RARA-AVIS: GM Medal Month - Garrity

From: Al Guthrie ( allanguthrie@ukonline.co.uk)
Date: 19 Aug 2002

CRY ME A KILLER is my first experience of Garrity and I suspect it'll be my last. Before the novel begins, Garrity indicates what's in store in his acknowledgement "With a tip of the hat to the Mick." Well, that's the only understatement in the book. Most of it reads like a Spillane parody. The main character, cop Walter Patterson, could be Mike Hammer's long lost cousin. He certainly sneers, snaps and snarls with about the same frequency. His attitude to women ("After her I'd felt the only way to keep a skirt in line was to hold a whip hand") is straight out of ONE LONELY NIGHT, and his penchant for the melodramatic is never far away ("Don't ever come back to Central City. Not unless it's to die!").

Maybe the book could have been salvaged with some snappy dialogue:
"The big one grunted. "Cop", he said tonelessly. "I thought I smelled me a cop."
    I looked at him a second. The kind of trouble he was having with his smeller could be fixed easily. I turned back to shorty. "Vince ain't seein' nobody," he said.
    "Short man, you go tell him he can make it here or down at the precinct."" or some new and interesting imagery:
"She was pacing the floor like some caged animal".

Still, I found something strangely gripping about all of this. Partly, I was looking for more bad writing (it culminates in the magnificent: "I hate him so! We'll celebrate the night he fries."), but I have to confess that from two-thirds through the book I was hooked. The plot involves our hero, Walter, meeting Tina, the wife of the local head of the mob. Walter sleeps with Tina once and falls in love with her. In fact, so besotted is Walt after his night of passion that he decides to help her kill her husband. None of this set-up is remotely convincing. But if you shake your head and read on, you find the rest of the book is very well plotted. Tension increases as the stakes continue to rise for Walt and Tina. They carry out their plan to kill her husband, and of course it doesn't work out as they expected.

I don't know much about Garrity. I believe his real name is Dave Gerrity and I know he wrote at least one other book: KISS OFF THE DEAD. Judging from the title, it has to be more of the same.


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