Sunday, June 24, 2007

“A Charming Ghost”

With publisher Serpent’s Tail now bringing back into print several works by 20th-century English noir writer Derek Raymond (né Robin Cook), Los Angeles Times columnist Richard Rayner today reacquaints us with this author’s troubled life and dark, groundbreaking fiction. He makes special note of Raymond’s 1984 novel, He Died With His Eyes Open, which was the first in his so-called Factory series of police procedurals:
All this was fitting, in a way, for if “He Died With His Eyes Open” marked a new beginning--and it did--that beginning was dark, maybe desperate. From its opening chapter, in which a careworn detective is casually handed a murder case his superiors don’t want, the book refuses to behave like the police procedural it purports to be. The dead man, Staniland, has left behind a taped journal in which he reveals himself to be a thoughtful and interesting writer, and the detective, as he follows the trail, finds himself drawn into just the same mistakes as the victim. He knows the case will end badly for him. He almost wills it. “I write about what people do to each other,” Cook wrote later in his strange autobiography, “The Hidden Files.” “It isn’t pretty.”
You can read all of Rayner’s tribute to Raymond here.

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