Saturday, November 4, 2017

A Case of Noir, by Paul D. Brazill

I've had this short book on my shelf for far too long to come up with any plausible excuses for not reading it sooner. Five interlocking stories take us around what I suppose I can still call the E.U., at least for now. Each story takes us deeper into the adventures of the struggling journalist Luke Case and on to a new city. The reasons for this will be explained as we go along. Let's just say for now that in every city he visits, Case winds up in a new bar (or three), and there is usually an attractive woman who shows up somewhere along the way.

Paul D. Brazill, who was born in Britain and has ended up in Poland as an English teacher has marked out his own niche in the crime writing world, and it's a seamy, salty one, so you stand forewarned. Although I've read many of his stories over time, with this volume I was struck by how at home he is with the expat life on the edge, where small time schemers and hustlers live after their dreams and schemes have failed to completely work out. Those with illusions of grandeur mix with those who have no illusions left, often coming together in odd orbits, since they all seem to be traveling the same circuit, where sooner or later, everybody knows everybody. Drugs, alcohol and prostitutes are a very common feature.

If perhaps this all seems a little too sordid for you, well, I might once have thought the same. However, what I've learned about Brazill is that he knows how to tell a good story and to put a twist in where you aren't expecting it.

And after all, it's not called noir for nothing.

(I've posted the image of the edition I have, but if you're looking for a copy, it may look more like this.This is the newer, Near to the Knuckle edition)