Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dream Girl (Robert B. Parker, 2006)

Had a shitty day at the office and was craving for a few pints in the local pub and some easy reading. But it happened that the only stuff I had was Hedge Funds for the Dummies (don't ask!) on my Kindle so I needed to pick something up at the local bookstore on my way home. Just took the first pulp that had matched my quickly constructed criteria: (1) not to be written by a woman (always), (2) to be written by the author without an entry on this blog (which somehow covers the first condition), (3) to have P.I. for its protagonist and (4) to be reasonably light (part of a serial written by some bestselling author, reasonably short, lots of dialogues etc).

I've read one or two Spenser novels some time ago so this one was no-brainer. And it proved to be a good decision because it has totally fulfilled the last condition of my demanding terms. It's as easy reading as they come and as far as I'm concerned could be filed in a cosy crime section together with Agatha fucking Christie. Although of course back cover blurbs are saying this is "one of the greats of American hard-boiled genre" and "...non-stop action,... kick-ass entertainment" (by Janet Evanovich of course, hehe).

Anyways, let's finally move on. Spenser is asked (not even hired) by his old friend April to get rid of some assholes threatening to take over her business. And since this business is a whorehouse it comes to no surprise that some sleazy gigolo, a local tough guy, big-time madam from New York and even good old mafia get involved in order to get a piece of the cake. Spenser and few of his buddies are caught in between of this mess and (with a lot of help from the police) they manage to crack this case.

Sounds better than it actually is. Story is okay and complex enough, but it's told in a really dull way. Spenser is just connecting the dots in pretty straightforward fashion and when Parker stops introducing new characters (which is pretty soon) everything becomes tiresome and repetitive. And at the end we get some moral redemption/salvation crap instead of a classical whodunnit. It certainly feels as the author himself was as disillusioned and disappointed as his hero and was just relieved to finish this.

Two major weaknesses here. First one is a lack of decent pace and consequently lack of suspense. Everything simply moves too slowly, we need to wait for ages to get the first corpse. Investigation itself takes the whole winter and after the first half it basically gets stuck. At the same time narration's rhythm is constantly interrupted with the whole chapters that don't contribute nothing truly substantial to the story. They are mostly about conversations with his shrink girlfriend about the case (but also about writing poems to each other on Valentine's day) and in one chapter our main man even speaks about it with his fucking dog! Very annoying...

The second thing that bothered me were Spenser's horrible detective skills. Most of the times this guy has no idea what he's doing or what he is even suppose to investigate. So he keeps running in circles, interviewing same people again and again while traveling between Boston and New York like a headless chicken. And still not making any progress - the only fact he has successfully deducted is that everybody has been lying to him all the time! His interrogation skills are beyond pathetic and my favorite scene is the one where he starts interviewing bunch of hookers by asking them how come they have ended up in this profession!? You know - just to break the ice and make them more relaxed... So it's not surprising that 50 pages before the conclusion he's still totally clueless and the way he cracks the case is just great. Without any apparent reason and out of the blue (gut feeling maybe?) he decides to follow one of his suspects and after five days on this tail job this guy leads him to the solution.

I also didn't like much the writing style, but we won't get into that. All in all, predictable and in some ways enjoyable read. Certainly got what I'd expected.



Spenser P.I.

Boston and New York

Body count: 3

April Kyle, ex-hooker and now aspiring madame

Nope, none. Not enough action.

Words play - "Dreamgirl" is a future franchise name of  the "boutique sex mansions" across America that April wants to manage. Which - I guess - makes her a dream girl. Or - less likely - is she a girl that Spenser is dreaming about? 

Typical stuff for selling at the airports. Motive looks more suitable for some ghostly horror story and I would definitely prefer bunch of half naked prostitutes standing in front of the whorehouse (sorry, it's boutique of course) with a big neon sign saying "Dream Girl"

Cool lines:  
None really. Parker is constantly trying to be cute and funny but doesn't really succeeds.

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