Saturday, May 3, 2014

May 2014 Book Review: A Fistful of Nothing


By Dan Glaser

~Book Review~

"DIESELPUNK"— post-steam, and pre-cyber punk, characterizes A Fistful of Nothing, quite well, as this is the 1950s set in a distorted underground Hollywoodholes. The atmosphere and time period run together with cinema-like quality, and if you’re going to embark with Jim on his investigation to solve two brutal murders, then you’d better brush up on your 1950s lingo: “For a habitual pantywaist, the hopped-up shitkicker threw a nasty right hook into Jim’s side, and the alarming jab stung like salt and sweat as it slapped his gut” (Chapter 1). Names like “The Mad Dog,” and “The Kid” abound. 
Jim “Jimbo” Maynard’s a classic hard-boiled noir detective, maybe the ancestor of Harry Dresden (Dresden Files by Jim Butcher). What begins as a gambling dispute ends up with two dead bodies on Jim’s lap. To find the culprit, he’ll have to out-talk and sift through a whole assortment of untrustworthy, “nutso”-characters from L.A.’s underworld.

The prose is over-the-top purple at times, but toward the end of Part I, I found that I’d settled into a comfortable rhythm with it. The plot also picks up then—before you never felt like Jim was in much danger, but going into Part II, the stakes are raised. The murder mystery is fully enhanced by the wonderful bizarre underworld—usually I like to race along to find out who dun it and how, but in “A Fistful of Nothing,” I found myself lingering over details and enjoying how the case unraveled. However, I wasn’t quite sold on Jim’s motivations for getting so involved in the case in the first place and why the first death struck him so hard; for me, his character didn’t veer too much from the brooding detective model obsessed with Fortuna to really stand on his own. I really liked Betty, though, she was funny:

“You got bourbon. I wanna get wet, sister.”

“So go find a puddle or something.” (Chapter 3)


The Hollywoodholes Series promises more gritty violence, murder, and one-liners to come. I enjoyed the sneak peak at the end into Book II: A Lungful of Glass, and the destination it takes place. 

Recommended for fans of: Jim Butcher and Simon R. Green
Upcoming May Book Review: Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins

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