Falling Angel (18 Years Classic) - William Hjortsberg

This book was recommended to me on a bookmark called "50 of the best horror novels" and it is technically incorrect as I would not refer to it as horror more crime noir with grizzly undertones. It's the story of Harry Angel, tough New York PI, and his search for Johnny Favorite one time crooner who sang with the Spider Simpson orchestra in the 1940's. What I enjoy about noir crime is not so much the story but the setting, the characters, and the language used. We get to meet Spider Simpson, Evangeline Proudfoot, Madame Zora, Toots Sweet all coming under the suspicious and watchful eye of our great PI Harry Angel! Of course as every Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett fan will know it is always the fast and furious cracking dialogue that makes the story buzz...."She had large breasts and slim hips and emphasized them with a pink angora sweater and a tight black skirt. Her hair was on the brassy side of platinum"..."A million square feet of office space sheathed in embossed aluminium panels. It looked like a forty-story cheese grater."...."She was dressed all in black, like a weekend bohemian in a Village coffeehouse"...." The curtainrod was bent in a V and the drapes sagged like the stockings of a hooker on a weeklong drunk".

 

The story moves at a furious pace and give the impression and smells of downtown NYC in the late 1950's with all its undertones, underlife and seedy jazz clubs.."I found a stool at the bar and ordered a snifter of Remy Martin. The band was playing a blues, the guitar darting in and out of the melody like a hummingbird. The piano throbbed and thundered. Toot's Sweet's left hand was every bit as good as Kenny Pomeroy had promised". Unfortunately, at times, with the introduction of so many characters, the main storyline became a little confused and I sometimes found it necessary to backtrack before continuing. Having said that the effort of completing the story was certainly rewarded with an intelligent and somewhat horrific ending.