Tuesday, June 16, 2020

DETOUR by Martin M. Goldsmith

A violinist named Alexander Roth is hitching rides across the country on his way to Los Angeles to be with his actress girlfriend and gets waylaid along the way by unfortunate circumstances. This essential, classic noir stands out because of its strong writing. Many of the pulp novels back then, because of their quick turn out, felt hastily written, but this one really feels like a little more time was taken to craft the work. Another thing that stands out and that I expect felt different back then was the parallel storytelling, jumping back and forth between Roth's predicament and the story of his girl Sue and her life in Hollywood as a struggling actress. I loved the way the twists in each story revealed themselves and what they meant for the other plotlines. I wish there was a little more substance to Sue's story beyond her pining for love though. But with a cool plot, good writing, a ruthless fatale, and doom-filled atmosphere, this one should definitely be included on any noir bookshelf!


Tuesday, June 9, 2020


When I was kid, I went through Hurricane Marilyn in the Virgin Islands and when it got really bad in the night, I hunkered down with my parents, grandparents, and sister in my grandparents’ guest bathroom as the hurricane raged outside. It was one of the scariest times in my life. This truly unsettling novella brought back many of those memories, as it takes place completely in a bathroom after a Texas family finds refuge there when a major storm comes through their town.

The story starts off tame enough, with a little tension between the family and discomfort with the conditions. But soon, things get more surreal and more terrifying. As the time in the bathroom crawls on, Booth’s writing provides a palpable unease where I wasn’t sure what was real and what wasn’t. I don’t want to get into too many details as it’s best to go in blind so that the events in here have maximum impact, but I read most of this with a real sense of dread as I began to feel the claustrophobia, smell the odors, and, once things started to go truly bonkers, I began to read all of it with bulging eyes. 

Did any of this really happen in the story? Some of it might have. Some of it might not. Based on how horrifying this was, I would hope it was all just a bad nightmare for the main character. But deep down, I feel like I know the truth.
it’s going to be okay it’s going to be okay it’s going to be okay it’s going to be okay it’s going to be okay it’s going to be okay