Created by Barry Fantoni
”He was no taller than the Empire State and no wider than the Grand Canyon.”
— from Mike Dime. The author evidently graduated from Chandler U.
Private eye MIKE DIME makes Philadelphia of the late 1940’s his turf in the eponymous Mike Dime (1980), a cleverly written, spot-on homage to (or is it parody of?) Raymond Chandler. Well worth tracking down. Of course, British author Barry Fantoni doesn’t actually out-Chandler Chandler, but it’s a lot of fun watching him try.
Sometimes they evidently do write like that anymore, and maybe, just maybe, they will again. Even if their tongue might be inserted firmly in their cheek… Then again, by this point the novel was written over forty years ago–the same amount of time separating it from Chandler’s heyday. So, was he lampooning Chandler, or lampooning Chandler’s many imitators back then?
Whatever… I loved this book. Kudos to Fantoni for getting it right. Unlike some alleged spoofs, his wisecracks actually crack. He followed it up with another novel, Stickman, in 1982, and a couple of short stories. They may not be be great literature, but Fantoni’s love for the genre comes through loud and clear.
But then, he’s no stranger to private eyes. After forty-seven years as a contributor to British satirical magazine Private Eye (which, of course, has nothing to do with private eyes), he announced his retirement in 2010 — after 47 years! At the time, he announced that his plans were to write a few memoirs, and then dive back into detective fiction, with a novel “about the world’s oldest detective who is old and useless and talks about his illnesses.”
The result, Harry Lipkin, Private Eye, was published in 2012.
- “She was in her late forties and her figure was spreading faster than spilled milk.”
— Mike Dime
- “Her face was the color of uncooked bread, her lips were large and puffy and painted with less care than drunks count change.”
— Mike Dime
OBLIGATORY SENSITIVE MOMENT
- “It was a world that began and ended in innocent young girls with soft, golden curls and prim summer frocks in forget-me-not blue.”
— Mike Dime
- “… sharp and on target…a very funny and intelligent effort”.
— Baker and Nietzel, One Hundred and One Knights
- “Splendidly effortless sense of place and time… could start something of a cult … the writing is crisp and agreeable.”
— The Guardian on Mike Dime
- “Fantoni has followed the rhythms, pace, verve and humour of Chandler’s best work”
— Sunday Telegraph on Stickman