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Madison Smartt Bell: Straight Cut
This book was marketed as hard case crime which is why, unlike many of his other earlier novels, it is still in print in both the USA and the UK which is rather sad as it is by no means his best book. Interestingly it is also written entirely in the first person, which is unusual for Bell. It is told by Tracy Bateman whose marriage to Lauren has broken up. At the beginning of the book he shoots his cancer-ridden dog so, like most Bell heroes, he is not happy with life. Like most Bell heroes, he has his philosophical musings – Kierkegaard in this case – and his martial arts to keep him company sans wife and dog. His old friend Kevin offers him a well-paid job in Rome film-editing, which he rapidly accepts. Lauren even turns up to keep him company but when it turns out the job is more about drug smuggling than cinema, even Kierkegaard can’t help. It is, as always, a well-told story which will keep you gripped to your seat but it is not one of his best by any stretch of the imagination.
First published 1986 by Ticknor & Fields