Frisco Beat: And eBooks Shall Gumshoe the Mean Streets. . .

narzizziJohn Nardizzi tells me he once worked the Frisco Beat as a private eye for no less than three years, and he returns to the burg with a novel, paying tribute to the city of Sam Spade and a hundred other detectives:

San Francisco was rich, seductive, insatiable, demanding, and even after you saw her grimy face and wasted ways, you loved her like a woman. . . .

Yeah, if you collect San Francisco Mysteries, you’ll want this one, with coverage of one neighborhood after another, with the Tenderloin large among them, guest spots for the Commodore Hotel and the old Red Room bar, a nice bit about how the new Main Library obviously wasn’t designed by anyone in any remote way a librarian.

Boston P.I. Ray Infantino flies into town to hunt for a missing person, a young hooker in trouble with the Black Fist Triad. An ex-girlfriend makes the scene. You’ve got detection, shoot-outs, building toward the final firefight in a house on the titular hill. Nardizzi is at his best with the tight pulp-style descriptions:

Bush Street was a row of green lights, and Ray was downtown within five minutes.

Some of the street work struck me as just a little a bit off, what you might expect from a guy who had lived here a few years ago — but in a way, that makes it that much more interesting for the people who read theses novels to see how they interface the city. And the fact is that I have noticed in recent novels by a writer who has lived in San Francisco for around fifty years some inexplicable street movements — at least in a proof copy of a new book, he located the 500 Club (which should be Hank’s 500 Club) on the wrong corner of Haight and Fillmore. Come on — it was at 500 Haight, n.w. corner. Everybody knows that.

I read Telegraph Hill maybe seven or eight months ago, when it first appeared as an ebook exclusive. I thought, Whoa! — a whole new angle to rounding up San Francisco mysteries! Now you’ve got to include ebooks. . . .

And of course I “lost” it on my Kindle. If it’s not a book in a pile sitting there to remind me to blurb it, what can I say?

For traditionalists, I see that a trade paperback version is out now, but I am sure that sooner than later we’ll get a local mystery that only exists in the shadowy world of the ebook.

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