Charles Willeford is a master at balancing the absurd with raw-knuckled humor and a sunburned grittiness. There’s a well-worn wit that enlightens his prose, and his mastery comes in the movement of the narrative. As he did in one of his earlier novels, ‘Pick Up’, he doesn’t waste time getting to the point. If I had to put him in a family tree of writers, he’d be a sibling to Harry Crews and Donald E. Westlake. His Florida noir is at times hilarious and bold, and in other moments, desperate and gut-wrenching. His detective, Hoke Moseley, is as lost as they come, a man married to his job because there is no other option–he has lost almost everything, including his teeth. In ‘Miami Blues’ Moseley goes up against a sadistic pickpocket and his gullible prostitute girlfriend, moving through the Miami streets and shorelines like a beaten pitbull barely able to pick one stink from another. This is not postcard Florida. Pools are filled with sand. Pink flamingos stick out of withered lawns. Shopping malls are sanctuaries for sleazebags. In the end, the typical hardboiled theatrics take a welcome backseat. In his world, not all crimes happen in the darkness, but in the white hot glare of the Miami sun.
Miami Blues. Part 1 of the Moseley Quartet. Top shelf.