I’m glad to start my blog with this little pulp. It’s a debut novel from Richard Aleas and it seems he put lots of love and knowledge of classical hard boiled crime novels into this one. We have our lonely hero wondering around the big asphalt jungle trying to find out how his old flame from 10 years ago ended up as a newspapers headline titled “Stripper found murdered”. The more he finds out, less he likes it as he sinks deeper and deeper into depravity of a big city and corruption of the human soul. Big twist and the ending are a bit obvious, but story is still believable, easy to follow, hard-boiled enough, fast paced and there are plenty of intelligently placed clues and unusual characters to make it real page turner.
What raises this novel above average, is our main protagonist. He’s modern version of old school type private dick (at the end you cannot not to think about Sam Spade in Maltese Falcon), but he is not some sort of old guy who can’t keep up with the progress and still holds on old methods. John Blake is in his late twenties and he’s kind of inexperienced apprentice to his boss/friend ex-cop Leo because he doesn’t really know what to do with his life. He uses internet (but is far from some stereotypical genius geek type, thank god), isn’t much of the ladies man (although he does score once!), not very muscular (like his “role models” he gets beaten a lot) and very capable and resourceful (liked the way he gets himself from the prison). In short: excellent merge of classical PI into modern noir age.
As mentioned, twist is predictable. I mean, you have two beautiful blonde strippers and one of them gets her face blown off to the point where she is not recognizable. It’s so obvious that I kept thinking author will use this formula to create some sort of double twist. It doesn’t really happen, which is a shame but it also doesn’t damage overall good impression. Ending is still a bit shocking and more importantly - like in all good (not just crime) books - journey towards the truth, revelation and main protagonist's self-discovery of is at least as important as a classical whodunit itself.
I encourage you to go find little girl lost yourself.
Hero: John Blake, PI
Location: New York City
Dames: Strippers Miranda aka Randy, Jocelyn aka Jessie, Susan.