Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: I Was Dora Suarez

From: Etienne Borgers (
Date: 01 Mar 2001

You started with the most "horrifying" of the Robin Cook's novels (his pseudonym was Derek Raymond in the UK and in the USA) , but if you cannot even finish this one ("I was Dora Suarez"- probably his masterpiece) I doubt you will enjoy other novels from the same author. Raymond is certainly one of the important writers of the "after sixties" . Even if he was recognized so very lately in his own county (UK) -and I suppose it was the same delay in the USA (?). If you are interested in HB/Noir, ignoring Derek Raymond's works will be a loss.

The graphic violence, gore and horror scenes he stitches to his plots are never gratuitous, it's his way to remember the readers that the world is a horrifying place by many of its aspects, and that inflicted death is the ultimate sin. He developed his view many times in interviews and in his "memoirs", and it's his honest opinion. His picking on the fame of Agtha Chrisite and the derived cosy school of Anglo-Saxon authors, fame they wrongly acquired by their false account of the human world and low writing skills, is well known and illustrates Raymond's views- views that also explain why he sometimes overdo in horror scenes, trying to force the reader to look at a certain reality.

A lot of his writings carries allegoric intentions, which probably could mislead some readers, plus an occasional intellectual treatment of some of his views and opinions about life and death, evil and society, all that could add confusion for these readers. His desperate plots and gloomy ambiance certainly do not help them in overcoming their rejection of Raymond's world.

But he is a great Noir writer, no doubt about it, way above a lot of modern book makers.

If you give him a second try, maybe you could go for:
"the Devil's Home on Leave"- 1984
(still some graphic horror)

Even an uneven novel such as "Nightmare in the Street"-1988 remains captivating and haunting
(some violence, but no extended graphic descriptions)
"The Hidden Files" -1992, his memoirs, is fascinating, as he tries to explain there why he writes and his views about Noir- he died in 1994.

E.Borgers Hard-Boiled Mysteries

--- K Montin <> wrote:
> I began to read the book in the fall, but put it
> away at the point where the
> pathologist invites the detective to look at Dora's
> corpse. I found I was
> really not interested in any more horrific details.
> It was already grisly
> enough. A pity, though, because I was just getting
> to like the author's very
> dry, albeit grim, humour.
> In my view, the violence is not gratuitous. That is,
> it seems essential to the
> story, and the author did base the book on three
> real-life cases. But for me,
> it was just too much. I did not want any more
> graphic nightmare images burned
> into my brain.
> As it is, the word shred now has another set of
> associations that I could've
> lived without.
> I may try one of his other books some time.
> Meanwhile, I Was Dora Suarez is in
> a box to go back to the second-hand bookstore.

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