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Crossing the Dark|
By Heidi W. Boehringer
Serpent's Tail, 244 pp., $14.95
In truth, I believe Boehringer's core concerns find more perfect expression within crime fiction. Her crisp, clean prose demystifies tangled, toxic emotions and delusional behavior faster than years of therapy. As pessimistic about basic human nature as Chandler or Hammett, Boehringer takes Officer Mona Schlagel down a road of despair and grief that lets readers experience the exact moment when all hope of rescue and redemption is lost.
Because her subject matter verges on the taboo, a noir treatment offers the perfect way to introduce the troubling material. Early on, you can almost feel the author struggling to control the quantity, velocity, and flavor of tawdry information she must reveal, in an effort to prevent Crossing the Dark from reading like kiddie porn. Yet every structural component of a good noir thriller supports Boehringer's narrative strengths?strong sexual content, tough yet scarred female characters, black humor, and sardonic banter steeped in ironic self-awareness. The book compares favorably with the deliciously mordant Inspector Petra Delicado mysteries by Spanish author Alicia Giménez-Bartlett. But as it stands, Crossing the Dark remains a moving allegory about how America fails her children.
Published in: Village Voice, Oct. 30, 2007
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