Noir: A Novel
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
With impeccable skill, Robert Coover, one of America's pioneering postmodernists, has turned the classic detective story inside-out. Here Coover is at the top of his form; and Noir is a true page-turner-wry, absurd, and desolate.
You are Philip M. Noir, Private Investigator. A mysterious young widow hires you to find her husband's killer-if he was killed. Then your client is killed and her body disappears-if she was your client. Your search for clues takes you through all levels of the city, from classy lounges to lowlife dives, from jazz bars to a rich sex kitten's bedroom, from yachts to the morgue. "The Case of the Vanishing Black Widow" unfolds over five days aboveground and three or four in smugglers' tunnels, though flashback and anecdote, and expands time into something much larger. You don't always get the joke, though most people think what's happening is pretty funny.
sorrow in her voice. The fear. Genuine or faked? Who cares? Give the girl a break. Enjoy yourself. Tell me again how you met your husband. I was a poor girl, alone and friendless in the city, and he was—he advertised for a maid and housekeeper. He was good enough to hire me, though I had no references. I was very grateful. So to thank him you provided other services . . . ? What can you possibly mean, Mr. Noir? I of course did all that was asked of me to the best of my limited experience. And
and stuffed it in a pocket. You were sorry to see it go. I was hoping to keep it around as a back scratcher, you said. By the way, what does that Arabic inscription on the ring say? It's Persian. Guy who read it for me said it was a racing tip. Something like put ten on number three in the fifth. WHICH, PASSING THROUGH THE BOOKIES' BASEMENT, taking the smugglers' route to the docks, is what you do now, just as you've done every week for years now. Ten on number three in the fifth. Yet
kitten. I'm in deep shit and have to save my own ass first. You sound like Skipper's parrot. You used to talk only to cops and gangsters that way. Now everybody gets the same treatment. You get her pajama top on over her curly head, but she hugs the pants like a security blanket. Please? I'm so afraid? Stay with me? Just tonight? You've never taken advantage of dolls in distress; on the other hand, if they want to take advantage of you, your resistance is low. There's a whiskey bottle on her
cut by way of the room he rents them by the halfhour at the back. A filthy vermin-infested and foul-smelling hole in the wall with stained unwashed sheets, shadeless bedside lamp on the floor beside the mattress, the bulb painted red, used hypo spikes underfoot, a basin and pitcher for douches. You know. You've been there. Romance. Comes all ways. The smoke in here is thick enough to slice and sell as sandwich meat. You light up in self-defense, order a double, straight up, no ice, ask about
Before that, while she was still just a kid in schoolgirl clothes and white cotton panties (white panties used to be a big deal; you miss those times), she had been the moll of a notorious yakuza gangster who had his own portrait tattooed on the inside of her tender young thighs. Where he could keep an eye on things, he said. A rival gang leader kidnapped her and "blinded" the portrait with red splotches, and just for good measure added a mustache and blacked out two of the teeth before returning