Re: RARA-AVIS: List recommendations you've liked

From: Bill Hagen (
Date: 18 May 2000

I'll second Bill on L. Block, especially the two Scudder titles mentioned. Powerful pieces. And, as Bill mentioned, it's a pleasure to find so many of them in circulation--er, on the used bookstore shelves. Also read a couple of his Tanners, which are fun adventures, though even less plausible than the old Buchans or Eric Amblers--definitely not hard-boiled, however. Block's newsletter is an unexpected pleasure too.

I'll second again on the Matt Helm series. Didn't expect much, but his plots and certain scenes stick in my mind long after seemingly better written stuff has faded.

James Sallis, Chester Himes, and James Ellroy are probably the best recommendations for my money--also showing how "far behind" I was when I started. Read through most of the Ellroy when he was being boomed on this list, got a bit fatigued with him, in fact. Himes just makes me smile. A good ear for talk, and he doesn't fool around in the action scenes. Sallis intrigues me most, in part because I've only managed to scout up three of his titles. (I know, he's out there online if I want to pay the prices.) I like the way his mind works, particularly his experimentation with structure, although I don't find his characters terribly deep.

Now there are some other recommendations I read once and traded in at my local bookstore, but we're accentuating the positive right now.

BTW, I think we had more fun with the Hard Boiled anthology, going story by story, than with anything else we've done on the monthly readings.

Bill Hagen

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