Simeon Grist

Created by Timothy Hallinan
(1942 –)

According to the blurb, SIMEON GRIST, hip young Los Angeles private eye, “knows the City of Angels inside and out — the sex for sale, the chic seductions, the clientele of every bar from downtown L.A. to Venice.”

Well, not quite. Thirtyish man-about-town Simeon does seem to get around, though, heading out from his place overlooking Topanga Canyon astride his trusty steed (well, broke-down clunker) that he calls “Alice”. No angel, maybe, with a weakness forsome occasional mild substance abuse, and self-analysis, Simeon’s not quite the tough, unflappable truth-seeker he seems to think he is.

A well-received series, but all that glib cynicism and world-weary introspection gets to be tiring. Too many writers seem to forget that, under that tough guy exterior, Marlowe had a heart of mush.

Still, when Hallinan hits the mark, he hits it solid. He’s great at the action stuff, and the plots are compellingly intricate and inventive. But every one of his novels that I’ve tracked down could have benefitted from a slightly leaner, meaner approach. As it is, their strengths are almost buried at times. Still, like I said, if you’re in the mood for an action-packed 90s take on Chandler, this series will do the trick. And later books in the series show the author starting to claim his own vision.

Hallinan, a one-time partner in a Los Angeles public relations firm, pulled the plug on the Simeon series in the mid-nineties, but has since returned with a couple of new characters, Bangkok private eye Poke Rafferty in 2007 and LA cat burglar turned reluctant shamus Junior Bender in 2012.


Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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