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Jonathan Lethem: Gun, with Occasional Music

Cute title, boring book. The basic plot is a pseudo-Chandler/Hammett story (but not nearly as good) with a few cutesy science fiction elements added. Many of the main characters are animals, an idea presumably taken from the Chandler quote at the beginning of the novel (“the subject was as easy to spot as a kangaroo in a dinner jacket”) and – shock! horror! – they take drugs, which can be more readily customised than the ones we now have. And that’s pretty well it. The cops are called inquisitors (oh, how jocular) and they can fine you not only money but karma and when you have no karma, you’re dead. Do I care? Not really. I kept hoping that damned kangaroo would go away and Mike Mazurki would show up.

Publishing history

First published 1994 by Harcourt Brace