So how is poet Ginsburg's first novel, Sunset City? I truly wanted to like it, but it didn't get my motor running. My literary ego is flattered that she has the protagonist's ex-boyfriend observe that Houston is "too small a town," to which the protagonist flatly replies, "There's six million people here." I am not so ego-driven as to conclude that the author has read A Small Town for Its Size.
The reviews that I have read on Goodreads make some excellent points: The writing is solid, the pacing is mostly appropriate (sometimes slowing down when it really shouldn't), and the references to Inner Loop Houston locations will make any seasoned Inner Looper smile. It's certainly entertaining enough for a fast reader to get through in a few sittings. At no time did I want to just leave my signed copy on a bench and let somebody else pick it up.
But for a book labeled "literary noir," I didn't find enough literary or noir in it to really dig it. It's not that the action is lacking in noir-ness. It is certainly a murder mystery, even if the detective is not the protagonist. The detective is, in fact, an HPD homicide investigator who drifts in and out of the story. Writing it from the point of view of the murder victim's young, smart, attractive friend, rather than the misanthropic detective, is a pretty cool twist.
I just didn't get the expected James M. Cain/Raymond Chandler flavors from the style. Literary fiction with some noir touches? Sure, that fits.