David Spanner

Created by Brad Collier

"Down these mean streets a writer must piggyback, carried by a much better writer..."

DAVID SPANNER is the hero of a self-published, straight-to-Kindle series of "Raymond Chandler Tribute Novels" by Brad Colliers. Two are out already, and more are promised.

Sheesh.

With "tributes" like this, Chandler's memory doesn't need enemies.

Collier even has the audacity to claim that the second installment, Hollywood Blood (2014) is the "spiritual sequel" to The Little Sister.

He goes on to boast that:

"My novels are set in the Los Angeles of the here and now. No mimicry, no Marlowe. I try to write with some of the same gusto, verve, and wit that Chandler thought were crucial to good writing."

Maybe on its own, without the incessant references to Chandler, I might have been able to accept this. You know, a well-intentioned P.I. novel by an obvious fan of Chandler, trying to do the best they can.

And let's be honest: writing a novel, even a bad one, is still an impressive task. It's more than I've been able to do so far.

But trying to hook readers by hitching your ride to another author, particularly one so beloved (and conveniently dead) is a big risk, particularly if the writing isn't up to the task.

It's competent enough, but generic and heavy-handed when it should fly. There's little gusto or verve that I can recognize. And the promised wit doesn't snap, crackle or pop; the almost obligatory similes don't so much soar as land with a thud. The prose just sort of trudges on from one scene to the next, never quite picking up enough speed to leave the ground.

I know, I know. The author states repeatedly that he's not trying to mimic Chandler. But you know what? He's absolutely right. It doesn't even come close. In style or tone or wit or substance. It's about as Chandleresque as a can of tuna.

It's more like a pale photocopy of a particularly weak episode of Mike Hammer with Stacy Keach. Or maybe Simon and Simon.

The only time I'm reminded of Chandler is in the repeated mentions of Chandler by the author himself -- in the preface, on the cover, in all the promotion for these books and of course the Amazon Customer Reviews (almost entirely five stars, of course, by such trusted household names as "Back to the Beach," "flyfotr" and the ever-popular "Amazon Customer." Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer

In the preface he even takes the time to point out several shout-outs to the Master's work, in case we missed them.

So he knows his Chandler? Big deal. So do I.

Next time, write your own book, dude, and leave the comparisons -- if any -- to others.

NOVELS

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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