RARA-AVIS: British Noir--Liza Cody

From: Joy Matkowski ( jmatkowski1@comcast.net)
Date: 23 Jul 2002

The first on my BritNoir pile is Liza Cody, _Dupe._ I love Cody's Eva Wylie books for their rendering of the life of a woman at the bottom of the social strata--truly hardboiled.
    I can make a case for this book as hardboiled. Anna Lee, the protagonist, was a cop for a couple of years before she tired of typing and making coffee and joined a private detective agency run by a retired cop. There she faces the same struggles to do real work instead of girly stuff like retail theft. In this book, the agency undertakes looking into the traffic accident death of a young woman who's left her Thatcherite well-to-do suburban family to make a career in movies. She's secretive and was rarely in touch with her parents, who wonder what she'd been doing the last 3 years. Then there's the niggling question of how the car crash could have taken place as described, as she was a skilled driver who'd as a teenager piloted her father's company's car in races. The agency head sees this job as one of pacifying grieving relatives, so, of course, Anna gets the assignment, and, of course, things are not as they seem.
    Anna seems proper as compared with Eva, but she is making her own way in the world. She's attacked and physically holds her own with a career thug. She "has" a cat who makes its way in and out of her apartment through a broken skylight. She isn't given to the vapors and doesn't have invisible means of financial support. She can get along with the various denizens of the top and the bottom she encounters. One of the missing woman's former roommates is a brash and likable working-class woman whose speech and manners remind me of the common touch Cody shows with Eva. I liked this book a lot, and I'll be looking for the rest of these OOPs.
    Still, I think this book is a PI that is not quite hardboiled.

Joy, who next read Charles Higson's _King of the Ants_

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