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Review of The Killer Detective Novelist

Review of The Killer Detective Novelist, by Lynne Davis

If  you understand the premise of Donne’s “Death Be Not Proud” in which the  poet renounces Death itself as an entity that shall never hold dominion  over any immortal soul, then you should have no problem understanding  its antithesis in Puckett’s metafictional novel THE KILLER DETECTIVE  NOVELIST.  At the spartan length of 116 pages, it’s a thin book thick  with mayhem, mystery — and a county morgue’s worth of an almost  laughable nihilism.  Antisocial antihero “Mack Harris”, an NYC homicide  detective, moves ghostlike through a landscape of sleazy bars, dingy  apartments, and crime scenes, a cool customer detached from the horrors  of his occupation, albeit one that brings him a degree of grim pleasure.   In fact, dead people are the only ones he respects, while having  nothing but disgust for the living, including French model/girlfriend  Chloe, and, most of all, himself (at one point real-life author MDP  actually makes a walk-on appearance).  At first some readers may find  this “unreliable third-person narrative” confusing: a character known  only as “the novelist” that follows the detective around town may only  exist in Mack’s alcoholic imagination, or worse, as some schizophrenic ideation — or vice versa!  I’ll eschew the hackneyed term “experimental  novel” only to say that Mark Damon Puckett is indeed a very brave  writer, extremely original, his creations sometimes teetering on the  brink of psychosis.  In his latest book Puckett abandons many of the  tropes of Noir fiction (except jazz, booze, sucker punches, a sexy dame,  and a slangy synecdoche here and there), but otherwise adopts an edgy  Modernism whose maxim “Make It New!”, which was expounded by Ezra Pound  nearly a century ago in a revolt against the arts establishment, is paid  homage in the unsparing prose of this terse little volume.  Armed with a  dry sense of humor as arid as an Arizona attic in August, Puckett is  still a serious wordsmith who gives no quarter to those of limited  vocabularies, displaying a lexicon that rivals Cormac McCarthy’s, so  keep your dictionary at the ready.  Besides being a thoroughly unique  stylist and master of the absurd, I’ll bet Mr. Puckett’s one helluva Scrabble player, too. 

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