Stop the Presses!

Billy Nichols
Created by Eddie Muller

Eddie Muller, the author of several acclaimed non-fiction books on film noir, including The Art of Noir and Dark City Dames (and the son of a renowned Bay Area boxing writer) finally decided to bless us with his own particular idea of what noir fiction should be like, when he sucker-punched an unsuspecting world with his first novel, The Distance (2002). We shoulda seen it comin'!

In it, he introduced BILLY NICHOLS, a streeet-smart, wise-cracking sports columnist for the San Francisco Inquirer, whose rep for hard-hitting coverage of the manly arts has earned him, after years in the trenches, the well-deserved monicker of "Mr. Boxing." Billy's right out of central casting, right down to his pencil thin mustache, a fedora, his weaselly build and his hell-with-you attitude.

All the trappings of a zillion gritty black-and-white B-grade crime and fight flicks are present and accounted for, in ample detail. It's soon obvious that Muller, like Nichols, knows his stuff. It's all here -- the treacerous dames, the ham-fisted mick cops, the lumbering palookas and lovestruck bruisers, the tramps with hearts of gold and the icberg wives with none, the cigar-chomping managers and slimy politicos, the sweaty gyms, the bucket-of-blood dives, plus all the usual adultery, blackmail, betrayals and murder -- all pinned up against the finely-etched setting of post-World War II San Francisco, in prose that's as real and unapologetic as a spit bucket.

Muller followed up the Shamus-winning The Distance with Shadow Boxer in January of 2003. Who says noir's dead? I tell ya, this Muller guy, he's a contender...


Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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