Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Dennis Lehane & neo noir

I've gotten hooked on Dennis Lehane's novels these days--not "Mystic River" (yet), but his Patrick Kenzie/Angie Gennero novels that all the blurbs insist on calling "neo noir." I'm not sure what's "neo" about this particular "noir" except that it is set in contemporary times and the woman is just as capable of shooting people as the guy is. Though I don't see how that is different, or any more noir, than VI Warshawski.

Also picked up "The Maltese Falcon" because I've never read it and it was there, and as a point of comparison. Haven't gotten far enough to make a decent comparison, except to note that both are noir: flawed heroes dealing with thoroughly venal adversaries, and the suggestion that only the flawed can face what is truly awful.

But even I know not to believe the people who come into your office entirely, and you'd think these private eyes would know that by now. A long time ago I read a biography of a private detective who stated that up front: the people who hire you are never telling the whole truth. Even the hardest boiled of this literary detectives, though, seem eager to believe. And I, as a reader, am eager to believe everything the narrator tells me, so I guess I'm not much different.

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