Friday, October 01, 2010

Forgotten Books: THE GONE MAN -- Brad Solomon

When I read this book back in 1980, I wasn't terribly impressed. But, hey, it was 1980, and there weren't all that many private-eye books out there. Besides, I kind of liked the cover.

Charlie Quinlan, as the cover tells you, is an actor turned private-eye. He doesn't like Hollywood, for reasons that eventually become clear, but he's still there. When he's asked to find a missing man, he's eager for the work because the job has become all-important to him. And the job turns out to be all too easy. When the guy Charlie's been following is killed by a hit-and-run drive, Charlie finds out why, and it's a surprise.

As usual in books like this, everybody wants the p.i. off the case, but he's not going to stop until he gets to the end of it. The end isn't much of a surprise, but then I'd read the book before and remembered it. It might work better for someone coming to it for the first time.

Solomon chose to write the book in the present tense, which didn't bother me because there's not too much narration. Solomon uses dialogue almost exclusively. Nothing wrong with that, except that he's not as good at it as some are. Although it's in first-person we find out very little about Charlie. There's not enough of him. And there's too much of the dialogue. Charlie's conversations go on too long and to too little purpose. A good editor could have chopped a lot of pages from the book with nothing lost.

Still, I enjoyed reading The Gone Man again. I was moved to do it when I saw that Solomon's The Open Shadow was included on Dick Lochte's list of the 20 Best Private-Eye Novels. I haven't read that one in a long time, so I'll probably get around to it eventually. Which brings us to this question: Whatever happened to Brad Solomon? I can't find out anything about him. Even The Thrilling Detective site doesn't have any info. A truly forgotten writer, I suppose.


Anonymous said...

It's funny. I never read the books (and it doesn't sound like I missed much) but I still remember the covers, so I guess they did something right there.


Patrick Murtha said...

I read The Gone Man and The Open Shadow at the time, as well, although not Solomon's other novel, Jake & Katie (a crime novel? I'm not sure). The three came out in hardcover in rapid succession, The Gone Man in 1977, the others in 1979. I agree that Solomon's silence since then constitutes a "subject for further research."

Unknown said...

I remember really disliking JAKE AND KATIE, though I don't remember why.