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Reading Dashiell Hammett’s “The Thin Man”

I recently finished Dashiell Hammett’s “The Thin Man”… but really didn’t love it. When I saw this one available through the library on my Libby app, I was excited for some classic detective noir, but that wasn’t what this ended up being. It’s been a while since I’ve read Hammett, and maybe my enjoyment of his “Maltese Falcon” is clouded by my love of the movie.

It may have been just a case of high expectations, but generally think I know what I’m getting into when it comes to classic detective fiction or a typical hard boiled story.

Still, I expected more out of Nora, since I knew a little about the eventual Nick & Nora movie franchise that started from this novel. I went into it thinking she’d be more of an equal player, moving Nick along by investigating herself, but she was barely more than decoration and someone for Nick to talk at.

But I’m also disappointed with the plot; it feels overly complicated—red herrings are necessary but everyone is someone else and everyone who’s working together is really working together with someone else. After a while the tangled web became unnecessarily convoluted.

Maybe it’s a product of its time as far as writing male and female characters, and maybe it’s an attempt by Dashiell Hammett at writing something a little lighter instead of hard boiled crime fiction that didn’t translate so well for me.

All that said, while it may have been a disappointing departure from what I expected from the author and genre, I’ll still read more Hammett.

Maybe I’ll like the movies better…

Follow me on Goodreads to see what else I’m reading…

Trying to Read “Hex and the City”

It’s been a couple years since my last visit to the Nightside, and that is the only factor I can think of to explain how disconnected I felt from Simon Green’s supernatural noir series when I jumped back into it with the fourth book, “Hex and the City”.

I cannot imagine that the first three books were as poorly written as this one.  They couldn’t have been.  I wouldn’t have continued reading them.  Would I?  Ok, ‘poorly written’ may be unfair, but at the very least, this book was awkwardly written.

Was I struggling to get back into the world of John Taylor and the ‘Nightside’, or was Green struggling to remember how to write these characters himself?

Hex and the City Simon R. GreenHalfway through the book, I glanced at the cover and saw that ‘Dresden Files’ author Jim Butcher had offered a quote.  If that had been on the cover of the first book in this series, I’m not sure I would have started it.  “Hex and the City” read very much like “Storm Front” in that it felt more like a fan of supernatural stories trying to prove he’s a bigger fan than you and knows more about the topic than you do, than a coherent and well-written novel.  So, if you love Jim Butcher, by all means.

Paragraph long stretches of John Taylor speaking should have been adapted into descriptive expositional paragraphs. Perhaps they originally had been internal monologues in earlier drafts as multiple times Taylor would repeat something he had said half a chapter before to the complete surprise of the very characters he had spoken it to initially.

Too often, Taylor was supposed to be speaking to characters around him and interacting with them, but instead was stiff and spoke at them (or at the reader or just at anyone who had wandered by and might be listening).  He wasn’t a part of the scene and he wasn’t moving it forward. This wasn’t descriptive, this wasn’t storytelling. It was bullet points dressed up to look like a novel.

Detective fiction thrives on the smug, smartass private dick, but here, Taylor takes it to a level that brought to mind the fanboy writing style that turned me off the ‘Dresden Files’ after just one book.

The story picked up a bit towards the end and gave us a great answer to the question that’s been building since the first book.  But ultimately, I found myself turning the page, not to find out what would happen next, but just to finish the thing and move on to another book.

“Hex and the City” is the fourth book in this series, so I won’t give up on the whole thing just because this one disappointed.  There is an end to the ‘Nightside’ series, as Green finished it off with the 12th book, “The Bride Wore Black Leather”. I’d love for him to get back to the page-turning, exciting, supernatural detective fiction that sucked me into this hidden world in the first place so I can see this series through to the end.

Follow me on Goodreads for more reviews and to see what else I’m reading….

Goobers and Grovers and Sundance Getting Fisher Price Injections

Flashpoint.  Patterson.  Goober.

now this guy's a sniper...

I starting watching the show Flashpoint the other day, and I’ve been really enjoying it.  It stars Hugh Dillon who, in case you don’t recall, I’ve mentioned before as being one bad ass dude.  When he got bored rockin’ your face off he joined a Canadian SWAT team.  He went and shaved his head so he’s pulling this kind of thinner Bruce Willis look.  Anyway, its a solid show, but that’s where the flashpoint came from.

Patterson is on a  cardboard sign above my TV.  It comes from a cardboard display for one of the bajillion books James Patterson released this month.  I don’t know which one is was for, but all it says is “James Patterson, Unputdownable.”  The word unputdownable is a running joke with my friends and I, as is James’ Patterson’s literary integrity. 

Of course, he used to be in advertising, so the fact that he’s been marketed into probably one of the most recognized names and bestselling authors in the universe shouldn’t surprise anyone. And just for the record unputdownable comes up as a typo here.

I also can’t decide if I think he’s a dick or a really cool guy.  I think I’d like to fight him, and then maybe have a drink with him.  I probably have a better chance of winning a fight against him then Gene Kelly, who’s at the top of the list of people I want to fight.  Seriously, I know he’s a dancer, but Gene Kelly in his prime was probably solid muscle, those dancers don’t fuck around.  He was like a not-Asian dancing Bruce Lee.  So I want to fight Gene Kelly in his prime and James Patterson now—I have no problem hitting an old man.

But I’m getting off topic.

Goober I just tossed in there because I wanted another word and that was the first one that came to mind.

I’ve never seen this picture of Bob Dylan with the ‘I can’t sing’ sign, and I was staring at it for a while before I notice Grover popping out of a phone booth in the background.  At least I think its Grover, I guess it could be Larry David…   but is he dressed as a detective?  Oh, that must be his Grover Kent disguise for the whole Super Grover thing.

I think the goober tag is why I found a lot of shit with Grover in it—I tried a search without it and didn’t get any Grover stuff.

The other Grover one that’s worth mentioning is a little third wheel action, literally.

I’m not sure if Grover is technically being a cockblock right now since that’s really Sundance’s girl.  He’s kind of more…Chaperone Grover, no disguise needed.

I’ve always hated that part in Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, the whole bike thing, and the “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.”  I never felt it fit.  And I’ve tried to appreciate it on repeated viewings, but it always leaves me feeling uncomfortable.

The one I really like though is this Evangometer.  Its nice, its subtle—just a little Jesus fish on the bottom.  Apparently whoever is taking the picture was very evangelical.  Or its set like those old Fisher Price Doctor Kit syringes and thermometers, where they’re painted to always look full or painted with a little swirly thing so as you turn it the temperature “changes.”

Whoever was setting this thing off though is pretty hardcore evangelical, but what may be more disturbing is that it goes up to 110.  I mean, only 110?  What kind of super-Christians are these evangelicals?  You’re only planning to go up to 110% for Jesus?  And it says right on there ‘Actual Full Scale’ so isn’t like a tachometer where its really thousands.  You get points for making the thing but you’re losing some on your lackluster performance as missionaries.

Now how does one wear this?  Is this like those bad ass cops that have their badges swinging from their little metal ball chains?  Or is it clipped onto your belt right next to your cell phone, because you’re the kind of douche who wears their cell phone on their belt.  Its OK, I’m not judging, I understand completely, that Tracfone you picked up from the Family Dollar is really heavy—you can’t have that weighing your pockets down, its a serious piece of hardware.

its converting time!

I like to think though, that its really a belt buckle, Power Ranger-style.  They could be the Mighty Jesus God Rangers, but instead of Rita Repulsa their main bad guy could be Enola Evolusa, intent on spreading the evils of evolutionary thought.  Lord Zedd can stay, he looks pretty Satan-ish already, even in his chrome g-string—

You know what, fuck you, yeah I watched the Power Rangers, who didn’t? 

I may also have had a morpher that I got out of my Happy Meal when the movie came out, but its not like I know exactly what box in the attic its in or anything…


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