Book: A Nasty Piece of Work by Robert Littell

One of the things I hate about fiction told in the first person is when the author tends to pontificate all the time –  to tell the narrative always from the high horse – and insults the reader’s intelligence.  That is why Chandleresque private detective fiction works:  the reader happily accepts the story teller is willing to bare himself, warts,  nuerosis and all. A fine turn of phrase is also crucial for this type of genre.

I like A Nasty Piece of Work by Robert Littell for the above reasons.  Consider this excerpt :

Her eyes were seaweed green and deep-set and solemn and blinked about as often as those of the Sphinx. Her lips were straight out of a Scott Fitzgerald novel, oval and moist and slightly parted in permanent perplexity. Everything, as Mr. Yul Brynner used to tell us six nights a week and Saturday matinees, is a puzzlement. Her hair was short and straight and dark and tucked back behind her ears. She wasn’t wearing makeup, at least none that I could spot. There wasn’t a ring on a finger, a bracelet on a wrist, a necklace on the neck she had swiped from a swan. Take me as I am, she seemed to be saying.


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