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.Phyllis
I have the Book Club Edition of this book published by St. Martin's Press in 1987. This is my first Hoke Moseley novel. The story started slowly for me, but the author writes with such rich detail and the characters are so quirky that I got hooked. Towards the end I couldn't put the book down for long. Using the contrast between the voices and actions of Troy Louden (a bad guy) and Stanley Sinkiewicz (a not-so-bad guy), the author takes jabs at parts of society. I think the author is a bit of a fatalist. I enjoyed the book and plan on readig anothr Hoke Moseley novel. I didn't enjoy Hoke as much as the other colorful characters; he was more interesting at the beginning of the book when he had all his problems than at the end when he had healed and rested up.Charlie
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.Keir
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.Alex
Such sadness. I have only one more Hoke Moseley book to go. The late and great Charles Willeford passed away after 4 of this series, leaving behind a magnificent legacy. His genius lies in the minutiae of his character's development. In the Hoke Moseley series, he employs the brilliant technique of alternating each chapter between the daily lives of Hoke and his immediate family and colleagues and the villains as they plan their crime. As such, the crimes don't actually occur until late in each novel finishing with explosive endings.So far, this is the best of the series, even better than the first, Miami Blues. It is so great to read of Miami in the 1980s without the pastel-cladded shallowness depicted in Miami Vice :)His characters are the down outs, the losers, the never weres and are written is such a beautiful matter of fact way, I can see why guys like Elmore Leonard and James Lee Burke cited him as such a major influence. His work spanned 40+ plus years and, for mine, his novel Pick-Up is the ultimate masterpiece of "nihilist-noir".Tom
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.Anders
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.Steve
Willeford wrote some of the greatest crime novels, and I'll tell you why. Better yet, let's use this novel as an example. Homicide detective Hoke Moseley suffers a panic attack and retreats from his no-win life. Stanley, a Detroit auto worker retired to Florida, gets into trouble and meets a man in jail who spins Stanley's life in a new direction. Willeford is a great writer because he lets the story spin with no artificially introduced dramatic elements. We follow the two plot lines, wondering how and if they will intersect. And the ending is pure Willeford.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.Joe Moffa
Oldie but real goody. Boy, do I miss Charles Willeford!J.R.
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?Igor Trushevsky
The Hoke Moseley novels are about a detective, but they are not novels in the detective genre. Charles Willeford never dangles any clues or misdirection in front of the readers, and the actual crime that needs to be solved doesn't happen until the tail end of the book. Instead, he holds the readers interest with remarkably vivid portraits of his characters, various locales in Miami area and of course the themes he brings up (How easily decent (but gullable) people can sometimes be turned to crime, the american dream, sub-urban life, modern art, mid-life crisis, public education, etc.). Charles keeps a swift pace and never lingers on any one particular issue, always rewarding the readers with more interesting tid-bits to chew on, but admittedly, readers accustomed to more formulaic crime novels will be left in the cold (not only does the crime only happen at the end of the book, but for the majority of the novel Hoke is on leave from the force and very intent on never coming back). This novel challenges the conventions of the set formulas and challenges the reader (if only so slightly), but hey, I would expect nothing less from a literary-genre novel.Tracie
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.Eric_W
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.Nate
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.