11 June 2007

Kinds of Love, Kinds of Death

Donald E. Westlake is one of the grandmasters of crime fiction. Hell, he's a master of fiction, period. His output is prodigious--over sixty novels under four pen names are in his bibliography. Kinds of Love, Kinds of Death is a "Mitch Tobin" mystery written by "Tucker Coe," originally published in 1966 and reprinted in 2000 by International Polygonics. I think they are out of business--I picked up Mr. Coe's book from Edward R. Hamilton, a treasure trove for book junkies. TPP has praised the virtues of ERH before, so check 'em out if you haven't already. Mitch Tobin is a disgraced ex-cop who takes a job as an unofficial private dick solving a murder for a mob boss. Mitch is an honorable fellow, and struggles with the ethics of the job. He is properly hard-boiled but without the machismo and propensity to violence. His dogged persistence and bullish integrity eventually earn him the respect of the criminals he works with, and his unspectacular but thorough investigative techniques eventually solve the crime. In the end, the story is about Mitch earning back his self-respect by doing a job with detached professionalism and seeing it through to the end. That is the very ethos of the hard-boiled investigator: the job is paramount, the nut has to be cracked regardless of who gets hurt in the fall-out. Think about Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon--he has to finger Brigid O'Shaughnessy (Mary Astor) as his partner's killer even though he's in love with her. Life is tough when you're a dick!
a.d. III Id.Iun.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You blogged too late yesterday for me to catch until today (what?), but I did comment -- and I do so again: good, good decision on the return to writing emphasis. I've enjoyed your comments and reviews (Donald Westlake is, indeed a master), but will really look forward to the REAL MOC coming through. Yes. True. NOC P.S. Did you get your T shirt (etc.) yet?? Whither they goest...so to speak...