“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Nobody Ever Knows What Anybody Else Will Do

John Connolly, talking about the enduring appeal of the crime / mystery novel, expresses it best for me with the deliciously pithy, “Character is mystery.”
  I’ve come across two variations on that notion in the last week or so, in Raymond Chandler’s THE LADY IN THE LAKE and Ross Macdonald’s THE GOODBYE LOOK. Chandler first:
  “Nobody ever knows what anybody else will do, sister. A cop knows that much.”
  And Macdonald:
  “That was good timing,” she said to me. “You never know what George is going to do.”
  “Or anybody else.”
  All of which makes a mockery of the rule that people should always behave ‘in character’ in novels. If everyone always behaved as they should, life and fiction would be very boring indeed.

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