This is the story that caused me to add On A Raven’s Wing to my already overburdened bookshelf. I read a Rupert Holmes novel once before. It was Swing. It had a CD bound into the back cover, with music the author had composed and which was supposed to contain clues to the mystery. This automatically made me think it must be a bad book. (One song was called ‘Beef Lo Mein’; this made it 1% better.)
I was interested in the setting – murder at the 1940 Golden Gate International Exposition- and went bravely ahead. Pretty good mystery. So….”A Nomad in the Night.”
Set in 1969, young filmmaker Andris Riga bangs on the door of his hero, schlock horror impresario Canaan Twill, armed with the eighty-one minutes of badly-dubbed grainy footage that is his NYU master’s thesis, A Nomad in the Night, a film that he ‘privately referred to as a Catcher in the Rye in which Holden Caulfield is searching for truth while also drinking other people’s blood.’ This may be the best sentence in the story. That’s kind of genius.
Other sentences aren’t so blessed. The first paragraph contains the following clause: “The long-limbed chestnut-maned graduate student…”. Whoa, nelly. It doesn’t matter to the story what the guy looks like. It’s graceless, and it’s not even necessary.
The neat angle is that young Riga has been a quick study of how other filmmakers have ridden Poe’s coattails to decent box office by splashing his presence on their posters and advertising, no matter how tenuous the connection to the actual film. Before visiting Twill, a Poe fan and collector of Poe-abilia, Riga invents a heretofore undiscovered Poe story entitled ‘A Nomand of the Night’, and adds Poe’s name to the opening titles.
Twill listens to Riga’s spiel, and when Riga produces a torn corner of the supposed ‘Nomad’, Twill not only believes Riga’s faux-Poe story, he believes him a little too well, with — what did you expect?–Poe-ish consequences.
I didn’t like the very end, the final shiver. I thought it was a cheap shot. I don’t want to give anything away, but I think in a lot of ways, my offense is summed up in this article about Battlestar Galactica. To be fair, no one claims Holmes’s story is feminist, but my complaint is still the same. Maybe even a little of this. Oh. Did I give it away? 😦 Bad me.