I got hyped for this book just by reading the blurb. A literary mystery in mid-aughts NYC? Rock on, brother. And then I read interviews by Dwyer Murphy and got even more pumped. His favorite authors are my favorite authors and his views on crime fiction mine.
And THEN some favorite writers such as Walter Mosley and Andrea Baartz blurbed it. Another dropped a Chinatown reference to the plot. So…this rocked right? Yes?
On some level, I’m sure folks will appreciate the metatextual commentary on the genre and the constant vomiting of literary references. People might also appreciate the hangout aspects of this (which I mostly enjoyed) over a complete lack of plot or momentum (which I didn’t). This book has probably the greatest contrast between the critical acclaim it got from writers and literary critics to the reception from the hoi polloi such as moi, who didn’t major in English. Not that there’s anything wrong with English majors. They just tend to enjoy different aspects of books than I do.
I feel like when you try to cram Macdonald and Bolaño and Wharton and Leonard and God knows how many literary references, you’re putting way too much weight on the simple foundation of noir. Noir should be sparse, it should cut, it should sharpen. This book is bloated and over-referential, despite being short.
There’s enough meat on the bone, enough New Yorkness that I’m giving this three stars. But barely. I may appreciate this one when I get older. For now, it feels like a missed opportunity.