From: Robison Michael R CNIN ( Robison_M@crane.navy.mil)
Date: 17 Jun 2003

I sent this yesterday, but I don't see it on the list so I'm going to repost it.

Mark asked about the "disappointing Gold Medal" that I just finished.
**************** Oh, God, Mark. I hate to say. I'm still healing from the beating I took when I said Vachss's writing was leftist. ;-)

After hearing about Richard Prather, I had to try something by him. Rather than pay high dollar for the new versions with the ugly covers, I hit the jackpot on ebay and got a bunch of Prather's work wrapped in with some of the newer Mickey Spillane. I looked through the Prathers and picked out the oldest one I could find, CASE OF THE VANISHING BEAUTY (1950). I didn't much care for it. Why? The humor was funny and I enjoyed that, but it seemed that it sacrificed the tension and excitement of the plot.

I like a sense of humor in hardboiled and noir. It adds balance. And I don't mind if they are poking fun at the genres. Hallas's YOU PLAY THE BLACK AND THE RED COMES UP, Latimer's SOLOMON'S VINE- YARD, Lochte's SLEEPING DOG, and Willeford's WILD WIVES all might fall in that category, and I thought they were all great books, but they all generated and maintained suspense. Prather seems to just be going through the motions of a plot in order to parody the genre.

I'm not good at figuring out what a writer is getting at, but I think Prather might have been parodying a specific plot in hard- boiled with CASE OF THE VANISHING BEAUTY. It's about a cult that is nothing more than a criminal front. There was one part that made me think he had Hammett's DAIN CURSE specifically in mind, and Prather probably read the Latimer I mentioned above. He might even have had Teran's GOD IS A BULLET in mind. Wait a minute. Maybe I'd better check some publishing dates.

Even though I didn't care a lot for the book, I was still sorry to see the Gold Medal slowly disintegrate on me while I read it. It ended up in pieces.



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