New on the mystery shelf at BHPL: The Blue Cheer (Point Blank Press, 2007) is the second in Ed Lynskey's well-received P.I. Frank Johnson series. The Blue Cheer received a starred review from Booklist reviewer David Pitt. Pitt writes,
"This is the second novel to feature Frank Johnson (following The Dirt-Brown Derby, 2006), and it definitely lives up to the buzz the author has been generating among genre enthusiasts."
The genre he refers to is the hard-boiled detective novel popularized by Dashiell Hammet and Raymond Chandler in the 1920's and 1930's and carried on these days by Sue Grafton, James Ellroy and many others. Take a look at this article for a list of similar mystery authors.
The Booklist review goes on,
"Lynskey has a sure hand, and he tackles the PI genre like a veteran, packing the book with great lines like “Awaking the next morning on the cusp of the DTs, I quit drinking cold turkey, a knack the Black Irish carry in their genes.” Top-of-the-line hard-boiled fare from a novelist and a small press we hope to hear more from in the future."
Lines like that were a hallmark of Chandler's detective Philip Marlowe; I used to highlight them in my copies of Chandler's books, The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye It's kind of hard for a librarian to work them into a conversation at the Reference Desk though. That would be Ruth the Librarian meets Guy Noir in the world of Garrison Keillor... maybe not a good idea.
Anyway, I was happy that Lynskey popped up in BHPL's blog email the other day and when I asked him to tell how he "became interested in the hard-boiled style of mystery or your thoughts about your detective,” Lynskey kindly answered,
"I've had a lifelong reading affection for mysteries. My earliest novels were by writers like Ross Macdonald and John D. MacDonald. I don't just write and read hardboiled/noir mysteries, though I do enjoy them. My interest derives, I suppose, from the vivid writing, sharp characters, and plot build-up. I enjoyed reading John Lescroart, Ed Gorman, Linda Fairstein, Ken Bruen, and Bill Crider. New noir writers I like include Al Guthrie and Megan Abbott. "
Right now BHPL's copy of The Blue Cheer is checked out and I have to wait my turn to get my hands on it to read and review. Meanwhile, mystery fans who like character-driven suspense and more great lines in the tough-guy style, should get on the reserve list for this author who is getting consistently great reviews.