Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Kansas noir

Just finished Scott Phillips' The Ice Harvest, very violent & quite funny (in an understated way--there are occasional sentences that really catch you with how ironic they are, though the effect as a whole is unobtrusive). The original recommendation is now lost in the mists of blogdom, but I've got his next couple here also & definitely plan to read them, though this one failed my personal noir test of caring about what happens to the characters--the protagonist just seems a little less drunk and befuddled than he should be, I think it costs him in readerly sympathy, I was comparing the book in the back of my mind to Colin Harrison's Afterburn, a book I loved & that moved me greatly; Phillips is funny and an extremely good writer, with lovely economy too (something I particularly admire), but somehow his Charlie isn't as endearing as someone like, oh, the hapless villains of Bruen or Swierczynski. I will be interested to see what his later ones are like, in any case. This one has an excellent Christmas Eve 1979 setting.

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