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Gumbywan

Randolph "Dilda" Carter

A rant about books, horror, and the weird.  I sometimes take on my love/hate relationship with goodreads and Amazon.

Currently reading

Perchance to Dream: Selected Stories
Ray Bradbury, Charles Beaumont, William Shatner
Progress: 140/336 pages
Pavane
Keith Roberts
SPOILER ALERT!

Occult Noir

Falling Angel: A Novel - William Hjortsberg

If you like your horror laced with more than a little private dick noir then Falling Angel is the novel for you.  Sucker private eye Harry Angel should have brushed up on his basic satanist symbolism as his "client" Louis Cypher (get it?) has him trying to find out if missing vegetable crooner Johnny Favorite is alive or dead and where he is.  See Johnny "owes" something to the not so enigmatic Mr. Cypher.

 

The symbolism was a little heavy handed in this one and the fact that Angel doesn't know what the Hell he's looking at when the reader does stretches the imagination a bit.  Given all that, and the fact that the key plot twist is telegraphed a little early, this is one hell of a twisty plot as everyone eventually gets their due.  I'm still not sure if I understand the motive and circumstances of each murder, it seems like there are multiple plot holes to me, but I'm a little slow too.  Oh, and I'm not sure why Mr. Cypher doesn't just take what is his from the start.  What's holding him back?  Unless he's not who he says he is (unlikely), in which case the prime motive for the entire novel is shot to hell.

 

Anyway the noir angle is pretty nicely done.  Hjortsberg is no Raymond Chandler but the noir stuff is good enough to be a lot of fun.  Angel is a real character to the reader.  The suspense is good for 90% of the book (until I figured out what was really going on), and still holds out somewhat from there on since you don't know exactly what's going to happen.

 

The book will pretty much depress you as you realize everyone was doomed from the start, but then everyone is playing with something they shouldn't be too.  I still enjoyed it immensely. 

 

Oh and this was the basis for the movie Angel Heart which pretty much follows the book faithfully.