The Big Weird

I came across this book review which I left at Amazon before I began my blog in April 2013. The Big Weird remains one of my favorite novels by Mr. Moore. Later this week I’ll have an interview with Australian author Chad Evans, the author of Vincent Calvino’s World. In the meantime, I hope readers enjoy the review and The Big Weird as much as I did:

If New Orleans is The Big Easy, Bangkok is the clear winner for the title of, The Big Weird. Miss Congeniality she is not.

Author, Christopher G. Moore reminds us in the fifth installment of the Vincent Calvino crime series why his books are so popular with readers. My all-time favorite is #13 (2013 Missing In Rangoon (Vincent Calvino Crime Novel) ). The novels feature ½ Italian, ½ Jewish disbarred New York lawyer turned Bangkok private investigator Vincent Calvino. Vinnie is the only farang (white foreigner) in Bangkok legally carrying a .38 police special under his sport coat, due to his long-time friendship with Thai Police Colonel Prat. For Moore, the tools of his trade are a mirror, which he holds up to Thai society and expats living in Thailand, a magnifying glass aimed at the flaws of the human condition, and a microscope probing the psyche of his characters.

Setting and characters include the city of Bangkok and the air quality as both. In this case Calvino is hired by aging ex-Hollywood A-list screenwriter, Quintin Stuart to investigate the death of an American blonde found dead with a single bullet-hole in her head at the home of her ex-boyfriend. Set in the early days of the internet, the book captures sexual realities and virtual realities and the blurring lines in-between. Also found: a wise-cracking opportunist, Alan Osborne who is transforming a Go Go bar into a Mermaidium, featuring swimming bar-girls with names like Baby Fish and Ice; a motorcycle driving photographer specializing in morgue portraits; a fat, greedy computer geek named Slugo; a radical feminist and her group WULF (Women’s United Liberation Front) whose main goal is to eliminate Asian porn from the internet. And a hedonistic expat culture addicted to ever increasing levels of excitement.

I would not want Moore to eliminate either the radical feminists or the male chauvinist pigs from his world – in fact the world seems most entertaining when they are side by side in THE BIG WEIRD. This is a smart, “who done it” that becomes an entertaining, why done it. An example of the Calvino narrative:

“Working with Quintin Stuart was a wearying experience with the rules changing each time he met his client, one reversal followed by another, until he realized that he had been brought in less to discover the dark forces of evil than to discover the squalid compounds that could be shaped into books and movies.”

But what can you expect from a client who has, The Sickness. The Sickness is a thread that runs throughout the book detailing the pitfalls of living in a metropolis called The City of Angels, when anyone who has ever been there knows the more apt description is, The Big Weird.

An entertaining, gritty crime novel with a likeable yet imperfect private investigator as the protagonist. In the Phillip Marlowe, Mike Hammer tradition, only with a more interesting city in the background. A fun, quick read at 330 pages.