Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Review of No Sale by Patrick Conrad (Bitter Lemon Press, 2012, in Dutch 2007)
No Sale is a clever, literary crime novel. It is written and plotted in the style of a noir crime movie, using its stock of characters, sensibilities and tropes, and it is thoroughly intertextual in its make-up, blending together elements of dozens of movies without ever becoming a mere pastiche. Victor Cox is a wonderful character, drifting somewhere between reality and the imaginary, caught in a plot that Alfred Hitchcock would have delighted in committing to film. Whilst the resolution had no real surprise, the killer was a choice of three and it was telegraphed from a pretty long way out, and there’s some obvious gaps, such as the lack of any media interest in the cases, especially given how they all link to one person, neither really seemed to matter. This book was more about the journey, the interconnections, the trivia, the little puzzles, and above all the set of well drawn characters - the lush wife, the wise-guy police officer in love with a prostitute, his by-the-numbers partner who takes everything at face-value, the femme fatale, the innocent victims, the larger-than-life and salt-of-the-earth lowlifes - and how they swirl around Cox. An enjoyable read, which I’m sure would have been even better if I were a film history buff.