RARA-AVIS: The Way We Die Now

From: William Denton ( buff@pobox.com)
Date: 17 Jan 2001

Tonight I finished Willeford's last book, published shortly before he died, the last Hoke Moseley book, THE WAY WE DIE NOW (1988). It's excellent. About half covers Hoke's undercover job investigating missing Haitian migrant workers, and gets into a real mess. The whole trip to backwoods Florida is disturbing, and there's an astounding explosion of violence in the middle that's just riveting. The book ends strangely, with his family broken up after Ellita marries a paroled murderer and drops out of his life. He's promoted to lieutenant, and things are looking up there, but his home life is worse. It's a shame there was no fifth Hoke book. I wonder, what do people make of that ending? What might have happened next?

I think this was the third Willeford book I ever read, after PICK-UP, which I picked up blind because Black Lizard had reprinted it so I knew it'd be good, and MIAMI BLUES. I remember reading it while on a bus trip. PICK-UP was great, of course, but MIAMI BLUES seemed a lot like one of those Miami novels that Elmore Leonard and others write. Then I read this:

"Hoke clutched his stomach with both hands and tried to regain his breath. The griping pain went all the way through to his spine. The Mexican kicked Hoke in the right side, and Hoke heard his ribs crack. A sharp, searing jab inside his gut made him yelp--just as his breath returned--and he felt as if his side had been piereced with a spear as the Mexican kicked him a second time in the same place. Hoke vomited then and his breakfast came up--coffee, Diet Coke, oatmeal, and bread chunks. Hoke was kneeling, with both hands on the ground supporting his upper body, and trying not to breathe. Even a shallow breath increased the pain in his side. The Mexican went behind Hoke and kicked him in the buttocks. Hoke's arms gave way, and he sprawled in the dirt, his face in the pool of vomit. The Mexican then picked up Hoke's feet and dragged him, face down, arms trailing, across the yard and into the barn.

"On the near verge of passing out, Hoke thought: This son a bitch is in trouble now, because I'm going to kill him!"


William Denton : Toronto, Canada : http://www.miskatonic.org/ : Caveat lector.

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