Wednesday, May 10, 2017

"A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps", new crime series from Nick Kolakowski begins

This new crime fiction novel should get some attention.  It hearkens back to the era of paperback crime novels that could fit in your back pocket and make a bus ride pass quickly.  At the same time it is completely current in observant references to time, place, and style of criminal activity .  While the True Crime Series reprints much of the older crime fiction and some genre extenders of today, "A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps" is much more than a regurgitation of the old model, while at the same time being an homage to it.  It is published by Shotgun Honey, an imprint of Down & Out Books.

Around ten years ago a journey through crime fiction was experienced here.  Of the veterans, Donald Westlake and his pseudonym Richard Stark were the unequivocal favorites.  For newer writers at that time a favorite was Jason Starr.  In recent years the genre has been neglected as the feeling was "I get the idea and have now read the best".  With Nick, a friend from the younger generation, now writing, it was necessary to dive back in.  It could be said that it was worth the effort, except that it was not an effort.  An exaggeration could be that it was noir crime poetry, and in fact the writing is compelling. There were a few nits noticed, noticed only because there were so few.

One location was surprising.  A main character would "sit with his chosen tailor in a cubbyhole of an office off Madison Ave.. who bemoaned  his dying art..." as he sat "in a hot and windowless shop." That shop is known here or one similar as an investor client who could buy anywhere recommended it to me years ago.  The finest fabric was not chosen but the fit of the suits made from scratch was exceptional and the cost was no more than basic Brooks Brothers.  That the fitting room was the size of a broom closet could be tolerated.

The book itself becomes somewhat frenzied as a doomed character morphs into a gun toting Elvis impersonator.  Don't ask... just read the book.  This is crime fiction that evolves into inevitable chaos and then ends in amiable uncertainty.  Always, always, I try to look for metaphorical or allegorical meaning in this genre, but it is not called "hard crime" for no reason.    







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