Thursday, August 26, 2010

Death Is A Lonely Business

Finished up Death Is a Lonely Business--Ray Bradbury's 1985 non-SF novel. Set in 1949, this novel evokes the atmosphere of the time as well as giving a tribute to hard-boiled detective novels. But, I tell you, if Hammett and Chandler had written like Bradbury I would be a hard-boiled fan instead of hooked on British Golden Age. Well, maybe. He uses their style, but twists it to display his own particular Bradburian flair. His descriptions echo the hard-boiled era but the exaggerations sound so much more believable flowing from his pen..."No sooner had I hit the back seat than the limousine swerved in one boa-constrictor glide away from the curb." and "I waited a full minute for something to happen. When it did not, I slid out of the back of the limousine, like a shoplifter, guilty for no reason and wondering whether to escape."

I love Bradbury. I love his way with words, and turns of phrases, and characters, and setting, and mood. The man can write. In this one, he had me from the fourth paragraph when our narrator/protagonist meets up with Death's friend on an old red trolley. Death is visiting the citizens of Venice, California and the protagonist finds himself in game of hide and seek that seems to be leaving all his friends and acquaintances at the mercy of the stalking shadow. He aligns himself with detective Elmo Crumley, who isn't quite sure if his young friend is quite sane. Whispery breathing on stairways? Dripping visitors beneath his window who leave behind seaweed? Shadows that follow but disappear like the morning mist?

The plot line is a bit shaky...disappearing in the mist at times like the shadowy character of Death's friend, but his descriptions are solid and the clues are there if the reader is quick enough to spot them. His characters are real and you feel the unnamed hero's frustration and fear as he tries to figure out who is next on Death's list and unmask the killer before he claims all his victims. Four stars out of five on Visual Bookshelf.


Gilion at Rose City Reader said...

I thought Fahrenheit 451 was terrific, but I am not a SciFi fan so have not read more of Bradbury's books. I think I would like this one a ton. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

Jennifer said...

Not much for Sci-Fi myself but Death in a Lonely Business sounds very different from others in its genre. Thanks!

J Rodney said...

I'not much of a Sci-Fi fan either, but my husband and kids are big fans. Great review though, you really seem to capture the essence of the book.

Thank you for participating in the Book Lover’s Blog Hop @ Story Time Under the Stars. I hope you will link up and participate in this week’s Book Lover’s Blog Hop as well.