One of the true greats,
This review is from: Miami Blues (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
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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 and Thompson, so it's great that his work is appearing in the Modern Classics imprint.
The 'Hoke Moseley' trilogy, which he wrote late in his career, are the nearest Willeford got to the traditional detective novel: Hoke, an aging, badly dressed divorcee with a host of faintly comical health issues, nevertheless stoically works through badly fitting dentures and alimony payments to get his man, blithe psychopath Freddie Ferenger. There's a lot of very black humour in the book that was missed in the movie version.
Willeford was influential, along with Leonard, in writing pulp that reflected wider realities and commented on the times, and here we have evoked his trashy 70's-hangover Miami of Cuban street food and polyester clothing. An excellent book and highly recommended, though it's not his bestnovel, which might be blue-collar existentialist classic 'Cockfighter'. You might try 'The Burnt Orange Heresy' too, one of few pulp crime novels that also serves as a meditation on finding meaning within abstract expressionist painting. Like I said, he was an interesting man.