The second book I’m introducing today as part of my feature on Book Club Gold is Welcome to the Hotel Yalta by Victoria Dougherty.
Discussion question: There seemed to be a sense of moral certainty during World War II. What was it that changed, making the Cold War a much murkier era, where it was sometimes difficult to tell the good guys from the bad? Or is this just hindsight talking?
From the author
Recently, I started a discussion on Crimespace (a crime/thriller uber-fan site), posing this question: Is there a place for humor in a hard-boiled thriller/noir? There was a hesitancy in the answers that trended towards “No.” One quoted Otto Penzler – “Noir requires a sense of bleakness and despair, and characters so flawed, their failure is in their DNA.”
Maybe I’m too much of a black-humor-Eastern-European-type gal, but isn’t that level of failure – the kind at the cellular level – kind of funny in and of itself? Raymond Chandler was a master of this kind of humor. His characters were funny – they were wry, off-kilter, even pathetic. A conspicuous longing punctuated their wisecracks instead of the usual punch line. I mean really, is there a better comic line than, “From thirty feet away she looked like a lot of class. From ten feet away she looked like something made up to be seen from thirty feet away.”
We’ve all become very serious since Chandler, I think. He seems like the guy you want sitting next to you on a bar stool. You’d sit there all night if you could, pretending you’ve got no place else to go, just to listen to his take on life.
Maybe we’ve forgotten how some of the funniest people in our own lives are the ones who’ve had the hardest knocks. And maybe those people ought to start making their way back into our thrillers – no matter what’s at stake. Whether it’s just a two-bit heist or the whole damn world.
One you like the look of? To get your free copy of this one – or any of the books in the Book Club Gold promotion – just click on any of the images in this post. I’ll have another book for you at 2pm.