From: Moorich2@aol.com
Date: 11 Apr 2001

William Campbell Gault's Joe Puma novels are generally tougher toned than the Brock the Rock Callahan novels. There was something satisfyingly seedy about Puma. The moralizing that Gault does in the Callahan novels was very similar to the sort of thing John D. Macdonald took to new lengths with McGee. The early Callahans (such as DAY OF THE RAM and THE CONVERTIBLE HEARSE) are the best, although I enjoyed the several of the comeback novels. THE CANA DIVERSION might be the best of those.

As for Joe Puma, THE $100 GIRL is a good example of that series. For some reason the mystery that I remember best was a non-series novel SQUARE IN THE MIDDLE, wherein an average guy strays from the straight and narrow one time and finds himself wanted for murder. It's an old theme but Gault really had me identifying with and sweating with his hero.

The last thing I read by Gault was his straight novel MAN ALONE. Written when Gault was in his prime, it's a sharp look at the games and politics Hollywood writers had to play in the dying days of the studio system.

One novel to avoid is his last Callahan DEAD PIGEON. Gault gradually lost his mental sharpness towards the end and this novel (IMO) shows the impact of that. I detest this novel and believe those who helped it achieve publication did him no favor.

A disclaimer: I knew and loved Bill and find it impossible to be objective. He was a cranky, fearless, lovable old bastard. One of my favorite Bouchercon memories is of the panel where Gault stung James Ellroy with a perfectly-timed quip that brought down the house.

Richard Moore

# 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 : 11 Apr 2001 EDT