Rediscovered: Oakley Hall and 1940s California

If you want to check it out, my latest review for PW just popped. The gist and much of the wordage is mine (if you can’t tell the especially distinct Don Herron touch, you’re unfamiliar with my writings of the last many years).

It got juggled a bit, but then I do give them a few more words than they can fit in, and if editorial wants to move things here and there, what the hell. My name isn’t on it.

The McGinnis cover is another modern classic, but I didn’t have time to deal with it as such, or felt the need.

This Oakley Hall novel is a rediscovery from 1950, and half of it is really solid. Fine period details such as tin shower stalls and wing windows on cars. Covers territory from the Central Valley to San Diego — even a sequence set in and around Hamilton Fields, where if you recall Charles Willeford was stationed just as he finally began writing novels in the early 1950s.

Hall might have noted his details just slightly earlier than Willeford was there, but, man, it’s pretty close. One kind of noir guy using turf tread by another kind of noir guy.

Ah, but the other half of the novel — hysterical emoting, the lead couple splitting and getting back together again. Time after time.

I know it happens — as a kid in Tennessee the couple who owned the nearest grocery store divorced then remarried then divorced then remarried till I lost count — but the emotional strum und drang, honest, doesn’t make for compelling reading.

Call it quits, morons, and move on.

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