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.
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.
Here's the Rorschach test whether you will like this book. Chris Moore begins one of the chapters of Noir thusly: "The fog lay spread across the city like a drowned whore -- damp, cold, smelling of salt and diesel -- a sea-sodden streetwalker who'd just bonked a tugboat..." If you are offended by the quote, then never mind reading the book. On the other hand, if you see the playful tweaking of the noir genre then by all means continue on.
With its fog and alley ways, San Francisco is the perfect place for a noir novel, even if this one has more aspects of "playful noir" than the real thing that Dashiell Hammett might write. The Maltese Falcon, after all, was also set in San Francisco. Moore takes us to San Francisco in 1947, just a few years after the Maltese Falcon movie, and the same year It's A Wonderful Life came out.
You get all of the standard noir features -- semi-innocent guys caught up in weird plots, dames, gats, murders, sketchy bars, waterfronts, all presented faithfully to the time and place, not reinterpreted for the political sensibilities of 2018.. You also get the Chris Moore touches -- oddball customs, sentient animals, strange beings. Sometimes they mix well. Sometimes they feel sort of thrown willy-nilly into the mix.
It's still a fun trip, so come on in, the fog is fine.
I won a advance readers edition of this novel on the Goodreads site. I enjoyed this offering in just about any way a reader can. The characters were original and interesting as was the strange and very original plot. The style of writing, the prose in the equation, was also very original. Moore seemed to be trying to write in a late 1940's style. I do not know if he succeeded or not but I enjoyed the effort. All in all, a very enjoyable and comedic writing which I would highly recommend.
(NOTE: I received an advanced copy of this book in a publisher giveaway.)
You know, several times while reading Noir, I thought that this is not Moore's best effort. Yet he managed to make me laugh out loud often enough, and sometime - just when you were sure where he was going - he threw in a fun twist. So by the end of the book, I was smiling and realizing that I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a classic noir setting in San Francisco shortly after WWII. There was one anacronism that I notices, but even that was fun and, I usspect, intentional. There are two primary points of view: Sammy, a sort of gimpy bartender, and...well, that would be a spoiler to reveal the other point of view. You'll just have to read the book and enjoy the ride as Moore takes you all around postwar San Francisco - Chinatown, Dark Town, the Fillmore, Nob Hill, the Embarcadero and other sites.
I received my copy of Noir through a Goodreads giveaway. The story takes place in 1947 with a cast of quirky characters, living in San Francisco. I have not read a novel in a long time which had me laughing out loud. Christopher Moore is not an author I have read before, but I will be reading him in the further.