Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Rainy Day Killers

This morning, while I was fishing through several file boxes in my basement, looking for something entirely unrelated, I came across an article I wrote for the Spring 1982 edition of a Portland, Oregon-based arts magazine called Stepping Out.

Knowing that I was interested in crime fiction, editor Jane Van Cleve had asked me to write what amounted to an introduction to a variety of mystery and thriller novelists then living and working in America’s Pacific Northwest (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana). I wound up interviewing not only Richard Hoyt, a former professor of mine in college who’d moved into penning genre fiction, but also Jeff Wallman (a sometimes collaborator with Bill Pronzini), legal thriller concocter Phillip Margolin, and even Alan Furst, who at that time was living on Bainbridge Island, just west of Seattle, and composing modern novels about an ex-New York drug dealer and restaurateur named Roger Levin (Your Day in the Barrel).

As a historical artifact, I think this piece isn’t half bad. So I decided to post it here, for anyone who’s interested in what I once had to say about the distinctive characteristics of Northwest crime fiction and the folks who gave it early renown.

Click on any of the images below for a more readable blowup.


michael said...

My favorite fictional mystery series set in the Northwest is the late Vince Kohler's Eldon Larkin books.

Eldon Larkin was a reporter for the fictional small town Port Jerome (Oregon) newspaper called"South Coast Sun".

The AP in one review wrote, "Kohler obviously aspires to become Oregon's answer to Miami's Carl Hiassen. He's on the right track."

While my favorite of the series is "Rainy North Woods", the other three, ""Banjo Boy", "Raven's Widows", and "Rising Dog" were equally impressive. The setting were so real I could smell the trees and feel the dampness of a coming rain. The dialog and characters match Elmore Leonard for humor and oddness. Kohler's work was so neglected and now forgotten I keep waiting for one of you book bloggers to feature him for pattinase' "Forgotten Friday" review.

Richard R. said...

Okay, Michael, that's a strong recommendation. I found and requested a copy of RAINY NORTH WOODS and am looking forward to reading it.