Technically, George Pelecanos’ novel The Big Blowdown isn’t categorized as noir or hardboiled; it is known to the world simply as a “crime novel.” However, I think this book contains bits and pieces of almost every hard boiled novel we have read this semester.
The very first thing I noticed about the book when I was reading was the race divide- we have seen this before in John Fante’s Ask The Dust. If a person is not greek, young George is encouraged not to interact with them, or at least doesn’t have the opportunity to interact with them. I particularly enjoyed reading about the Greek culture, because my favorite uncle is greek, and he makes the best greek food of anyone I’ve ever met.
Another interesting thing about The Big Blowdown was the constant references to pop culture of the time; this is very reminiscent to the Hemingway story, “The Three Day Blow,” in which Nick and his friend are just discussing current books and baseball games. Similarly, there is Cotton Comes to Harlem, in which Harlem culture is ever present in every line of the book.
Finally, Lola. Peter becomes obsessed with finding Lola and solving the prostitute kidnappings and murders, exactly like Bucky becoming obsessed with solving the Black Dahlia murder in James Ellroy’s novel. Critics have even said Pelecanos’ work is reminiscent of Ellroy’s writings.
There are many aspects in Pelecanos’ novel that we have seen many times before this year. For these reasons, as well as many others, the novel is considered, to the emoboiled clan, if not the world, a hardboiled hit for sure.