RARA-AVIS: Re: Peddie & Muldoon

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@colba.net)
Date: 15 Jul 2001

Hey, these sound like additions to the site. Any other info you can provide would be blah blah blah....

And hey, December should be a great month on Rara....

>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.

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