The Crooked Man

Philip Davison, Author
Philip Davison, Author Random House UK $17.95 (214p) ISBN 978-0-224-04304-5
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-0-14-200208-7
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-4464-6678-0
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There's not much to like about this thin tale from an Irish novelist and playwright. Davison writes in short, flat sentences (""She did not stay on the motorway long. It was dangerous for her. She might have to stop to hit her brother-in-law again with the jack handle."") that quickly overwhelm any initial, quirky appeal. As told by Harry Fielding, a seedy freelance criminal who works as an ""understrapper"" (sort of a villain of all trades) for a sleek British intelligence officer known as Hamilton, the narrative reads like an unfunny parody of Len Deighton's early Palmer books, but without Deighton's wit or talent. Fielding lives in a wretched London flat, eating foil containers of airline food which he buys by the batch, contents unknown. Although he tells us that his job description doesn't include kidnapping or killing, he's soon up to his neck in dead bodies--helping a neighbor dispose of an abusive relative, aiding Hamilton in cleaning up after a nasty murder, savaging a journalist who gets in the way. Occasionally vivid settings--a restaurant in London's Chinatown or a ramshackle Dublin hotel--hold promise of significance, but Davison's ungraceful prose doesn't deliver on them. (Sept.)
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