Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Review of Damnation Street by Andrew Klavan (Harcourt, 2006)

Scott Weiss is an experienced PI with an uncanny ability to be able anticipate and read people and situations.  John Foy is a skilled gun for hire who has a face that's almost impossible to remember.  Both are obsessed with Julie Wyant, a prostitute with a difficult past who is on the run from both.  Weiss knows that as he tracks down Wyant he is leading Foy to her.  But to leave her to fend for herself will just delay the inevitable.  And so plays out a game of cat and mouse, each man determined to destroy the other and find Wyatt.

I might not have read Damnation Street if it hadn’t been for the fact that I’d finished a book and it was the only one to hand.  I’d started it three or four times to give up by page 5 or 6.  I just found the style irritating – simple, staccato sentences and no great hook.  Surrounded by a selection of books, the others just seemed more tempting.  However, by page 10 or so it was starting to improve and by page 30 or so I was hooked.  And a fine read it turned out to be – well crafted, enjoyable plot, good subplots, interesting characters, and solid show don’t tell writing.  There might not have been too many surprises, and a whole raft of worn tropes and cliches are used, but as I’ve said before, at this stage, there seems little room for a fresh perspective on the PI genre; Klavan has produced a fine noir version that has enough twists and turns to keep the average crime reader more than happy.  Having been hesitant at starting Damnation Street I’d now be interested to read the two other Weiss books.

1 comment:

Margot Kinberg said...

Rob - Thanks for this review. I've had that happen, too, where I started a book and wasn't sure about, or actually disliked, the book at first, but then gradually got hooked on it. I'm glad you found it worth the effort to keep reading.