Review: Love Stories Are Too Violent for Me, by Will Viharo

27 Nov

Here is what you need to understand:

If you like noir, you will enjoy Love Stories are Too Violent for Me.

If you like hardboiled detective fiction, you will enjoy Love Stories are Too Violent for Me.

If you like books set in California, especially both in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles, then you will enjoy Love Stories are Too Violent for Me.

If you like American Pop Culture—movies and music especially, then you will enjoy Love Stories are Too Violent for Me.

And, yes, if you like love stories then, again, you will enjoy Love Stories are Too Violent for Me.

With Vic Valentine, writer Will Viharo has created what is, for me, one of the most likable and fascinating detectives in both noir and hard boiled fiction. When I first started the book I was a little annoyed by the guy—he is very talky and kind of pathetic and the action takes a while to unfold—but by about page 25, I was hooked. I mean, I just loved the guy and I could not stop reading this book.

love stories

This brings me to why I think Valentine and the book has more than just a little bit of a noir twinge. The dude just keeps on making mistakes and he keeps on getting yelled at, hit, jailed or shot at as a result of these mistakes. He constantly asks the wrong people the wrong questions. He is obsessed, and, this obsession has everything to do with a woman and with love. While reading, I got a vicarious thrill from him walking into one bad situation after another and then walking out in way worse shape than he started. He just seems doomed the entire time. To me, that is great entertainment.

But still, the book qualifies as hard boiled as well. Vic Valentine is the narrator and we are seeing the world and the action of the book through his unique eyes. He’s not a very tough guy, so he’s not that kind of hard boiled, but he is plenty jaded and more than a little depressed. And, he has a lot to say about movies, about music, about the world, about himself, and, about love.

I won’t go into too much detail on the plot here. But basically, Vic Valentine is a nearly broke and not very ambitious PI with an office in the foggy and cold Richmond District of San Francisco (my own neighborhood from 1991-1993 so it is fun for me to relate to the places and the atmosphere he describes). He doesn’t even like being a private dick. He used to be a music journalist in NewYork and kind of fell into the PI business because he had a relative in the SFPD. He doesn’t really like the San Francisco Bay Area anymore and he wants to move. He thinks he is in love, but the object of his affection is in love with someone else and most likely not at all interested in Vic.

 But, like with a lot of hard-boiled PI novels, things change when he gets a new client. A famous baseball player hires him to find his wife. He takes the job and slowly begins to realize that the woman he is looking for might actually be his own lost love from his East Coast past. So, in essence, what starts out as a job for a client becomes a compulsive and doomed quest to find the woman for himself.

Get it? I know that if you found your way to my blog and my reviews, then clearly you like crime, noir, and hard-boiled pulpy fiction. Right? And I know you want to read something fresh and new that combines the best of these genres. So buy and read this book. And then tell your friends. Thank you.

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