Tag: MacDonald

Miami Blues by Charlies Williford

Posted August 27, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Pulp / 0 Comments

Miami Blues by Charlies WillifordTitle: Miami Blues (Goodreads)
Author: Charlies Williford
Series: Hoke Moseley #1
Published: Penguin, 1984
Pages: 284
Genres: Pulp
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

After landing in Miami, Freddy Frenger Jr. (or Junior as he prefers to be called) steals three wallets and begins to plan his new life. While leaving the airport he snatches a suitcase and leaves a corpse of a Hare Krishna behind. Detective Hoke Moseley is on the case; chasing Junior and his new hooker girlfriend through luxury hotels and the suburban streets of Miami.

If this sounds really familiar then you’ve probably seen the 1990 movie of the same name starring Alec Baldwin and Jennifer Jason Leigh. While there are some major differences to the two, the majority of the book is exactly the same. I’m a little disappointed when I found out this was the first in the Hoke Moseley series, because I always thought of the detective as a supporting role. In the movie Junior steals Moseley’s badge and starts pretending to be a cop to con people; this was the best part of the movie. Sadly in the book there isn’t much of that going on.

Charlies Williford is an author of fiction, poetry, an autobiography, and literary criticism but he is best known for his hard-boiled writing. I think it is weird that he was a poet and literary critic as well as pulp writer, but then again I really shouldn’t be. It’s just an interesting fact about the author.  When you think 1980’s hard-boiled novels, Miami Blues is probably going to be one of the top nominations on that list. Charlies Williford was such a prolific writer, with over forty novels published, it is kind of sad that he is best known for the Hoke Moseley series that he wrote very late in his life. I wonder what some of his other books were like, there seems to be a whole lot of hard-boiled novels in the 1950’s and 1960’s that look interesting.

This book is an example of the noir sub-genre Florida glare which is basically a crime novel set in Florida where the heat and the culture play a role in the story as well. Noir is typically associated to LA and there have been some writers out there that wanted to depict Florida as the perfect location for crime stories as well. Some examples of this include the Travis McGee (by John D. MacDonald), Jack Ryan (by Elmore Leonard), and Dexter Morgan (by Jeff Lindsay) series and I’m sure many more. It is an interesting concept though do we really need another genre? I like how the heat of Florida plays a part in the book and the environment is almost like a supporting character.

This was a quick read and one of the rare cases where I think I prefer the movie over the book. I wonder if there are any more noir novels where a character pretends to be a cop in order to con people; I’m sure there are plenty out there, I like the concept and would like to read more of them. I think I’ll have to try another Charlies Williford, maybe something earlier. Does anyone want to recommend me a good Charlies Williford novel?


The Deep Blue Good-By by John D. MacDonald

Posted June 24, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Pulp / 0 Comments

The Deep Blue Good-By by John D. MacDonaldTitle: The Deep Blue Good-By (Goodreads)
Author: John D. MacDonald
Series: Travis McGee #1
Published: Ballantine Books, 1964
Pages: 384
Genres: Pulp
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

I’ve never read a John D. MacDonald book before and I’ve read a lot of good things about his Travis McGee novels, so I thought I might start at the beginning for this series. This is the first in what is now a 21 book series and the first time we meet Travis McGee, a self-described “salvage consultant”, almost like a treasure hunter but instead he recovers the property of his clients for a fee; half.  He is hired and has to go up against the pathologically evil antagonist Junior Allen, who may seem friendly but has a very sinister agenda.

For a hard-boiled style “salvage consultant” McGee seems to be very ordinary; I felt like all the guys liked him (except the antagonist) and all the girls wanted him. There wasn’t much depth in the character at all except in one scene where he was ready to torture someone for information and I saw a glimpse of a sociopath in McGee. This just made me want to read a book with a sociopath hard-boiled detective, so if you have any recommendations let me know.

The story felt very predictable, it was more of a quick enjoyable story being told to me. I think, while this series might work well as filler reading to  help recover from something heavy, there are much better books out there to read instead of this series. The sex and violence that was in this book was pretty intense for a book written in 1964 so I really don’t want to just write off the entire series because of predictability; so if you share a different opinion or can recommend me one of the Travis McGee books that could change my mind, please let me know.