Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Forgotten Books: The Plastic Nightmare by Richard Neely

The Plastic Nightmare

I've written here before about Richard Neely. He wrote non-series crime novels that pretty much covered the entire range of dark suspense. I mentioned that in the best of them the weapon of choice is not poison, bullets or garrote. He always prefered sexual betrayl.

Plastic is a good example. Using amnesia as the central device Dan Mariotte must reconstruct his life. Learning that the beautiful woman at his bedside all these months in the hospital--his wife--may have tried to kill him in a car accident is only the first of many surprises shared by Mariotte and the reader alike.

What gives the novel grit is Neely's take on the privileged class. He frequently wrote about very successful men (he was a very successful adverts man himself) and their women. The time was the Seventies. Private clubs, privte planes, private lives. But for all the sparkle of their lives there was in Neely's people a despair that could only be assauged (briefly) by sex. Preferably illicit sex. Betrayl sex. Men betrayed women and women betrayed men. It was Jackie Collins only for real.

Plastic is a snapshot of a certain period, the Seventies when the Fortune 500 dudes wore sideburns and faux hippie clothes and flashed the peace sign almost as often as they flashed their American Express Gold cards. Johny Carson hipsters. The counter culture co-opted by the pigs.

The end is a stunner, which is why I can say little about the plot. Neely knew what he was doing and I'm glad to see his book back in print. Watching Nerely work is always a pleasure.


Mathew Paust said...

This may be another example of cosmic convergence (a Mayan sign?), but a fellow who goes by "Dicky Neely" just today announced in the Our Salon blogging community that his new novel, Sherlock Holmes and the Texas Adventure, is due out next month. Here's the URL:

pattinase (abbott) said...

Got it!

Bill Pronzini said...

I'm sure you know this, Ed, but for any of your readers who might not: PLASTIC NIGHTMARE was the basis for the 1991 film SHATTERED, with Tom Berenger, Bob Hoskins, and Greta Scachi.

Jamie Pullman said...

Oh! Yes Even i have heard this. It is a nice novel.