From: Dick Lochte ( dlochte@adelphia.net)
Date: 17 Feb 2003

Bill Crider wrote:

I haven't actually read much of Gruber's fiction. I have SIMON LASH, but I've never even looked inside the covers. I also have THE GIFT HORSE and THE FRENCH KEY. I should try those one of these days.

Bill, et al, don't hesitate in sampling Gruber's fiction, especially the Johnny Fletcher-Sam Cragg novels of which "The French Key" is the first and one of the best. They aren't particularly hardboiled or noir, though the protags are essentially two guys on the con. (A French key is the soft metal key a hotel manager breaks off in the lock of a room when its occupants have gone beyond the limits of their credit.) Gruber was something of a student of Americana and, as I recall, each novel in the series finds the two guys taking on a specific American enterprise (shoe manufacturing, comic strip creating, pop music, etc.) He's more interested in the raffish element than the grim. Their Vegas episode ("The Honest Dealer") has several dark elements. Gruber's Simon Lash novels are more hardboiled, but not quite as entertaining.

Dick Lochte

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