Friday, November 25, 2022

Johnny Passe by Scott Fivelson and Tim Cleavenger

The hard-boiled detective story emerged in pulp magazines like Black Mask in the 1920s and became popular in the 1930s. It was in the late 1920s improvements in microphone technology saw the emergence of crooners such as Russ Columbo and Bing Crosby. Crooners were very much in vogue in the 1930s, with possibly its most popular performer, Frank Sinatra, emerging in the 1940s.

The novella Johnny Passe (Hen House Press) by Scott Fivelson and Tim Cleavenger is a humorous pastiche of hard-boiled detective fiction. It includes many of the hallmarks of the genre, from the down-and-out detective of the title to a mysterious client to a complicated case. It is written in first person, with Johnny Passe himself telling how he missed the biggest opportunity of his life.

Scott Fivelson is the author of the novel Tuxes as well as the one-act plays Dial L For Latch-Key and Leading the Witness. He is also the writer and director of the film, Near Myth: The Oskar Knight Story, and co-screenwriter along with Caroline Allward of the upcoming British romantic-comedy mystery, The Vicar’s Wife.

Fans of hard-boiled fiction will appreciate Johnny Passe. Authors Scott Fivelson and Tim Cleavenger capture the narration of Raymond Chandler's short stories and novels perfectly. And, as mentioned earlier, they send up many of the tropes of the genre, from a menacing villain to a beautiful girl. What ultimately makes Johnny Passe so enjoyable is that its authors take it in a direction that Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler or many other hard-boiled writers would have never taken it. While readers will appreciate the outcome of Johnny Passe, they certainly won't expect it.

Hard-boiled fiction and the crooners were both phenomena of the 20th Century that remain popular in the 21st. The many fans of both will enjoy Johnny Passe, a very funny, but loving pastiche of both.

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