Hard Boiled Noir

Hard Boiled Noir 001So, just finished reading ‘Dan Brown’s’ The Lost Symbol, Which I’ll be doing a review on shortly. Enjoyable read. Whole story takes place in about 10 hours, which makes you think, in retrospect, that the characters are ready for a marathon and will damn sure win it. Definitely big screen ready and Hollywood bound. It’s very  involved and will have you Googling  to see if he’d left any possible conspiracy theory untouched. But, this isn’t about that.

This is about violence and sex (not at the same time….usually). Rye whiskey and fedoras. It’s about characters with tough attitudes. Cool, cocky, flippant and cynical one liners. It’s about dirty cities at night. I wanted Terry Mack and Race Williams. Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe. Characters nearly beyond redemption. So, I went to the shelves, let’s see I’ve got Cain and Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and Walter Mosley (one of the best ‘modern’ noir authors and an American treasure). I’ve got Cornell Woolrich, Dorothy B. Hughes, Jim Thompson, David Goodis, Charles Williams, Chester Himes, Mickey Spillane, Ross Macdonald, John D. MacDonald, Robert B. Parker, Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton and even  Elmore Leonard. But I had recently read Leonards’, When the Women Come Out to Dance. Hammett and Chandler are a bit too familiar as I am always rereading them and still love the short pulp stories. Recently reread most of Walter Mosley’ EZ Rawlins books-always fun and I always find something new. The others, though admirable and true to the genre, just were quiet there. Then I found James Ellroy Because The Night. I had forgotten I even had this! Cat’s must have knocked it down behind the book shelf. It was next to an empty bottle of Thunderbird wine and a crumpled pack of Lucky Strikes with a book of matches displaying an anonymous phone number for some one named ‘Dixie’. Lip stick on the corner and hearts in place of the ‘dots’ over the ‘I’s’ in Dixie. There’s the advertisement for an All-Nite Bail Bondsman on the cover.

This is written before Ellroy became the "Demon Dog of American crime fiction." before he had fully developed that postmodern historiographic metafiction, staccato, no-verbs allowed style.

Because The Night is the second in the Lloyd Hopkins Trilogy. Lloyd Hopkins, a LAPD detective with almost as many flaws as admirable traits. He has an very high IQ., is a sex addict classic womanizer and sometimes feels entitled to break the law in order to right wrongs. In short, Lloyd is the classic hard boiled, noir, character. Just what the doctor ordered after Lost Symbol.

Here’s a taste:

Lloyd laughed. “Nice pad, Linda. Out of the low-rent district.” Linda feigned a return laugh. “Don’t be formal, call me suspect.” Lloyd stuck his hand in his jacket pocket and pulled out snapshots of Thomas Goff and Jungle Jack Herzog. He handed them to Linda and said, “Okay, suspect, have you seen either of these men before?”Linda looked the photos over and returned them to Lloyd. There was not the slightest flicker of recognition in her eyes or her hands-on-hips pose. “No. What’s this about Stan Rudolf? Are you with Vice?” Lloyd sat down in the easy chair and stretched his legs. “That’s right. What’s the basis of your relationship with Rudolph?” Linda’s eyes went cold. Her voice followed. “I think you know. Will you state your purpose, ask your questions, and get out?” Lloyd shook his head. “What do you know?” “That you’re no fucking Vice Cop!” Linda shouted. “You got a snappy come back for that?” Lloyd[‘s voice was his softest; the voice he saved for his daughters. “Yeah. You’re no hooker.” Linda sat down across from him. “Everything in this apartment calls you a liar.” “I’ve been called worse than that,” Lloyd said. “Such as?” “Some of the choicer shots have included ‘urban barracuda,’ ‘male chauvinist porker,’ ‘fascist cocksucker,’ ‘wasp running dog,’ and ‘pussy hound scumbag.’ I appreciate articulate invective. ‘Motherfucker’ and ‘pig’ get to be boring.” Linda Wilhite laughed and poked a finger at Lloyd’s wedding ring. “You’re married. What does your wife call you?” “Long distance.” “What?” “We’re separated.” “Serious splitsville?” “I’m not sure. It’s been a year and she’s got a lover, but I intend to out last the bastard.”

Classic noir, from the pessimistic worldview to the jazz slang, cop patois, and creative profanity. It’s even got a ‘mad scientist’ …okay, mad psychiatrist as a bad guy and is filled with dirty cops dirty tabloid journalists and more irredeemable characters than you could find in South Centrals drunk tank on a Saturday night. I’ll have to look under the book case more often. Maybe I’ll call Dixie.

The Dirty Lowdown

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