RARA-AVIS: Two quick reviews, Sallis and Williams

From: Doug Bassett ( dj_bassett@yahoo.com)
Date: 04 Mar 2006


I'd searched up and down for this book for quite awhile until I finally found it lurking in a dark corner of a not-very-good used bookstore. Not bad, a decent stab at an arthouse PI story -- "arthouse" here meaning something out of Bobbie Ann Mason or Raymond Carver. It's a straight-up novel of character with only incidental detection: we follow the protag. through the years, sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing. People come in and go out of his life, his fortunes rise and fall. Quietly and often beautifully written. Suffers a bit at the very end from too anxious an attempt to Wrap It All Together, but otherwise worth the search.

(I'd like to compare sometime Moseley's ALWAYS OUTNUMBERED, ALWAYS OUTGUNNED. I haven't read the book but I remember the HBO movie, which I liked a lot, and it had a similar sort of structure.)

Charles Williams -- A TOUCH OF DEATH

I would buy most of the Hard Cases out of sheer brand loyalty, probably, but it helps that they're finding and republishing such gems. The only real flaw here is a somewhat substantial one: the story is, in it's broad outlines, very old wine. If you know this genre at all you'll know exactly how it ends up, and that does hurt things a bit, especially near the end. If you can let that pass, though, you'll have the pleasure of Williams's style, which is as brisk and fresh as ever. Plus Williams manages to work two minor twists and one superb one in the book, a very hard thing to do especially with this kind of concept. Highly recommended.


Doug Bassett dj_bassett@yahoo.com

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