Monday, February 15, 2010

Review of The Deputy

With The Deputy (Tyrus Books, 2010), Victor Gischler, who has been experiencing a good deal of success by adding "Go-Go" to the titles of various books, returns to his roots. My best guess is that Gischler has been busy aiming for a screenwriting gig involving a gritty reboot of the Inspector Gadget franchise, but I could be wrong. It could be what sophisticated types call "branding."

Regardless, his "Go-Go" novels have been entertaining, but it’s good to see the man get back to basics with a straightforward crime novel. The Deputy is Gischler’s entry in the "corrupt town" subgenre of hardboiled fiction first pioneered by Hammett in Red Harvest, although Gischler’s novel makes a bit more sense than Harvest did plot wise, and his protagonist, part-time deputy Toby Sawyer, sure as hell isn’t the Continental Op. If he were, the book wouldn’t have gotten past the first chapter where Sawyer is called out late at night by the Sheriff of Coyote Crossing, Oklahoma and given the simple task of babysitting the corpse of a local bad boy who got himself murdered. Sawyer screws it up, turning his back and letting someone get away with the body. From there, it’s not long until Sawyer’s forced to go from hopeless screw up to axe wielding tough guy as he tries to survive the night and the desperate locals who are hell bent on keeping their secrets secret.

Gischler’s prose is deceptively simple. The book is short and to the point, and once it picks up momentum, it doesn’t slow down. Gischler’s been at this novel writing thing for a while now, and it shows. This outing is all muscle and no fat. It’s also a little more sober than Gischler’s earlier crime work. He made his bones with gonzo stories like Gun Monkeys and Pistol Poets. As such, it may disappoint fans who are expecting comedy. Sawyer’s life is pretty sad. He’s stuck in a shit town with no future, a loveless marriage, no hope, and a shitload of people who want his head on a stick. Sawyer’s got true grit, though, the one quality that will get a man through, and allow him to conquer a hostile environment and carve out a new life for himself.

1 comment:

Ricky Bush said...

Good to see Tyrus kicking out some good stuff and picking up where Bleak House left off. They are an excellent small press. Aren't they?