Miami Blues

By Charles Willeford,

Book cover of Miami Blues

Book description

After a brutal day investigating a quadruple homicide, Detective Hoke Moseley settles into his room at the un-illustrious El Dorado Hotel and nurses a glass of brandy. With his guard down, he doesn’t think twice when he hears a knock on the door. The next day, he finds himself in…

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Why read it?

4 authors picked Miami Blues as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Creative writing instructors (and later TV showrunners and network executives) taught me that the protagonist in a crime story can be flawed, but he has to be likable, someone you want to spend time with and who you will root for.

They were all wrong. The detective hero of this book borders on repulsive, and the world he lives in is dark, violent, and a touch grotesque…but also very, very funny. The humor not only makes it all palatable but somehow even more vivid and powerful. And entertaining, oh, how entertaining.

There may not be a single likable character in…

From Lee's list on humor that makes us human.

If Anton Chekhov had risen from the dead in 1982 and written a book about the criminal underworld of South Florida, the result would have been something like Miami Blues. I am utterly fascinated by the level of social realism in this (supposedly) simple crime novel!

The villain, ex-con Freddy Frenger, is a monster, but he’s also weirdly compelling. Hoke Moseley, the protagonist, is a deeply flawed hero, if ever there was one. In telling their bizarre tales, Willeford weaves a narrative that is as gritty and detailed as it is artful and grotesquely beautiful.

When Willeford became a friend of my family, around 1979, he was known only by a small cult following.

He hadn't published a book in seven years, and his twelve previous books were out of print. He was teaching at Miami-Dade Community College and reviewing mystery books for The Miami Herald.

Miami Blues, which rescued its author from obscurity, presented a Miami in transition. South Beach is still decrepit and full of old people, but there is a new sense of danger on the streets—a scent of violent desperation among refugees from Latin America and opportunists from…

Start with Willeford’s introduction of Freddy Frenger, “a blithe psychopath from California,” who blithely snaps the finger of a Hare Krishna in the Miami airport and launches himself, in league with an improbable prostitute who calls herself Pepper, on a diabolical spree of theft, murder, and debauchery. It also brings him face to face with one of fiction’s most memorable detectives, middle-aged, down-on-his-luck Hoke Moseley of the Miami P.D. Their cat-and-mouse game through the glitzy neighborhoods and seedy precincts of south Florida includes cons, graphic sex, and Hoke’s shattered dentures before the slippery monster from Out West gets his comeuppance.…

From W.A.'s list on crime stories of the past 50 years.

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