RARA-AVIS: leo malet

From: Mark Sullivan ( DJ-Anonyme@webtv.net)
Date: 29 Sep 2003

I recently finished my third Leo Malet book, although second in the series, Dynamite vs. QED. The story is as ridiculously contrived as any of the traditional mysteries hardboiled is supposed to have countered with realism, depending on quite a few very convenient coincidences -- bumping into a mystery woman during an air raid in Paris, okay, but then accidentally knocking on that same mystery woman's door in the country when lost while looking for another house, come on, and knocking on that door at the exact moment she is being threatened by criminals, too much. These and other coincidences are part of a pretty convoluted plot; frankly, I didn't even try to keep up with all of the twists and turns.

So why is this book still so enjoyable? There is just something about Nestor "Dynamite" Burma that is a hoot. His tongue in cheek, sometimes superior (always around the cops, especially when withholding information) and sometimes self-deprecating (often around women, though he always gets them) first person narration is just a whole lot of fun. Not only does it make the ridiculous plot contrivances tolerable, but almost winning for the inevitable scene in which, Sherlock Holmes-like, he explains to his cop friend Faroux (ex-anarchist Burma hates cops, except for Faroux, who is "okay for a cop") everything the cops have missed, but he has put together so easily. A whole lot of fun.


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