02 April 2007

Contemporary noir

Seymour Shubin's Witness to Myself was Hard Case Crime's April 2006 release, and it challenges your perception of a "hard-boiled" novel. First of all, the main characters are a lawyer, a writer and a nurse. The only crime occurs in the backstory. There is no blood spilled, and no shoot 'em up or car chases. I suppose "psychological suspense" would be the label to apply here. I like when the definition of noir is broad and inclusive--when it reflects more the writer's outlook and attitude than any particular plot pieces. Mr Shubin published his first novel in 1953, and at 80+ years of age has seen all the fads and trends of popular fiction come and go. Witness to Myself is about a childhood memory, a traumatic event, that our protagonist has to come to terms with. All of us can relate to these psychological demons, and Shubin handles this one with sensitivity and empathy. Suffice to say the ending caught me by surprise, and I was glad it did. The book built its momentum slowly, and the middle-class world of our characters cracked a little at a time, just enough to keep you turning the pages. I can't say enough about the good things coming from Dorchester Publishing's Hard Case Crime series. Check out http://www.hardcasecrime.com/index.shtml, you won't be disappointed.

No comments: