52-54. Three by Kim Newman

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52-54. Three by Kim Newman

Post  Patguy on Wed Dec 30, 2009 2:15 am

Secret Files of the Diogenes Club
Where the Bodies Are Buried
The Night Mayor

More fun stuff from Kim Newman. The first few pages of Diogenes’ “The Gypsies in the Wood” is maybe my favorite bit of Newman writing to date—an absolute model of how to fuse setup, exposition and suspense through unpretentious literary style. The rest of the stories in the book are nearly as good—although as ever, his story situations are more interesting than his resolutions. But such is the way of genre stuff. This is at least as good a collection as the similar The Man From the Diogenes Club, and I energetically recommend it.

I recommend Where the Bodies Are Buried too, if you can find a copy of this out-of-print small-press edition of stories drawn from obscure paperback horror collections. Good luck with that.

The Night Mayor, Newman’s first novel, is entertaining but slight. The action is set in a virtual-reality pocket universe composed entirely from the clichés and externalities of film noir, and populated by the usual suspects: Edward G. Robinson, Peter Lorre, Ralph Bellamy, Brian Donlevy, etc. Personally, although I love film noir, I grew tired of the shtick pretty fast, and found myself more interested in the science fiction elements of the book’s universe rather than the VR noir universe-within-that-universe. But there were still quite a few scenes I enjoyed: our heroine conjuring up an enormous Japanese kaiju monster to stomp the city, for example; and a brilliant exchange between Lee Marvin and Gloria Grahame, in which the two of them interact and recite mashed-up dialogue from The Big Heat, In a Lonely Place, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence—and it all makes perfect sense!

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