Epitaph for a Tramp and Epitaph for a Dead Beat: The Harry Fannin Detective Novels Paperback – Dec 12 2006
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It's been a good season for rediscovering pulp fiction, first with reissues of early crime novels by Max Allan Collins (The Last Quarry) and Lawrence Block (Lucky at Cards) and now with a pair of noirish thrillers from experimental novelist Markson (Vanishing Point, 2004). In the early 1960s, before Markson made a name for himself with more literary fare, he turned out these two Harry Fannin novels, both of which observe all the hard-boiled conventions but do so with a head-turning flair for language and a surprising amount of emotional depth. The first concerns the murder of Fannin's ex-wife (the tramp of the title) and gives Markson plenty of opportunity to display the cracks in his hero's tough-as-nails exterior. Epitaph for a Dead Beat is the show-stopper, though, offering a thoroughly entertaining--campy but never out-and-out silly--look at what mainstream society considered the outrageous behavior of Greenwich Village beats. Readers expecting tolerance for alternate lifestyles will be sorely disappointed, but pulp fans will have a ball. Bill Ott
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If you gobble up hardboiled tales like they are Halloween candy, you'll chomp this one to bits. Yes, it is purposefully filled with all the cliches about a down on his luck PI who is holding a torch for an ex who descended into a downward spiral of trampiness and chasing the next high. But, it is simply a terrific read. Fannin slings the one liners like any great PI and stays just friendly enough with the police to stay out of the clink - barely.
Cathy is the one who slipped through his fingers, but she stumbled back into his life, desperately seeking his help. She's still so lovely that poor Harry can't even think straight.
And now she's brought danger and knives and tough punks into Fannin's life.
This book is just plain old fashioned over the top hardboiled PI fun. Every page is an absolute joy to read.
"Epitaph For A Deadbeat" is the second novel in this double feature. It's the "B" side. It's a fun read, but not quite the story "Tramp" is. This one, too, features wisecracking PI Harry Fannin and some violent murders. Here, Fannin walks into the wrong bar and the trouble starts from there. This one is all about the beatniks and their crazy lifestyle in Greenwich Village. They are all nutty want-to-be poets and trampy women floating in a haze from bed to bed. Fannin doesn't exactly approve of the Beats and what goes on in the Village.
Together, the two stories are fun, good, and worthwhile.
Overall the stories seem to be a missing link between the sometimes self parodying work of the Spillane generation of noir writers and the modern navel gazing (or over intellectualized) strains of detective stories. There is no lack of atmosphere or action and no excess of self analyzing. These stories are rare gems that deserve to be shared more widely.