A Man Named Doll by Jonathan Ames

Noir isn’t generally my genre, but my husband read this and loved it and I’m glad I read it too. The narrator is an ex-cop private investigator who finds himself trying to solve a crime that hits close to home while he’s also high on prescription painkillers and pot; in doing so he makes a number of questionable decisions and gets himself into a whole lot of trouble. The body count in this book was way higher than in the cozier mysteries I usually go for, but I felt the violence was balanced by the narrator’s quirks (he is very devoted to his dog, George, and writes about George in a way I found totally charming) and by the descriptive passages about LA and its surroundings that are scattered throughout.

Here’s what the narrator has to say about George, early in the book: “I think of him as my dear friend whom I happen to live with. In that way, we’re like two old-fashioned closeted bachelors who cohabitate and don’t think the rest of the world knows we’re lovers.” (16) And here’s one of those LA passages: “I looked out over the city. The wind was blowing right, and with all the rain lately you could see clear through to the port of Los Angeles, thirty miles away. You could see the cranes and the tanker ships and the ocean, which was glinting like a strip of silver” (82).

Also, I loved this description of someone’s apartment: “it was frozen in time in the ’80s, with a white leather couch, glass tables, mirrors, the color red, the color black, sculptures of Greek torsos” (147).






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