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Amber's Thoughts

Reviews and updates from Amber Foxx, author of the Mae Martin Psychic Mystery Series



Beat Noir

You could read this book just for the words. The language is powerful and often beautiful, with sudden, piercing insights, making this as much literary fiction as a detective novel. In that way, it reminded me of Rudolfo Anaya’s Sonny Baca novels. In other ways, with its the cast of musicians and restless outlaws, The Dark Window reminded of Kerouac.


James Jones, private detective, drinks to excess, uses drugs, and has a lot of friends who are dealers and users. Durham recreates the vibe among that tribe with such accuracy that I felt I had to read the book outdoors; I didn’t want to take these people home with me. That’s how real they are! Jones’s flashes of self-awareness and humor make him tolerable, but never likeable, so it’s high praise of Durham’s art that I felt compelled to keep reading about Jones and his friends and girlfriends, and wanted to know what happened next.


On the surface, the first person narrator, reminiscing and dropping names and anecdotes, seems to ramble, but you’ll quickly realize this under-the-influence voice is telling a tightly plotted tale with as many sharp turns as a mountain road. It comes to a well-crafted and startling end, and wraps up with a softer, more thoughtful surprise in the epilogue. If you like noir detective stories, this one is as noir as it can get.