RARA-AVIS: Re: HB Parody

From: Curt Purcell ( curtpurcell@hotmail.com)
Date: 01 Nov 2007

--- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, "Bill Crider" <macavityabc@...> wrote:
> Just thought I'd mention a Gold Medal book called LET THEM EAT BULLETS
> (great title) by Howard Schoenfled. It's been many years since I
read this
> one, but I believe it features twin brother p.i. characters.

Was this supposed to be a parody? Maybe that's why I disliked it so much. Here's my review:

With a title like that, you'd think the hardboiled hero would actually shoot someone. A lot. But all he's packing is some dinky piece he calls "Baby," which he wears "strapped just below my knee on the inside. It was a hell of a place to carry a pistol, but it was a hell of a place to look for one, too." He's always so proud when someone frisks him and doesn't find it, but he never even draws it, let alone points it at anyone or fires it. If anyone eats bullets, he does--or rather, he takes one in the buttocks.

Compounding the disappointing lack of gunplay is the silliness of an identical twin he calls on from time to time to mislead someone who's tailing him, or to keep a dame occupied while he's busy on the case, or even get arrested for him. When one of them gets a black eye, the other has to get slugged and take a shiner also, to keep up the twin routine.

For all that, our private dickish hero still takes a lot of punishment. He gets worked over by a cop with a rubber hose in an abandoned warehouse, and someone almost murders him in a steam box at a Hot Springs spa.

The writing is no great shakes, either. There are like a million times someone tells him to do something, and he tells us he did it, i.e.
"She pointed the pistol again and told me to keep my hands up. I kept my hands up." It's not terribly snappy the first time, but then you find that kind of thing on damn near every page, sometimes several in a row, as when someone orders him through a whole sequence of actions.

The mystery is none too intriguing or mysterious or difficult to figure out.

Nope, not much to recommend this one. It's a shame that title didn't get slapped on a worthier story.

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