Wednesday, August 5, 2015

SOLOMON'S VINEYARD by Jonathan Latimer

From the way her buttocks looked under the black silk dress, I knew she'd be good in bed. The silk was tight and 
under it the muscles worked slow and easy. I saw weight there, and control, and, brother, those were things I like in a woman.
Yea, from that first line, we know that this book puts the "hard" in hard-boiled. This one might just be the "hardest" of them all. I can see now why it's publication was delayed for NINE(!) years due to content. It follows private detective Karl Craven, who's hired to travel to a small town to convince a young woman to leave a religious sex cult that has wild orgies every year in the woods, worships a rotting corpse they keep in a temple, and chooses a girl to go marry the dead dude and have sex with it. Like Craven says about his story in the prologue: "It's got everything but an abortion and a tornado."

I thought it was pretty cool that Craven's true nature was kept vague throughout the story, causing the reader to never fully know where he stood on certain things and never be able to predict what he would do. We know he's supposed to be a detective, but is he disguising himself as one? Is that a lie? Is he a con man? Or maybe he's just the worst private eye in the world and is just using the job to bed down as many ladies as possible? This added an interesting dynamic on top of the craziness. But at the the same time, it was a thin line to walk for a writer because I also felt like I was distanced from him as well. He also sometimes seemed like a real dick in the way he treated women, minorities, or for that matter, every other human being he came in contact with...

I also thought the book was unexpectedly funny because Craven seemed like he didn't really give a damn about solving the case for most of the story. He spends a good amount of the book either napping, eating, taking multiple showers, reading Black Mask magazines, or having rough sex with the cult's princess, who likes to get punched around while in bed instead of getting kissed. I just got a kick out of how laid back he was, as if he thought that the pleasures in life were the priority and everything else would work itself out in the end. And who knows, maybe it will. You'll have to read to find out.
I took a peek into the grave. Flowers had almost covered the coffin. I thought: there goes $135. It was the first time I'd ever spent that much on a doll without getting something in return.

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