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Rick Davis' review of 'Dreaming of Babylon'
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Dreaming of Babylon: A Private Eye Novel 1942

by Rick Davis?

A private eye novel 1942 as the subtitle says, would mean to this reader Maltese Falcon and Dashiell Hammett, a knock-em-down-set-em-up-in-the-other-alley type of detective novel. Not so this one. It wallows in the thoughts of the P.I. which have haunted him since childhood, of interest only to himself. When he finally meets the client he set out to meet at the beginning, the book is half over, and all over for interest! One was tempted to quit at that point, but integrity as a critic and fairness to the author kept one going. A direct quote from the P.I. "This whole thing was just like a pulp detective story. I couldn't believe it," is only half right. The only resemblance to a private eye story circa 1942 begins and ends with a P.I. and a beautiful girl. The end of the quote expresses this reviewer's opinion, "I couldn't believe it."

Another direct quote - "a bite out of a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, the old BLT" - sounds more like a 1970's quote from Get Smart!

The author does make an attempt to redeem himself at the halfway point by switching to humor (?), but it's too forced to work. All in all, a book to forget.


West Coast Review of Books? 4(1)
January 1978

Reprinted in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 9. Ed. Dedria Bryfonski. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1978. 123-25.

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