The Big Switch
Hard-boiled detective fiction taking place in the 1940s and 50s looks so easy to write– the Hollywood private eye, the glamorous movie starlets, the buddy on the police force, the girl friend with the shady past (and present). It looks easy, but it’s not. Case in point. It’s 1951, and Brian Kane is hired to follow a Hollywood star by his wife, only it’s not his wife, and the girls spending their days (and nights) with the star do not seem to survive very long.
Kane claims that he’s not a nice guy, but for a tough guy, he’s soft and apologetic. He’s a walking endorsement for Camel cigarettes and Zippo lighters, but after the nth time he “zips up a Camel,” it just doesn’t seem to add much more to what we know of his character. The case itself is moderately interesting, but all the same, one gets the uneasy feeling that Sam Spade would have had it cracked in a moment.