Fri 28 May 2010
by Marvin Lachman
BILL PRONZINI – Son of Gun in Cheek. Mysterious Press, hardcover, 1987; trade paperback, 1988.
Vol. 10, No. 2, Spring 1988.
Nineteen-eighty-seven was not a vintage year for books about the mystery. There were only eight submitted for Edgar consideration, and they broke no new ground. Yet, in terms of enjoyment many can be wholeheartedly recommended.
There was, first of all, Bill Pronzini’s Son of Gun in Cheek, the even funnier sequel to his 1982 Gun in Cheek (reprinted in 1987 by Mysterious Press in trade paperback), the book which should have won that year’s Edgar.
If you liked Pronzini’s first compilation of inadvertent, but hilariously funny, bad lines from the mystery, you won’t want to miss his second as he takes off after such creators of “alternate classics” as F.M. Pettee, James Corbett, and Michael Avallone.
More famous authors come In for their share of notice, especially when their copy editors let them down. Thus we get lines like the ones quoted from Brett Halliday’s The Violent World of Michael Shayne: “He poured himself a drink and counted the money. It came to ten thousand even, mostly in fifties and twenty-fives.”
There is also a section regarding B movies, especially the old Charlie Chan films. It’s all deftly organized, with some deliberately funny lines by Pronzini himself as a bridge. I read the book on my flight to Minneapolis for Bouchercon and attracted a bit of attention when I couldn’t keep from laughing out loud. Who said scholarship can’t be fun?
Editorial Comments: Here’s another– “The blonde strolled to the cabin and unlocked the door. She went in, leaving the door invitingly open. I looked at it and my red corpuscles began to get redder.” (Milton K. Ozaki, Dressed to Kill.)
Marv used his entire column in this particular issue of The MYSTERY FANcier to cover reference works published in 1987, books about the field of mystery and crime fiction. They (the books) won’t all be as funny as this one, and in fact I can guarantee that none of them will be. I’ll be reprinting these reviews over the next weeks on this blog. Even though Marv’s comments are 22 years old, for the most part they’re far from out of date.
Previously reviewed on this blog:
Gun in Cheek (by Mike Tooney)