I came to this book through my subscription to Hard Case Crime: a great series of books, both newly authored and reprinted, composed of gritty murder mysteries and thrillers. The one thing I have come to expect from the series – whether they be new pieces or classics, is exceptional writing. House Dick, by Watergate co-conspirator E. Howard Hunt, is no exception to this rule.
First published in 1961, House Dick is a wonderfully written and engaging tale of a hotel detective. I was sucked into the story from the first page. This book has all the standard Hard Case Crime trappings:
-A protagonist who may not be completely “moral” or by the book (Watergate foreshadowing anyone?), but who nonetheless lives by a code of conduct the reader can find a certain nobility in.
-A knockout female character.
-Multiple bad guys who you love to hate and sometimes find yourself hating to love.
-Stellar, stylized, writing.
-And of course…the ever provocative cover art:
I once heard someone describe Noir writing as taking a decent character, throwing them into the blender of an immoral world, turning on the blender, and then seeing if that decent person can stay decent.
While I wouldn’t say House Dick fits all the conventions of classic Noir, it does have all the good things about the above description going for it. In the end, I am really glad I read the book.
The Nixon quote on the back cover makes me smile as well.
I recommend this book.