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Willeford, Charles

miami world set gritty

(US, 1919–88)

Charles Willeford, who served and was decorated in the Second World War, and who also wrote two volumes of military memoirs, was one of the most original of the American crime writers to emerge in the 1970s. His earlier books were gritty, hard-boiled noir tales full of femmes fatales and assorted grifters set amongst the dregs of America's subculture (High Priest of California, 1953, The Burnt Orange Heresy, 1971, Cockfighter, 1972) but it was his first Miami-set Hoke Moseley mystery, Miami Blues (1984), which established his ironic and gritty reputation. A tooth-less and often grotesque loser of a cop, Moseley often finds himself confronted by unlikely and sometimes darkly comic as well as essentially evil psychopaths and his final triumphs are just an inch short of unmitigated disaster. In his dissection of the Miami shadow world, Willeford's excesses highlight the worst sociopathic elements of his characters and make for uncomfortable reading at the best of times, but the effect is gripping.

Carl Hiaasen, Jim Thompson, Elmore Leonard  MJ

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