July 5, 2012

The Last Four Things ***

*** The Last Four Things, Timothy Hallinan, 1989

I discovered Hallinan on DorothyL.com, an email list for fans of detective fiction. This book is the first in the Simeon Grist series and a good start. It's a first-person novel and I like the voice of the protagonist, not quite hard boiled, but plenty tough while being somewhat cerebral. It's a good story with plenty of action and plenty of depth and I enjoyed the ride.

Here are a few quotes I picked out:

His fingers groped toward each other and met again over his stomach like five overweith pairs of illicit lovers on safe ground at last.
They were obviously ready to protect that wet red carpet with their lives, if the need arose. The one on the right had the kind of face that suggested that he hoped the need would arise, and sooner rather than later: fat, downturned lips, a short thick pug nose, and two stupid little eyes lurking close together under a bony brow-ridge that I thought had been eliminated from the gene pool several million years ago. The other one just looked dumb. 
I have only one quibble, a topic I brought up in a previous review, the SNR (story-to-noise ratio). In several places the action comes to a stop for lengthy discussions of topics that are relevant to the mystery at hand but that do not support the forward momentum of the narrative, conversations between characters about religion or philosophy or other things. Hallinan is an excellent writer and put together a fine series opener, but in my not-so-humble-but-always-accurate opinion it would have been better served by whittling these tangents and streamlining the story.

That being said, it's still worth reading, and I'll be continuing in the series. Give it a shot.

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