Friday, October 26, 2012

Deadly Beloved (Max Allan Collins, 2007)

Mrs. Tree runs a detective agency which she had inherited after her husband was killed on their wedding night. She used to employ two assistants but one had left to conduct some private investigation. So she gets an assignment by her lawyer associate to help some rich guy's wife who had killed the cheating bastard when she caught him with a hooker. Cop friend of her hints that this might look like a job of the mysterious Event Fixer - highly skilled and professional hit-man who specialize in fixing "accidents". He's usually employed by sinister mob family Muertas who is also responsible for premature demise of Mr. Tree. What else? Oh, yeah - Mrs. Tree got over her hubby's dead and she is now fucking his friend Chic Steel. She also has to attend psychiatric sessions in order to recover from stress she had suffered when she killed some bad guys...

So lots of stuff is going on in this little, less than 200 pages pulp. So much in fact that sometimes I got an impression that Collins was in such a hurry to complete it that he forgot to develop his characters and - even more important - build some decent atmosphere. Its pace is simply too fast, maybe because Mrs. Tree is a comic book character and Collins tried to preserve a spirit of a graphic novel. Whatever that's suppose to be...

Few things stand out, both good and not so good. Ending should really be better and more developed. Final twist is very surprising, there's no way you can see it coming. But that's simply because is so far-fetched and totally unbelievable. Just feels like Collins wanted to wrap everything up and get over with it. And the thing I liked was narration. Story is told partly in "real time" and partly in flash backs while she's on the shrink's couch. These passages are executed very elegantly and help build suspense. Very skillfully and very comic book-ish indeed.

Nice and entertaining, but - will all due respect to MAC - a bit too childish for my taste.



Mrs Tree


Body count
7 (one guy is actually killed twice; first time just in dreams!)

Besides our hero there's also a victim Marcy Addwater and beautiful and dangerous leader of the mob Dominique Muertas. She's definitely underused!!

Pretty cool. Her facial expression could be better, but I like those dark blue colors - very noir-irsh! Illustrated by Terry Beatty who was an artist that collaborated with Collins on comic book serials. Although it needs to be said that it is not very accurate: Mrs Tree does indeed wear her signature trench-coat most of the time but not at the end when she confronts the bad guy with a pistol in her bed. At that particular point she wore "the top of a pair of black silk men's pajamas".

Cool lines
Lots and lots of pretty stupid but still hilarious dialogues. Another proof that this would probably make it better comic book than a novel. I can just imagine these wise-crackings lettered in balloons!

"You must be the little woman." 
"You must be the dead whore"  [The Coolest!]

"My client is an innocent woman." 
"Aren't all your clients innocent? Until proven broke?" 
"That's unkind."
Notice he didn't say "unfair."

"I was hoping." I said slowly, politely, "to talk to Mrs. Hazen."

He grunted a laugh. "I was hopin' for a ten-inch dick."
I smiled pleasantly. "Aren't we all? You're...?"

That's what I like about being 21st Century P.I. Ten years ago, shoe leather. Today - Google.

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