Thursday, September 23, 2010

Forgotten Books: PEEPER by Loren D. Estleman

I've probably read this books five or six times and reviewed it two or three. It always gives me an instant high because Estleman has created a character so despicable you keep wishing somebody would shoot/stab/strangle/burn him. And he's the protagonist.

Even though I know a fair share of the book by heart I still laugh out loud through a good share of it. Dirt-bag Detroit private eye Ralph Poteet is so sleazy you just got to laugh at him. And the big problem is for all the laws he breaks his renumeration wouldn't buy him a good meal at Olive Garden (if there is such a thing).

PEEPER is a witty take on many private-eye clich├ęs. It's filled with people you wouldn’t want to meet without wearing a biohazard suit, including a monsignor who dies in a whorehouse.

Poteet is asked to help secret the man’s enormous body to a more discreet location. And he decides while he’s at it … to snap a few pics of the corpse. Never know what kind of money they’ll bring on the open market. This gives Estleman the opportunity to put the big time nasty on Catholic Church politics. The prelates are even scuzzier than Poteet, no easy accomplishment.

What makes this work is Estleman’s enormous skill. Nobody writes a better classical private-eye story better than Loren, even when he’s having fun with the tropes. This book is a triumph of bad taste and hilarity in equal parts. I'm serious here--this would also make a great TV series.

Trust me. You’ll like this one a lot. And you'll re-read it as many times as I have.

6 comments:

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

Agreed. I read this when it first came out and will return to it Real Soon Now.

Larry D. Sweazy said...

It would be nice to see Loren's work turned into a TV series or a movie. His dialogue is perfect for the screen, big or little.

Richard S. Wheeler said...

It's a delicious novel, the one that made me a great admirer and fan of Mr. Estleman. It also rattled my perception of what a novel should be.

Evan Lewis said...

An Estleman I've never heard of, and it sounds damn cool. I'm sold.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a fun read. I like LE's Amos Walker series and his Westerns, so his PI parody has its appeal.

Ed Lynskey

Richard L. said...

I read this when it first came out and loved it. I thought at the time that the main character had Danny DeVito's voice in his Louie persona from the television sitcom, TAXI.

The only thing that's dated is that the dead priest in the prostitute's bed might now be looked upon more favorably, or at least differently, as the scandals in the Catholic Church had not yet transpired then.