RARA-AVIS: Black Eyes, Red Cars

Kevin Smith (kvnsmith@total.net)
Tue, 24 Mar 1998 10:34:59 -0500 Mari,

Glad someone else out there likes Haywood's Aaron Gunner. More politically
in your face than Mosley, and a bit pulpier, I think it's one of the best
active series around these days. But I also love what Mosley's doing, and
I'm looking forward to rereading Devil.

Unfortunately, just as every pale male PI is compared to Chandler, Hammett,
Parker and some MacDonald or another, and every female eye is compared to
Grafton or Paretsky, so is every current black eye, it seems, compared to
Mosley (at least it's not Shaft).

Gary Phillips' Ivan Monk series is a case in point. I'm sorry, but I found
both books rather over-earnest, trying too hard to be tough, or political,
or radical or something. Maybe he should relax and let the character
breathe a bit. Right now, Monk doesn't seem so much created as assembled
from various traits of other eyes. And I don't give a hoot about his damn
Eastlake chairs. Yet a friend of mine swears the short story by Phillips in
Spooks, Spies and Private Eyes is a stone cold killer. Guess I'll have to
dig that one up.

I had some of the same problems with Robert Greer's CJ Floyd, a Denver
bounty hunter. Greer doesn't try so hard, so I found his adventures a bit
easier to take, but the similiarities to Monk and a lot of other current
eyes are very noticeable. The smart but independent girlfriend. The
slightly psycho, well-armed sidekick. The extended family of relatives and
petty criminals. The classic automobile.

And what's with all the vintage cars? The TV eye mania for classic wheels
is apparently spreading to print. Tailing a suspect in a car is hard enough
without driving a mint condition cherry red 1955 Corvette or something.

Opinionated? Moi?

But I digress...

Kevin Smith
The Thrilling Detective Web Site
Coming soon!
For info, mailto:kvnsmith@colba.net

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