Drawing Dead is about a P.I. in Western Australia, a busted gambler and self-proclaimed asshole who goes drunkenly, lustfully, and violently to his own destruction, narrating his demise with amused detachment. Jim Thompson might have produced something similar if he'd infused his stories with a bit more humor and his protagonists with a bit more violent action-hero flair.
Thompson is a presence in Drawing Dead, an object of the book's dedication and the source of its epigraph. Charles Willeford makes the scene both as dedicatee and as one of the authors the protagonist, Jack, thinks about reading on his doomed wanderings. John Fante makes that list, as do Louis-Ferdinand Céline and — no surprise — Charles Bukowski. And that, friends, ought to give you an idea of the ride you're in for in DeCeglie's book.
DeCeglie pays looser homage to the hard-boiled but non-noir tradition. Though Drawing Dead is more a doomed road novel than a P.I. story, Jack is, nominally, a hard-luck private investigator. And the case that quickly degenates into his downward journey is — naturally — a wandering-daughter job.
© Peter Rozovsky 2012