Thursday, November 12, 2015

Ed McBain's Matt Cordell Private Eye

So Nude, So DeadFormer Private Eye Matt Cordell is wasting away in a bar when he's approached by a man seeking help for his drug addicted son so he can get the care needs. No sooner had Cordell rebuffed the case offer than the man is gunned down in that very bar. 

Professional curiosity leads Cordell to flip through the dead mans pockets and identify him as D'Allessio. Not one to let murder stand idle, Cordell conducts his own manhunt to find the son and perhaps, the killer - could they be one in the same? 

The story DIE HARD is published in the back of SO NUDE, SO DEAD (2015, Hardcase Crime) and is a quick-fire PI novelette that provides action, sex, murder, and violence all wrapped up in a nice twist that reads like a complete story. 

The Gutter and the Grave (Hard Case Crime #15)Naturally the novelette got me wanting to read a longer form of fiction featuring McBain's PI, in THE GUTTER AND THE GRAVE (2005, Hardcase Crime). This is the second time I've read the book, and, like most re-reads I found it just as, if not, more enjoyable the second time round. 

Reluctantly involved in a murder mystery, the perennial drunk PI Matt Cordell finds himself front and center of a traditional dime-store pulp. With dames throwing themselves at him and cops throwing fists, Cordell catches nothing but trouble in this fast paced case. 

Ed McBain builds a lot of back story into Cordell's failed relationship, run in with the law to provide context to his present day predicament all the while keeping the focus of the novel clearly on the whodunit theme and the quest to clear his friend's name.

There's a lot of back and forth switching between suspects until the twist reveals all providing a satisfying ending that makes this pulp ode surprisingly deep. 

THE GUTTER IN THE GRAVE is the only full length novel to feature the PI, however there are a few short stories from the 1950's floating around (DIE HARD mentioned above being one of those).    

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