Miami Blues - Charles Willeford, Elmore Leonard

The massive coincidence at the beginning almost ruined the book for me. I demand not to be put out of the story... Fortunately what comes next more than makes up for the faltering beginning.

Miami Blues is a wonderful novel: off-the-wall, fun, off-target with a clean, sublime prose style. Detective Hoke Moseley is quite pathetic (he even has false teeth...), but what I really liked were the villain and the hooker. Junior Frenger is a very convincing psychopath and Susan Waggoner, the abused hooker he teams up with, is a mystery for me. The last chapter demands a re-assessment of Susan and who's been playing who...

When I think of crime fiction that really works for me, it all comes down to the bad guys. They want the same things we want. They want money and success, remain undisturbed by life's hassles, be loved, and to stop the voices in their head. They’re flesh and blood people with wants and needs, just like Moseley, it’s just that in order to get these things, they sometimes do terrible, terrible things.

This book is not really a mystery in the usual literary sense of the word. Sparse details throughout the book, which leaves lots of room for the imagination. What's surprising is how much Willeford does with so few details. That's how I like it. As I said, it’s not a mystery, it’s just a story, about two frantic people who collide heads-on with a cop at the bottom of his inner collapse, told as spare and lyrically as an haiku.