Saturday, January 23, 2010

Final Notice

I bought this crime drama based solely on this review at the Mystery*File website. I found it very reasonably priced on eBay in its original hardcover edition, published in 1980 by Dodd Mead. It may also be the first mystery novel I've read set in Cincinnati, Ohio, which I found of interest as a fan of the baseball Reds and football Bengals.

FINAL NOTICE was the second of eleven novels by author Jonathan Valin about private eye Harry Stoner from 1980 to 1995. Told in first person, I thought it was remarkably similar in structure and tone to the Alex Delaware procedurals penned by Jonathan Kellerman, though I'm sure they're two different people and not meant to be similar.

Stoner is on a real barn-burner of a case (that's being sarcastic), hired by a public library to find out who's been vandalizing expensive art books. The culprit appears to be a real sick puppie though, cutting the breasts and genitals out of photos of female figures.

Harry is also saddled by a partner, the library's security consultant, a young and likable woman named Kate Davis, who gets a romantic kick out of Stoner despite their 13-year age difference. She's eager but a little naïve, though when Harry suggests maybe he knows more about detective work than she does, she's unwilling to bend.

The case gets more sordid than expected when Kate ties the unknown vandal to a vicious murder two years earlier—a young art student found in Hyde Park brutalized, sodomized, and cut into little pieces. Now Harry will take all the help he can get.

FINAL NOTICE is 246 pages, but I whipped through it in a couple of days. It's a good tight story with interesting characters and close attention paid to its unusual Ohio setting. It was reprinted in paperback editions in 1982 and 1994, and even made into a TV-movie in 1989 with Gil Gerard (BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25TH CENTURY) and Melody Anderson (FLASH GORDON) seemingly well cast in the leads (I haven't seen it, but I'd like to).


Brandon L. Summers said...

I recently had the movie version of "Final Notice" on VHS. I was going to write about it for my website, since it only has 27 votes on IMDb, but then I sold it to Barrett Taylor, that film's editor, who needed it for his show reel. Small, dizzying world.

I find your site fascinating, btb.

English Teacher X said...

when I was approaching my mid to late teens and transitioning from the men's pulp action adventures of Mack Bolan and The Death Merchant to slightly more mainstream thrillers, the violent detective novels of Valin were a good weigh-station. They usually ended with a bloody gunfight and had enough psychotic murderers and teenage runaways to satisfy.

The novels of Andrew Vachss and his hero "Burke" are also good reads in the pulp tradition,

AndyDecker said...

Valin is a very good writer. Firmly entrenched in the P.I. genre, but in a good way.

particulary interesting are "Natural Causes" which backdrop is the cutthroat :-) business of Soap Opera writing (no kidding), and Life´s Work, which is against the backdrop of professional football.

Also very good if very Macdonaldesque is Second Chance.