I've read most of Willeford, and I'm having a hard time coming up with any "fall from grace" type noir from him, and would put him clearly in the nihilistic category. Similarly the books I've read from Jason also far squarely in this more nihilistic category.
Willeford's characters are so low to begin with it's hard for them to "fall" anywhere, but Richard Hudson in THE WOMAN CHASER is actually doing very well at the beginning of the novel. He's at the top of his career, the best in the business. And he concludes from this that he can do anything. When he inflicts himself into his stepfather's film career, that's when he starts to learn the cold, hard truth about himself: he's a misogynist, misanthrope really, and an all-round low-life scumbag.
Likewise in HIGH PRIEST OF CALIFORNIA, almost an identical scenario to THE WOMAN CHASER, Russell Haxby goes through the same behavior pattern sans the movie career. But, sadly, Russell never has to confront his behavior. He will, one is sure, but the novel doesn't allow us the pleasure of watching him crash and burn.
In WILD WIVES, we go back to the fall from "grace" if you will. PI, Jake Blake is staying one step in front of the envious police captain determined to pull his license until he plays a mean trick on a teenage girl. Then he takes the case of Florence Weintraub about whom he has far too little information to involve himself as deeply as he does. He also seems to have a very unlikely ignorance of basic law, making Blake the stupidest detective I've ever read about in fiction. There are a few real life detective who go Blake one better, but in detective fiction, Blake is my number 1 idiot. His downfall is expected though its source is a big surprise. Definitely a Frank Chambers ending.
I love Willeford's Hoke Mosley in MIAMI BLUE, so I read several of his books. Still like MIAMI BLUE, but nearly all of his other protagonists go to hell on the first page.
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