Fri, 1 August 2008
That Coggins is a disciple of Chandler and Hammett is abundantly clear in his most recent August Riordan novel, RUNOFF. Riordan is in many ways analogous to Chandler's iconic Philip Marlowe. He is a relatively poor man, or he would not be a detective at all. He is a common man, or he could not go among common people. He has a sense of character, or he would not know his job. Coggins turns his man loose in one of the most hard-boiled of towns—San Francisco. The setting is no mistake. It's Coggins's home, and thus a place he can write of with authority. It was also Hammett's city, and Sam Spade's. Most importantly, it's a place that lends itself perfectly to a plot that is at once classic-hardboiled and thoroughly modern, a tale of real estate moguls and political hopefuls in collusion to rig elections and reap the profits. In other words, Coggins has the literary savvy to revisit Chandler and Hammett in order to develop character, place, and plot in a timeless fashion, but also has the storytelling smarts to realize the limitations of a simple nostalgia piece. RUNOFF structures an elegant bridge between the war years and today, somehow soaring above the murky pitfalls such a blend of eras should create. This podcast is brought to you by Clute and Edwards of www.noircast.net. To leave a comment on this episode, or make a donation to the podcast, please visit "Behind the Black Mask: Mystery Writers Revealed" at http://btbm.libsyn.com.