Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Review of Into the Dark, Desolate Night by John Darling

Does it make me some kind of a crazy guy that I love detective fiction more than any other kind, despite the fact that I write almost exclusively about academic subjects and (when I can) literary fiction?  Let me tell you something.    I love them all, the big-brained Sherlock Holmes and Nero Wolfe types out there; the hard hitting Sam Spades, the sweet and innocent Miss Marples--I could go on and on. There's nothing quite as good as a story with a broken or semi-broken detective peering into the darkest reaches of humanity to get to the truth.  I just read a great Ed Mcbain pulp novel and tore through a John MacDonald the other day.  I love them.  Have I mentioned that?

I love detective Anderson, too.  John Darling has created a great character with plenty of flaws and plenty of smarts.  I love the detective cliche's that make the stories brilliant when they're used right or stupid when they're used poorly.  In Darling's case, it's all done right.  Of course Anderson hates partners.  Of course Anderson is more interested in justice dispensed by gun barrels than by judges.  God!  The pulp in these stories is so thick it makes the thickest, richest orange juice seem thin as hell.

I loved this book.  Maybe I'm an easy target.  Who knows?  Still, the stories are great and the characters, if standard and typical for the genre, are wonderful.  I love the resolutions to the mysteries involved.  Even if they're straight out of the genre handbook, they're great.  Look at this exchange from the story "Sucker Punch."

“You killed her for candy?” replied a shocked Owens.
“Oh, candy, cakes, cookies, fudge, and all. All the good stuff in life,” she said, her voice starting to take on a sing-song crazy edge again, “I don‟t know what that silly woman had against it, I just love it all to pieces myself.”

Who comes up with that kind of cool stuff?  John Darling does.  Pick up the book.  It's ten great stories and three hundred and fifty pages of pure detective fun.

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