Book Reviews: Young and Foolish by Bill WilliamsPosted: March 21, 2013
One of the things I love about Facebook is this page I like which every day gives you a link to downloading a few free Kindle books every day. It’s pretty cool and has turned me on to a few books I otherwise wouldn’t have heard of. One of these is this book, a collection of stories featuring Williams’ private eye hero Arthur Quinn.
Clearly, the idea is that by reading these short stories featuring the character for free people will pay to read his continuing adventures.
The stories here are fairly simple set ups- in the title story Quinn is hired by a rising starlet to recover some photographs taken by an ex-boyfriend, a task which brings him into contact with even more unsavoury types. In the second, “First Person Shooter”, his instincts lead him to check on a coworker and means he is forced to chase and stop a gun toting killer with a detective shadowing him every step of the way. And the final story, “The Tune Up” has Quinn tracking down a sadistic rapist and struggles to control the rage he feels as he uncovers more about the case.
Each story is fast paced and engaging, and Williams writes with this hard boiled, pulpy feel. At times it lurches into almost comical cliche, but as a fan of two fisted noirish tales this kind of worked for me, and there is a certain sense of humour to some of his writing.
The stories are gritty and hard edged, and Williams relishes the tough talking cynicism of the characters and Quinn’s jaded world view in the narration. The book happily wallows in crime and the underworld, and Williams makes Austin seem like a city built on crime and shady characters, it’s all good rather fun and it’s nice to read a book that enjoys it’s seedy genre roots so much.
Williams’ best weapon is his protagonist, Quinn. I haven’t read any of his other stories, so the back story is still a little hazy, but I loved the idea of a PI who’s independently wealthy and does this job on the side to assuage his feelings of guilt and keep busy. In truth, Quinn isn’t your traditional PI hero and more of a general fixer who seems willing and able to get his hands dirty if needs be.
It’s here he resembles a kind of Phillip Marlowe or Frank Miller protagonist, a tough, cynical dude who can navigate the underworld due to his ability to read people and willingness to sock them in the jaw.
The stories are well done and entertaining, and the third has a kind of darkness that suggests that that the full length adventures might have more depth, but they serve as a good quick read and do their job in acting as a preview for Williams’ other work, which I will probably check out.
Verdict: A good introduction to Williams’ writing and the character of Quinn. Nothing groundbreaking, but entertaining stuff nonetheless and a good example of the tough world of hard boiled fiction. 7/10.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.