Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Review: Noir

Noir Noir by Christopher Moore
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Down these mean streets a man must go. Or to be more accurate in the case of Sammy ‘Two Toes’ Tiffin – down these mean streets a man must limp.

It’s 1947 in San Francisco where Sammy is a good guy with some skeletons in his closet who works as a bartender which is how he meets a beautiful blonde named Stilton, a/k/a the Cheese. As far as Sammy is concerned the Cheese stands alone, and he falls for her instantly. Unfortunately, his attempts at romance are hindered by his sleazy boss insisting that he procure some women for an Air Force general who wants to take them into the woods to provide entertainment for an elite club made up of influential men. Sammy is also working on get-rich-quick scheme that involves selling a deadly snake, there’s a racist cop causing trouble, and the news has reports about a strange incident in Roswell, New Mexico.

Since this was Christopher Moore writing a book called Noir I wasn’t expecting it to be James Cain or Jim Thompson. However, I was kind of hoping that he might stretch himself a little and be a bit less Christopher Moore. That's why I ultimately found this kind of disappointing because he gives it a try at first, but quickly throws it out the window to just write what he always does.

That’s the shame of it because the first couple of chapters do come across as Moore actually satirizing a noir novel with overblown pulpy language and a bunch of really solid jokes based on the concept. If he’d have stuck with that and resisted the urge to just do his usual thing of introducing the weird and/or supernatural he might have really had something. But then we get to the stuff about the aliens, and while it’s still got some laughs, it’s also a formula that Moore has done in pretty much every book.

I also found the shifting POV to be problematic. We start off with Sammy in the first person which lets him do the parody of the classic hard boiled crime novel which I wanted more of. But then Moore shifts to a third person narration which we later find out is coming from a very unlikely source. So the book starts off with this distinct voice which I was into, but when it shifts into something else which is when it becomes standard Moore. Then he tries to go back to first person Sammy telling the story, but he’d lost the tone of what he started with. Which was what I liked best and wanted more of.

It’s not a complete waste of time. Moore is just inherently funny and there are a lot of solid gags and lines that made me chuckle. But I wish he’d managed to actually write a noir parody instead of just doing the thing that comes easiest to him. If he wanted to write something in this time period and have aliens in it then why not do a pulpy '50s sci-fi kind of thing rather than claiming in the title that it's going to be a genre that it has almost nothing to do with?

View all my reviews

No comments:

Post a Comment