The Crimes of Jordan Wise

Bill Pronzini’s neo-noir novel, The Crimes of Jordan Wise, is a pleasant diversion but certainly not one of his better works. The idea that a geeky guy who excelled in math in high school might become a successful accountant is, of course, expected and boring. The idea that he might become an embezzler and then a murderer is presumably unexpected and exciting. This turn of events is due to his falling in love with a femme fatale, as you predicted when you saw that it’s a neo-noir novel.

The Crimes of Jordan Wise introduces us to a psychopath who retires to the Virgin Islands and lives a dull life, spiced up by a murder now and then. The first-person narration effectively manages to maintain the reader’s interest through the slow pace of a life in the Caribbean, and there’s a moderate amount of suspense even though the outline of the story is evident from the beginning. The suspense comes primarily from wondering how Wise was able to commit several “perfect crimes,” which he eventually decides to reveal to the reporter who listens to the story. (Unlike most first-person narratives, the listener here is an actual character in the novel rather than the reader; that adds a tiny bit of extra interest, but not much.) So, read it if you have nothing better to do, or if you’re thinking of retiring to the Caribbean and want to rethink that plan.

Categories: Books