RARA-AVIS: The Taste of Ashes

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

The title in both the Simon and Schuster and Gollancz editions is THE TASTE OF ASHES. I am very fond of the John Evans novels of Paul Pines. Just this week I picked up HALO IN BLOOD, the first, and was sucked in by the style and language immediately. But there is a qualitative difference with ASHES, which carries the Howard Browne name.

I have read it several times over the last 25 years or so and it keeps moving up in my estimation. I am not a big list maker but ASHES would certainly be on my top ten list of private eye novels and, when all is said and done, would likely be in my top five. It is Howard Browne's greatest achievement as a writer. Browne had a natural gift and his language and descriptions are consistantly interesting and amusing. He was also a gifted mimic with an editor's eye for desconstructing and reconstructing other writers' styles. Great fun but in THE TASTE OF ASHES he went beyond that and achieved something very special indeed.

Richard A. Moore

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