Tuesday, November 28, 2006

"A Fever in the Blood" by Ethan Coen

From Gates of Eden by Ethan Coen, Weisbach Morrow, 1998

This collection from one of the Coen Brothers contains at least three private eye stories, but "A Fever in the Blood" sounded most intriguing from the front flap. The story opens in the middle of a scrum between P.I. Victor Strang and mobster Johnny Marchetta. Marchetta bites off Strang's right ear before Strang wins the fight with a bullet.

Trauma from the incident causes Strang psychosomatic deafness in his left ear. This is followed not by an investigation, but by Strang simply trying to live with his handicap. There is no romance to Coen's violence; there are consequences. Strang faces a cleverly foreshadowed one for shooting Johnny that shades the story decidedly noir.

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