I reread Edgar Pangborn’s “The Singing Stick” this morning. It’s a caveman detective story initially published in 1952 by Ellery Queen Magazine.
“Beyond the river was the melancholy green, almost blackness of advancing pine forest. Ambling naked from his cave into afternoon sunshine, Gnar-of-the-Long-Arms, the Old Man, the leader of the tribe, gazed across the valley. Trouble would come; when it came, the pines would know.
The pines were kindred to the Not-Men they sheltered — bear, wolf, snake; kin to the black leopard who five winters ago had writhed past Samar’s spear when that Old Man’s foot had slipped, giving Gnar leadership of the tribe. The pines knew.”
What I love is the way Pangborn plays it straight. He uses the tropes of a Chandler-esque Private Investigator story without resorting to too many of the cliches.
Now if only I could find a copy of his novel Davy.