Blue Eyes by James Charyn was first published in 1977, but is being re-released as an e-book. It’s definitely dark, gritty, a look at the dirty underside of New York. It’s a classic pulp fiction, not a genre everyone will want to read, but I found it compelling.
I’m not feeling very good today, so I’m going to cheat a little and give you the blurb from the back of my copy.
Manfred Coen is no ordinary cop. He’s blonde, blue-eyed, and Hollywood handsome. Tracking down the kinapped daughter of a porno-film producer is his assignment – but the intricate art of ping-pong is his passion. The wrist slams and the phony spins in the sleazy ping-pong parlor merge with the mad, scrambling reality of Coen’s search, which takes him to the white slave markets of Mexico and back to New York to face the ultimate ping-pong match with a hustler hired at $100 an hour to humiliate him, and a crazed hitman bent on snuffing him!
Like most vintage mysteries, there’s some racism and sexism that needs overlooked, and some jargon I was unfamiliar with. But the characters were amazing. They were all nuts, from the Chinaman who wore a red wig and couldn’t work in Chinatown to Coen’s Spanish stoolie who he actually seemed to have a good relationship with. There’s a young porn star/prostitute, who in her real life prefers the company of women, but of course falls for Coen none the less. There’s the old man who runs numbers, and half the neighborhood, from his candy store. It’s an odd world, peopled with unique characters. It’s a seedy corrupt New York but not quite real, maybe due to Charyn’s descriptive style.
And then there’s Isaac, a shadowy figure for most of the book, Coen’s former mentor, now in disgrace. He’s the man that carries the series, not Coen.
It’s an odd journey, full of twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. One especially stood out for me, and made me realize that you can’t hang on to your expectations when reading Charyn, because he’ll just roll right over them.
4 out of 5 stars
Isaac Sidel #1
First published 1975
Book source: For review
Isaac Sidel Series
- Blue Eyes
- Marilyn the Wild
- The Education of Patrick Silver
- Secret Isaac
- The Good Policeman
- Maria’s Girls
- Montezuma’s Man
- Little Angel Street
- El Bronx
- Citizen Sidel