Thursday, December 16, 2010




If Cervantes had written Don Quixote as a private eye novel, Quixote's name would have been – Red Diamond.

Created by Marc Schorr in the mid-eighties, the trio of Red Diamond novels are a valentine to the tropes of the hardboiled private eye genre. Normally, I don’t find much to like in these types of parodies, so it’s to Schorr’s credit that he keeps his prose reigned in enough to tell a good story beneath the humor.

NYC hack, Simon Jaffee, has had enough. In fact, when he witness a violent murder and then returns home to find his nagging wife has sold his collection of Black Mask and other vintage pulp magazines, he snaps – and Red Diamond, private eye, is born.

The reference tome Private Eyes: One Hundred And One Knights tells us . . . from this point on, Diamond is hot on the trail of his girlfriend, the beautiful FiFi La Roche, who he hopes to save from the clutches of his arch enemy, gangster Rocco Rico. Through Harlem bars, Times Square flophouses, Brooklyn shootouts and cross-country to Hollywood glitter, Diamond strong-arms his way through a pulp mystery that honors the Black Mask school as much as it parodies it. Red Diamond is as good as they come. Move over Spade and Marlow.

Diamond is a hero born out of time, a Sad Sack Bogart in trenchcoat and slouch hat, in a modern world, armed with an arsenal of killer corner-of-the-mouth double entendres.

I knew Schorr back in the ‘80s, but have lost touch with him in the interim. He went on to write a number of other thriller style novels, most recently Fixation in 2008, but his Red Diamond novels are the ones that have stayed with me over the years.  Worth seeking out and enjoying.


Red Diamond, Private Eye (1983)
Ace of Diamonds (1984)
Diamond Rock (1985)


Bill Crider said...

Another great pick. I remember this series fondly.

James Reasoner said...

These are wonderful books. I definitely second the recommendation.

George said...

I read the first two books and enjoyed them. I'll have to look for DIAMOND ROCK.

Todd Mason said...

Sounds a bit like a less "dark" take on similar materials as are addressed in Barry Malzberg's HEROVIT'S WORLD...

Evan Lewis said...

Cool. I missed this one. Sounds like the Chance Purdue series with longer sentences.