February 14, 2008

My Hard Boiled Valentine

Things were going relatively nastily for me these past few days, and I was feeling in a bad way. A cold had began working its way into my system, and I spent most of yesterday at a temp assignment with an elephant trompling my sinuses. Thanks to misinformation by a semi-competent government worker back in November, I found out that I was screwed over for my 'dream job'. My heart was as dark and gray as an accountant's cheap suit.

So I spent today, riding the CTA train back and forth to work, with Deadly Beloved, the first "Ms. Tree" novel published by Hard Case Crime, aka, her first non-comic appearance.

If Sara Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski is analogous to Chandler's Phillip Marlowe, then Ms. Tree is Max Allan Collins' version of Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer. This is the kind of get-to-the-point pulp fiction that Frank Miller would sell his soul to write. It's also the prose debut of a character who made her debut in comics. (Like Mike Barr's Maze Agency and Mark Evanier's Crossfire, it's a personal favorite of mine). Think of it (as Collins himself states) as a kind of reboot of the character....

...as well as a crackling good read.

It's more than just pastiche; it's a great, clever plot which involves a unique way of handling professional killings, Ms. Tree's backstory, and...well, let's just say that, like Spillane, Collins keeps you going until the final page, with unexpected (but satisfying) plot twists. It is definitely for the above 18 set (with some frank sexual scenes)...and the cover makes it seem a lot more lurid than it is...but it's a pretty good translation.

Now, if only we could get Terry Beatty to draw the graphic novel version....

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