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Jim Winter talks ROAD RULES

It's my pleasure to welcome back frequent Chatterrific guest Jim Winter, discussing his newly e-published novel Road Rules.

One of the rejection letters my former agent got back from a publisher called Road Rules "a PI novel," which the editor then termed a "one-way ticket to oblivion." Yeah, it seems to be wrecking Laura Lippman's career.  Oh, wait. It's not.

Now, I don't want to sound bitter. One never knows what's going through an agent or editor's head when they pass on a work.  Hell, sometimes I don't know what's going through an editor's head when they accept a story. But then think of the poor editor. If the work is not that good, they had to read it anyway. What was going through the WRITER's head?

That's not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about what the one editor called Road Rules. A PI novel? Seriously? I was thinking Donald Westlake's Dortmunder. I was thinking Elmore Leonard. I was thinking Carl Hiassen. PI's conjure up visions of Philip Marlowe shuffling down rain-soaked alleys, of Humphrey Bogart growling at Gutman over the rara avis, of Spenser cracking wise as he and Hawk bust the heads of Boston's thugs. Sure, I've written PI. I wrote Nick Kepler. But Road Rules?

Road Rules is two guys who blunder in the middle of a battle between cops, feds, an insurance company, and the Roman Catholic Church on one side, and a loan shark, a corrupt claims adjuster, and the entire entourage of a coked-up, hypersexed Cuban gangster on the other.  This isn't a PI story.  This is a caper. It's Tarantino with a laugh track, maybe Jimmy Page jamming "Writes of Winter" at the beginning and the end.

Or is it?

Robert Jordan is a PI.  So is Sharon Harrow, a.k.a. Cinnamon. Jordan is world-weary and still very much a cop, even reinstated to go looking for his missing niece.  Find the niece, find the missing holy relic.  Sharon, on the other hand, starts out just as hapless as Mike and Stan. After all, she lost the Cadillac (and subsequently, her job) because she could not master the PI's most important skill - peeing in a jar. (Yes, female PI's do that.  Discreetly. I asked.)  But...

She eventually comes off as a younger, angrier Kinsey Millhone, including driving a VW (a Jetta to Kinsey's Beetle) and having a change of clothes (her hooker disguise vs. Kinsey's "all-purpose dress"). Sharon has a racial angle to deal with on top of being "a chick." To Sharon, it seems more of an annoyance than a real setback, and it certainly doesn't stop her.

But Sharon must share the spotlight with two hardluck white guys, one of whom is not the brightest bulb in the box, the other who's been down so goddamned long that it looks like up to him.

So is it a PI story?

Maybe it is.

Is it a one-way ticket to oblivion?

Oh, now, them's fightin' words!

Comments

Dana King said…
Yeah. Robert Crais, John Connolly, Declan Hughes. All on breadlines because they write PI stories.

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