Re: RARA-AVIS: Howard Browne, a little late

Date: 14 Jul 2001

Thank you for all of the endings to Browne's stories. Two of which I just started reading this week. I was wondering "who did it".

Mark Sullivan wrote:

> I've been meaning to write this for a while, but never got around to it.
> Anyway, I've been working my way through Howard Brown'e anthology
> Incredible Ink. As many have already noted, A Brief Memoir is very
> interesting, both for its insight into Browne's writing and his comments
> on writers with whom he worked.
> Most of the stories I've read so far feature Wilbur Peddie. The stories
> are good, but Peddie is anything but hardboiled. He wears a bowler and
> is always very proper and polite, although this does not stop him from
> picking locks or misrepresenting himself while trying to skiptrace
> deadbeats for the Tinsley Department Store. So Peddie is a meek, mild
> kind of guy in a slightly hardboiled world, as represented by a pair of
> cops he keeps running into. One of them finds Peddie highly amusing,
> even as he relies on him to solve the murders Peddie stumbles across.
> Lafayette Muldoon is the troubleshooter for a real estate company. He
> is a smartass and a ladies man, but I still wouldn't call him
> hardboiled. He's kind of a younger, single version of Nick Charles.
> So far, Man in the Dark is the only one without one of Browne's regular
> characters. This is the story he wrote using the name of his friend Roy
> Huggins. In some ways it's a dry run for Thin Air. Both revolve around
> a man who refuses to believe what everyone else is telling him about
> what has happened to his wife. Still, not too hardboiled.
> I also read the first Paul Pine novel, Halo in Blood. In the Memoir,
> Browne notes that he once met Chandler and told him, "I've been making a
> living off you for years." In some ways this book is more Chandler than
> Chandler, almost, but not quite a caricature of the PI novel. That
> said, it's also a great traditional PI novel. A good plot (though a bit
> stilted in places, but momentum gets you past those moments), great
> smartass quips and a PI whose hardboiled shell covers a romantic yolk.
> However, Browne was not just a pastiche artist. He may be even more
> skeptical of authority figures than Chandler. SPOILER When I first
> read this book about 20 years ago, I was shocked that the cop did it.
> Not that it didn't fit or that the cop hadn't already proved himself at
> least a jerk, but he was a cop. I think it was the first older PI novel
> I read with a corrupt cop (I still can't think of too many other
> examples form that era, except for Thompson, of course). And a priest
> did it in one of the other novels, Halo for Satan, I think. Was the
> killer another authority figure in Halo in Brass? I can't recall.
> Anyway, Browne has/had a healthy disdain for authority figures.
> Good books.
> Mark
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