Last year's questions from the audience at my Bouchercon panel on "Beyond Hammett, Chandler, and Spillane: Lesser Known Writers of the Pulp and Paperback Eras" included one about Norbert Davis. I hope the questioner plans to attend Bouchercon 2015 in Raleigh, N.C., next month, because this year's version of the panel will include Kevin Burton Smith, the man behind the invaluable Thrilling Detective Web Site, talking about Davis. The panel, its title slightly inflated to "Beyond Hammett, Chandler, Spillane, and Macdonald," happens Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, at 2:30 p.m. Sarah Weinman, Jordan Foster, and Laura Lippman will join Kevin, each discussing a favorite crime writer from out of the past.
While you rush out to register for Bouchercon, if you have not signed up already, here's a post from the past about Davis, who was known for his comic crime stories, but could get tough when he wanted to.
orbert Davis wrote novels with a dog as co-protagonist. He wrote stories set largely in a restaurant, and he created characters named Bail Bond Dodd and J.P. Jones (the J.P. stands for "Just Plain." That's the man's name — Just Plain Jones
.) Yet despite those slapstick touches, and plots, dialogue and action to match, the stories work as hard-boiled tales. Little touches in some of the stories may even reflect the grimness of the Great Depression; Davis published his first stories in the early 1930s.
Here's the opening sentence of "Something for the Sweeper":
"Jones limped slowly along, his rubbers making an irregular squeak-squish sound on the wet cement of the sidewalk."
Is that slapstick (squish-squish
), or is it gritty urban realism? In Davis, it's both. When you get to the end of this tale of murder and deception, you'll find the story has come full circle.
Read more about Davis at the Thrilling Detective Web site
© Peter Rozovsky 2009
Labels: Bouchercon 2015, comic crime fiction, Humor, Jordan Foster, Just Plain Jones, Kevin Burton Smith, Laura Lippman, My Bouchercon 2015 panels, Norbert Davis, Sarah Weinman, Thrilling Detective Web Site