Monday, February 04, 2013

Detectives Beyond Borders reads London Boulevard

A recent discussion here at Detectives Beyond Borders touched on the relative merits of laconic and expansive prose. Ken Bruen can write both.

He's better known for his machine-gun verbal outbursts. A fair parody of Bruen on paper would include

Short sentences.

Idiosyncratic paragraphing.


Mordant, rapid-fire jokes that bounce off the page like hailstones.

But London Boulevard is also chillingly laconic in the matter of its protagonist's reactions to the violence he inflicts, experiences, and has experienced. And that makes this 2001 novel more than just a revenge odyssey or damaged-hero story, though it is both.

It also is the author's version of Sunset Boulevard and, with a possible quibble about a surprising personality switch on the part of the Erich von Stroheim character, that aspect of the novel holds together beautifully and without intruding on the novel's suspense and mystery. Discussion of Bruen tends to focus on his raw emotion, tragic humor, and this like—on feeling rather than craft. But London Boulevard shows he’s capable of a well-crafted mystery while retaining all the rawness you’ve come to love. And that's why it's probably my favorite, and maybe the best, of the seventeen or so of his novels that I've read.

© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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Blogger Dana King said...

I've not read as much Bruen as you--I'm working on it--but LONDON BOULEVARD is my favorite. Great writing, and a great story on multiple levels.

(Second try for this comment. Let's see if Google accommodates me this time.)

February 05, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Dana: If I can offer one piece of advice likely to prove useful, it's that one always copy a comment or post before posting it. That way, a simple control (or command)/v brings back what Goog;e or one's computer takes away.

I thought about London Boulevard a bit more after I put up the post. Many of the depicted events are similar to what one gets in a Jack Taylor novel. But I think that discipline of adhering to the Sunset Boulevard story must have helped. The novel holds together better than some of his other books, I think.

February 05, 2013  

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