all soaked in the music of the '70s and '80s. His original detective, Nick Stefanos, sometimes cranks the suspension of disbelief dial past 11 in terms of how much booze a person can consume and not die and how much of a beating a fairly normal young man can sustain and walk away, but, somehow you believe and keep reading. I guess it's no more complicated than the fact that the guy can really write.

And you just know you're in for a satisfying ride when you open a book titled Down By The River Where The Dead Men Go.
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