Miami Blues - Charles Willeford, Elmore Leonard

Book Reaction (not a full review)

I picked up Miami Blues because the author, Charles Willeford, is supposedly one of the core members of the hardboiled/noir canon. I'm not sure what I was expecting; Philip Marlowe in Miami, perhaps.

In actuality, Miami Blues focuses mostly on the perspective of the antagonist, a two-bit sociopath, during his post-prison spree in Miami. While his rampage starts with an accidental (and ridiculously improbable) death, the killer immediately settles down to make some money and find a Bonnie to his Clyde. The detective, Hoke Mosely, is a colourful character, but doesn't get much pagetime. Willeford seems far too fascinated by the brutal violence of his villain.

There's nothing wrong with Miami Blues, but it wasn't a good fit for me. I don't enjoy books that are told from the serial killer's perspective. My type of noir always has a "tarnished knight," and Hoke doesn't quite fit the mold for me. A lot of the book focused on the villain's attempt to abuse and shape a young woman into his helpmate, and no matter how questionable her own motives, I didn't enjoy reading about the violence against her.

I also was simply unable to get past the first death in the story: a young man who dies of shock after his finger is broken. Sure, maybe it's possible, but it's just so darned improbable, not to mention ridiculous.