three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
16-May-June-2005
user_rating: 
0

A-DevilsWindMaurice Valentine’s life has turned out just as he planned. His marriage to a wealthy senator’s daughter and successful career as a Los Angeles architect give him all the prestige and power he ever dreamed of, and he’s being prepped for a U.S. Senate seat. Then the beautiful Mallory Walker, a novice architect with a mysterious past, enters his life, and Maurice falls hopelessly in love. When Mallory turns on him at a swanky Las Vegas party, he falls in with mobsters, powerful politicians, drugs, a land scam, murder, and case of double identity—while atomic testing advances in the nearby desert.
HarperCollins. 342 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0066212928

Denver Post 4 of 5 Stars
"Crime, lust, betrayal, and revenge are at the heart of crime noir, and Rayner has the conventions down cold. … He clearly possesses the dark vision and stylistic hand needed to breathe life into a genre that may be old but needn’t be dated." Robin Vidimos

Dallas Morning News 3.5 of 5 Stars
"In addition to the nuanced way he limns these characters, Mr. Rayner evokes Vegas with an eye for lively period detail—from the jetset architecture to the atomic testing outside town that has high rollers partying in the hotel penthouses. It’s the best fireworks show in the world. … Mr. Rayner’s plotting gets too tangled by the end, but his skill with this cynical, neon-splashed milieu keeps The Devil’s Wind blowing cold, moody and dark." Jerome Weeks

San Francisco Chronicle 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The Devil’s Wind blows through all sorts of intriguing and surprising period sequences, peopled with fascinating and well-rendered characters. … Such lovingly rendered scenes are hard to resist; and they elevate The Devil’s Wind far above the run-of-the-mill thriller, up toward the lyrical level of an F. Scott Fitzgerald ..." Tom Nolan

Seattle Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"A classic piece of Hollywood noir, with a page-turning plot as tightly crafted as a Chinese puzzle, The Devil’s Wind demonstrates the genre is alive and thriving in novelist Richard Rayner’s hands." Deloris Tarzan Ament

Critical Summary

Rayner, an English-raised author who lives in Southern California, has written a Hollywood noir for his sixth book. Filled with money and power, lust and revenge, Devil’s Wind resembles the dark crime fiction of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, James Ellroy, and Elmore Leonard. It also has a taste of Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby, as everyone’s reinvented themselves a few times over. Rayner’s set pieces and characters—from his casino hotels and Las Vegas parties celebrating A-bomb tests to his gangsters-turned-tycoons, African-American jazz musicians, and cameos by Frank Sinatra and Jimmy Hoffa—evoke the glossy sheen covering the era’s massive social corruption. Only the novel’s plotting, while ingenious, generated some confusion. Still, Devil’s Wind is a fine addition to its genre.