Joe Goodey

Created by Charles E. Alverson (1935 --)

They're now nearly forgotten, but Alverson's two novels starring ex-homicide dick-turned-San Francisco PI JOE GOODEY are, like Howard Browne's Paul Pine books, as close as any writer has come to capturing the style and spirit of Raymond Chandler.

Here's Not Sleeping, Just Dead's opener:

"I was stretching a tall gin and tonic at Aldo's, the only bar I knew that hadn't yet torn up my tab, when I looked up and discovered that my elbow room to the west had been annexed by an elderly gentleman in a three-piece suit."

Would I have stopped there? No chance. He had me at "stretching a tall gin and tonic."

Goodey was riding high as a San Francisco homicide dick when he accidentally shot the mayor's cousin -- not the brightest career move anyone ever made. Promptly run out of town and told not to come back, he makes his way back in Goodey's Last Stand (1975) when he's hired to look into the murder of a popular North Beach stripper who just happens to be a "very special" friend of the mayor's.

In the sequel, Not Sleeping, Just Dead (1977), Goodey is hired by a rich man to investigate the mysterious death of his granddaughter at a Big Sur commune/rehab clinic.

Goodey's got a tendency to crack wise, and to grouse and gripe about the world in general (Big surprise! He finds it wanting!) but he's a stand-up guy. His economic status may be negligible -- it's all he can do to hang on to his small aprtment over a Chinese grocery store, his battered Morris convertible and his smart, affable girlfriend, Rachel -- but this "Philip Marlowe with a receding hairline" never quite slips into scenery-chewing heroism or blacker-than-thou cynicism. And it's that well-worn sense of pragmatism that keeps him -- and the reader -- rooted.

"Don't mistake me for a moralist, Rachel.You know better. i'm just an ex-cop scuffling after enough money to stay alive and operating. If some justice gets done in the process, that's fine. It makes the client feel better about paying."

It really is too bad he only showed up in the two books.

I guess Alverson had other things on his mind.

A transplanted Los Angeleno, Alverson has been a novelist, editor and screenwriter who's led a rather colorful life. Fresh out of nabbing a degree in Journalism from Columbia, he wrote for The Wall Street Journal, the San Francisco Chronicle and the humour mag Help! (under Harvey "MAD" Kurtzman) for a while, before eventually moving to England in the sixties, where he wrote for Rolling Stone, hooked up with members of Monty Python (he worked on Brazil and Jabberwocky, and served as managing editor for a British environmentalist magazine that was financed by Terry Jones. He's lived in Wales, Cambridge (where he was an activist, protesting against the United Statesís bombing of Iraq in 1990 and Margaret Thatcher's poll tax and getting arrested twice for his trouble). Besides the two Joe Goodey novels, he's written children's books, short stories and film scripts. He currently lives in the village of Parage somewhere in Serbia with his wife, Zivana.

UNDER OATH

  • "... the next best thing to finding a new and unsuspected Raymond Chandler phantasmagoria."

--The New Yorker on Goodey's Last Stand

NOVELS

Respectfully submitted by Dick Lochte, with a tiny bit of additional background supplied by Kevin Burton Smith.


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