Showing posts with label Rudd. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rudd. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Rudd #01 - Vice Cop

To the extent that crime fiction author Richard Deming is remembered today, it’s for his many TV tie-in novels (Dragnet, Mod Squad, Starsky & Hutch) or his one-legged P.I. character, Manville Moon. However, he also wrote an interesting three-book series of hardboiled police procedurals starring Matt Rudd, a vice cop in the fictional city of St. Cecilia. The three Rudd novels are “Vice Cop” (1961), “Anything but Saintly” (1963), and “Death of a Pusher” (1964) - all of which are available today as cheap eBooks. 

In a 1960 interview, Deming said that his Matt Rudd character (real name: Mateuz Rudowski) was originally designed to steal market share from Richard Prather’s Shell Scott series. Other than both detectives solving mysteries in sexually-charged environments (Rudd is, after all, a Vice Cop), they really aren’t all that similar - other than the fact that first-person narration and the fact that both heroes get laid. For my money, Deming was a far better writer than Prather.

“Vice Cop” begins with a citizen showing up at the police station to report a society dame who hosts “marijuana parties” with sex orgies at her home attended by the idle wealthy. Because the world was a very different place in 1961, the department assigns Rudd to begin dating a sexy reefer user in an undercover capacity, so he could score an invite to this recurring pot party in a private home. (Your tax dollars at work, 1961 America.)

Although the premise is stupid by today’s standards, Deming is still able to weave this into a credible crime novel. As long as you can see this as a historical artifact, “Vice Cop” is a minimally compelling police procedural story with well-written prose and a highly-likable blue-collar main character in Rudd. He’s a funny, and self-deprecating cop who makes you wish you were his drinking buddy. Narration this good makes the 175 pages fly by, but it still wasn’t much of a great novel.

Last year, I read and reviewed the second book in the Matt Rudd series, “Anything but Saintly.” It was a far superior effort than “Vice Cop” and more worth your time. You can probably just skip this one and try some of Deming’s better works. After all, life’s too short to read so-do crime fiction.

Buy a copy of this book HERE

Monday, September 17, 2018

Rudd #02 - Anything But Saintly

I’ll confess that the cover art by Robert Abbett sucked me into opening the 1963 stand-alone paperback “Anything But Saintly” by Richard Deming. But in my defense, I’ve enjoyed the hell out of the handful of Deming’s novels I’ve read thus far. Deming was an under-appreciated master of crime fiction, and it’s a crime that few people know his work today.

“Anything But Saintly” is narrated by a fundamentally honest vice cop named Matt Rudd (Americanized from his given name of Mateusz Rudowski) who is playing gin with his partner in the squad room one day when a citizen barges in asking, “Is this where you come to report whores?” The citizen is a visitor from Houston who was rolled by a prostitute after consummating the transaction in his hotel room and wants his $500 back.

The investigation of this seemingly simple crime gets materially more complex for Rudd and his partner when they learn the identity of the whore and her pimp. It turns out that the pimp has some pretty heavy political connections, and this is particularly inconvenient for Rudd who is jockeying for a promotion in a town where the police board is politically appointed. “There are certain rackets we overlook because of the political influence of the racketeers”, Rudd explains.

The story takes place in the fictitious city of St. Cecilia, but it’s obvious this is a euphemism for Chicago, and Deming does a nice job of taking the reader into the incestuous alliance between the urban racketeers and the local politicians, a symbiotic relationship that was the real deal in 20th century Chicago.

The cover of the paperback gives away a fairly significant plot point that occurs around the 20% mark, but I won’t spoil it here. Suffice it to say that the stakes in this minor investigation increase markedly as the plot evolves into a murder mystery and the political alliances of the characters shift. This is very smart novel - smarter than it had to be for a cheapo paperback original from this era. The writing is excellent and the characters - particularly the call girls - are vividly drawn. The plot is fast moving and dialogue heavy with a good bit of action and gunplay. The murder mystery also has a nice twist with a satisfying solution.

If you can’t find the 1963 paperback, it’s also available as an eBook in all formats. Whatever the medium, “Anything But Saintly” is another straight-up winner for Richard Deming. Recommended.

Buy a copy of this book HERE