Reviewed in the United States on June 21, 2020
Author John Greco’s book of short stories, “The Late Show,” ties together the writer’s passion of old movies (mostly Films Noir, peopled by the likes of Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, and Edward G. Robinson) and tales which end in some twist of fate for their protagonist, anti-hero, or villain.
I don’t want to go into too many details, because reviewers who give spoiler alerts are missing the forest for the trees. But, there are husbands and wives whose marriages have soured; spoiled rich kid heirs and random innocent bystanders; a beloved fixture of the community who finds his purpose in life suddenly and sadly obsolescent; a vegetarian hitman who got into his line of work by turning some tables; a hippie-dippy chick whose crystal ball needs some new batteries; someone who lost his temper, and leaked a little blood on his way into the Bijou; and, to borrow a line from Johnny Cash, some of Hollywood’s has-beens, would be’s and never weres.
Greco expertly taps out some dark tales on his typewriter, but even the darkest have a light touch — he doesn’t bog the reader down in excessive gore and depravity. Drawing upon the experiences of his youth and early adulthood, many of his tales are set in New York City and Upstate. He has an uncanny knack for conveying these locales not unlike crime thriller writer Mickey Spillane.
This is the first book of Greco’s I’ve read, and his stories are quite entertaining, written in the style of the golden age magazine fiction of midcentury. Definitely recommended.