This CRIMESCENE is investigated by

Jim Nesbitt:

Patter Is Vital – And Deadly

The Casablanca Tango cover

If you love the great noir films of the 1940s, you know they’re driven by sharp, snappy dialogue, delivered at a machine-gun clip in the American vernacular. It’s called patter and James Lileks’ 40s-era who-dun-it, set in the frozen tundra of Minneapolis, has it in spades. This isn’t your everyday patter – nor is it gaudy like a piece of fake jewelry. This is patter that can steal your best girl while lighting your Lucky with a snick of a Zippo. Patter like this can mix you the perfect Manhattan or carve out your liver with a switchblade. And it serves Lileks well in the telling of THE CASABLANCA TANGO, a body-strewn mystery that brings back the main characters of the author’s previous work, cigarette-mooching newspaper reporter Harry Holman and his sidekick photographer John Crosley, who is the narrator of this story. Both are combat veterans – Harry fought in the ETO, John in the Pacific. And their partnership is an obvious noir-ish nod to Holmes and Watson, with Crosley always two or three steps behind his brilliant buddy.

James Lileks

James Lileks

The action starts out with what looks like a mob hit on a union boss that leaves four dead in a bar called, you got it, The Casablanca. While everybody focuses on the union boss, there’s a girl among the dead that draws Harry’s attention. She has three lines drawn in blood across her forehead – and the game’s afoot. The boys are after a serial killer and dead women keep showing up with the killer’s telltale markings. Not only does Lileks tell a good, hard-boiled story, he recreates a historic Minneapolis rich and exacting in detail and a Citizen-Herald newsroom redolent with the sounds and smells only


Jim Nesbitt

someone who loves newspapers could capture. Which shouldn’t surprise anybody because Lileks is a long-time newspaper columnist who loves his town and is a serious student of architecture and cultural kitsch from the 30s through the 60s. He tells a bang-up mystery here with a surprise ending that will have you slapping your forehead because you won’t see it coming.

About peterjearle

Writer of thriller novels. 6 Published: 'Purgatory Road', 'The Barros Pawns', and the Detective Dice Modise Series:'Hunter's Venom - #1' 'Medicinal Purposes Only - #2', and 'Children Apart - #3; and 'Tribes of Hillbrow'; all from Southern Africa.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Crime, thriller, Whodunnit and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to THE CASABLANCA TANGO – James Lileks

  1. edearl says:

    Reblogged this on The Spotted Mule.


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