RARA-AVIS: Cave's 'Bottled in Blonde'

From: southpaw@altavista.net
Date: 26 Nov 2000

MYSTERIES Byline: Richard Lipez Richard Lipez writes private-eye novels under the name Richard Stevenson. Sunday, November 26, 2000 The Washington Post

 [ . . . ]

Top of the Pulps

Hard-boiled PI fans interested in the subgenre's origins in the pulp-fiction magazines put out between the two world wars might want to look at Bottled in Blonde (Fedogan & Bremer, $29), which contains nine stories written by Hugh B. Cave for Dime Detective magazine between 1934 and 1942. Now 90 years old, Cave made his name during and after World War II as a nonfiction writer and still later as a horror novelist. But his earliest stories, featuring raw, crude, alcoholic Peter Kane, Boston ex-cop and anti-social private eye, were popular in the '30s, and it's easy to see why.

They're written with vulgar energy and non-Beacon-Hill-Boston savvy, and with traces of the mean-streets poetry that a few writers like Raymond Chandler mastered and turned into American literature. In his introduction, Don Hutchison doubts that Kane's lurching around Boston perpetually drunk would pass muster in "today's politically correct climate." Nope, it wouldn't. Kane drives while "soused" and spends every spare minute in a Stuart Street dive called Limpy's. But there are razor-sharp sketches here, like the one of Lou Finch, "a big, sober, hard-working cop with no flair for showmanship," and the mean flatfoot Moroni, who says things like "Put that between your toes and use Absorbine Junior on it!" A "girl" named Mabel Jilson won't take any crap from Moroni. She snaps, "I used to be on the stage and I done a knife-throwing act. Make something of that, Glue-face!" Glue-face! Where have all the Mabels gone?


# To unsubscribe from the regular list, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
# majordomo@icomm.ca.  This will not work for the digest version.
# The web pages for the list are at http://www.miskatonic.org/rara-avis/ .

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 26 Nov 2000 EST