Leigh Brackett – No Good From a Corpse
(Free ebook link?? Okay, cool, I didn’t know this was in the public domain yet.)
This is the part where I admit to never having read any Raymond Chandler and to having last touched a Hammett book when I was like 12, so I’m going to try real hard to not talk out my ass about hard-boiled and noir. But anyway, this came out in 1944 and is, as far as my limited experience can tell, the legit fuckin article.
And it’s good, too. It’s working within what was clearly already an established style, but it has tons of personality, some real visual and sensory vividness and pop, some great moments of dialogue and, uh, what I can best describe as a lovely and symmetrical shape. (Shape is very important in a mystery; they’re highly dimensional critters and if they’re too far off balance you can feel it.) I think it would hold up to some re-reads, too — it’s a more normal mystery for most of the book, but the ending rewrites much of what came before as a duel of sorts, between two professionals who found themselves in some shitty spots and were both determined to not be the one who comes out on bottom.
Highly recommended, doubly so if you’re already into That Sort Of Thing. And there’s a really interesting discussion to be had about the female characters in it, which we probably can’t have until more of my friends read it. Meet me in spoilertown someday and let’s talk about Vivien and Laurel.
I picked this up at the library after writing up that review of Brackett’s Empire draft, because it reminded me of how intrigued I was about her oddball career. (This was the book that got her that job on the film of The Big Sleep, if you’re following along at home.) While “Star Wars Sequel” was more interesting than it was enjoyable on its own merits, this was legitimately good.