Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Book Review: Earl Norman, Kill Me in Tokyo (1958)

Avoid Earl Norman's Kill Me in Tokyo unless, for some strange reason, you absolutely must learn about the origins of the first hard-boiled detective whose weapon of choice is karate. The detective in question, ex-GI Burns Bannion, comes to his profession by chance. He is drinking in a club one night when a drunk American businessman decides that he looks like a private detective and thrusts ¥100,000 upon him with instructions to find a woman named Mitsuko. Apparently having nothing better to do, Bannion takes the job, which he continues to pursue ineptly for no discernable reason even after his client turns up dead. Though this novel is without charm, wit, or intelligence, it does have the distinction of being the first place that I have seen the word "herm" (short for "hermaphrodite") used as a verb. Grade: F

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