THE LIME PIT by Jonathan Valin


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This first novel may go on a bit too long and lose some of its grip, but narrator-shamus Harry Stoner of Cincinnati is a welcome addition to the Archer/Spenser/McGee descendants of Philip Marlowe; Valin works a fresh, unmannered variation on that familiar downbeat, dourly amused narrating voice. Harry's case: tracking down Cindy Ann, the 16-year-old live-in (but platonic) love object of poor, pathetic old Hugo Cratz. (Harry, in a generous mood, is working for peanuts.) Last seen with Hugo's neighbors--a decorative but dangerous couple who are apparently into pornography (S/M division)--Cindy Ann has disappeared into the world of porn and prostitution; so Harry dives into that sad but lively filth and follows the Cindy Ann trail to a psychotic, secretly bisexual football hero. . . who is killed (suicide?) just before spilling all. Did the dead footballer kill Cindy Ann? Or did he just think he did? Valin takes too long to do the final sorting out of the sexploitation ring--with a slightly excessive unreeling of seamy detail--but Harry (in and out of love with erudite waitress Coral) remains likably tender-tough throughout, and the Cincinnati locale is just fine. A mostly successful debut, then, promising thoroughly effective Harry Stoner books ahead.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1980
Publisher: Dodd, Mead