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Review: “The Forbidden Pose” from Dirty Magick: Los Angeles

Dirty Magick: LA Lots of exciting news this week. Project Blackford is in full swing. I’m organizing and compiling my research. The full on writing effort begins this weekend. After reviewing this universe’s canon, I’ve had to scrap my initial approach and revamp. It’s been very exciting!

The paper back edition of Dirty Magick: Los Angeles is available at Amazon. I’m pretty excited about that. I have an Amazon’s author page, complete with creepy photo which will be replaced as soon as I get the opportunity. That page is here. It still says “Paul Ellis.” Hopefully I can get the middle initial added without too much trouble.

My fellow writers in the anthology are a seasoned group. Without any spoilers, I’ll be reviewing their stories over the next couple of weeks or so.

Neal Pollack first published in 2000 and has eight books to his credit. His story in the anthology, “The Forbidden Pose: A Matt Bolster Yoga Mystery,” is part of a continuing series with his protagonist Matt Bolster. I came to this story cold, knowing neither yoga or Matt. Fortunately for me, my understanding wasn’t necessary.

Pollack weaves an intriguing tale of yoga and murder in such a fashion that even the reader with only the most casual knowledge of yoga is not lost. I say that having only the most causal knowledge of yoga. In my opinion, Pollack’s skill use of this eastern discipline adds and additional layer of complexity to the tale; another shadowy shade to the Noir.

To Westerners, there is something about yoga’s elegant exercises that completely baffles us into a willing suspension of disbelief. It makes the crimes more heinous, the atmosphere more mysterious, and the antagonist more villainous, particularly given the peaceful emphasis of this discipline being turned on its ear for evil.

Pollack has classic Noir elements; the world weary, misunderstood detective, his faithful police officer contact, mysterious deaths, and the surprising twist at the end. The pacing reminded me a lot of “The Long Goodbye” with Elliot Gould. The colors Pollack weaves are bright and shiny, and the shadows slash them with the dark.

At first, I found trouble relating to Pollack’s Bolster. The detective didn’t seem to be gritty, or rugged enough to be  the classic antihero. However, like Gould’s performance, I found this interpretation grew on me until I was rooting for him by the end.

As I promised, no spoilers. I will say this, the story wraps up in true Noir fashion. It is the first in the anthology and a great way to kick it off. Overall, the story is compelling, the characters are fascinating, and the dialogue is believable. I give “The Forbidden Pose” four out of five. It is a great introduction to the anthology.

Disclosure: I do not know Mister Pollack, nor have I had the pleasure of meeting him virtually or IRL. I do like his writing, though; pretty slick.

About the Author: Paul K. Ellis
Author Website: https://paulkellis.com

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