Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Book: Private Midnight, by Kris Saknussemm (2009)

Now here’s an odd one.

I’m not sure how to describe Private Midnight. The dust jacket insists that it’s “a psychoerotic noir fairytale” and “crime noir for a new generation,” whatever that is. My natural contrarian instinct therefore is to say that noir is the one thing I know it’s not.

As for the crime part ... the main character is a detective. Birch Ritter is looking into the bizarre death of a real estate tycoon, but that investigation gets quickly sidetracked when an old cop buddy sends Ritter to meet a mysterious woman named Genevieve. She knows a great deal about Ritter. Maybe too much. And that’s when things turn all, well, psychoerotic.

Saknussemm made a splash a few years ago with his science fiction novel Zanesville, which I haven’t read. Here he blends several genres, not altogether successfully. Midnight’s first third is a wobbly hardboiled pastiche, with a dubious grasp of police work and an ill-defined protagonist.

But the book gets better as it gets weirder. Or maybe that’s weirder as it gets better. As it moves into horror and dark fantasy it addresses a whole host of issues: gender relations, dominant and submissive roles, the transformative power of sex.

That reminds me. There’s sex in this book. A lot of it. In every variety you can think of, and probably a few that you haven’t. (OK, maybe not all of you, but I was raised Catholic.) All the slap and tickle isn’t necessary to the plot. It is the plot.

I’m still not certain if I liked Private Midnight. But I’m glad I read it, and that counts for something.

Miscellaneous: Links

Keeping the theme going: Pakistan! For all your fetish needs.

John August explains the phrase that haunts my dreams.