Tuesday, March 25, 2008

So Young, So Wicked -- Jonathan Craig

Juri Nummelin has touted this one, so I thought I'd give it a try. I'm happy to say that it lives up to his recommendation.

Steve Garrity, a mob hit man, is assigned to go to a small town and kill Leda Noland, who's only fifteen. He doesn't want the job, but he's not given any options. He's not told why he has to kill her, either, but he's told it has to look like an accident. He's given only a short time to go to the town, set up a cover, and make the hit. As you've probably guessed already, things do not go as planned.

There's some really good stuff in this one. Garrity, whose a musician (an excellent pianist), is an unusual hit man, recruited after he kills a man in revenge for sleeping with his wife. He finds that he's good at the job, and there's a fine scene in a restaurant when he's bantering with a waitress who's trying to pick him up. Garrity's thoughts of how he's going to murder Leda are intercut with the conversation.

As I mentioned in my review of Alley Girl, I like Craig's procedurals narrated by a cop named Pete Selby. But after reading this book and Alley Girl, I'm convinced that Craig's noir standalones are worthy of rediscovery. Check 'em out.

10 comments:

Todd mason said...

Apropos of little aside from notable writers of noir, have you seen this? (Ignore the ignorant editorial type who thinks there was a vast gulf between TRANSATLANTIC REVIEW and F&SF.)


http://www.webdelsol.com/LITARTS/Writing_From_Life/writinglife4.htm

TM said...

Well, as posted, that ain't the installment I meant, so the hotlink on my initials is the one I did mean to submit...

TM, again said...

Trying again!

Bill Crider said...

Well, I got the one by Sallis. Great stuff, and thanks for giving me a look at it. I didn't look at the writer's name, and about halfway down, I said to myself, "That's gotta be Jim Sallis." Sure enough.

Juri said...

Glad you liked it and I'm not alone. Hopefully someone grabs Craig's standalone noirs and reprints some of them.

Todd Mason said...

And both essays/columns that the links take one to (at least when I last tried!) are by Sallis.

My initial problem with J. Craig was in distinguishing him from the EC comics artist. Similarly with Charles Williams the Gold Medalist v. CW the Inkling.

Lee Goldberg said...

What's the story on Jonathan Craig the author? Is he still alive?

Bill Crider said...

I don't think he's still alive. I do know that Jonathan Craig isn't his real name. And that's about all.

Glenn Hopp said...

I am reading this book right now (up to chapter 9). That scene in the restaurant you refer to is a good one. This book must have not had its copyright renewed since it was added this week (12/22/2011) at Munsey's (for free) in a variety of digital formats. I'm reading it on my Kindle--and enjoying it. I found your blog entry by searching on the author/title.

Bill Crider said...

Reading it again, I'm embarrassed by the "whose." I should proof this stuff. Glad you found it, though, and I saw the other day that it had just been added to Munsey's list.