Friday, April 06, 2012

Forgotten Books: Red Diamond, Private Eye -- Mark Schorr

Simon Jaffee's a New York cabbie whose life isn't pretty.  He's not making any dough, his wife is probably having an affair, his daughter's morals and boyfriends leave a lot to be desired, and he can't communicate with his bright, athletic son.  His only consolation is his private-eye novels and his pulps.  He's read them nearly to pieces and has them memorized.  His favorite character is Red Diamond, a tough p.i. in the Mike Hammer mode. 

When Jaffee's wife sells his pulp collection, Jaffee cracks up.  He believes he's Red Diamond, and he begins his crusade to set things right. Occasionally a little bit of Jaffee's old live peeks through, but most of the time he operates in full Red Diamond mode, spouting pulp dialogue as if it were the most natural thing in the world.  He fascinates people by telling them tales of his storied career, and when it comes to action, he's up to the job, whether it's helping out a mobster in New York or recovering stolen paintings in L. A.  He never does find his Moriarty, an overlord named Rocco, however.  Along the way, Schorr name-checks all your favorite fictional private-eyes and a few of their stories.  Oh, and there's a cabbie named Flitcraft.

There were three books in the Red Diamond series, all of them funny, fast, and entertaining, and they're all ripe for rediscovery.  You can get very cheap copies on the 'Net, and they're now available for your e-reader if you have one.  Check 'em out.


  1. I think I read the first two books in this series. I need to track down the third. You're right: these are entertaining books.

  2. The lighter side of Barry Malzberg's HEROVIT'S WORLD...

  3. I've read all three. Really good novels.

  4. Another book that I have, but have yet to read. I'll have to get it to the top of Mount TBR after reading such a positive review.