Re: RARA-AVIS: After Dark, My Sweet

From: Patrick King (
Date: 20 Jul 2008

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    --- On Sat, 7/19/08, <> wrote:

    > From: <>
    > Subject: RARA-AVIS: After Dark, My Sweet
    > To:
    > Date: Saturday, July 19, 2008, 5:12 PM
    > I just finished reading this yesterday, I really enjoyed it
    > - I did not see that ending coming.
    ******************************************************** I loved AFTER DARK, MY SWEET. I think Kid Collins is one of Thompson's most intriguing characters. The initial contrast between the arrogant intelligence of Fay Anderson, the shrewd cunning of Uncle Bud, and Collie's near imbecility at the beginning of the story made me cringe. Then, when the kidnapping is in full swing and Fay and Bud think they'll use Collie for the fall guy, and Collie's full blown insanity kicks in and he takes charge of the whole operation; who could see that coming? Bud is in full panic. Fay is reduced to obvious manipulation tactics. And Collie is sharp as a tack to every move and he's got the victim in Stockholm mode. It's certainly one of Thompson's best.

    I didn't see the ending coming either, but I was sorry it went that way. Not many writers could pull off this complex weave of characters and plot in such a short story. Fabulous book!


    > I am now reading Elmore Leonard's Moonshine War,
    > recommended to me by Mario I believe. I also am soon to be
    > reading LaBrava, which was recommended by Entertainment
    > Weekly as the #40th best novel of the last 25 years.
    > I've only read Unknown Man #69 and Maximum Bob so far,
    > but I've seen a number of the movies based on his
    > books: Get Shorty, Out of Sight, Big Bounce, and Jackie
    > Brown.


    Both MOONSHINE WARS & LA BRAVA are great stories, too. Of the two, I prefer LA BRAVA. The characters are classic Leonard. Jean Shaw and Maurice have the depth and complexity we expect from Leonard. Richard Nobles is the type of psychopath Leonard and Willeford draw so perfectly. We have enough of the back story to get why Nobles is what he is without it dragging down the story. His innate stupidity coupled with his willingness to commit any atrocity any time is the driving force of the story. The fact that alcoholic Jean Shaw, Nobles' partner Cundo Rey, and Joe LaBrava are all a lot smarter than Nobles is... and he doesn't realize it... are the factors that draw the tale to its conclusion. Here's an ending you won't see coming, either!

    MOONSHINE WARS is a treasure hunting story. Son Martin is a great character, and even better are the villains against him, Frank Long, Emmette Taulbee and Dual Meaders. Martin's old pa hid 150 barrels of corn liquor somewhere on the property. This is during prohibition, and local officials continually raid Son's still trying to find it. Son buys them off with a taste of the goods. Son was indiscreet enough while in the army to tell his buddy Frank Long, about his pa's secret. Now, Long is a revenue agent and a corrupt one at that. He hires a band of criminals to try to bully Son into giving up the goods. Son, of course, doesn't bully. It's a great tale with the kinds of fully developed characters we've come to expect from Leonard. The story is not as strong as Leonard's stories usually are and the ending, to me anyway, was a little disappointing. But I'm glad I read it.

    Patrick King


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