Greetings from a lurker. Here are my comments on three titles
that have drawn several comments on this list, and which I
read because I learned of them here.
1. DOGS OF GOD by Pinckney Benedict (1994). Everyone dies,
everything turns to cr*p. Good guys, bad guys, sense of moral
compass? I don't see it. Overrated, with a wordy style (boy,
I hope Mr. Benedict is not on this list!)
I like the economical writers. That is one of the reasons we
admire Thompson. Good, bad, or indifferent, Thompson's books
move right along. Likewise Goodis. I just finished the Hard
Case reprint of THE WOUNDED AND THE SLAIN by David Goodis.
Not on the A-list of Goodis titles, but the prose is
efficient. Good sense of place
(Jamaica) also. You can never tell with a Goodis if the protagonist will drive off the cliff or be saved. I appreciate Goodis' moral ambiguity.
2. BODIES ARE DUST by P.J. Wolfson (1931). What an
interesting book. I'd never heard of it before. Reminds me of
John Dos Pallos, who was similarly experimenting with
language and the story-telling style in his U.S.A. trilogy.
Like many of the 20's and 30's crime stories, BODIES ARE DUST
has an emphasis on action over introspection. But we can
clearly see a sense of "why dunnit"
(which, for me and probably many persons on this list, is more important than "who dunnit"). One reviewer said the protagonist turns on his partner, but I had a hard time picking that up. Still, I can see where this title takes a real step in developing the genre. Well worth looking up.
3. THE RED RIGHT HAND by Joel Townsley Rogers (1945).
Intriguingly described as a story with "an unreliable
narrator." I think the author tried a little too hard to tie
the whole story together, and the ending is too cute for me.
Even so, the first two-thirds fits right in the genre, as we
try to understand/decipher the narrator.
(My copy with part of the "Mystery Library" series published
by the University of California in the 1970s. This was volume
10. Anyone know who else was published in the series?)
How did I stumble into this genre? While I was in graduate
school, I found a couple of titles published by Mr. Penzler
during the 1980s in his "Quill Mysterious Classic" series.
The used bookstore had HALO IN BLOOD and NIGHT OF THE
JABBERWOCK, and then THE KILLER INSIDE ME. Turned my world
upside down. Twenty years later, I'm still hooked.
Many thanks to everyone for their comments and suggestions on
different titles. There are some members of this list who
really know their literature.
Bye. Randy Krbechek Fresno, CA
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