Ross Thomas, The Procane Chronicle
One of life’s true pleasures is reading a Ross Thomas novel. He never lets you down when you re-read him, either.
I’ve now read The Procane Chronicle for the third or fourth time, and even though I now know all the amazing surprises Thomas blesses his readers with, the prose alone is as much fun as the story. The only writer living today who can even come close to the grace and nimbleness of Thomas is Lawrence Block. Block knows from sentences.
In this one, Phillip St. Ives is dragooned by poverty as usual to act as a go-between when a blackmailer sets a price. St. Ives is hired to make sure that both sides keep their promise. The stake this time is a possible Mafia war.
As always, Thomas gives us a radiantly cynical take on Washington, D. C. and all who do business there. Though thirty years have past since original publication, Procane depicts a nation’s capitol no different from the one we know today. St. Ives is lied to and betrayed by everything on two legs, even – or especially – those fine looking female legs.
For me, Thomas was one of the two or three best crime writers of the last century. He brought to each book a witty and brutal intelligence that exposed all of us as less than we’d want to be.
Many if not most of Ross Thomas are available now on Otto Penzler's fine Mysterious e book site.