Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sitting back and watching the action

A little more than three chapters into Christopher G. Moore's Paying Back Jack, two hit men have been incinerated during a botched assassination, a woman has plunged to her death from a hotel window, and two mysterious military figures have arrived in town.

Yet even amid the bursts of action, the pace is relaxed, the dominant mood that of a slow feeling-out, an openness to Bangkok's strange and wonderful sights. Some amusing and telling lines help:
"A couple of yings dressed like Japanese geisha called out to him. They liked his jacket. They smelled money.

"`I'm not Japanese. I can't go inside,' he called back in Thai.

"`No problem. You not come in. We go out. Sure.'"
and
"He'd packed Graham Greene's The Quiet American -- on the basis that he'd never met such an American -- and George Orwell's Burmese Days."
and
"There were other private security contractors like them mixing in, looking for new recruits, talking about the situation in Baghdad and the bad old days of Desert Storm. That storm had left the desert and pretty much spread everywhere. That much everyone agreed on as they bought each other rounds of drinks and waited to crank up one more Cobra Gold exercise."
That last passage reminds me of a remark in Manuel Vázquez Montalbán's The Man of My Life about the "theology of security." What other crime fiction alludes or refers explicitly to our post-New World Order, post-9/11 worlds?

© Peter Rozovsky 2009

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4 Comments:

Blogger Linkmeister said...

I haven't read too many books written post 9/11, apparently. A couple of Karen Rose's have characters who were Army, but I suspect she meant Gulf War, not the current one.

The romantic lead in Nora Roberts's latest was a cop in NYC that day; it was only briefly mentioned, though, not a featured event.

Ha! That's appropriate, given my above-mentioned reading habits: the captcha word is hermit!

November 13, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The Gulf War counts. Christopher G. Moore invokes Operation Desert Storm, after all.

I can't think offhand of crime novels other than Paying Back Jack and The Man of My Life that take into account the post-1990 (in)security situation.

November 13, 2009  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

He took two really bad novels with him. Burmese Days might be Orwell's worst book, full of purple patches, preachiness and very tedious characters. The Quiet American's premise is that Americans are dull witted simpletons who unfortunately cannot be saved by the cynical and brilliant English. You can see why its still one of Greene's most popular books in GB.

November 14, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I should ask Moore if he has read those books. Moore, if this means anything, is not American, though he did live in the U.S.

I also read a few years ago that it was now English writers who liked the U.S. and French who sneered -- a reversal from the days of Tocqueville.

November 14, 2009  

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