Created by Jim Christy
GENE CASTLE is a private eye working the mean streets of Vancouver, British Columbia in the years leading up to World War II, when we first hook up with him in Shanghai Alley (1997), a slick, entertaining (and appropriately-presented) paperback original that takes place in that city’s teeming Chinatown–at one time rivaled only by that of San Francisco.
Castle’s hired (at $25 a day, plus expenses) to find some missing union loot, and soon finds himself mixed up in the usual corruption, crooked cops, deceit, lies and murder. He gets worked over by goons, tossed from the roof of a whorehouse and has his oldest friend is gunned down–about what you’d expect. A nice touch is his sidekick showgirl, Louise Jones. But even better is the writing. Christy’s prose is sharp and vivid and uniquely his own–a sharp and heady mix of quasi-beatnik jive and pulp fiction.
According to his publisher, “Jim Christy writes in a telegraphic style evoking the golden age of the noir thrillers, while at the same time delving into the darker zeitgeist of our own era.” And Margaret Cannon of The Globe and Mail says Christy “has a painter’s eye, and a poet’s ear, and he’s able to pull together a decent plot. He’s no Chandler, but he’s not bad.”
Not bad enough, evidently, to prevent several sequels. In Princess and Gore (2000) and Terminal Avenue (2002), the series skips ahead to 1939, and finds Castle and Louise back in town, after three years in China and Spain. The Depression’s over and Vancouver’s bopping to the hot beat of jazz, even as the beat of war drums sounds on the ditance.
And the series wrapped up with the publication of Nine O’Clock Gun (2008), which finds Castle back in Vancouver after the war, looking for Louise, who seems to have taken a powder.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Philadelphia-born Jim Christy is a visual artist and spoken-word performer, and has published poetry, novels, short stories, biography (Jack Kerouac, Charles Bukowski), non-fiction and journalism, and is also the author of Junkman and Other Stories, an unflinching collection of tales documenting the wild and ragged side of Vancouver, full of “dumpster divers, junkies, junk collectors, Mafia bagmen and bag ladies.” A long-time resident of British Columbia, he currently lives in Toronto.
- Shanghai Alley (1997) | Buy this book
- Princess and Gore (2000) | Buy this book
- Terminal Avenue (2002) | Buy this book
- Nine O’Clock Gun (2008) | Buy this book
- Tight Like That (2003) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
An impressionistic mish-mash of stories, featuring “private eyes, old drunks, yuppies, hippies, and everyone in between,” all getting “the trademark Christy work-over.”
THE DICK OF THE DAY
- Vancouver and Beautiful British Columbia
Private Eyes of the West Coast