Monday, October 25, 2021

QUICK SHOTS: The Game of 30 by William Kotzwinkle

William Kotzwinkle has had an interesting career. I've heard his name for years, usually in conjunction with "you should read 'Fata Morgana'" or "have you read Fata Morgana?" I still haven't, but "The Game of 30" did get me to buy it finally. He's perhaps best known as the guy who wrote the "E.T." novelization and it's follow-up. But he's written funny "lit" type novels, science-fiction, and other children's books along with a couple mystery novels. Hell, he even wrote the novelization for "Superman III" so yeah he wrote a Richard Pryor character too.

"The Game of 30" is about New York P.I. Jimmy McShane who's a pretty classic private eye albeit updated for the touchy-90's. He doesn't drink or smoke, but he sure wants too. He'll ogle ladies but he will feel kind of bad about it. He does pack a Beretta and uses it along with his fists, both to good effect. He's a hi-tech kind of guy with a sweet fan filled with cool gear, listening devices and Dodge Shadow with a film on the glass so it doesn't shatter. There's a lively set of secondary characters including a honest-to-god princess working as his sectary, tough cops, and a incredibly plucky (and beautiful) chiropractor tagging along for the mystery of it. The mystery is the death of an art dealer involved with smuggling in Egyptian artifacts and a lot WORSE STUFF, seriously it gets dark. His daughter wants to know why his father was injected with snake venom and killed and where an ancient scepter plays in. There's tons of twists and turns with multiple killers on the loose that all finishes strong with a slightly supernatural finale. 

To me it gives off a little bit of a newspaper comic strip vibe, kind of a darker, wilder "Rip Kirby." It's got a certain amount a of "gee-whiz" and thrilling mystery/adventure but it does take a turn for some well placed tough-guy grit. It also brought to mind the work of George C. Chesbro's Mongo novels, which is always a good thing in my opinion. I can see why people have been telling to sample Kotzwinkle's work, he's a terrific writer who zigs wehn you expect him to zag and builds an interesting world within the pages. In already got more of his work on the way to my personal library. In lesser hands the supernatural-element might have come across like a cop-out but it comes across so naturally that I just feels like the only possible outcome. It's great stuff that can be pretty easily found, so you got no excuse not to track down a copy.

1 comment:

  1. You should read Fata Morgana. (Try to get the Knopf hardcover edition, which has some lovely Joe Servello illustrations.)