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

Larry Webber

A unique and vivid tale!

Joe Moffa

Oldie but real goody. Boy, do I miss Charles Willeford!


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


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.


Hoke Moseley is possibly the best detective in literary history to never do any work and always seem to end up solving the crime


I like the way the characters are developed. The novel, however, seemed like two stories that kept bumping into each other and finally reached a common end. I've read other authors who have created stories from diverse viewpoints and built them to a climax much more artfully. Still, though, a good read and a lesson to be studied by budding authors.


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.


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.

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.


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.


Of the three Hoke Moseley books so far, this was the weakest; only because the other two books had much more going on. That noted, it was nothing but pleasure to breeze through; it went so fast and easy it was as though I was not reading at all and sometimes, sometimes, I like to work for my brain food. I enjoy Willeford's easy style and bright imagination so much that I'm tempted to start the 4th and final Hoke Moseley book, The Way We Die Now; but I will save that for my trip to Florida next month.

John Richardson

Perfect pulp fiction.


Haha! This guy cracks me up! Another hit in the Hoke Moseley series, a humane story sliding along with charcteristic sudden kinks in it. All of a sudden things are not the same anymore, not turning back. Marvellous.

Suzanne Eisenhauer

I cannot possibly read any more of this book, it's simply too terrible to continue. I'm trying to figure out where this illusive 4 star rating came from. This book is like having a conversation with my Mother -- The Queen of Minutiae. Everyone talks and talks and talks, but doesn't say anything. 1/5 of the way through this and there still doesn't seem to be a plot of any kind. Ughhhh:(

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