January was a real good month for reading. Let’s get to it.
The Glass Key, Dashiell Hammett. Said by many to be Hammett’s greatest, and I see why. Loyalty, betrayal, politics, and sex interwoven in a story dated only by the colloquialisms. I think I still prefer The Maltese Falcon, but that may well be due to my greater familiarity. This will be re-read.
The Point, Gerard Brennan. A nice, vicious little noir tale of two brothers on the wrong path. One sees where it leads and wants to get off. The other can’t see that far ahead and wants company for his ride. Things go as wrong as you’d expect, but not at all in the manner you expected. Brennan nails the pace and language, and has me looking forward to the sequel. (The Point is free for the time being, so get your ass to Amazon before they change their minds.)
Hurt Machine, Reed Farrel Coleman. Moe Prager nears the end of his run, trying to decide how to tell the rest of the world about his cancer with his daughter’s wedding on the horizon and the death of his former lover’s sister to investigate. A perfect set-up for Prager to look back while trying to move forward, and the case’s complexities keep him from any easy decisions about the it, or his personal life. Prager is as human as any contemporary PI, and this is a great vehicle for him.
The Black Dahlia, James Ellroy. I started the Underworld USA trilogy in the middle, with The Cold Six Thousand. Big mistake. (Really, folks. Don’t do that. Start at the beginning.) I made a point of starting the LA Quartet at the outset. I’ve heard this may be the weakest book of the four; if that’s true, I can’t wait to get to the rest. Ellroy hadn’t developed his “tabloid language” yet, but primordial traces of it are here. The ending goes on a bit too long, but you’re aware you’re in the midst of something special from the beginning. Living proof that exposition can delay the start of the actual story as long as the author wants, so long as it’s engrossing in its own right.
I also read about twenty pages of one drop-dead stinking you gotta be kidding me piece of shit, but, as you all know, I believe if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything, so