Tuesday, January 27, 2015

One for My Baby by Barry Graham review

Sometimes it feels good to read a book just for laughs, and One for My Baby is one of those books that are not only fun to read but which can also prove the perfect antidote to boredom, while they can just as well offer some down time to someone who desperately needs it.

The characters in this neo-noir novella are quite interesting. They all seem to come from the past, a time of femme fatales and criminals that took everyday life as a stroll in the park of the outlaws. One could say that they are lovable in a way, but they are also cruel, headstrong, unfaithful but most of all in love with themselves.

It all begins with a robbery. Mark, a musician, robs a restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona, and as expected he finds himself in a big mess. But that doesn’t deter him from going to his cousin’s wedding. Casci, the cousin in question, is a mobster who has some cops on his payroll. And as being the latter’s cousin and a robber is not enough, Mark is also having an affair with a married woman.

Living a life like that more often than not leads to trouble and the more trouble the hero finds himself into, the more fun the reader has. The author approaches his story in a lighthearted manner that gives it a spark and which makes the reading experience all the more enjoyable. Even the secondary characters, like Mark’s partner in crime (whose name I cannot mention because it would be a spoiler), Joel the snitch and detective Rankin, they all have something to add in the storyline and the laughs.

If there’s one thing that I’ve enjoyed more than anything in this story is the way the characters interact with each other. It’s like no one can trust anyone else and like behind every word they utter or every action they take lies something else. Betrayals and double-crossings are hardly unusual in noir fiction, but the author seems to be having way too much fun plotting his heroes’ every move, high points and sudden falls, that in fact the book every now and then reads like a parody, and a good one at that.

You can devour this volume in one sitting and if you are a fan of noir fiction you’ll probably enjoy it just as much as I did. It may not remind you a lot of the masters of the past, but it will help you realize that the noir genre is still alive and well, and evolving by the day.

First published in Crime Factory magazine