Friday, March 24, 2023

Finished: 'Miami Purity' by Vicki Hendricks

 I needed this book. It's been a while since I had one knock my socks off, and this one did. I read the book in one sitting, literally, on a recent flight to Tampa. Fortunately, for my seat-mates, it didn't literally knock my socks off.

I'm not easily shocked. I'm 58. I've seen a lot and done a lot. But this one had me wincing, laughing, grimacing and saying to myself "No, don't go there!" And the author went there. 

'Miami Purity' was awesome. It was lurid and explicit in parts. But it had to be.

It had to be because I had high expectations, as I'd seen the book referred to a couple times recently as the book that reignited the contemporary crime noir genre. And you can't reignite something by being lame. You have to light stuff on fire, toss gasoline onto it and watch it explode.

Noir is a genre of crime fiction featuring hard-boiled cynical characters and bleak sleazy settings. This had all that. If you are easily offended, this isn't for you. It will touch your inner pervert and make you look over your shoulder in the airplane to make sure someone isn't seeing what you're reading.

According to Amazon:

Sherri Parlay gives up her life of depravity, and with best intentions, finds a respectable job as a dry cleaner in hopes for a decent future. But nature and nurture plot against her when she meets the beautiful, tortured, and rich young Payne, who tempts her with the love and life she never thought possible. Even Brenda, Payne's domineering mother, can't keep the lovers apart when Sherri's animal passions take control. Unfortunately, Payne is not only a different kind of man from those in Sherri's past, he's worse than any on her list of sordid affairs. Twisted psychology and a pure heart lead her into the dark realm of disillusionment and crime, where she reaches into her deepest reserves for the strength to survive. This contemporary noir novel is reminiscent of James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice with a heavy dose of sexual realism that Cain might have enjoyed if his times would have allowed.

I read a lot of crime noir, primarily from the 1950s-60s. I've tried my hand at it myself with the Bags Morton books, but in those wasn't able to get as dark as I wanted, falling back onto my nature of smart-aleck humor more often than the stark darkness of the soul those true to the genre do. But I'm giving it a go on a current project I'm working on. Not sure if I'll ever publish it though, as people often have difficulty separating the author from the work. In that sense, I'd love to know Vicki Hendricks, to see if she's anything like her main character Sherri Parlay. I doubt it. But, if she isn't a nympho pervert, she has a great imagination and story-telling ability.

It's one book I'll probably read again, which seldom happens. I gave it a 9 on the 10-point Haugenomter. Amazonians gave it only a 3.7 out of 5, as I suspect many didn't know what they were getting into.

It's not an erotic novel though. It's a murder mystery, an adventure, a look into the dark soul of every evil character (and they all are bad people), with sex as a common theme between them. I probably should've chosen a different book to read during Lent, but then what would I have to talk about at Confession? Besides, I was a captive audience on an airplane. Not like I could browse the bookshelves for something else, and I'm glad there wasn't.

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