Noirby Published 17 Apr 2018
San Francisco. Summer, 1947. A dame walks into a saloon . . .
It’s not every afternoon that an enigmatic, comely blonde named Stilton (like the cheese) walks into the scruffy gin joint where Sammy "Two Toes" Tiffin tends bar. It’s love at first sight, but before Sammy can make his move, an Air Force general named Remy arrives with some urgent business. ’Cause when you need something done, Sammy is the guy to go to; he’s got the connections on the street.
Meanwhile, a suspicious flying object has been spotted up the Pacific coast in Washington State near Mount Rainer, followed by a mysterious plane crash in a distant patch of desert in New Mexico that goes by the name Roswell. But the real weirdness is happening on the streets of the City by the Bay.
When one of Sammy’s schemes goes south and the Cheese mysteriously vanishes, Sammy is forced to contend with his own dark secrets—and more than a few strange goings on—if he wants to find his girl.
This book is an awesomely unique and entertaining ride. I was enthralled every second and frequently found myself laughing out loud. Vocalizing while reading is almost always a good thing!
Moore really captures the feel of old hard boiled stories and film noir. And, while he is often over the top and exaggerating some of the noir tropes for humorous effect, it does not feel silly. Instead it feels witty, creative, controversial, and more.
Moore definitely has a feel to his characters, and that is not a bad thing. As all the characters were introduced and went through their development, I kept being reminded of the characters from A Dirty Job and Secondhand Souls. But, again, Moore does such a great job with his characters, I don't mind!
If you are a fan of Moore's other work, hard boiled mystery, comic relief, and/or your characters talking like they are hanging out in a speakeasy, you must check this book out!
Down these mean streets a man must go. Or to be more accurate in the case of Sammy ‘Two Toes’ Tiffin – down these mean streets a man must limp.
It’s 1947 in San Francisco where Sammy is a good guy with some skeletons in his closet who works as a bartender which is how he meets a beautiful blonde named Stilton, a/k/a the Cheese. As far as Sammy is concerned the Cheese stands alone, and he falls for her instantly. Unfortunately, his attempts at romance are hindered by his sleazy boss insisting that he procure some women for an Air Force general who wants to take them into the woods to provide entertainment for an elite club made up of influential men. Sammy is also working on get-rich-quick scheme that involves selling a deadly snake, there’s a racist cop causing trouble, and the news has reports about a strange incident in Roswell, New Mexico.
Since this was Christopher Moore writing a book called Noir I wasn’t expecting it to be James Cain or Jim Thompson. However, I was kind of hoping that he might stretch himself a little and be a bit less Christopher Moore. That's why I ultimately found this kind of disappointing because he gives it a try at first, but quickly throws it out the window to just write what he always does.
That’s the shame of it because the first couple of chapters do come across as Moore actually satirizing a noir novel with overblown pulpy language and a bunch of really solid jokes based on the concept. If he’d have stuck with that and resisted the urge to just do his usual thing of introducing the weird and/or supernatural he might have really had something. But then we get to the stuff about the aliens, and while it’s still got some laughs, it’s also a formula that Moore has done in pretty much every book.
I also found the shifting POV to be problematic. We start off with Sammy in the first person which lets him do the parody of the classic hard boiled crime novel which I wanted more of. But then Moore shifts to a third person narration which we later find out is coming from a very unlikely source. So the book starts off with this distinct voice which I was into, but when it shifts into something else which is when it becomes standard Moore. Then he tries to go back to first person Sammy telling the story, but he’d lost the tone of what he started with. Which was what I liked best and wanted more of.
It’s not a complete waste of time. Moore is just inherently funny and there are a lot of solid gags and lines that made me chuckle. But I wish he’d managed to actually write a noir parody instead of just doing the thing that comes easiest to him. If he wanted to write something in this time period and have aliens in it then why not do a pulpy '50s sci-fi kind of thing rather than claiming in the title that it's going to be a genre that it has almost nothing to do with?
I’ll start by saying I enjoyed this book from beginning to end.
That being said, the first half didn’t have the feel of a Christopher Moore novel. Fans will know what I mean. It was good, but not Lamb, good.
Now halfway through something happens. Something delicious and crazy and perfectly Squirrel People. And from that point on, it is most definitely a Christopher Moore book.
The man has yet to fail me. And Lamb still holds top spot for best book of all time.
Not much story to go with the jokes. Oh well, they can't all be The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove. I liked the afterward. I'm looking forward to his next book.
“You stinkin’ wallabies are in hot water now.”
Something is happening with me and Christopher Moore. The relationship is getting a little long in the tooth I feel, because his books just don’t do for me what they use to. When I first discovered him, I really enjoyed (and tore through) his novels. Now I read his books, they keep my attention, but they leave me feeling nothing.
“Noir” is a prime example of that. It is on the edge of being a clever, intriguing book. It never gets there. The premise is classic noir style, a “dame” walks into a bar, and for a while, it feels like the style and cadence of the text is like some standard noir fiction. Then it gets off the rails a little, and is noir in title only, which Mr. Moore himself admits in his Afterward.
The weakness of this text is that it tries to do too many things, and as a result does none of them well. Moore just can’t resist throwing in some of his fantastical elements. I wish he would write more books where he does not have to have monsters, aliens, or some other ridiculousness. It is okay, and I enjoy it from time to time, but can he do anything else? There are bunches of plot points introduced, and none of them are resolved with any real seriousness, which detracts greatly. And this is why I could not have told you what “Noir” was about a week after having finished it.
Some strengths of the text…I loved the character The Kid. He and his voice are easily one of the novel’s strongest, and funniest, elements. The point of view when delivered by the protagonist, Sammy “Two Toes” Tiffin, is also enjoyable to read. Moore can write some awesome character voices and styles. But the alternative point of view in the novel is from the POV of a snake, who talks and thinks like a human (see my earlier point about stupid things) and has nothing to do with any established major plot points. The writer just could not leave well enough alone.
I read “Noir” quickly, and I am not irritated I read it. I just wish I had waited to purchase it until I saw it in the bargain paperback bin.