RARA-AVIS: Jonathan Latimer

From: Frederick Zackel ( fzackel@wcnet.org)
Date: 13 Mar 2000

Thanks to youse guys, I picked up a trilogy of Latimer & a one-volume through BGSU's Pop Culture Library. I read Lady in the Morgue, too, thought it was generally good except for Latimer's racist streak. I say "streak" because Crane making some racial slur seems to be in all four books of his I've read. (Ethnic slurs, too, abound, but are not as repetitious as the same anti-black ones.) I'm finishing up the last two chapters of Murder in the Madhouse, and so far Bill Crane drinks more moonshine than my car sucks gasoline. (Which is astonishing, 'cause my car really sucks gas.) My favorite of the four was The Dead Don't Care. Bill Crane is sent to Miami
(and the Keys.) Great atmospherics, and the Latimer made me wet my lips of the femme fatale in it. (Let's see, if she were still alive, she'd be ... over a hundred years old!! Naw, never mind.) The last Crane mystery Red Gardenias has some serious plotting problems. Some clues were transparent
(the badminton net in the trunk) and some downright goofy plot twists. My disbelief failed to stay suspended. Crane has his moments: he never interferes in a fight until one side is clearly winning, and his patter is charmingly disrespectful of everyone. Fight scenes are good, through 1930ish. Still, the slurs . . .

But I did read all four.

Best wishes

Frederick Zackel

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