Friday, October 22, 2010

The Open Shadow -- Brad Solomon

A year after he published The Gone Man (see my comments here), Brad Solomon was back with The Open Shadow (1978). This is a better book, a very good one, in fact, and it likely deserves its place on Dick Lochte's list of the top 20 p. i. novels. It's a shame that after one more book, which wasn't a crime novel, Solomon disappeared. It's also a shame that he's pretty much forgotten. Copies of The Open Shadow are going for a penny on Amazon.

Fritz Thieringer and Maggie McGuane are private-eyes in Los Angeles. Maggie has hired a third person, Paul Brade. He's young, and Thieringer doesn't like him. He's already left two jobs, one as a cop and the other as a p.i. at a big agency, so a subplot in the novel has to do with whether Paul will fit in and work out. The major plot is so complicated that I'm not even going to try to describe it. It begins simply enough, with a woman who's worried about her husband because a young man is following him around. Nothing is simple after that. If you think the plot of The Big Sleep is complicated, then check this one out. All the pieces fit at the end, or at least I think they do, but it takes a while to get there. There's another California writer whose work I think influenced this book, but I won't say more. Wouldn't want to give too much away, in case somebody actually decides to read the book. As in The Gone Man, there's a lot of dialogue, but there's also some heavy duty violence. It's infrequent, but when it comes, it's powerful.

Maggie and Fritz are complex characters, the kind I'd like to know more about, but of course I never will. It would be nice to know what happens with Paul and if anything develops from Fritz's relationship with the mysterious Devereaux. I wish Solomon had written another book about them instead of Jake and Katie, but he didn't ask my advice. He's the gone man.


Steve Lewis said...

I remember reviewing the hardcover edition of this book for the HARTFORD COURANT, and I think you've described it very well.

Since my copy was a First Edition, I made sure to save it, thinking that Solomon was sure to become a famous PI writer, but as you say, for whatever reason, he didn't.

Nor is the book at all valuable, alas.

But it should be!

I also saved my First Edition of Sue Grafton's A IS FOR ALIBI. Sometimes I got it right.

Unknown said...

I cry when I think of my A IS FOR ALIBI story, so I won't repeat it.

Anonymous said...

Strangely I hadn't looked up the name Brad Solomon on the internet for a long time. I read The Gone Man and The Open Shadow when they came out in paperback. I read a lot of mysteries back then and I thought Solomon had become my new favorite Los Angeles/Chandler fix. Liked him better than Ross McDonald and any other author of the era who tried to follow in those footsteps. And then he was gone with no forwarding address. I looked for him in the S section of mysteries for years. I just watched an old documentary called Stone Reader an=bout a reader's search for a missing author whom he liked very much. Although I never went to the lengths that film maker did, I thought immediately of Brad Solomon when I read the DVD cover.