THE MAG: BOOK ENDS: Murder, Mystery and Suspenders; the Best American Mystery Stories - Volume 3 (Orion, Pounds 12.99) JAMES ELLROY
Byline: LORNE JACKSON
IWAS just catching up on my catching up, testing the ability of my fake chipboard desk to withstand pressure by balancing my heels on its crumbling edge.
That's when she walked into my life. Five foot seven inches of platinum blonde trouble.
With a helium-high hem and harpy heels, this dame made a bigger statement than a White House spokesman announcing war.
A motoring man would have labelled her Formula One, while even Michael Schumacher might have broken sweat navigating those cruel curves.
My wet-grip eyeballs skidded off the circuit during a particularly hazardous bend, crashing headlong into her face.
She was a looker all right.
'I thought you might be able to help,' she said, pouring herself into the chair opposite.
'I'm a helpful sort of a fella,' I shot back.To underline the point I helped myself to another look. Nothing had changed in the last two seconds.
Blondie was still aces. 'I'd like to know what you think of this,' she said, sliding an object across the desk.
'I'm not certain. But where I come from they call that sort of thing a book.'
My crack didn't make her crack a smile. The poor frail was obviously hard of hearing.
'A little more information, if you don't mind,' she said.
'Information is my middle name,' I replied.
That was a lie. It's actually Percival, but that kind of monicker doesn't go down well in the neighbourhoods I frequent.
'It appears to be called 'The Best American Mystery Stories - Volume 3',' I said.
'And it's edited by some Joe called James Ellroy.'
'Any fool could tell that by the cover,' she said. 'I wantyou to find out everything you can about this book. Dig around, rummage. 'I'll be back next week. You better have facts. And plenty of them.'
After she left I scraped myself off the floor and started to thumb pages.
It was a swell read, all right. Nineteen short stories from some of the best fiction writers ever to stumble off the curb of Mean Street.
And most of them were as hard-boiled as an unloved egg. …