Grifter’s Game previously published as Mona cements my love of the noir genre, indeed three out the last four books I have read have all fallen in to noir, if you look at my good reads profile (Markdini) you may notice a string noir novels to be read. So not only is The Hard Case Crime books a must for me there are a must for fans of detective fiction from the 1940’s up to the present day. I will go one further and name the out the last four book I have read including Grifter’s Game have all be from the Hard Case Crime label the moving tale of loss and the only Stephen King book I have enjoyed Joyland, The story of ex porn star come femme-fatale Angel Dare in Money Shot which is a solid modern tale of mobsters, the porn industry and money.
Exploring the femme-fatale theme Block’s Grifter’s game follows likable con man Joe Marlin, who hops from hotel to hotel stealing and grifting his way through life. Until he “borrows” the wrong mans suitcases. What’s more there is dame who is to Joe but will Joe do what is needed to keep Mona?
Block is a master of his genre Grifter’s Game is example of noir from the 60’s that holds well now. Joe Marlin develops through out the book and when the ending comes although you may not agree with Marlin you can understand how he got there. Block’s character development and story arc is tight the book weighs in at a mere 200 pages. Block writes with a rhythm akin to Elroy, in fact Block is somewhat darker than Elroy in places.
At he heart of Grifter’s Game is how far would a man go for love? And how far would someone go to be free? Despite it’s brevity Grifter’s game incorporates more in to it’s pages than most stories double the length can muster, a true testament to Block’s writing.
Joyland at it’s heart is a murder story against a backdrop of a carnival the titular Joyland. Add a dying child in a wheelchair who has a gift (I believe the King fans will call the is the shining), mix in a young man’s story of love that was lost, drop in a story of friendship, whisk then add a ghost. You have one of the most unique pieces of noir fiction released by the Hard Case Crime Publishing house.
It’s hard to review Joyland with out spoilers and it is a story that I want you discover on your own. I would be doing you a disservice if I told you too much.
Devin Jones, has just had his heart broken by a woman, he decides to get a summer job at Joyland to take his mind of things. The old timers of the carnival speak of a murder in the fun house, Devin decides to delve deeper, whats more there is talk of a ghost as well.
Now in his 60’s Devin tells his story of working at Joyland way back in 1973. Devin’s story covers loss, love and untimely closure, King weaves his story with enough carny slang draw you in to the world of the carnival, he brings the emotions to table and sets out a truly moving story. That’s all you need to know before you pick this up, fans of Kings non horror will enjoy this, fans of noir will enjoy this too, it might not be the hard boiled we know but it works.
Joyland does 3 things.
questions what exactly is noir
Sets up enough emotion to move and hook the reader
Achieves the status of being a Stephen King book I like
Not being a King fan in a world where most Horror readers are, I may be a minority but Joyland is one of Kings works to the Contrary. Enough elements to keep everyone’s interest going. And not a demonic clown in sight.
This isn’t a review as such, more of reason why I didn’t finish IT. Apparently in the Good Reads/book tube community (you tube but people talk about how many book they own on their videos). Did not finish is a thing or more commonly known as #DNF.
Now to me I like to finish a book I like to find out what happens as we all do when we pick a book to read and if you purchased a book you have made two investments :
Money – now if you a decent income and you are on not on the breadline then every month you will get more money. The glories of work, which i have spoken about in other posts,
Time – I am now 35, as some one pointed out to me I am nearly 40 time is something I am aware of is a finite resource. To quote King him self from on writing “I haven’t got time to read a bad book” or words to that effect
And why carrying on doing something you don’t enjoy? So i got to page 495 of It and it was hard going according to my Good Reads i started reading the adventures of Stuttering Bill and his friends on 31st of March it is now the 23rd Of April. To say I have not been invested in this book is an understatement. As books weighing over 500 Pages I have finished in the shorter amounts of time. It comes in at at lofty 1376 pages.
That’s the problem there is a lot of not much happening in the book, it just seems to go on and on, sometime there will be the aforementioned It on the murder (as my granny would say, “That fella he was on the murder, they nicked him for it”). Or It will scare someone but there is a lot of nothing.
If you don’t know the story there is a killer clown stalking a small town, killing children, a group of kids find out about this, get on with their lives only to get drawn back when they are adults when the killings start happening again.
King does touch on a few themes too. Domestic abuse, homophobia, the shattered american dream.
Maybe it just wasn’t for me after all not everyone likes Rock n’ roll music. But as the man himself said “I haven’t got time to read a bad book”. Sometimes you need to move away from the guilt of not finishing a book, give that book to charity and move on to the next book, as per reasons one and two above.