Sunday, August 3, 2008

Book Review: George Axelrod, Blackmailer (1952)

Blackmailer's pleasantly convoluted plot cannot fully compensate for its forgettable cast of characters, particularly its narrator, publisher Dick Sherman. The great noir writers can make you root for criminals, but George Axelrod did not make me care one bit what happened to Dick Sherman--who isn't even a criminal. Part of the problem is that Axelrod has a tendency to lapse into screenwriting when he is writing a novel. If you write pages of dialog for a movie character, that movie character can be likable simply because a likable actor is reading his lines. Novel writers do not have this luxury, a fact which Axelrod seems sometimes to forget. Grade: C+

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