Thursday, August 2, 2012

Book Review: Charles Williams, Talk of the Town [a.k.a. Stain of Suspicion] (1958)

Talk of the Town is an Everyman noir-cum-whodunit via a damsel in distress with occasional patter tossed in from a screwball comedy. The premise is vaguely similar to an earlier Charles Williams novel, Go Home, Stranger (1954), as both feature amateur outsiders attempting to solve crimes (though Bill Chatham, protagonist of Talk of the Town, is a former professional). The plotting of Talk of the Town is thin, largely because so many of Chatham’s decisions are based on there-was-a-small-chance-but-it-was-the-only-chance logic. Nevertheless, Talk of the Town is somewhat more engrossing than Go Home, Stranger because Williams does a better job of making his protagonist a participant in (rather than an observer of) the plot. Grade: C+

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