Saturday, 22 February 2014

Saint Homicide by Jake Hinkson

published 2013







I let myself into her house with the spare key she hid on the top of a tall post at the coxrner of the back porch. I stopped in Lynn’s bedroom, looked at her unmade bed, its sheets twisted together like a coil of snakes, and thought how sad it was that some people never see beyond this world of flesh.

I walked down to Karen’s room. I found Brother Peter’s old clothes still hanging neatly in the closet. I dressed in the black suit he wore when he preached funerals. Then I searched the top of the closet until I found his little silver pistol. I had to rummage round for the clip, but I found it in Karen’s dresser under some shirts. I made sure it was loaded and slipped it in my pocket.

I thought about going to see Jennifer one last time.



observations: Yesterday a real saint (and nun), today the title is more.... ironic.

My good friend Col of Col’s Criminal Library thinks I don’t read enough hard-boiled, noir fiction, and so he sent me this book after reviewing it himself (you can read his verdict here) - he said:
It'll be maybe an hour and a half of your life invested in it, so not too much lost if you don't enjoy it. It's a little bit coarse and a little bit bawdy in places......which we know is more me than you....but I don't think you'll be as apoplectic as your typical Guardian book commentator. Who knows I might turn you to the dark side yet!

So I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I liked its shortness – it’s a novella really – a huge point in its favour. And in fact I read it in one sitting and was really really impressed: Hinkson is a very good writer, whatever you might think of his subject matter. It’s a dark story, tied up in murder, violence and religion without much in the way of redemption. Someone on the back cover calls it Bible-black noir, which seems like a good description.

The first person narrator is not exactly sympathetic, but Hinkson gets you inside his head, so you can understand (to some extent) the sad things in his life and the disastrous course he undertakes.

It’s published by thecrimefactory.com, and you can download it for a Kindle for £1.86, and it’s worth that much of anyone’s time and money….

The picture, from a haunting collection at the Missouri State Archives, is of a man called Eugene Hamilton, convicted of murder in 1916.

With thanks to Col.

8 comments:

  1. Moira - Some noir writers have a very engaging kind of writing style that keeps you moving through the story even if the material is very, very dark. There's something about that sparseness perhaps. And I have to say I respect someone who can get me to understand how someone who is 'on the dark side' thinks. I'll be honest; I'm not sure if I'll try this or not, but I'm glad you found it worth the read.

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    1. IN general I prefer my books not quite so dark, bur reading something like this reminds me that writing style can sometimes trump content....

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  2. It's difficult to know how to balance reading what you know you'll like and stretching yourself - glad you found something to like (or at least admire) about this one. I probably fall more on your side of the fence though there are some noir writers I think are fantastic (e.g. Ken Bruen) but they tend to be more modern and incorporate more character development (even if it's spiralling downwards) than what I think of as the classic hard-boiled novel which is all plot-based violence and misery. I'm afraid those things bore me witless

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    1. I think I need a trusted recommendation with books not in my home ground - so I will take a chance on a book that hits my usual criteria, but need someone to tell me to read noir (take a bow, Col) - but when it's good it's good.

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  3. Moira, thanks for the mention and for being open-minded enough to give it a go. I'm impressed with you and pleasantly surprised by your reaction.
    Small book and baby steps.......we'll gradually move your reading onto the shadowy side of the street. (Does this mean I need to read something with petticoats and frills now?)

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    1. Well buddy the next book you push my way needs to be as good as this one or else gonna come after you for revenge and... sorry, am I getting a bit carried away?

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  4. If Amazon is right, this is a REALLY short novella and certainly worth a try, although pricey for that length, but with recommendations from both you and Col, how can I not give it a try. AND, as I commented at Col's post, Hinkson has a really cool blog, with a lot of movie reviews.

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    1. Oh I haven't seen the blog, I'll have to go and look, I'll be interested to find out about the person who wrote it. Yes, it's really just a long short story Tracy, but he certainly conjured up a person and a world, I was really impressed.

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