27 March 2017

Gun in Cheek by Bill Pronzini

My rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Genre: Nonfiction
Format: Free ARC through NetGalley (no compensation for review)
Expected publication date: 12 Apr 2017

Disclaimer: There are affiliate links in this post. If you click through and make a purchase, I will get a few coins and my coffee budget will thank you. However, if you are skint and have to borrow the book from your library, I understand.

When I was 13, my family had volumes of Reader's Digest Condensed Books in the den. I read those books over and over because we lived out in the country and didn't have easy access to the public library. Gun in Cheek by Bill Pronzini is the type of book I would have enjoyed back then, but I'm not sure who would read it now.

Gun in Cheek is a Dover reprint of a title released in 1982, and the subtitle is "An Affectionate Guide to the 'Worst' in Mystery Fiction". In modern parlance, I think this book would be called a recap rather than a guide. In sections devoted to amateur detectives, cops, and gothic novels, Pronzini picks two or three novels that he considers "bad" and basically retells the entire story of each one. If you have ever read a TV show episode recap on a website like Previously.tv, then you have this book -- except this book doesn't have quite as much snarky fun. Still, some of the quotes from the actual novels Pronzini is summarizing are amusing.

Because the reading of plot synopses can begin to feel repetitive, this isn't a book that can be read straight through. Dover reprints are affordable enough that it wouldn't be a hardship to have this on a shelf for a bored kid to discover on a Sunday afternoon, most likely when the Internet is down.

Gun in Cheek at Amazon
Gun in Cheek at Overdrive (older edition)
Gun in Cheek at Book Depository

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