Saturday, November 07, 2015

Rick Ollerman captures the spirit of paperback originals without copying it

Shallow Secrets, a novel by Rick Ollerman published in 2014, captures the feeling of paperback original crime novels published 50 or more years earlier without, however, resorting to showy nostalgia.

How does it accomplish this? On the one hand, its narrative is more leisurely than, say, Harry Whittington's. On the other, Ollerman uses the Whittingtonian technique of giving his protagonist, a cop named named James Robinson, a recurring physical ailment to which he can resort when he needs an ultra-econmical description of the character's physical and mental state.

On the one hand, the old device of using newspaper headlines and stories to mark significant events in the novel; on the other, the recent dates of those headlines and stories: 1989 and after.  And the novel's narrative arc, about which I'll say no more in order to avoid spoilers, reminded me of one that occasionally turns up in paperback originals of the Gold Medal era.

If you like Whittingon or Dan J. Marlowe or Charles Williams, you might like Shallow Secrets. Ollerman likes them, too, I'd bet, but without aping or idolatry.

© Peter Rozovsky 2015

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Blogger RT@15037 said...

Perhaps writing for a specific kind of audience is part of the success. We're reader's less sophisticated and demanding then? I wonder.

November 08, 2015  
Blogger RT@15037 said...

Damned autocorrect. Make that were not we're. And make it readers not reader's.

November 08, 2015  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I always attribute the differences to publishing conditions. Some of these writers produced prodigious amounts of copy, and I'm not sure it always got the editing we expect now. Whittington was a hell of a writer, but he appeared to work in some haste. And, say, Charles Williams, who wrote Gold Medal paperbacks and whose work also appeared in slick magazines, if I recall correctly, was much smoother a writer, to judge by his books. And he was a hell of a writer, too, probably my favorite among the authors of paperback originals.

November 08, 2015  
Blogger Dana King said...

This is on my TBR pile. Unfortunately it has been for a while and things keep coming up. I have made myself an oath that I am buying no more books until my pile is gone. so I'll be caught up with Mr. Ollerman in the next couple (few?) months.

November 09, 2015  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

If you happen to be up that way, I think he's reading at a Noir at the Bar in New York next Sunday. Not all neo-noir other boos by authors who profess allegiance to paperback originals gets the feeling right the way this one does.

November 10, 2015  

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