Thursday, November 22, 2012

Miami Blues (Charles Willeford, 1984)

Needs to be said that start was not most promising.It begins with this psychopath asshole killing a Hare Krishna guy by breaking his finger. I kid you not, this sissy actually dies from the shock of getting his fucking finger broken!? So we have one less airport beggar in this world and one not very convincing prologue to a crime novel. Which right away becomes even less plausible because this same psycho asshole hires a hooker who turns out to be a deceased guy's sister. Later on (pg. 42 to be precise) there's an information that Miami has 1.5 million residents so you can calculate yourself the odds of this actually happening.

It sounds like a bit of mess but it's anything but that. Quite opposite actually - we are dealing with masterfully constructed thriller. When homicide detective Hoke Moseley starts to investigate this unusual murder, he himself becomes chased party in a "cat and mouse" game. So this is not classical whodunit but much more WTF is going to happen next. Totally tense and suspenseful story, told in 3rd person in alternating chapters from the perspectives of (mostly) our two main protagonists.

But still as great as the story and narrative are, this novel is foremost characters driven. Central one is of course Hoke, rather washed-up detective. And I truly can't remember the last time I've came across such a likeable protagonist. He's just the coolest! 42 years of age, divorced with two little daughters. And he's not moaning and bitching about missing them or (usual) shit like that. His only problems about this is that every other of his paychecks goes to them leaving him more or less broke and forcing him to live in a cheap hotel where he's performing duties of a house dick. There's a delightful episode when he unexpectedly gets some (pretty obviously) dirty money and he doesn't hesitate one second about it - he goes straight to a local bar to settle his 100$ tab. "Fuck where it came from. I need it, and I can use it."" Great stuff, no moral dilemmas there! He's also not the best detective in the world and it's actually somehow scared of his unpredictable and violent opponent. But he can be though as his new partner has experienced. The part (pg. 200) where he explains poor and unfortunate Ellita Sanchez her position in their relationship (hierarchy) is simply hilarious, I've reread it three times!

I could go on and on about our main man Hoke (didn't even mention his false teeth!) but I mustn't neglect others. Susan is great as a simple, greedy and stupid whore living in a "platonic-marriage" with Junior. And he himself is a star on his own. It's astonishing how Willeford manages to picture him as a total sociopath in the first two pages of the book. Later stuff with buying Frisbees and tossing them to himself is brilliant and I wouldn't be surprised if it was taken from some psychological study! And it's equally amazing that somehow this really mean motherfucker is sympathetic throughout the book.

Writing is in the league of its own. Hot and sweaty Miami makes a great background and adds something special to the atmosphere. And while one would easily expect that this kind of stuff would be full of some macho language and/or wise cracking, it's surprisingly tight and almost dull. And as such it's perfectly aligned with Hoke's character and his mechanical and pretty much emotion-less police work and personal problems. And speaking about police work - the way they crack that family slaughter case is just - once more - brilliant, isn't it?

Authentic, funny, at times brutal and ... simply just really cool. I'm totally hooked on Hoke!



Detective Hoke Moseley

Miami - where "It wasn't enough that Carter had destroyed the city by sending in all the refugees, Reagan was importing ex-cons from California."

Body count
4 + another 4 in unrelated massacre + 1 child murder in another unrelated case + 1 at the end. Maybe unrelated or maybe prologue to the next book in the series?

Susan Waggoner - "Is she really that dumb, or is it an act of some kind?"

Yes, Junior beats the living shit out of him: "The jaw cracked audibly, and blood poured from Hoke's nose and mouth."

Pretty fitting. Miami plays a major role in building up "blues" atmosphere.

Nice, colorful illustration of Miami. Author not credited.

Cool lines:  
There was no way that Mendez could be his real name. With that bronze tan, he looked like an Afrika Corps Nazi, and it was definitely a tan, not dark skin.

The mentholated smoke tasted wonderful. A man would be a fool to give up smoking altogether.
[The Coolest!]

But any way Hoke looked at it, the quality of life in Miami would be improved immeasurably now that Freddy Frenger was no longer out on the streets...

No comments:

Post a Comment