Book Review: "The Twenty-Year Death" by Ariel S. Winter
- by Ninja Ross, 26 September 2012
Imagine if Georges Simenon, Raymond Chandler and Jim Thompson wrote a super noir book of EPIC PROPORTIONS! Now, imagine if that book was publish by Hard Case Crime, a publishing imprint devoted to returning to the classic style of 1930s, 1940s and 1950s noir books. Man, that would be cool, wouldn’t it? Well, you’re in for a treat because it happened! Sort of. Ok, it’s not actually by these three authors but it is written by the incredibly talented Ariel S. Winter, who obviously seems to know the works of these authors inside out.
Winter is not known for his crime work. In fact, he has barely published anything besides a few short stories and an illustrated book for kids. So, it’s fair to call this his debut novel. Or, at least, his debut crime novel.
Winter follows this up with The Falling Star, written in the style of Raymond Chandler’s Marlowe books. This style has been stolen, spoofed and borrowed by plenty of writers in the past but Winter is the only person, as far as I know, who has managed to capture so much of Chandler’s feel.
Of course, The Falling Star is linked to the previous chapter. It’s ten years later and our hero for this part of the book is Dennis Foster, a detective. He’s hired as a body guard for a character seen in the previous story. Now, the problem is, The Twenty Year Death becomes incredibly difficult to review from here on in without spoiling events in the first story. And I do not want to spoil this for anybody because this book needs to be read.
The Falling Star is clever and done in the style of Chandler and, really, that’s all you need to know. We have a sarcastic, tough hero with complex emotions, who gets involved with a whole messy incident with femme fatales, lies, other tough guys, Hollywood egos and shady people out to line their own pockets. It’s everything you’d expect to find in a Chandler novel.
The third story, Police at the Funeral, is written in the style of Jim Thompson and it's a great way to wrap up this “trilogy” of incredible noir tales...
But I can tell you even less about this one than the previous one because this is where the novel wraps everything up, including what happens to characters mentioned in the previous two parts. In fact, the hero of this story is a man mentioned throughout the book. Talking about this part would be like talking about the final chapters of any book or the final scenes of any movie. Just trust me when I say that it’s good, alright? ALRIGHT?!?
It’s got murder, betrayal, women and booze! Even a mental hospital! Winter brings us a dream team of noir writers and that is something to be thankful for and I sincerely hope we see more from him in the future. I suggest you go out and buy this. Just look for the incredible pulp cover shown above. Then come back and tell me I was right. Because I am.