Sunday, March 31, 2013


Angel’s Gate is the third entry in P. G. Sturges’ award-winning Shortcut Man hardboiled mystery series. The book sat on my night stand untouched for a week or so as I couldn’t shake the suspicion that it would mark the descent into formula that befalls most series. It would still be amusing and Sturges’ prose would still be engaging, but it would be the inevitable come down after the joy and freshness of the first two titles. Early on in the book there is a sequence where Dick Henry, the Shortcut Man, is hired by a client to find her sister who came out to Hollywood seeking fame and fortune ten years before and has since fallen off the map. It’s a familiar scene that immediately recalls Raymond Chandler’s The Little Sister, likewise a hardboiled mystery about Hollywood scandal and hypocrisy. That book was Chandler’s fifth and, while still essential reading, it lacks the freshness and vitality of his early Philip Marlowe mysteries. I was certain I would feel the same way about Angel’s Gate. Happily, I was dead wrong. TO CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE, PLEASE VISIT THE BLACK GATE ON FRIDAY.

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