Witty Noir Sci-Fi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A beautiful blonde walks into a San Francisco gin joint, and Sammy "Two Toes" Tiffin is suddenly smitten by the mysterious woman named Stilton (after the cheese). Thus begins Christopher Moore's tale of Noir. It's 1947, and the Allies have won the war. Now regular folks are scraping by and trying to get through a rough and dangerous world, and hoping to maybe earn a bit of dough on the side. Sammy is a man with a lot of plans and schemes - Sammy knows people - he's friends with all sorts around town, and for that he is dragged into a plan by his boss at the saloon to help an Air Force General get into a swanky nob club. But Sammy has several irons in the fire and as his plans for a quick buck begin to unravel, Sammy soon learns how closely all these strange events are connected together. As his new girl, the Cheese, goes missing Sammy must avoid being caught by the mysterious guys wearing black suits and sunglasses as he saves the Cheese and uncovers a mystery that is out of this world.
I really enjoy Christopher Moore, and Noir does not disappoint. It is a gritty, hard-boiled story filled with many nods, winks, and nudges at classic noir fiction. But it is classic Moore as well, so his Noir is also filled with a lot of sly and witty humor on the side. The combination is a fun-filled adventure that mixes pulp sci-fi with pulp fiction. I swear that Moore makes an attempt to use every bit of noir slang in the story, and the characters are rich and full of life. As the story unfolded I could picture the scenes rolling out like classic film noir, with enough dark humor to cause me to burst out laughing several times. Sammy is the classic noir hero - the regular guy, working a crummy job, and who is trying to do better at life but doing it by the seat of his pants. Into Sammy's life walks the mysterious and sultry Stilton (don't call her Toots), a woman who takes no guff from anybody and who has more secrets than you can shake a stick at. Together they make a great pair, playing off each other and basically making up everything as they go along, hoping to come out okay at the end. The other characters the Moore sprinkles into the mix, from Sal, Sammy's boss and a regular douchbag, to Sammy's friends and ersatz assistants, to the mysterious Men in Black, all make this is fun and entertaining read.
I listened to the audio version that was expertly read by Johnny Heller. Heller does a fantastic job of bringing life to all of the characters, and you can hear the influences from Bogart, Cagney, Ladd, and Burr throughout the narration. Heller sets the stage and his voices immerse you into the wonderful world that Moore has created.
I highly recommend this entertaining and witty interpretation of the classic noir genre.