Book Review : Will Viharo - Vic Valentine: International Man of Misery (2017)
Vic Valentine is what would happen if iconic private eye Philip Marlowe lived in our era and tried its damnedest to pretend he wasn't. He's an voluntary anachronism in a disposable culture who chooses to be a de facto "good guy" in order save himself from the shambles of how own life. Long story short, he's an interesting guy and he's back. Cult author Will Viharo published Vic Valentine : International Man of Misery last September and it's a weeeeiiiird one, guys. This may be the very worst (or very best) gateway into Vic Valentine's world, but it's going to give his fans a reason to celebrate.
This is a wild one. Heartbroken from the events of Hard-Boiled Heart and generally down on his luck, Vic Valentine turned to dog walking in order to make ends meet. Since he's still alcoholic, melancholic, sex-addicted and pretending he's from an era he never lived, Vic struggles with his new job and manages to get a client kidnapped. And not just any client, freakin' Mickey Rourke's dog. So, doing what he does worse prompts Vic Valentine to do what he does best: investigate. Only problem is that Vic's a little rusty and this case is bigger, more dangerous and way tripper than anything you could imagine him getting entangled with.
Vic Valentine : International Man of Misery has little to do with whatever you think you know about the character. Think of it like a soft reboot: different Vic, a new type of adventures. Crazier, globe-trotting adventures where he becomes the man he always wanted to be. Reading Vic Valentine : International Man of Misery is like reading Vic's journals where he narrates a dream he made about himself. It's weird. There are a lot of characters, it moves super fast and has this Archeresque logic where realism, pop culture references and classic movie universes are intertwined. Will Viharo finally offered his signature character the pastiche of a life he always wanted. And it's both good and bad?
Well, it's different from what you would've expected, you know? I hate to call anything "style over substance", but I find it applies here and that it was done right. Vic Valentine : International Man of Misery is not really a case, it's a psychotronic journey into the fiefdom of classic action heroes. I know it sound bizarre and it is. It's a new departure for Vic Valentine. He's not an anachronism anymore for he has traveled into a timeless, free-flowing universe. Will Viharo takes several quick jabs at Donald Trump' administration and the surrealness of it Vic Valentine : International Man of Misery, which leads me to think it was used as a inspiration prompt. If Donald Trump can become freakin' president of the United States, what can Vic Valentine do you know? What is his place in contemporary America?
So, did I like Vic Valentine : International Man of Misery? It's a tentative yes. It's not the anachronistic detective novel I wanted to read, but it's... not quite like anything I've ever read before? The closest comparison I can give you is Sterling Archer except unathletic, in his fifties, down on his luck and with the slew of emotional issues with know and love Vic Valentine for. That said, I'm not sure where this novel leaves the character. Has he entered a new era of his adventures or simply accessed the Valhalla of pop culture he's always longed for? I don't know, but Vic Valentine : International Man of Misery would be a great last waltz into the sunset for such a fascinating character. I would recommend to read it at the tail end of the series, but I guess it works just as well as a standalone.