Christa Faust is one of my favorite writers and I came to her work via Hard Case Crime. In an interview with her, I read that she got started on crime fiction by reading Day Keene. I wasn’t too familiar with Keene but I knew I had his Home Is The Sailor book in my HCC collection. It was low on my priority list but it shot up after the interview and now, I figured it was time to get to it.
It’s your typical pulp fare in the style of James Cain: boy meets girl under auspicious circumstances, money is involved, nothing is what it seems, sex, alcohol, violence, etc. It’s a genre I like but don’t love. I’m more of a mystery fan in the crime genre and pulpish noir has usually been adjacent to this but most HCC books are noirs and most are pretty good.
This one is no exception. Keene is a solid writer. Even though I could anticipate twists and turns, he builds the suspense well. It’s eminently readable and yet it holds the reader too. In other words, the tricks it relies on to keep the plot moving do not feel cheap. I don’t know if this was Keene’s first book or not (I don’t even know if that’s his real name) but I do know that he has his style down pat. The dialogue works, so do the scenes and characters, right up to the noir end.
The book won’t send me out scrambling for more Day Keenes but I won’t say no to one if I cross its path. All in all, this is another winner for Hard Case Crime.