RARA-AVIS: Recently Read -- Jonathan Latimer

From: Doug Bassett ( dj_bassett@yahoo.com)
Date: 12 Mar 2000

I just finished Latimer's THE LADY IN THE MORGUE and I'm sorry to say I didn't really like it. Basically, I just didn't find the book amusing. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's that the book's humor is dated, or maybe it's just that I didn't "get" the sense of humor contained therein. (I've always thought that humor is one of the hardest things for a writer to pull off sucessfully. Humor, after all, is a very individual thing, and you always run the risk that people just won't find you funny.) At one point some character says something like "There's been a murder and you guys are screwing around like a couple of vaudville clowns." That's sort of what I felt about the whole book.

One interesting thing about the book is the amount of booze consumed by the principle characters, which is immense. The hero, Crane, is basically an alcoholic, and it's played strictly for laughs. Compare that to the number of "recovering alcoholic" PI novels in recent years (almost a sub-genre now) and it's interesting to see how societal standards have changed. (LADY came out in 1936.)

Has anyone read anything else by Latimer? I can strongly recommend SOLOMON'S VINEYARD. It's a "lone PI cleans up a corrupt town" kind of thing, but done exceptionally well. In fact, it's one of my favorite PI novels, period.


===== Doug Bassett dj_bassett@yahoo.com
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