Hey hey, it’s October already? Time for another review. On deck this time around is a fantastic pulp fiction book that found its way back into print last year after nearly two decades off the shelf: Will “The Thrill” Viharo’s dynamic, touching, and wacky first installment in his Vic Valentine, Private Eye series, Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me.
This book has an interesting, cult-underground mystique to it completely independent of the tale it tells, having once been championed by none other than one Christian Slater, who fell in love with it (pun intended, for reasons that will be clear in a moment) after discovering it on the shelf of an old used books store. In his own words, Slater “…totally related to the main character and thought, ‘this would make a great movie.'” In fact, the actor and producer liked it so much that he optioned the script, which I can tell you is any pulp or crime fiction author’s dream scenario.
Alas, like many optioned scripts, the movie has yet to ever go into production (there’s that violent part of the love story). But thank God Gutter Books decided to re-release the novel, because it would be an absolute tragedy to lose this incredibly moving story to the mechanisms of the writing and publishing business.
Viharo’s protagonist, Vic Valentine, is as hapless as he is authentic. Vic is a hopeless romantic looking for love in all the wrong places, while still reeling from a lost love in his past. Love Stories picks up in San Francisco, California, when Vic Valentine is haphazardly hired on to search for a brutish, alcohol-soaked professional baseball player’s estranged wife, a woman who shares many of the same qualities of Valentine’s own lost love, thus piquing his interest. The case sets Valentine off on a drunken, sexy, and occasionally violent adventure to track down the estranged woman, while attempting to hold his own tattered life together in the process.
The book has an original voice and this familiar sort of tone to it that made it feel more like the fourth book in a series rather than the first. Valentine holds nothing back about his thought processes and emotional state throughout, giving the reader an incredibly intimate view of the world through his eyes. The story reads lightning fast and is full of ridiculous and hilarious moments that made me see right away why Slater wanted to make it into a film.
Love Stories has a style all its own. When I finished it I wanted to order and read the rest of the Vic Valentine book saga on the spot, which is good since Double Life Press is in the process of re-releasing all four of the follow-up Vic Valentine books from the 1990s early next year, titled as The Vic Valentine Classic Case Files.
But perhaps even more thrilling is Gutter Books’ forthcoming release this December of a totally new volume in the Vic Valentine series, Hard Boiled Heart, the first new Vic Valentine story written in over twenty years. I’m absolutely foaming at the mouth to get my hands on all of the above, and I have no doubt that after you read Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me, you’ll feel the same. Pick up a copy now from Gutter Books, but fair warning: it goes fast, and once it’s gone you’ll be stuck waiting a few months to find out more about what happens to the enigmatic Vic Valentine, Private Eye.
For more information, hop on over to Thrillville and check out Will’s virtual pulp fiction universe!