Monday, February 15, 2010

Noir-Robert Coover

Robert Coover
Overlook, Mar 4 2010, $24.95
ISBN: 9781590202944

As soon as the femme fatale entered his office private investigator Noir knew she was trouble and wanted to tell her to take a hike. However, she is beautiful and besides his unpaid office assistant who believes she is the boss Blanche would kill him if he rejected a paying customer. She explains she was a nurse to the dying wife of a wealthy man; when the spouse died she became wife number two. Now her husband is a murder victim and she hires Philip M. Noir to find his killer and protect her from his partner Mr. Big.

As Noir investigates without even knowing his client’s name, he fails to keep her safe from a killer. Stunned, he goes to the morgue to look at the corpse, but the body along with her clothing is missing. Noir searches for clues to who killed his paying customer as Blanche labels his work as "The Case of the Vanishing Black Widow". Receiving beatings and dishing out more, Noir works the crappy dives, the middle class dives and the affluent dives with his best progress occurring when he is knock out; when he is conscious Noir goes backwards.

Not for everyone, this is a great insane investigative thriller as if Max Smart turned into a Noir private investigator working the mean streets, tunnels under the streets, and a few less populated by even rats locales. The jocular story line focuses on Noir’s horrific sleuthing skills that lampoon the sub-genre starting with the detective who has no idea who his client is except she is loaded (money and boobs) nor who her late husband was. With perhaps the wildest final twist of the year to aptly climax the insanity, fans who relish a satirical sleuthing spin will appreciate the escapades of Robert Coover’s zany antihero Philip M. Noir with the M being a family thing.

Harriet Klausner

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