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Miami Blues (Penguin Modern Classics) [Paperback]

Charles Willeford
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)

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Book Description

2 Aug 2012 Penguin Modern Classics

'No one writes a better crime novel than Charles Willeford' Elmore Leonard

Ex-con Freddy 'Junior' Frenger lands in Miami with three stolen wallets and plans for a new life of crime, and leaves the airport with a snatched suitcase and the corpse of a Hare Krishna behind him. Homicide detective Hoke Moseley is soon on his case, chasing the utterly immoral Junior and his hooker girlfriend through the Cuban ghettoes, luxury hotels and seedy suburban sprawl of Miami in a game of hide and seek that will leave Hoke beaten, robbed - but determined to get his man.

A brutal, thrilling ride, Miami Blues is a classic of Florida crime fiction, revealing the sordid side of the Sunshine State.

'Pure pleasure... Mr. Willeford never puts a foot wrong' The New Yorker

This is the first in the Hoke Mosely series; other titles in Penguin Modern Classics include New Hope for the Dead, Sideswipe and The Way We Die Now, while fans of the books include Quentin Tarantino, Elmore Leonard and James Lee Burke.

Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (2 Aug 2012)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0141199016
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141199016
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 12.8 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 518,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Extraordinarily winning ... Pure pleasure ... Mr. Willeford never puts a foot wrong (The New Yorker )

A Graham Greene-like entertainment, but tougher and funnier, softened by neither simile nor sentiment. This is probably as close to the real now Miami as any thriller is likely to come (Donald Justice )

Hoke Moseley is a magnificently battered hero. Willeford brings him to us lean and hard and brand-new (Donald E. Westlake )

Pure pleasure... Mr. Willeford never puts a foot wrong (The New Yorker )

About the Author

Charles Willeford was a highly decorated tank commander (Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Luxembourg Croix de Guerre) with the Third Army in World War II. He was also a professional horse trainer, boxer, radio announcer, and painter. Willeford, the author of twenty novels, created the Miami detective series featuring Hoke Moseley, which includes Miami Blues, Sideswipe, The Way We Die Now, and New Hope for the Dead. He died in 1988.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Trevor Willsmer HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Charles Willeford's influential Miami Blues might just be a pulp thriller, but it's a terrific pulp thriller that's a joy to read: lean without being trimmed to the bone, perfectly paced and with a distinctive voice you want to listen to. It takes a deceptively simple approach, with a classic alternating chapter structure moving back and forth between criminal and cop and a clear, clean use of language with no room for purple prose that manages to get right inside his two protagonists' heads as they alternate between being hunter and prey. The story may hinge on one huge coincidence, but Willeford makes it play so beautifully - and makes its blithe psychopath so casually aware of the unlikeliness of that coincidence - that it works like a dream.

Freddy Fenger Jr. is a career criminal smart enough to serve out his sentence in full rather than risk an extra ten years on his next sentence when he'd inevitably get caught breaking parole and to take the prison warden's advice to move to another state so he'll be a first time offender there when he does get caught. All he wants is to have some fun before he gets caught. If that means killing to do it, it's not a problem since Freddy is the kind of sociopath who can fake emotions well enough for someone as simple minded as the young hooker he drifts into a `platonic marriage' with but not well enough to fake out the cop investigating her brother's bizarre murder. What neither knows is that Freddy was the one who killed her brother - not that he intended to, the man dying of shock after Freddy broke his finger for putting a pinhole in the new jacket he'd just bought with money he'd stolen from another man he unwittingly left dead. Not that that bothers him when he does find out.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable crime novel 3 Dec 2013
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a good, very readable thriller from 1984. Set in the Miami of the time, it features detective Hoke Moseley in pursuit of a very plausibly-drawn killer and I found it engaging and enjoyable.

Charles Willeford is a new author to me, and I am glad to have found him. He writes very well in the "hard-boiled" tradition of US crime fiction. He has a flat, unsensational style which makes the story grip and, slightly counter-intuitively, makes the action and violence all the more shocking when it happens. Hoke Moseley is a good central character and the "blithe psychopath" Freddy Frenger is very well drawn and disturbingly plausible. Miami and its seedier side are extremely well-evoked and I found myself thoroughly drawn into the book. It has to be said that the plot depends upon an extremely unlikely death and a coincidence which really ought to have made the author blush, but these both happen early on and everything hangs together well thereafter so they didn't really interfere with my enjoyment.

Good though it is, I am not sure this really deserves the title of a Penguin Classic. Willeford isn't in the same league as real classic authors of the genre like Chandler, Cain or Hammett, but it's a good read and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good crime novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mean, Moody, Sardonic, Classic 1 Jan 2014
By Champollion VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Charles Willeford, has something of cult status in terms of detective fiction, being often credited with pathfinding for Elmore Leonard , Carl Hiaasen and other writers who followed him in this genre. Of it's kind, there is no doubt it is a classic.

"Miami Blues," is generally considered as his best work, (subsequently made into a movie,) featuring the detective Hoke Moseley, Frederick J Frenger Jr an unscrupulous violent criminal and Susan Waggoner is the student, sometimes hooker. The cast list is expertly carved and developed into an exhilarating ride of a book, which has all the ingredients into a compulsive read. It is not without a sprinkling of mordant wit, which has the effect of binding the story and elevating it into a classic.

The story begins with "Junior" who after stealing three wallets, and planning a new life in Miami, snatches a suitcase, leaving a corpse behind at the airport.
Detective Moseley is on the case, pursuing Junior and the aforementioned, Susan Waggoner, through luxury hotels and the intimidating streets of Miami.

Willeford, conveys perfectly, the coincidence of chance, it's sometimes disastrous violent consequences, it's often comic background but throughout filled with characters, magnificently portrayed and entertaining.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My first experience of reading Charles Willeford. Won't be my last. I have nothing but praise for Miami Blues. First published for the UK market by Penquin in 1996 this edition is the 2012 reprint. Not a long book, it's more novella than novel, approx. 245 total pages of large, well spaced print and the plot spins so quickly I had no problem reading Miami Blues in just two sittings.

The novel features two lead characters; Freddy 'Junior' Frenger, psychopath, and his nemesis Hoke Moseley, homicide detective. They're both substantial, fleshed out, believable characters at complete opposite ends of the scale. Frenger is cold, hard, violent and has little feeling for the people he rips off and harms in his quest for cash, cars and sex. Moseley is crumpled, world weary, human and knows he's fighting a losing battle within the criminal system. Wonderful characterisations. As the two men are inevitably pitted against one another it becomes obvious, for different reasons, neither will give up. What's fascinating is Fenger doesn't have a 'master plan' he's interested in little other than 'right here right now' and he's far from being a criminal mastermind. Fenger is like a fox. Moseley, on the other hand, is like a weary old hound with the scent of prey in his nose. Fenger has no choice but to run and Moseley has no choice but to chase.

I thoroughly enjoyed being taken on a whistle-stop tour of Miami during the 1980s though it's far from a pleasant experience on more than one occasion. Charles Willeford had a gift for contrast. His prose is smooth yet his humour is blacker than black and the two together are an absolute delight. The whole spirit of this novel isn't so much about good v bad.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars This is a classic?
I have no idea why this would be considered a classic. Its a perfectly ordinary by numbers thriller, if quite more amusing than most. Even the title is a bit cliched. Read more
Published 6 months ago by doublegone
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the true greats
Charles Willeford, a fascinating figure, wrote some of the greatest and wierdest pulp of all time, and for me is one of the top three crime writers of all time alongside Leonard... Read more
Published 7 months ago by A. Miles
3.0 out of 5 stars flat, unsatisfying
Perhaps when it was written originally it was ground breaking. However now, although well-written, this tale of a low life socio/psychopath eventually meeting his demise at the... Read more
Published 7 months ago by gerryg
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast paced
This book is in the genre of hard boiled crime fiction and it certainly ticks all the boxes in the genre. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Wendy Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Crime
This book is a must for fans of hard-boiled crime fiction, and is particularly recommended to those of you who like Elmore Leonard, Jim Thompson, James Lee Burke and other masters... Read more
Published 8 months ago by G. J. Oxley
5.0 out of 5 stars the tale of a haiku-writing hoodlum
This first Hoke Moseley's timely reissue is not a only page-turningly compulsive read but firmly sets the template for what will later become the brilliant CSI series and a whole... Read more
Published 9 months ago by David Spanswick
3.0 out of 5 stars Unexceptional and Unremarkable
My first thoughts on getting into `Miami Blues' was to ask myself why it was selected as a Penguin Modern Classic - and this speculation still prevailed when I finished reading. Read more
Published 9 months ago by D. Elliott
4.0 out of 5 stars Infuential but not as good as I was expecting.
Despite a fantastic opening line (see "look inside" to read it!) and a reputation for helping to define the genre, I found this to be a surprisingly standard, though well written,... Read more
Published 9 months ago by ric03
5.0 out of 5 stars Miami Blues.
I read this novel in one straight sitting - something I rarely do - and really enjoyed it.

I hadn't heard of Charles Willeford until I picked this up; his writing is... Read more
Published 9 months ago by J. Mcdonald
4.0 out of 5 stars Master class in pulp-noir
Classic crime novel beautifully paced and written in a lean but never sparse way- which makes this is a master class in pulp-noir writing. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Zipster Zeus
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