Book Review: The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler

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The Long Goodbye is the 4th book I have read by Raymond Chandler and I have loved all four. This one was published in 1953 and is the longest and I got to admit, towards the end I wondered why Chandler didn’t just end the book at a few different points. I got to say I’m glad it continued on and the ending was worth it. Those that have seen the Altman film and read this book have argued through out the years which ending is better, the original book or the updated film? I got to say as a big fan of Chandler and the Marlowe character the book is my choice.

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I watched the film last year and here is my review of that film:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/06/19/review-the-long-goodbye/

The Long Goodbye of course revolves around the hardboiled private detective that all hardboiled private detectives to come would be influenced by, Philip Marlowe. In this book Marlowe is in his early 40’s but hasn’t changed much over the years. He is still a quick to respond smart mouth that can get him in trouble from time to time. He is still as tough as they come and mix that with his genius level of street smarts makes for an interesting character. Marlowe is still single and I think he prefers it that way. Marlowe is still in his world of Southern California mixing it up with street level crime and the rich that hire him.

The story starts out with Marlowe getting to know a new friend, Terry Lennox. Lennox likes his drinking and is married to a wealthy woman. Lennox has a mysterious past and the scars on his face to prove it.

Lennox calls Marlowe late one night asking for a ride to Mexico. He tells Marlowe not to ask any questions and Marlowe doesn’t want any answers anyway. When Marlowe gets back to L.A., he is thrown in jail after not giving any information about Lennox’s whereabouts. Lennox is wanted for the murder of his wife and the police are looking for him.

When Marlowe gets out of jail he is soon on to his next case, but he still has questions about Lennox and his guilt.

This book has a lot of twist and turns and Chandler’s writing is amazing as always. The reason I have not read this book before is because I was reading them in order. I read this one out of order and did not feel it mattered. I plan on going back and reading everything by Chandler in time. If you are a fan of noir and hardboiled fiction, it doesn’t get much better then this classic. A must read for everybody that reads books in my opinion, you will not be disappointed.

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I really wish a classic film noir adaption of this book was made in the 1950’s. Could you imagine Bogart reprising his role as Marlowe, with Sydney Greenstreet playing Lennox’s father-in-law. Maybe Robert Ryan as Rodger Wade and Lizabeth Scott as Eileen Wade? Oh the possibilities!

Book Review: Nine Toes In The Grave by Eric Beetner

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Nine Toes In The Grave is “A Hard Luck Novella” by Eric Beetner. I have seen Beetner’s previous novel Rumrunners on more then one “Best of 2015” list. This, and with the folks over at All Due Respect sending me a copy of Nine Toes In The Grave, put this book to the top of my “To Read” list. This book is short, at just over 100 pages, but packs quite a story.

Beetner starts this story with a bit of a “The Postman Always Rings Twice” vibe. Our protagonist Reese is working at a greesy spoon as a short order cook. He is having an affair with the owner’s wife to start his downward spiral of bad luck. She tries to convince him to kill her husband so she will inherit the restaurant. Reese has always done the right thing and been a good guy and refuses to do this. The wife kills her husband anyway and looks to frame Reese. Reese figures his best bet is to run for it.

Reese makes it 50 miles to the next county and hits up a bar. Out of money and nowhere to go, Reese meets two guys willing to pay him $500 for a repo job on a car. It seems like easy money and Reese agrees to do it. His luck does not get any better is all I have to say.

Beetner tells a good story and it is well written. I will be looking for more from Beetner in the future. If you want to read some good modern pulp, Beetner is as good a place to start as any.

You can pick up a copy of this book and others from All Due Respect here:

http://allduerespectbooks.com/

Michael Connelly Chooses ‘The Long Goodbye’ for WSJ Book Club

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The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler is the Book of the Month for the Wall Street Journal Book Club. The selection was made by one of today’s greats, Michael Connelly. After reading this article, I have decided I have been putting off reading this noir classic long enough. Who wants to join me in reading this with the WSJ Book Club?

Here is a link to the article:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/michael-connelly-chooses-the-long-goodbye-for-wsj-book-club-1452097505

Also you can join the Book Club on Facebook here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1378607315732948/

 

Book Review: Dog Eat Dog by Edward Bunker

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Dog Eat Dog is a novel by Edward Bunker. Bunker is an interesting character. His past involves a criminal career, a horrible childhood, a very high I.Q., becoming an author in prison and acting in some of the most classic neo noir films of the last 40 years. This book was released in 1995 and should be read by any crime fiction fan and especially any fan of noir fiction.

This story is about 3 ex-convicts who have been friends since juvenile hall. Mad Dog lives in Portland with his girlfriend and young daughter. Diesel has been working with a union in Sacramento and does the odd job for the local mob boss from time to time. He has a nice house, a wife and a brand new Mustang. Troy is our third man in this trio. Troy is a smart man that most criminals love. Troy has just got out of prison and is already got a plan in place to make some money.

This journey takes us to the underworld of Los Angeles in the 1990’s. We have drug dealers, crooked lawyers, kidnapping, murder, drug addiction and robbery just to wet your appetite for the dark corners this book goes to.

You can tell Bunker cribs from his own experience in crime for this book. There is a lot of parallels between Troy and Bunker. Bunker also covers some social issues in this book. One thing he covers is the disappearance of the middle class in Los Angeles. Something that continues to happen in many areas of the country today. Another topic is the Three Strike Law that went into effect in California in 1994, a year before this book was released. The law basically states that after your third felony you where going to go to prison for life. This book basically tells us that with this law, we are making people with two strikes willing to do anything not to go back to prison. This maybe a very good point and is something that has been changed in 2012, now it has to be a serious or violent felony for your third strike. I am no lawyer and don’t get into politics much, but for example, in one case a 2 time felon was caught stealing a set of golf clubs. He was sent to prison for life because of the 3 strike rule. Though he is a 3 time felon, and I have no idea what his previous 2 felonies are,(and he did already serve his time for those) life seems a little extreme for stealing golf clubs.

This is an amazing book and I could not put it down. Knowing a little bit about Bunker’s background made me interested in reading him. I was not expecting such a well written book. You will not be disappointed in this book! I highly recommend reading this before the movie is released later this year.

This movie could be amazing or it could be very disappointing. Lets look at the information we have so far. First off the material is second to none for a neo noir film. Second is the talent involved. Paul Schrader wrote the screenplay and is directing. His movie writing credits are some of the best neo noir films in the last 40 years. On the other hand his directing credits have been hit and miss, some are very good and some are unbelievable bad. Our main star, playing Troy is Nicolas Cage, if there is ever an actor in modern film that can be absolutely brilliant in one film and then over act and go totally campy in the next, it is Cage. Schrader promises a return to form for both him and Cage in this picture and I really hope he is right. Here is a link to a couple articles about the upcoming film:

http://deadline.com/tag/dog-eat-dog/

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One thing this film has me excited about is Willem Dafoe as Mad Dog. This casting should be worth the price of admission.

 

 

Article: Born Under A Bad Sign-The Life of Edward Bunker

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So I just started reading Edward Bunker’s book Dog Eat Dog and can’t believe how great it is so far. Look for a book review soon. I already knew a bit about Edward Bunker, but found myself looking for a more information on this man. Most will know him from playing Mr. Blue from Reservoir Dogs. He has appeared in many other films, including Heat, Tango and Cash and Straight Time. He is a writer more then an actor and has written a hand full of novels, an autobiography along with many short stories. 2 of his books have been made into movies with a 3rd being made right now.

Charles Waring has written a great retrospective of Bunker’s life over at Crime Time well worth reading. Here is a link to that retrospective:

http://www.crimetime.co.uk/features/edwardbunker.php

Book Review: The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock

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The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock is a noir stew spanning over decades and consisting of many tough characters, thrown in a pot and put on boil.

This is Donald Ray Pollock’s first full length novel, published in 2011. He had a short story collection come out in 2008 called Knockemstiff. Knockemstiff  is the town in Ohio in which Pollock grew up. Knockemstiff  is also one of the locations in The Devil All the Time. Is there a better noir name for a town? Pollock worked as a laborer and truck driver until he turned 50. He then went to Ohio State University’s English program. I guess it is never to late to become a great writer.

The Devil All the Time has many story lines that criss cross each other until the final chapter. The best way to describe this book is by the characters.

Arvin starts out a young boy, growing up in the country. His father Willard is an ex-military religious nut. Arvin’s mother is dying and Willard is not taking it well. The local Sheriff is as corrupt and crooked as they come. The Sheriff’s sister is a prostitute/bartender and is married to a serial killer. They like to make road trips and find hitchhikers to take pictures of and kill. Arvin has a grandmother who has adopted a girl. The girl’s mother has been killed and her father is the main suspect. The father and his crippled friend travel with a circus. We later run into a Pastor who is married to a young women but likes even younger women. You throw all these ingredients in and see what happens.

This book has been described as Hick Lit, Ohio Gothic, Country Noir even Horror. whatever you call it, it is a dark journey worth taking. Lets hope Pollock has many more great stories to tell. If you are a fan of Jim Thompson you will probably fall in love with Donald Ray Pollock too.

2015, A Look Back at a Year in Noir

Coming off one of the best years in the genre in 2014, 2015 was a bit of a let down. With box office and critical hits Gone Girl and Nightcrawler and a cult classic in the making with surprise hit John Wick along with a crowd sourced funded return of Veronica Mars just to name a few of the highlights at the theater in 2014. 2015 really didn’t see any success at the box office for films in the neo noir genre.

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The year started out with a bang, when in January, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice was released. Inherent Vice was a critical success, even if it didn’t do well at the box office and was not well received by the general public, it was my favorite film of the year. Here is my review of that film:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/06/02/review-inherent-vice/

On the same day as Inherent Vice was released, a film from Australia was released in the States. It stared an always good Ethan Hawke in a sci-fi neo-noir that will make you think. Predestination from the Spierig Brothers is a stylish film worth watching. Here is my full review of that film:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/02/20/review-predestination/

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Though we got a lot of good small budget neo noir films this year, the stand out for me was Glass Chin. Read the full review here:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/08/24/review-glass-chin/

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Though film didn’t have a stellar year, television did! I have not seen it yet(hope to watch it with in the next week) True Detective Season 2 sounds like it was a bit of a let down(season 1 may have been the best television season ever, 2 was bound to be a bit of a let down), other programs stepped it up.

Season 4 of Ray Donovan was the best season yet and Season 2 of Fargo was my favorite series this year.

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/10/06/article-rolling-stone-fargo-how-the-midwestern-noir-just-got-even-better/

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We also got the Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul that came out in February and seems like a decade ago in a time of great television. Here was a look at Season 1:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/04/09/review-season-1-of-better-call-saul/

One of my favorite characters was back for a short special, Luther. Here is a look at season 4 of that series:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/12/29/review-luther-season-4/

Public Morales debuted on TNT, but got poor ratings and was cancelled after season 1. You can see how high the competition is, when this fine series only made it through one season.

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https://everythingnoir.com/2015/10/25/review-public-morals-season-1/

Gotham had another great season as well. For sci-fi neo noir fans, check out the Expanse, which as just started on SyFy. There is also a long list of television I have not got to see, but want to soon. Netflix has released Bloodlines, Daredevil and Jessica Jones while Amazon has Bosch just to name a few. It is safe to say, we are in the golden age of television.

Classic film noir fans had a great summer with The Summer of Darkness over on TCM. They also offered a college course on film noir for free. I took the class and found it very informative.

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TCM debuted a few newly restored classic films noir this summer, including Woman on the Run and Too Late for Tears. Look for a full review of Too Late for Tears soon and here is a link to the review of Woman on the Run:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/06/24/review-women-on-the-run/

In Noir literature we had a number of big and small releases. Publishers like Hard Case Crime and All Due Respect continue to release pulp noir books worth checking out. Hard Case Crime continues to re-print the Quarry books which I have fallen in love with. All Due Respect had a couple of releases I loved including Selena by Greg Barth and Love You to a Pulp by CS Dewildt:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/12/01/book-review-quarrys-list-by-max-allan-collins/

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/12/07/book-review-selena-by-greg-barth/

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/04/19/book-review-love-you-to-a-pulp-by-c-s-dewilt/

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We also got the second book by Rob Thomas continuing the multi-media story of Veronica Mars:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/02/01/review-the-first-two-veronica-mars-books-the-thousand-dollar-tan-line-and-mr-kiss-and-tell/

There was a number of books that came out this year that I did not get a chance to get to(I’m not the fastest reader in the world). The Cartel by Don Winslow, World Gone By by Dennis Lehane and Where All Light Tends to Go by David Joy just to name a few.

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2016 looks to hold many new television shows, movies and books worth watching. Check back to Everythingnoir.com for the latest news and reviews as I will try and keep the noir fan abreast. What was some of your favorite noir works of the last year?

 

 

 

Book Review: Luther: The Calling by Neil Cross

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Luther: The Calling is the first book in the Luther series, it is also the only one so far. It is written by Neil Cross, who is also the writer and creator of the television series Luther.

This book is a prequel of the first season of Luther. So if you are wondering who that man who falls from the cat walk and is put into a coma is, or who belongs to all those names Luther is yelling at him before he falls, like Emma and Adrian? This is the book for you. We also get some background on many of the other characters, like Luther’s wife Zoe, and Ian Reed.

This is a great read for fans of the T.V. series and adds a lot of knowledge to where the characters are coming from. This being a prequel to the first season, I can see this being a pattern for Cross. I would love to get a prequel to season 2 and learn about Caroline Jones and the case in which Luther arrests her husband and he commits suicide. The third season finds Luther and Ripley coming out of a garage with suspects cuffed and an explosion in the background, but we never find out what it was all about, this may make for another good book. Maybe the most interesting book would be a prequel to the latest season, season 4, where we find Luther on leave and living in the country, but there was definitely something happening between Luther and Alice between Season 3 and 4.

It looks like we will soon be getting a second book in this series and I look forward to reading it and learning more about this complex character.

We’ve heard ramblings about a Luther movie coming some day, and it sounds like that movie maybe based on this book. A Luther movie would be great. In fact, I will be lining up for anything Luther at this point, more books, more television, or a film, sign me up! There are rumblings of a possible American version of this great series and though Cross and Idris Elba would be involved, Elba would not star. I think half of what makes Luther great is Elba and I don’t know if I want a watered down version of Luther with somebody else playing the lead. This sounds like a bad idea. I will be sticking with the original Luther and patiently wait for more material.

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I will be looking at each season of the television series, starting tomorrow. So come back for even more Luther then!

Book Review: Warren Lane by Andrew Diamond

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Andrew Diamond was kind enough to send me a copy of his new book Warren Lane. I was impressed he took the time to send a hand written note and signed my copy, a nice touch I appreciated.

Warren Lane is a name of a character in the book, but not the main character. This book’s plot is a series of miscommunication, mistaken identity, and bad luck.

The story revolves around a handful of characters. The first is Ready, a drunk that has been getting by with his good looks, something he isn’t comfortable with. For all his flaws, Ready is a lovable character we root for through out. Ella is a beautiful model who gets involved with a rich, older, married man. William is the rich, older, married man Ella makes happy. William is the character I most rooted against in this tale.  Susan is William’s wife and thinks he is cheating on her. Susan hires a private investigator named Warren Lane to find out if William is cheating or not.

The story has these characters crossing each other’s paths while they all try and find their way through life. This book is for fans of Elmore Leonard stories and Coen Brother’s movies.  It is a mix of black comedy and noir crime with an improbable chain of events.

This is Andrew Diamond’s first book and it sounds like he is already in the process of writing a second book that will be darker and more in the vein of Jim Thompson or Ross Macdonald. This is a very good book for a first work and I look forward to reading his second effort.

Grab a copy if you are looking for a fun read from a new author. This story will take you on an enjoyable ride worth the price of admission.

Article: A Not-So-Golden State The detective stories of Ross Macdonald

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Andrew J. Bacevich has written an interesting and informative article on Ross Macdonald and his character Lew Archer over at The Baffler.  Ross Macdonald was born 100 years ago today! Take the time to read Bacevich’s article on the history of Ross Macdonald and the parallels between the writer and the character, Lew Archer, you won’t be disappointed.  Read the full article here:

http://thebaffler.com/salvos/golden-state/bacevich-lane-rossmacdonald-rgb