Book Review: Epitaph for a Tramp & Epitaph for a Dead Beat by David Markson

David_Markson Harry FanninDavid Markson is better known as a “serious” writer of such experimental classics as Wittgenstein’s Daughter, This is Not a Novel, and of course, Vanishing Point.

Before becoming an artiste, however, he wrote two hardboiled detective novels featuring a Greenwich Village PI named Harry Fannin. Originally published in the late 50s and early 60s they were reissued in a single volume in 2007 by Avalon Publishing under the imprint of Shoemaker Hoard.

Narrated in classic hardboiled first-person style, PI Fannin is an urban version of Travis McGee with Mike Hammer’s stubbornness and Spenser’s self-awareness. The two novels that make up the volume take place in Greenwich Village and are hardboiled heaven. The girls are beautiful, willing, and deadly. The stories good. But it is the style that carries the day.

Markson is a great stylist. And style, after all, is the essence of a great hardboiled mystery. Raymond Chandler, Ross Macdonald, Mickey Spillane were not mystery storytellers so much as mystery stylists. Novelists of the first order (certainly in the case of Chandler and Macdonald) they knew that the plot and the “mystery” were secondary in prose. Markson in these two novels obviously knows it too.

Two great reads.

Check them out!

First Paragraph of Epitaph for a Tramp

First Paragraph

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