RARA-AVIS: Southwest Crime -- A Clod of Wayward Marl

From: Mbdlevin@aol.com
Date: 16 Apr 2004

[Bill -- I've cc'd this message to you, because my last post disappeared into thin air. Maybe it's my mail client, but it used to work -- no ASCII I hope.]

For this month's theme, I inadvertently read "A Clod of Wayward Marl" by Rick DeMarinis (published by Dennis McMillan). It's not entirely hardboiled, nor noir, but it is a novel with crimes set in a fictional El Paso (more or less).
 Anyway, I liked it quite a bit -- very highly recommended. The protagonist is a writer of crime novels who has landed an interim teaching gig at a La Siberia Tech (thus, it's an academic novel too -- it reminded me here and there of DeLillo's "White Noise" ). He gets involved in murder, conspiracy, dipsomania, and so on. There's a small virtual reality angle, too, and romance. The book is damn funny in places. There's not a whole lot of sense of the Southwest, though Guido (the protagonist) crosses an aroyo to go from campus to a bar. There's also a part where characters cross the border and visit a maquila
(Mexican factory). Great stuff, but whacky. If you prefer your crime fiction straight up, this book might not be the best bet, but I found it quite refreshing -- as good as anything that I've read in the last six months.

Best, Doug

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