Sunday, 25 November 2012

RICHARD RAYNER - MURDER BOOK


Blurb...... About as noir as it can be…excellent’ Frances Fyfield, Daily Telegraph

The city is Los Angeles, the birthplace of the American dream, a city that has come to symbolize both heaven and hell. Billy McGrath is an enigma, half American, half English, who once dreamed of pursuing a career as an academic philosopher, but for the last fifteen years he’s been a homicide detective – one of LA’s best. He knows the rules, and understands a justice system that punishes the underprivileged and lets the rich go free. He’s an unhappy man, divorced from the wife he still adores and separated from a daughter for whom he’d willingly die. If he hasn’t yet thought of suicide, he soon will.
McGrath is called to a crime scene – a woman dead on a kitchen floor in one of the city’s seamiest neighbourhoods, an apparently routine assignment until he discovers that the murdered woman’s son is LA’s biggest crack dealer, an idol of the ghetto who offers him a one-million-dollar bounty for the name of the killer. Making the wrong choice for what might be the right reasons, McGrath initiates both his own fall from grace and, as he strives to redeem himself, a series of wild and furious actions that hurtle him through the many identities of corrupt Los Angeles.
In McGrath, Rayner has created a sympathetic everyman who becomes both victim and victor. Set against a bleak cityscape, Murder Book is a dark, violent and sexy thriller that is impossible to put down.



I bought this when it was first published back in the late 90’s having been drawn by the LA Times remark on the cover of my copy.....”Neo-neo-Noir”........hell, not just Noir but Neo-neo-Noir!

I tried reading this some years ago, but as often happens to me the book you pick up at the time doesn’t suit your mood, so quickly gets returned to the shelf, whilst something more suitable steps up in place.

Well this time around I was maybe 40 pages in and thinking.........hmmm, not too bad, and then it died on me. I must have spent a week persevering through the next 100-150 pages at which point the pace picked up again and maintained until the end.

Okay-ish, in a sort of I don’t care too much what happens manner.

Beginning  - good, long, long, middle -total grimness, last section - alright.

Conclusions:

Neo-neo-noir is some horrible 90’s inferior version of noir and if I ever pick up another title recommended by Francis Fyfield it will be because I’ve suffered amnesia probably after being hit round the head by a box full of remaindered copies of Rayner’s other books, if this one is anything to go by.

2 from 5       

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