Review: The Twenty-Year Death by Ariel S. Winter

By John Neal,
Author Rating: 
3.0 Stars - It's Good

It is often said: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Ariel S. Winter’s “The Twenty-Year Death” is a fawning tribute to three of the greatest crime writers of the 20th century all wrapped in Hard Case Crime’s first hardcover book.

“Death” consists of three novellas - “Malniveau Prison,” “The Falling Star,” and “Police at the Funeral” - that span a twenty-year timeline from 1931 to 1951. Each story is told in the style of a prominent writer from the decade: Georges Simenon, Raymond Chandler and Jim Thompson.

“Malniveau Prison” borrows heavily from Simenon’s popular detective, Jules Maigret. A dead body in a sleep French village has police puzzled since the corpse is supposed to be locked up at the nearby prison. Several more bodies pop up, and the beautiful Clotilde-ma-Fleur, the wife of successful American author Shem Rosenkrantz, is missing. It’s a beautifully written psychological thriller.

Jumped ahead ten years to Hollywood, California. In “The Falling Star” private detective Dennis Foster is hired by a big studio to keep an eye on French starlet Chloe Rose, real name Clotilde-ma-Fleur, who is convinced that someone is stalking her. Her alcoholic husband had slipped from the pantheon of great authors and is now writing screenplays for the studio. A simple tail job turns into a hunt for a serial killer in classic Chandler style.

In “Police at the Funeral” Shem Rosenkrantz is scraping the bottom of the barrel. It’s 1951. He hasn’t written a word much less a book in years, he washed up in Hollywood, and his wife is a permanent resident of a private clinic. And he’s a full-fledged drunk. A family dispute turns into murder and things just get worse from there. Jim Thompson’s disaster-leads to-more-disaster style is prevalent, even if it lacks his distinct Oklahoma voice.

It’s an ambitious book, certainly innovative, and absolutely entertaining.

Fun Stuff

 
Trending Across the Web
 

Join Our Newsletter

Popular Threads