A detective mystery set in the 1960s with an authentic feel of the 1960s. The book could so easily have been written then rather than in 2015. The read is nicely scattered with illustrative pictures from the period, which I can see adding a lot to the reading experience of those born later. I felt that I could be reading a period Mickey Spillane novel; the script felt that authentic. I’d even say that there are more than a few similarities between Mike Hammer and Carson Reno— well at least as how I remember the character. Then again, possibly Reno is a more James Garner in the Rockford Files TV series. Okay, that was very 1970s scripted, but the Rockford character could have been slotted seamlessly into any ’50s/60s detective series. So then, for me, Carson Reno is possibly best described as a blend of Mike Hammer and Jim Rockford.
The writing has a sharp journalistic economy, never burying us in irrelevances and keeping a brisk pace. Some of the bit players are easy to confuse, but that problem is relieved by the index of characters. This is the first Darnell book I’ve read. Love it. I can see this series of books on every paperback turntable in front of every ’60s newspaper store. The mass market paperback days are, generally speaking, history, but that shouldn’t limit the availability and popularity of Darnell’s Carson Reno. This book is an object lesson in how to get that old paperback buzz into the e market. For those still addicted to traditional paper, the lovers of the smell and feel of ‘pulp’, for those that still have or are discovering vinyl records and classic cars, the hands-on version looks just as 60s slick. The period will always be culturally cool and so will Carson, with bourbon and coke and an after dinner cigar.
This is a mystery detective novel, not a voyeuristic trip through violence and death, as so many modern genre books are. A read that may seriously damage your place in time.