Peter Pavia's Dutch Uncle reviewed by jseger900

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Peter Pavia's Dutch Uncle reviewed by jseger900

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May 23, 2011, 11:32pm

Hey, we have a new 'about' box to be used if a talk thread is focused on a single book. That'll be nice for this group in particular.

Anyway, here's my review for Peter Pavia's Dutch Uncle. An unusual entry into the Hard Case Crime series of books.

I LOVED the writing, but didn't really care for the book.
Fresh out of jail, Harry Healy bumps into old cell-mate Leo Hannah. Leo offers Harry a job delivering some cocaine. Harry'd been hoping to play it straight, but the job seems to easy to pass up.

Things go smooth (well, smooth enough for a drug deal anyway) until Harry returns to find the supplier, Manfred Pfiser (the Dutch Uncle of the title) dead. Figuring he's been set up, Harry hoofs it and all sorts of complications ensue.

The book is set in Florida and Peter Pavia excels at capturing the atmosphere of the place. The sunshine, the fashions, clubs, dives, models, gangsters, drugs and quirky weirdos are all here and presented well. There were tons of little, off-hand details of life in Florida and various criminal activities worked into the narrative that made me feel that Pavia knew the scene he was describing. He could be way off the mark, but to an outsider like me, the details rang true and gave the book an added depth.

I loved the author's voice. Though the book is written in the third person, Pavia injects personality and wry observations into the narrative, occasionally giving it a first person flavor. This might sound like it would be distracting, but it works very well, giving the writing real personality.

The characters had some depth to them. Well, at least Harry and the officer, Martinson did. None of the characters were likeable, but then again this is a crime story, so they don't have to be. The characters were all at least believable.

On the downside, the author had a habit of going off on tangents. Though they would usually relate back to the story, sometimes it felt like he was indulging himself. In a reversal of a typical crime novel setup, this story begins with a single narrative that diverges in to three separate storylines, following Harry, Leo and detective Martinson. Each story was interesting, but it never felt like the book was really going anywhere. This, I think, is the book's biggest sin. It lacked tension. A driving force that would push me to keep picking up the book. It didn't feel like a Hard Case Crime book at all.

The book was exceptionally well written. I would definitely give Peter Pavia another chance. It's almost worth reading just for the Florida vibe it so effortlessly gives off. However it is also the weakest of the Hard Case Crime books I've yet read.

May 25, 2011, 9:17am

"seems too easy to"

May 25, 2011, 9:54am

Looks good to me.

May 26, 2011, 10:32am

#2 - Doh! Thank you! I've corrected that!

Anything else?

May 26, 2011, 2:47pm

My little correction was really a case of praising with faint damns. I think your review is well constructed and gives us a clear idea not only what the book is about but what you liked and disliked about it.

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