Sideswipe: A Hoke Moseley Novel

ISBN: 1400032482
ISBN 13: 9781400032488
By: Charles Willeford Lawrence Block

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Adult Crime Crime Fiction Crime Noir Favorites Fiction Hard Boiled Noir Thriller To Read

About this book

Hoke Moseley has had enough. Tired of struggling against alimony payments, two teenage daughters, a very pregnant, very single partner, and a low paying job as a Miami homicide detective, Hoke moves to Singer Island and vows never step foot on the mainland again. But on the street, career criminal Troy Louden is hatching plans of his own with a gang including a disfigured hooker, a talentless artist, and a clueless retiree. But when his simple robbery results in ruthless and indiscriminate bloodshed, Hoke quickly remembers why he is a cop and hurls himself back into the world he meant to leave behind forever.A masterly tale of both mid-life crisis and murder, Sideswipe is a page-turning thriller packed with laughs, loaded with suspense, and featuring one of the truly original detectives of all time.

Reader's Thoughts


absolutely marvellous hard-boiled thriller, set in Florida - hard-bitten people scuffling along, with whipsmart dialogue and beautiful economical descriptions.


This author is an historical reference point for writers. He was one of the first to really take a swipe at hardboiled detective fiction and poke fun at it. A seasoned police detective with false teeth? And a nervous breakdown? All in the first chapter?Wrote the Hoke Moseley series, and now I must find them all. I think he only wrote 4 in the series before he died, but it's such a dry humor and such a slice of the 80s. Very enjoyable reading.


Overwhelmed by an abundance of cold cases Miami homicide detective Hoke Moseley retreats into a fugue state, abandons his pregnant partner/housemate Ellita Sanchez and his two daughters to seek a simpler life managing his father’s apartment complex in Riviera Beach.Hoke soon finds the simple life is easier to envision than to envelop.Like others in the series, "Sideswipe" is packed with action and wry, off-beat humor. Elmore Leonard says no one writes a better crime novel. Who am I to argue with that?


Willeford continues to demonstrate a real talent for characterization and ability to establish a sense of place. He paints a vivid picture of late 80s Miami and the unique collection of personalities that inhabit it. Willeford also possesses the ability to write with effective brevity; addressing issues like life and career burnout, family dynamics, and post-employment ennui within a tight page-count. A brisk, fun summer read.


Read first half over a few days, put it down for a week, and devoured the rest today. The secondary plot is a bit depressing (one reason why I put it down), but improves with the introduction of secondary characters and the climax. Hoke Moseley is still Hoke, even with a change of scenery and (literally) little to do. A good, solid crime novel, but like anything of Willeford's, not for the faint of heart, even moreso.


Imagine this: adding Grape-Nuts to a sieve so you can run hot water to soften them up so you can eat them without putting in your false teeth; then gumming them at the dining room table while reading the sports section. Hoke, a homicide investigator lives with his partner Ellita who has the unbearable habit of letting the egg yolks run through her teeth. Ellita, who is pregnant, helps with the rent and the care of Hoke two teenage daughters.Shades of Ed McBain, the writing, I mean. Hoke gets fed up with trying to solve an interminable number of cold cases that seem to be forever piling up on his desk. He retreats into a catatonic state, finally decides to chuck it all, and leaves for his father's place on Riviera Beach. He has decided he wants the simple life. Right. We all know there is no such thing, and soon his bulimic daughter (recognized as such only by a neighbor) comes to visit (she gets shipped off to his ex,) he's having to deal with the myriad problems as manager of his father's apartment building (he gets free rent in one of the apartments) and Ellita calls for help in dealing with her mother's thoughts on amniocentisis.A side plot (never fear, the two will intersect) involves a retired Ford employee falsely accused of molesting his neighbor's daughter, a problem that's soon rectified but not before Stanley meets Troy in jail who has a scheme to make lots of money, also involving a painter and a former stripper whose face was mutilated by her boss. Enough of the plot. You can find that elsewhere. Hoke soon realizes that the simple life is effervescent. First rate story and writing by a master. Mislabeled as a thriller, though, unless impending disaster provides you with the sense of thrill. An engrossing, very enjoyable story. If you like McBain, Moseley, Leonard, et al, you'll very much like Williford.

Scott Phillips

Quite possibly my favorite crime novel. Willeford was a master of throwing his characters into a situation and then letting it unfold, and Sideswipe is incredibly entertaining to ride along with.


Really fucking awesome. This writer just became my favorite crime writer by far, and I've only read three of his books. Really detached but accurate psychological portraits within surreal, comical plot-lines. Never feels mean, but often feels dark and strange. Always feels human, though never emotional. I love it.


Interesting characters but plot too slow moving. Good when it got going though.

John Richardson

Perfect pulp fiction.

Larry Webber

A unique and vivid tale!


I'm not sure what's going on, but I think I've started to develop a little crush on Hoke Moseley. I know, right? I mean, he pees his pants within the first ten pages of this book. But I feel such a strong affection toward him for some reason.The structure of this book is more similar to Miami Blues in that every other chapter is about Hoke, and the odd ones deal with another storyline about a criminal sociopath (Troy) who isn't Junior, but might as well be. I completely loved the way it all came together at the end. It's shitballs crazy awesome. And I love how even though throughout the plots of these books Hoke's life is fairly shitty, at the end he gets a nice little pick me up and you're ready to move on thinking the old guy is going to be okay.My favorite thing about Willeford is the little details. The fact that Hoke tries to cheat at Monopoly. His recipe for beef stew. I love it all.


An accomplished work that reminds me of certain movies by acclaimed directors wherein I admire the craft but am not fully absorbed by the story. However, I will always remember the painter whose only skill is to draw a perfectly even stripe of white.

Patrick McCoy

Charles Willeford is a very engaging writer, technically his novels are considered crime or noir fiction, but I think those are reductive labels. I always feel like I learn something new when I read one of his books, and his characters are memorable and seem very believable and true to life as well. Sideswipe (1987) is a great example of this. This is the third Hoke Moseley novel and he is not your conventional hero: divorced, broke, balding, wears dentures, single father of two adolescent girls and at the onset of this novel is going through a nervous breakdown. His pregnant partner Elita Sanchez moves him into his father's house in Singer Island, his birthplace and his version of peace on earth. Moseley decides to retire from the force and manage a small long term stay hotel. During this time he befriends an entomologist, nicknamed "Itai," a professor who is on sabbatical writing a novel and whose speciality is the Ethiopian horse fly. The professor got his nickname from his colleagues after he returned from a year in Kyoto at a zen monastery and couldn't stop talking to people about it (by the way "itai" means "painful" in Japanese). Itai brings to his attention that his daughter Aileen is bulimic and Moseley has deal with that mess. But detective work is in his blood as he helps the local police solve a series of art thefts in an expensive luxury condominium. Here, like in The Burnt Orange Heresy, he can show off his knowledge about art and collecting have some fun at the expense of the art world. This can also be seen in his treatment of the primitive, non objectionist artist from Barbados. There is a parallel story taking place about a retired autoworker, Stanley Sinkiewicz, from Detroit now living in Florida who through a series of events meets a true criminal psychopath in Troy Louden. That's not to say that Troy doesn't have his charms, and manages to put together a crew with Sinkiewicz and the painter to make a stake on a big heist so that they can go to Haiti to get his grotesquely disfigured stripper girl friend plastic surgery,. Getting back to Sinkiewicz, he's no ordinary retiree. He has a cane in which he keeps cyanide pellets to poison dangerous seeming neighborhood dogs. The robbery goes bad and several people are needlessly killed in the melee and Moseley is called into action by his boss and end up solving the crime. Did I mention that humor abounds aplenty? This gives Miami Blues a run for its money as my favorite Willeford novel.


Following a breakdown of sorts, Hoke leaves Miami for Singer Island, where he hopes to create a less complicated life for himself. (Hint: it involves a wardrobe of wash-and-wear jumpsuits.) Meanwhile, psycho Troy Louden is planning a big robbery with a very unlikely gang. As I was reading, I kept thinking that this one wasn't as good as the previous series installment, New Hope for the Dead, partly because Singer Island is less interesting than Miami, partly because the two plotlines are unconnected for most of the book. But, damn it, Willeford is just so good. I'm a sucker for his deadpan humor, for the way the characters will place the same importance on a game of Monopoly as they will on a murder. And the summation--"Hoke had learned that there was no way a man could simplify his life"--is just so perfect and true.

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