Monday, October 08, 2007
Book Report: State's Evidence by Stephen Greenleaf (1982)
I picked up this book because I liked its cover and its book jacket flap blurbs. Of course, now that I look more closely, the cover is kinda weird:

State's Evidence cover

I mean, there's a tire with a shiny hubcap on the pavement, and there's the hot chick (ca 1982) witness to a hit and run reflected in it. However, if the perspective of the reflection is to be believed, she's either a legless panhandler on a little cart or coming out of a manhole in the street. Or the car and the obligatory hard-boiled hat are somehow on a platform three to four feet above the pavement level where the woman is standing.

Okay, so the hard-boiled detective, series character Tanner in this case, is supposed to find a model who witnessed a hit-and-run where the hitter was a local crime boss and the hitee was really a hit. That's what the flap says. Inside, the Tanner character and his Greenleaf author try to throwback to Chandler and Macdonald (Ross)--the detective even mentions reading those authors at one point. The language is seriously over-the-top riven with metaphors, sometimes two to a sentence or five in a paragraph. It made for some slower reading.

Then, after a bit, the language didn't jar me, so I thought perhaps this Tanner fellow was hard in the line of the greats. The book, set in El Gordo, California (literally, The Fat Man) uses the California landscape prevalent in the classics, and the book plays in the elements of the idle rich, gangsters, and mixed-up youth.

However, ultimately, it's not up to the level of the names it tries to invoke. The plot gets just one not too twisted and the resolution is a little too tidy.

I won't dodge others in this series, but I'm not ordering them all right now. It's below Robert Crais and Robert B. Parker but not completely unworthwhile.

Books mentioned in this review:

To say Noggle, one first must be able to say the "Nah."