The Goodbye Coast by Joe Ide [6/10]

Joe Ide The Goodbye Coast review

Only bold souls tread on the graves of noir icons like Raymond Chandler, but Joe Ide is one such adventurer. Ide is one of my favorite crime fiction authors, his five-book-strong Isaiah Quintable (aka IQ) series being full of gems. Now, in “The Goodbye Coast,” he transplants Chandler’s flinty, wise-cracking PI, Philip Marlowe, into the Los Angeles of today. In this reincarnation of sorts, Marlowe is a redoubtable PI, full of inner strength, operating as a hugely busy investigator alongside his alcoholic cop father. The novel’s detective puzzle involves a success-addled starlet, whose producer husband was recently murdered, seeking their runaway daughter. Joe Ide loves writing freakish scumbag crooks and soon the roster of suspects is a tornado of violence around Marlowe, who battles on according to his own code of practice, one that is not, unsurprisingly, unlike that of Chandler’s Marlowe.

Not everything in The Goodbye Coast worked for me. Marlowe Mark II struck me as nothing like the original, just a pale shadow really, and the byzantine plot is often dull. And the denouement, while Chandlerish, feels forced. The author’s writing style is nothing like Chandler’s nor indeed like his own regular style, and the prose can feel clunky. That said, the action scenes are unfurled with typical Ide aplomb and the L.A. atmospherics are wonderful. Overall, a mixed bag that nonetheless entertains.

Electrify by Saul Griffith [8/10]

Saul Griffith Electrify review

No doubt you read climate crisis books compulsively, like I do. Nothing is more important in our lives, so nothing is more important to read, right? “Electrify: An Optimist’s Playbook for Our Clean Energy Future” stands out from the pack as a completely practical one-solution blueprint. Focusing on America, the author, an engaging entrepreneur and inventor, prescribes Manhattan-Project-level policy decisions: switch electricity to solar, wind, and (with some hesitation on his part) nuclear; switch petrol-fueled cars to electric vehicles; switch home heating to reverse-cycle air-conditioning (he calls it heat pumps); fund innovation but only for the tail of the problem (industry, air travel, food); transform the electricity sector to allow households and businesses to freely exchange juice with utilities; and provide cheap government loans to get over the financing hump. Griffith has analyzed extensive U.S. energy usage data, coming up with amazing ideas, for example that about half the energy used in America is employed to extract and move fossil fuels, so that the national transformation required is much less than envisaged. He is scathing (rightfully so) on climate-washing notions like carbon capture and hydrogen. All up, Electrify is an exhilarating jolt of positivism that everyone should read.