The ghost of Dashiell Hammett floats between the pages of The Chocolate Assassin, by Peter Durantine, a crime noir novel á la Hammett, Raymond Chandler and the rest. Set between two time periods — present day and World War II Germany — The Chocolate Assassin presents as a hard-boiled crime noir novel, but where Hammett’s characters are surly and disillusioned with life (think Sam Spade), Durantine’s protagonist isn’t bitter, or smart-alecky, or even mad; he’s just a good detective. Similarly, the gritty nature of Hammett’s characters is not present in The Chocolate Assassin, and that’s a good thing because Durantine is his own writer, and Detective Grey is his own man, a detective with a conscience and no particular grudge against life. How refreshing!
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