Again, Winter has managed to do, what many have tried, only do it not just successfully but brilliantly. The reader will be left hoping this is not the last time that Winter channels the master.
And for the grand finale, and to wind up this marvelous odyssey of crime fiction, from the cozy/police procedural to the heart of the hardboiled era, Winter takes on another persona from the pantheon of ‘crime fiction gods’ by summoning Jim Thompson’s noir masterpieces. Police At The Funeral finds Shem Rosenkrantz in his home town in Maryland. He is now the kept man/pimp of the casual prostitute, Vee, the "should have been enticing, but she is just vulgar,” Vee.
Chloe/Clotilde has been institutionalized in a mental hospital for the past ten years, since 1941 when took place. Shem has not written anything in years and is mostly forgotten by the public. He is home to hear the reading of the will of his first wife Quinn, and it is here where he is reunited with his son Joe, who we met in the opening scenes of Falling Star. Shem is hoping to inherit his ex-wife’s estate but when the entire thing is left to Joe, he finds himself nearly penniless and living off the money that Vee gets from her gangster Johns.
Shem has borrowed money from his publishers and from the Hollywood executives and even gamblers and underworld kingpins to the extent where they won’t even accept his phone calls or answer his telegrams anymore. Vee is about to abandon him as well, since he won’t be getting his hands on his ex-wife’s money and young Joe holds him in contempt, seeing Shem as nothing but a drunk who abandoned his mother. As the story progresses, Shem sinks deeper and deeper into drunkenness and desperation, but clings to the lie he tells himself that he deserves the money so as to keep Chloe Rose out of a state hospital. But when Joe is killed in a drunken argument with Shem, Shem enlists Vee’s help in staging the scene as an accidental fire.
Winter captures the noir genre and the godfather of the noir movement, Jim Thompson, to perfection. Shem is perfect as a desperate, egotistical, totally self-absorbed protagonist, devoid of any redeemable qualities. Vee is the perfect accomplice and finds her lineage in the buxom female characters that Thompson and many others of the noir subgenre drew so well. Every single time that Shem has a chance to redeem himself as a human being, he destroys it. His every ‘real’ motive is selfish. At every turn, he is his own worst enemy and has gone from a downward spiral to the final plunge into madness and damnation.