Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Electronic: "He Died With His Eyes Open" by Derek Raymond.

Electronic: He Died With His Eyes Open by Derek Raymond, 1984 original pub date, 
9781612190136 for 2011 reprint by Melville House.

In 2011 I bought a copy of this novel for work. That library copy has circ'ed twice. I tried reading the book a couple years ago and got nowhere. After reading the free ebook copy of Buck Fever I decided to try out an Overdrive ebook.

Raymond's novels are famous among crime fiction fans and the 2011 reprints by Melville House generated some attention online. I really like the covers.

 Detective Sergeant No Name (DSNM) works in the Department of Unexplained Deaths in London. DSNM is a hardboiled "I'm doing it for justice!" cop. His Department is a dead-end location for his career. The murder cases DSNM handles receive no publicity, and solving a case earns no praise from his superiors. DSNM takes cases to give the nameless - and dead - a voice. That is the case with Charles Staniland who is found beaten to death in West London. Staniland was poor, a drunk, with few family to speak for him. DSNM goes on the prowl.

Staniland was a failed writer and current souse who kept several written and audio journals. Staniland left behind several cassette tapes worth of talk; he spoke about his lost family, his time in France, his current strumpet girlfriend, drinking, and suicide. Hearing Staniland's voice and life history makes DSNM feel close to the man. DSNM uses the information on those cassettes to track people down.

DSNM covers the low-rent half of London. Taxi drivers who barely cover their car rental fee. Gangster owned pubs and clubs. Housing estates and condemned squats. DSNM does not have to think hard about murder suspects and he narrows things down pretty quick. DSNM goes undercover to find and meet with Staniland's Strumpet girlfriend. DSNM really digs super-sexy-Strumpet and starts a relationship with her this is both personal and professional.

Things happen. The police department's investigators are not stupid but prefer the speed and simplicity of torture and beatings. We learn of Staniland's failed dreams, love for his daughter, his milksop behavior with Strumpet. We learn that DSNM is lonely, even if DSNM does not realize it. We learn that ThatcherLand was a tough place to live.

1 comment:

Graham Powell said...

This is my favorite of the "Factory" series. Some of Staniland's experiences are based on Raymond's own life. I think the DSNN is a little more complex than just a hardboiled 'tec; I thought he came across as a complex and compassionate man.