Monday, August 13, 2007

Fools Rush In -- Ed Gorman

It's always a pleasure to pick up one of Ed Gorman's novels, but I'm especially partial to the Sam McCain series.

For one thing, I find the setting appealing. The early '60s seem like only yesterday to me, and Gorman does a fine job of capturing the time period. He doesn't layer on the details like some writers do when delving into the past; he uses just enough to give you the flavor of the time.

For another thing, the books are the right length. This one checks in at a clean and lean 228 pages, yet the plot and the complications are such that some writers would have padded the book out to double its length. Not Gorman. There's no padding here.

And the characters are, as always, a pleasure to have around. Sam McCain's still having growing pains, and in this novel his relationship with Her Honor the Judge undergoes an unexpected change. Sam's in love again, too, this time with a member of the ubiquitous Sykes clan, if you can believe it.

Black River Falls is changing, along with Sam, and t
he country's changing, too, in the summer of 1963. Bull Connor's running the show down in Birmingham, and in Black River Falls a young black man's been murdered. He's been dating a young white woman, the daughter of a senator.

As usual, Gorman gets under the skin of his small town, examining attitudes toward race while bringing in politics, blackmail, bikers, class warfare, sex, and lots more, all even-handedly and with some surprising revelations. Do yourself a favor and check it out.


  1. Scott Cupp7:41 AM

    I believe this series is the quintessential Ed Gorman. I have loved his stuff since THE AUTUMN DEAD which I believe to be the best mystery of the 1980's.

  2. That's a great one, all right. Ed deserves a much wider readership.

  3. When thinking of writers like Gorman (or Estleman, or Crider for that matter) the question arises: mystery or western?

  4. Todd Mason9:00 AM

    Well, Benjie, the answer would be Yes, and...

    For Reasoner, Lansdale, Leonard, Matheson, Barrett, Johnson and others, too...

  5. Actually, I've had a middle-aged moment...conflating Dorothy Johnson with Dorothy Hughes. Leigh Brackett might do instead, along with younger folks including Ms. Washburn and probably Ms. Coleman.