Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

NEGATIVE OF A NUDE by Charles Fritch

Charles Fritch Negative of a Nude

I grew up on the of Gold Medal writers. I discovered John D. MacDonald and Donald Hamilton there, Dan J. Marlowe, a host of other writers, and plots filled with thieves, actions, and femme fatales created a world that I grew up loving. Some of the bestsellers of today aren’t far removed from these old paperback writers. The plots and the pacing are the same in many respects, but the characters are a lot more dense, more than just names on a page. Of course, they have to be more real. Most of those old noir books can be read in a single sitting and you didn’t have to spend time figuring out who was who.

I enjoy the suspense writers of today, but sometimes I go back for the original novels, those written in the 1950s and 1960s that were maybe a step above the old pulps.

I’d never heard of Charles Fritch before, but the cover to Negative of a Nude drew me in and picked up the book. One of my Christmas presents to me this year is taking the time to go through some of these old books I’ve had sitting around for a while.

Mark Wonder, the private eye hero of the book, isn’t too different from any of the private investigators who came before him or who traipsed along after. He’s just a guy who’s maybe a little more flawed than many of his contemporaries, and he gets knocked out about as much as Jim Rockford did in his television series.

The cases in this novel all seem disparate, but Fritch ties them all together at the end, in a mind-boggling sort of way that has several reverses and spins on what you think is going on. I enjoyed the frenetic pace the novel takes, but you do have to pay attention to what’s going on in order to remember who is who.

Fritch plays with the stock noir characters in this one, and there isn’t really any new ground covered, but the book is an interesting read and will keep your attention. If you have to lay it down in the middle of the read, you might not feel as generous toward it, and you might discover that you’re not as curious as you should be. Think of it more as a guilty pleasure and something that’s supposed to be consumed in a single sitting or two and you’ll enjoy this one.

Fritch is new to me as a writer. He’s clean, efficient, and keeps the plates spinning. I looked him up on Fantastic Fiction and discovered he wrote mostly science fiction and horror stories. However, I also discovered he wrote a few of The Man from O.R.G.Y. books, which I never read but which have interesting covers.

If I find any more Fritch books, I’ll pick them up.

Coxeman Whatever Goes Up

3 Responses to “NEGATIVE OF A NUDE by Charles Fritch”

  1. Chuck Fritch was my editor at MIKE SHAYNE MYSTERY MAGAZINE for several years and was the one who asked me to write all the Shayne novellas, my first regular writing job. Mark Wonder appears in at least one novel published under the pseudonym Eric Thomas. He also wrote short fiction under the name Chester H. Carlfi. He retired from editing and writing a number of years ago and went to work for some government agency in California. He passed away a little more than a year ago. A wonderful guy, great to work for, with a fine sense of humor.

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