Review by Booklist Review
Give a writer a long enough career and he will write a mystery, apparently. In Coover's nightmarish narrative, private investigator Philip M. Noir wanders the rain-slicked streets of the nighttime city, chasing clues down blind alleys, interrogating guys named Rats on the waterfront, and getting conked on the head and left for dead. Noir's settings and logic are dreamlike: tunnels connect everything, and characters appear suddenly at Noir's most nakedly vulnerable moments. Some passages, such as an extended riff on a prostitute whose tattooed skin is used by rival gangsters to send messages, are vintage Coover, over the top and funny. But others feel like a parody of an already dusty archetype (when Prairie Home Companion beats you to it, you're really late to the party). And where, in Ghost Town (1998), Coover used the western to undermine enduring American mythology, or, in Lucky Pierre (2002), psychoanalyzed us through pornography, he just doesn't have as much to say here. Long-waiting Coover fans will still enjoy this lesser work for its language and imagery; mystery buffs will be mystified.--Graff, Keir Copyright 2010 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Metafiction lustily mates with hard-boiled mystery in this hilarious homage to Raymond Chandler and company. A sexy widow with plenty to hide hires private eye Philip M. Noir to look into her husband's mysterious death. Noir slips on his gumshoes and lacy underwear and hits the mean streets, where he encounters the Creep, Fingers, Rats, Snark, and an elusive fat man named Fat Agnes. He even meets people who "live in a different world. It was called daytime." Prolific postmodernist Coover (The Public Burning) adds his dazzling two bits to the deconstructionist turf Paul Auster prowled in the New York Trilogy. "There's a mystery here, but you're a street dick, not a metaphysician," the second-person narrative explains. Like Thomas Pynchon in 2009's Inherent Vice, Coover pops off laughs on every page: "Her brother is in it somewhere and he is said also to be wearing women's underpants and a bra.... Is he your double? No, you don't have a bra." And don't forget, Chandler was really funny, too. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
In his 23rd work of fiction, old trickster Coover (A Child Again) is at it again, deconstructing the detective novel in a zany concoction that's equal parts Black Mask magazine and Krazy Kat comics. PI Noir accepts a job to find the murderer of a mysterious woman's husband, though he admits his client's story is "as full of holes as her black veil." The widow-whose name he never even bothers to learn-turns up dead-oops!-and the body count starts climbing. Noir is so thick he makes Sam Spade look like Einstein: his idea of detecting is to circle around, listening to people's stories and getting bopped on the head repeatedly. Nothing happens, a lot happens, and nothing's clear in this zany, language-besotted send-up of the hard-boiled PI story with a plot that's just an excuse for riffing. Verdict Coover's hyperbolic style isn't everyone's cup of tea, but this is a funny book. Recommended for literary readers, especially those who enjoy Jerome Charyn's Isaac Sidel novels, Paul Auster's New York trilogy, and Jonathan Lethem's work. [Several other big novelists published crime fiction this year: Thomas Pynchon (Inherent Vice) and Dennis Johnson (Nobody Move).-Ed.]-David Keymer, Modesto, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
A detective seeks the body of his murdered client in this absurdist take on the hard-boiled detective novel. Septuagenarian postmodernist Coover (A Child Again, 2005, etc.) presents his story in first-person perspective, and although he never reveals the main character's middle name, readers of Raymond Chandler can guess what the "M" in Phillip M. Noir stands for. The novel alludes frequently to the noirs of yesteryear. All the classic elements are here: the convoluted plot, the conflicted antihero pitted against pervasive rot and corruption, the tricks with point of view. The difference is that they're all filtered through Coover's warped lens. He expounds on his characters' exceedingly base behavior in explicit, sometimes excruciating detail, and seems to delight in doing so. In addition to the standard hard-boiled mystery sins of murder, rampant alcohol abuse and avarice, Coover's characters engage in incest, pedophilia and necrophilia, as well as seemingly nonstop (though otherwise comparatively tame) couplings of every conceivable kind. It's just a little too cartoonish to be taken seriously, but nestled among the filth and depravity are some deft and even oddly tender touches involving unlikely characters: the two Yakuza who engage in years-long conversation largely by tattooing a favorite moll; the girl who falls in love with whoever she's currently dancing with, whose death causes a Russian hit man to trade his rifle for a pool cue. While Coover's unnamed city is a cesspool of crime and corruption governed by nightmare logic, the absurd tone lets us know it's all in fun. Depraved and amusing. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.