Death Is a Lonely Business (Magill's Literary Annual 1986)
Ray Bradbury is one of the masters of twentieth century supernatural fiction, having written more than four hundred short stories in the genre. With Death Is a Lonely Business, his first novel since Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962), he begins what may be a new career as an author of detective fiction. Dedicated to the memory of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, and Ross Macdonald, the book recalls the hard-boiled whodunits they shaped and perfected, not only because of its Southern California setting but also because of its pervasive class consciousness, the conflict between the past and the present, and the portrayal of a hero who functions both as a detective and as a sensitive moral force struggling to preserve his ideals in a physically and morally dilapidated society. Like the works of his predecessors in the genre, Bradbury’s novel sets his hero on a quest to root out the forces of evil, in this instance from Venice, California, in 1949. The unnamed detective, however, is not a professional but a writer of science fiction for popular magazines who is suffering both from poverty and loneliness, the former because his sales to the pulp magazines are infrequent, the latter because his current girlfriend is studying in Mexico. (He says: “All the women in my life have been librarians, teachers, writers, or booksellers. Peg was at least three of those, but she was far away now, and it terrified me.”)
(The entire section is 1767 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1986)
Booklist. LXXXII, September 1, 1985, p. 4.
California Magazine. X, December, 1985, p. 44.
Kirkus Reviews. LIII, August 15, 1985, p. 799.
Library Journal. CX, October 1, 1985, p. 117.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. November 17, 1985, p. 1.
Modern Maturity. XXVIII, October, 1985, p. 108.
The New York Times Book Review. XC, November 3, 1985, p. 26.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXVIII, August 23, 1985, p. 63.
Time. CXXVI, October 28, 1985, p. 90.
The Wall Street Journal. CCVI, October 28, 1985, p. 20.
(The entire section is 56 words.)