Ever since THE TWENTY YEAR DEATH was announced, I’ve eagerly awaited a chance to read it. The idea of a crime novel(actually three crime novels) spanning twenty years and written in the style of a novelist prominent during the period of that novel struck me as a unique idea. The overall story is of an author in which tragedy strikes all those around him.
MALNIVEAU PRISON has a French inspector come to a small town in 1931, one with a prison, to visit a criminal he put away years ago and gets caught up in a murder investigation of a man found stabbed to death in the street in the middle of a horrific thunderstorm. When the body is identified, it’s found to be a man sentenced to life in that same prison. Records say he’d been transferred to another facility. The man’s daughter lives in the small town and is married to an older man, an American novelist working on a new book.
THE FALLING STAR is set in 1941 Southern California. PI Dennis Foster is hired by a film studio to babysit the star of their new picture so that it can be finished. A French actress married to an alcoholic ex-novelist that can’t even write a proper script anymore, she believes she’s being followed by a strange man. When a young starlet, seeing the drunken writer-husband, is found murdered, slashed to death, there may be more to the story than everyone believed.
POLICE AT THE FUNERAL finds the writer, Shem Ronsenkrantz, at center stage this time. He’s in Maryland for the reading of his first wife’s will, from a prominent family, and sees his estranged son for the first time in years. His French wife is still in the private sanitarium and the film money has run out. He’s tapped out as well, owes everybody, and hopes for something in the will. The young woman he lives with also wants something. She’s tired of being “pimped” out to support them both, though Shem doesn’t see himself in that light. He just wants money to support his wife. But the hood she’s seeing now also has his loans.
Georges Simenon, Raymond Chandler, and Jim Thompson are the three authors used in these three books. As luck would have it, I just recently got reacquainted with Simenon’s work after a many years absence and I’ve loved Chandler for years. Not as familiar with Thompson’s work(hangs his head in shame), having read only one novel, and a tie-in at that. The author here did a fine job with these three novels within a novel(and each can be read separately without any problem).
I look forward to his next book and his own style.