By robert j ray on July 3, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A Review of Falcon, Shades of Neo Noir
Falcon, Jack Remick’s new book, opens like a detective story from the 1950’s, shot in black and white, lots of shadowy greys.
In the first scene, a grease-monkey mechanic tallies up a repair chart for a battered Ford T-Bird. In the second scene, an old man coughing blood sends a woman for more handkerchiefs. In the third scene, the woman hunting for the handkerchiefs gets hog-tied by a thief. She’s found by the grease-monkey mechanic, who falls in love. The story rolls out from there–a chase that moves from the Tulare poker game through Modesto and Placerville to climax in a cabin in Lake Tahoe.
Careful details link the characters:
* The T-Bird’s registration says the owner is Grace Regis.
* The mechanic thinks Grace is a woman’s name.
* Grace Regis is the old man coughing blood.
* He owns the T-Bird.
* The driver of the T-Bird is the woman who goes for handkerchiefs.
* Who gets hog-tied by one of the goons, another hallmark of Film Noir.
* The woman’s name is Falcon.
* This is her story.
The state of California is Remick’s home turf for his fiction–starting with Blood, moving on to Pacific Coast Highway, and two novels from the California Quartet: Valley Boy and The Deification–but the central valley is the magnet that keeps pulling him back, for another look. His roots are there. His characters live and die there. To Remick, the valley is like Faulkner’s Yoknapatowpha County, part real, part make-believe, always a vibration, and here come the words.
Falcon herself is part goddess, part femme fatale. She lures the mechanic with her sex appeal. Now they are together, welded by circumstance. The T-Bird he was called to fix creeps along the highway, threatens to conk out. Goons employed by the coughing man are getting closer. Remick makes time for some fisticuffs and some romance. The symbol that illuminates their romance is a gold anklet. No little clasp here, this anklet is welded onto Falcon’s ankle. The coughing man owns her, the gold anklet is a symbol of his possession, a reminder, a talisman imbued with the power of money, promising revenge. Falcon tells the mechanic: without the gold, she is unable to experience peak romance. This little anklet has wormed its way into her brain. What can her guy do about that?
Not a problem: he’s a mechanic, he goes for the wire cutters.
The writing in Falcon is tight, precise description edged with irony: “I smell the odor of perfume and the scene of cigar smoke buried in leather. The perfume I smelled in the T-Bird. That over-ripe scent of flowers on the edge of decay, gardenias, roses. I never learned my flowers.”
There are moments in Falcon where Remick slows the pace of the prose, the story pauses like a vintage cassette, and the language spins, it’s like looking into a kaleidoscope: “Her whole body lights up like a search light and glistens with glass diamonds and light that dips and dives over the valleys of her skin the color of burnt caramel that darkens to amber honey and her hair is alive with light like butterflies causing my lips to tingle and my mouth to taste like metal….”
In a noir film, the femme fatale would die, shot by the hero, whose job is cleansing the world of evil, no matter how beautiful. But you need to buy this novel just so you can savor the ending–does the hero execute the femme fatale?
Robert J. Ray
The Weekend Novelist