Nick Belane

Created by Charles Bukowski

“My eyes were blue and my shoes were old and nobody loved me. But I had things to do. I was Nicky Belane, private detective.”

Alcoholic, rheumy-eyed, with all the charm of dried vomit and on a downhill slide towards the Big Sleep, much like his creator himself, obnoxious Los Angeles private eye NICK BELANE is the hero of Charles Bukowski’s final book, published post-humously.

It’s a predictably twisted tale Bukowski’s spewing here, and definitely not for everyone. The author, like his hero, is often deliberately obnoxious. Which is often, so help me, hilarious. But also sometimes just, well, sadly offensive. The Bukowski cult will lap it up.

Belane is circling the drain, without a case in months (despite his low, low rate of six dollars an hour), when he’s hired by a mysterious client called Lady Death to track down a dead French writer who may still be alive.

When Belane discovers the writer was born over a hundred years ago, he thinks, “No wonder Lady Death was looking for him!” And then another client pops up, asking him to look for someone or something called the Red Sparrow. Two clients in one day! and then there’s the client who wants Belane does what any messed-up gumshoe would do–he goes on a extened drinking and gambling toot. Too bad he forgot it’s not nice to fuck around with Lady Death.

The Montreal Gazette called it “a delicious spoof on genre fiction in the tradition of Ray Chandler and Dashiell Hammett,” and “a twisted gem.” Bukowski, with a serious amount of tongue jammed in his cheek, dedicated the book to “bad writing,” and he certasinly delivered.

Chris Friesen, in this site’s review, suggested it was indeed “a very good example of bad writing.”

And I have to concede that, for all his pissing around, Bukowski did get one thing right: Most pulp was bad writing.

As I said, the faithful will lap it up. Hard-boiled fans’ mileage may vary.


  • “A spoof should be funnier and sharper than what it is spoofing but compared to Hammett and Chandler, Pulp is quite simply trash.”
    — Publishers Weekly
  • “… a darkly humorous takeoff of private eye novels, replete with the recently deceased Bukowski’s usual scatalogical unpleasantries… There are some truly funny moments, but many will find Bukowski’s raw, ugly side repulsive and his negativity unbearable.”
    — Library Journal



Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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