I don't know what makes Ken Bruen's books so appealing to me, but they certainly do.
With this book he uses Sunset Boulevard by Billy Wilder, one of my favourite movies of all-time, as the perfect canvas for a wonderful book. Everything is almost right.
After meeting the infamous Lilly Palmer in the book, we understand that she's quite diferent from Nora Desmond, the Diva in Wilder's movie. After a few more pages, the book and the movie diverge almost completely. I'd say the movie serves as an inspiration for the book. Only that. The aging actress isn’t the major character that she is in Sunset, though she and her devoted butler do still play a critical part in the story.
Bruen successfully takes the spirit of Sunset Boulevard and turns it into something that’s new and different…and altogether wonderful. It has all the grit of a down-and-dirty pulp thriller. It twists and turns, and you’ll never really know who can be trusted and who can’t.
But is it the story itself that makes London Boulevard such a noteworthy novel? That's a definite no. What made my day while reading it was his prose, which is like a round of machine-gun fire: quick and sharp and to the point. And although his style is simple and clipped, it’s also strikingly lyrical—heavily seasoned with references to literature (almost all of my favourite crime fiction writers are represented: Derek Raymond, Charles Willeford, James Sallis, etc), music, and even philosophy.
Bruen grabs you by the throat and this story is nothing short of asskicking at its finest.
Pulp poetry and it’s sheer fun to read.