RARA-AVIS: Strange but true.....(Skinner, Sallis and other stuff)

Peter Walker (pw@pw.cablenet.co.uk)
Wed, 20 Jan 1999 19:00:49 +0000 Having read our Bob Skinner's new book I was surprised to
come across a bit in "Balck Hornet" by Jim Sallis in which
one character - who presents as white - is, in fact, black.
This is also a key plot ploy in our Bob's book. Now, either this
is a "New Orleans" theme or our Bob read Salllis and thought
"Now there's an idea for a book"? I have to say I enjoyed Bob's
book a lot although the bad guys are actually the good guy's and
there is a bit of old slush in there of a 'father and son' nature
but what the heck.
Here's what I wrote (for some reason):
Good opening chapter which nicely sets up the rest of the book - lays
out its stall, so to speak. Well written and thus confirming first
impressions and makes you want to read more. Paying homage to a golden
era of hard-boiled writing? There a few references for the devotee.
Skinner keeps the narrative/plot banging along. Handles the action etc
(ie sex) pretty well. Characterisation good and there is a good
relationship throughout the book between the rough diamond type and
the good cop type who `investigate' the original murder. Plenty of
minor characters and sub-plots (which you know are going to collide
with the main plot) to keep up the interest. Possibly the central
character is a little too `ideal'? I'm not too fussed about the rough
diamond type myself. Once the story settles down and Skinner builds
the plot and such it ticks along nicely. Always keeps the interest up
and continues to be well written. Plenty of local colour and original
authentic old New Orleans stuff to interest you. (Did you know, eg,
that a "Loogan" is a guy with fists bigger than his brains?
So there you go.
Incidentally I love Mr Sallis - which may or may not come as a
surprise to you all and i am, as always stunned by his book ("The
Balck Hornet") but, on the subject of homage a la Skinner the Sallis
book contains a reference to an American writer on a rare visit
which, i guess, can only be Himes.....
Peter Walker
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