With impeccable skill, Robert Coover, one of America’s pioneering postmodernists, has turned the classic detective story inside-out. Here Coover is at the top of his form; and “Noir” is a true page-turner-wry, absurd, and desolate. You are Philip M. Noir, Private Investigator. A mysterious young widow hires you to find her husband’s killer-if he was killed. Then your client is killed and her body disappears-if she was your client. Your search for clues takes you through all levels of the city, from classy lounges to lowlife dives, from jazz bars to a rich sex kitten’s bedroom, from yachts to the morgue. “The Case of the Vanishing Black Widow” unfolds over five days aboveground and three or four in smugglers’ tunnels, though flashback and anecdote, and expands time into something much larger. You don’t always get the joke, though most people think what’s happening is pretty funny.
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