Saturday, April 12, 2008

I just finished The Yiddish Policemen's Union, the latest novel by Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Michael Chabon.

The Yiddish Policemen's Union is basically a hardboiled private eye mystery. The only difference is that the protagonist is actually a police office, but he quickly loses his badge so that puts him on the same footing as a PI.

The problem with the hardboiled genre is that it has been mined so heavily. The genre was pretty well covered by Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, and Mickey Spillane took it to it's hardboiled conclusion. Since then, everything has been repetition with variation. The biggest variation in this book is the setting. It's set in an alternate history where Israel was destroyed in 1948 and the US government created a sanctuary for Jews in Alaska, both things that almost happened.

As is inevitable, there is a death, an investigation and a conspiracy. Along the way, the protagonist persists and suffers his way to the solution. Coming from a Pulitzer Prize winning author, it is better written than most mysteries and the relationships are drawn a little better, but it is just a good example of the genre rather than something that transcends it.

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