Sunday, November 16, 2008

Books Review: Richard Aleas, Songs of Innocence (2007)

Richard Aleas (or Charles Ardai, if you prefer) is the inverse of Raymond Chandler: whereas Chandler was terrible with plotting while creating unforgettable characters, Aleas crafts his plots with great care while creating easily forgettable characters. As a creation, John Blake, the noir hero of Little Girl Lost and Songs of Innocence, is little more than the sum of the problems that he encounters (and creates for himself). He's not particularly smart, not particularly witty, has no interesting hobbies, does not smoke a calabash pipe or wear a deerstalker cap. Thus, we are left with the noir-whodunit plots. My experience with both Aleas novels is that if you think much at all while you are reading, then the books' alleged surprises are not very surprising, so I am left with the pleasure of having my suspicions confirmed, which is, of course, a lesser pleasure than being surprised. Grade: C+

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