Re: RARA-AVIS: Jim Doherty's Favorites

From: Al Guthrie (
Date: 01 Oct 2002

From: "JIM DOHERTY" <>
> SIGNAL 32 by McKinlay Kantor
> LAST SEEN WEARING . . . by Hillary Waugh
> GIDEON'S WEEK by J.J. Marric
> THE HECKLER by Ed McBain
> THE BAIT by Dorothy Uhnak
> THE LAUGHING POLICEMAN by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo
> LISTENING WOMAN by Tony Hillerman
> ALL ON A SUMMER'S DAY by John Wainwright

Have to agree with Jim on THE LAUGHING POLICEMAN.

My own police procedural month experience was disappointing on the whole, which is why I haven't posted much. But, for what it's worth, and briefly, here's what I read:

Jerome Charyn: MARILYN THE WILD - Don't know to what extent this is a procedural. It certainly features cops, but it never grabbed my attention. Couldn't finish it.

John Wainwright: DIG THE GRAVE AND LET HIM LIE - Jim claims that Wainwright
"doesn't belt it out of the park every time he steps up to bat." This was a fresh-air shot (don't know the baseball terminology, sorry).

Ed McBain: KILLER'S CHOICE - One of the early 87th precinct novels. This one introduces Cotton Hawes. Not one of McBain's better efforts (spoiled by featuring, as a key witness, a young child with a ridiculously advanced vocabulary).

Disillusioned at this point I returned to an old favourite: William McIlvanney: LAIDLAW - McIlvanney's writing reeks of authenticity. He writes about people and places with the assuredness you might expect of a former Whitbread Award winner (DOCHERTY). Evocative, realistic, brutal, tender and unsentimental - and hardboiled by most definitions. In particular, his hard men are magnificently unromanticized. The story: the raped and murdered body of a young girl is found in a Glasgow park. Laidlaw, assisted by DC Harkness, is given free rein in his search for killer. A race against time develops as two other forces, neither benign nor legal, join the hunt for the killer.

Finally, Alex Gray: NEVER SOMEWHERE ELSE: Gray's first novel (a police procedural) which I was led to believe might be hardboiled. I was wrong. The appearance of the word "grisly" repeated three times in the first few pages set the tone. Not a tone that works for me.


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