booklist 2013: YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE, Jonathan Ames

February 18th, 2013 | stuff2013

This novella is pitched as “a tribute to Raymond Chandler and to Donald Westlake,” but, while there is certainly a tincture of Parker and Marlowe here, it reads to me more like Ames looking at the likes of Jack Reacher and other modern hard-man crime characters and saying to himself, “what would that protagonist and their stories really be like?”

The end result is as black and sticky as graveyard dirt.  It almost but not quite tips into parody at a few points, but, although I don’t doubt the author had a chuckle to himself in a couple of places, it comes good as a study in steely-eyed extrapolation.  It is, in fact, a ruthless depiction of that “violent but good-hearted loner hero” and the actual consequences of that life.  Hugely entertaining grimness, cleverly written. 

There’s an excerpt here, which includes purchase links (ebook only).


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  1. You can find Warren on Twitter: @warrenellis