RE: RARA-AVIS: British authors

From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 22 Aug 2000

Duane wrote:

"any hard boileds here?

"Mark Timlin: sort of. Hard-boiled humorous, following in the vein of the Thin Man and the Fletch books."

I'm not sure I can go along with this. Although Timlin's detective, Nick Sharman, can be as much of a smart ass as Fletch or Cliff Hardy or the early Elvis Cole (and gets about as positive a response as any of those), he's a lot more violent than Fletch. He was a corrupt cop who quit just before he would have been caught. He used drugs, even stole them from the police lock-up and is known to have a relapse every now and then. He drinks, his girlfriend/ex-girlfriend (depending upon the book) is a hooker and he sometimes shoots anything that moves. Sharman is often compared to Mike Hammer and he does have certain similarities in the vigilante department, but as you can tell from above, he's not quite a pure as Mike. Oh yeah, he kinda blackmails a cop to stay outta trouble for his more egregious trangressions.

Okay, but are the books any good? Yeah, they're kinda fun, which is probably where the Thin Man/Fletch comparison comes back in. Solid genre fare -- nothing more, but most certainly nothing less. Also contains the occasional interesting twist from transplanting the US tradition to London, which, by the way, works a lot better than Mitchum's Big Sleep.

Duane also wrote:

"Ken Bruen: yes. At least two books of his White trilogy are available in the US."

Agree with you here. I just bought the second in the trilogy, but haven't read it yet. The first is a trim police procedural, where crimes are solved more by luck than skill. In his own way, Bruen has as distinctive a writing style as Ellroy's in White Jazz.

I've also read several of Bruen's earlier books and was quite impressed. Rilke on Black (with a cameo by Brant from the White Trilogy) is a caper book, a kidnapping. Her Last Call to Louis Macneice is a Jim Thompson-ish tale about a bank robber whose downward spiral begins after a one-night stand with a psycho-babe. Then there's The Hackman Blues about an ex-con who does odd jobs, in this case, finding a white girl in Brixton. The only trouble is, he's gone a few days without taking his lithium. And how can you go wrong with the opening line: "Brady's Bad Fucked!"


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