Created by Kirk Alex
Like, when some writer thinks he’s being clever, offering a simple hint or allusion to something, a shout-out meant to be subtle or disguised, but in fact is about as subtle as a sledgehammer to the face?
This series may qualify.
Naming your private detective EDGAR “DOC” HOLIDAY, an obvious shout-out to infamous gunslinger Doc Halliday, is just the start. Because… the book’s titles suggest that they’re all holiday-themed!
Which they aren’t.
Just in case you don’t, though, he tosses some alliteration into the titles: Hush Hush Holiday, Hubba Hubba Holiday, Hollow Point Holiday and Hard Noir Holiday.
Huh? Huh? Huh? Huh?
In fact, there’s nothing subtle here.
Doc himself is straight outta central casting, a hard-boiled Hollywood dick whose “veins pump pulp,” according to the over-the-top, paid-for review in Publisher’s Weekly Booklife (included in full below, because you’ve just got to read it) for Hard Noir Holiday, which gushes that “the novel’s long, demandingly so, and sometimes proudly over the top, the grim developments penned with a sense of play but still taken seriously.”
I’m not sure if the author wrote it himself, or if he has a relative on PW’s staff. Although, given some of the dubious, sub-literate reviews (not all of them negative) he received on his Amazon pages, his decision to to take matters into his own hands may be understandable.
The writing? Each book clocks in at a hefty 500 or so pages, with Hubba Hubba tapping out at a whopping 658 pages (and 210 chapters!), leaving no trope untouched or random thought unexplored. The troubled ex-lover, the corrupt cops, the sleazy dames, the obligatory drug cartels, the assorted mobsters, the bleak philosophical scenery-chewing—it’s all here, along with enough narrative detours to clog your GPS. Meanwhile, the chopped-up, staccato of spat-out, incomplete sentences and gratuitous coarse language just grinds on and on–I guess we should all be grateful the books aren’t narrated in first person. Third person’s bad enough.
The books are also, of course, jammed full of a little pseudo-Spillane sex and a lot of pseudo-Spillane violence, with Doc tripping over numerous dead people in the course of his “investigations”—and not shy about adding to the body count himself. When he’s not musing about literature, the authenticity of various women’s breasts, or some other profound topic.
Nor is the author shy about ending the books on cliffhangers, because—after five or six hundred page pages–that’s the sure-fire way to get readers to buy the next installment, right?
I dunno. This kind of hard-sell may work, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. The blatant shilling and sheer obviousness just sets my teeth on edge. The four books, some of which seem to have been written (and possibly originally published) as far back as the eighties (Doc goes to a lot of places that simply aren’t there anymore), were regurgitated, possibly re-written and re-tooled and all dumped on the market in one single week in February 2022. With matching covers that have all the cookie-cutter pizzazz of a cut-rate supermarket flyer.
But if you’re looking for some basic, down-and-dirty pulp with a little heft to it, a sort of Race Williams for the New Age…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kirk Alex’s work has appeared on the internet, while his horror novel Lustmord: Anatomy of a Serial Butcher was a finalist in the Kindle Book Review’s Best Book Awards of 2014. He is also the multi-volume Chance “Cash” Register series, and several volumes of free verse. Oh, and he thinks Raymond Chandler is “over-rated,” and Doc thinks “Philip Marlow” is “a thoroughly insufferable fraud.”
Go to the mirror, boy.
- “The epic fourth entry in Alex’s Edgar “Doc” Holiday series declares its intentions from the title. Our hero, a Los Angeles P.I. whose veins pump pulp, leaves town only to discover the murder of a friend and myriad other crimes, and there ain’t going to be anything cozy about what he faces as he investigates. For Doc it’s no vacation—he’s got to deal with crooked ex-cops, a cartel south of the border, illegal dog fights, kidney smugglers, the terrifying forked-tongue Moe clan out of Bisbee, AZ, and a car chase involving a hearse and a tow-truck in desert scrub—but readers who get their kicks from the darker crime-noir classics will find much to relish.
Setting Alex’s hard-noir holiday apart is the author’s preference for action over the existential paralysis that sometimes afflicts private eyes. That’s not to say Doc doesn’t despair—“And god was a powerless mook with no more power to do anything about any of it than Bozo the Clown,” he muses early on—but when heavies would work over the likes of Philip Marlowe, Doc will squash one’s eyeball with his sap then draw his Glock. Alex captures the dustups and dangers with crisp, precise language, at times daring the outrageous—”Titus yanked, and continued to do so, taking a chunk of the crotch with him.” That stirs a sense of rugged tension even during shoe-leather investigation scenes. When Doc and co. sneak through cartel tunnels, Alex wrings gut-churning suspense from the possibility of tripwires and armed guards.
The novel’s long, demandingly so, and sometimes proudly over the top, the grim developments penned with a sense of play but still taken seriously. While the thugs and ne’er-do-wells at times edge toward stock types—notable characters include Termite, Slim Biffle, Fede Gu, and Moustapha Standish—Doc and compatriots like Ilsa and Lucretia, whose dog Doc commits to recovering, remain engaging throughout as they “follow the money, find the truth” no matter how dark.
Takeaway: Living up to its title, this hard-edged P.I. epic dives into desert darkness and action.”
— Publisher’s Weekly (Booklife Reviews) on Hard Noir Holiday
- Hush Hush Holiday (1983; aka “Nothing is Forever”) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- Hubba Hubba Holiday (1983; aka “Just Another Private Dick”) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- Hollow Point Holiday (2021) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- Hard Noir Holiday (2022) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- Hammer Slammer Holiday (TBA)
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.