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Epitaph for a Tramp and Epitaph for a Dead Beat: The Harry Fannin Detective Novels Paperback – November 15, 2006

4.2 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

It's been a good season for rediscovering pulp fiction, first with reissues of early crime novels by Max Allan Collins (The Last Quarry) and Lawrence Block (Lucky at Cards) and now with a pair of noirish thrillers from experimental novelist Markson (Vanishing Point, 2004). In the early 1960s, before Markson made a name for himself with more literary fare, he turned out these two Harry Fannin novels, both of which observe all the hard-boiled conventions but do so with a head-turning flair for language and a surprising amount of emotional depth. The first concerns the murder of Fannin's ex-wife (the tramp of the title) and gives Markson plenty of opportunity to display the cracks in his hero's tough-as-nails exterior. Epitaph for a Dead Beat is the show-stopper, though, offering a thoroughly entertaining--campy but never out-and-out silly--look at what mainstream society considered the outrageous behavior of Greenwich Village beats. Readers expecting tolerance for alternate lifestyles will be sorely disappointed, but pulp fans will have a ball. Bill Ott
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint (November 15, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593761341
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593761349
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 4.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,259,164 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Once I started reading Markson's "Epitaph For A Tramp," I immediately started searching for other Markson books, hoping that he had penned a dozen or more of these Harry Fannin detective tales. There appear, however, to be only two in this series.

If you gobble up hardboiled tales like they are Halloween candy, you'll chomp this one to bits. Yes, it is purposefully filled with all the cliches about a down on his luck PI who is holding a torch for an ex who descended into a downward spiral of trampiness and chasing the next high. But, it is simply a terrific read. Fannin slings the one liners like any great PI and stays just friendly enough with the police to stay out of the clink - barely.

Cathy is the one who slipped through his fingers, but she stumbled back into his life, desperately seeking his help. She's still so lovely that poor Harry can't even think straight.

And now she's brought danger and knives and tough punks into Fannin's life.

This book is just plain old fashioned over the top hardboiled PI fun. Every page is an absolute joy to read.

"Epitaph For A Deadbeat" is the second novel in this double feature. It's the "B" side. It's a fun read, but not quite the story "Tramp" is. This one, too, features wisecracking PI Harry Fannin and some violent murders. Here, Fannin walks into the wrong bar and the trouble starts from there. This one is all about the beatniks and their crazy lifestyle in Greenwich Village. They are all nutty want-to-be poets and trampy women floating in a haze from bed to bed. Fannin doesn't exactly approve of the Beats and what goes on in the Village.

Together, the two stories are fun, good, and worthwhile.
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Format: Paperback
Markson's writing is moody dark and cynical. However, it has a flair for language often missing from the genre. Fannin isn't the aloof type of PI that Chandler envisioned or the blood thirsty angel of death that Spillane trotted out. He is an intelligent and caring man turned cynical by watching the world operate.

Overall the stories seem to be a missing link between the sometimes self parodying work of the Spillane generation of noir writers and the modern navel gazing (or over intellectualized) strains of detective stories. There is no lack of atmosphere or action and no excess of self analyzing. These stories are rare gems that deserve to be shared more widely.
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David Markson wrote two noir novellas, the first of which is the best: moody, dark, cynical, just what one wants in a Manhattan noir story.
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When I started reading this, I thought it must be a parody. Nobody but characters in bad TV shows and movies ever talked the tough-guy lingo the narrator and others in the book talk (I'm only reviewing "Tramp." Couldn't take any more.) But then I realized he intends for readers to take this silliness seriously. Swallowing his lumpy style is what I imagine it must be like to try to drink oatmeal. There's a detective story cliche (or 12) on every page, and at least one major plot twist in every chapter (and the chapters are short). And yet beneath it all throbs some kind of life that kept me reading to the end. However, I don't care to spend my reading time on more of this foolishness, even if it was a hoot when I first started.
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