The director of Scarface and a former New York Times journalist join forces to deliver a hard-boiled tale about a beautiful young videographer who joins the campaign of the lascivious Sen. Lee Rogers—and has no idea that her life is in danger.
The book...so thoroughly fits in with De Palma’s cinematic oeuvre that anyone reading it will feel as if their mind’s eye has suddenly been outfitted with a split diopter attachment ... Fans will no doubt relish all the things in it that they have come to know and love from his films—the caustic, cynical wit, the audacious storytelling, and a wild finale that practically unfolds in slow-motion on the page, in the best possible way.
For lovers of De Palma cinema...a novel that has the twists and turns and snappy pacing of his suspense films...is a treat. For a couple of hours, we get to re-enter...and enjoy De Palma’s wit and sardonic humor The book does read something like a cross between a novel and a movie script, complete with short scenes and quick transitions. Backstory on the characters is supplied as needed, tersely, and the novel’s continual forward momentum carries you along. De Palma’s films, the thrillers in particular, frequently have a dreamlike quality that embraces the absurd and the ludicrous, to most enjoyable effect, and Are Snakes Necessary? is no different ... primarily a potboiler, a blend of thriller and political satire, with women in danger and dangerous women, but it also has just a little bit of thought-provoking heft.
Pitched in style somewhere between a film treatment and tabloid true crime, this debut novel is silly and uneven, sure, but it’s also fun, a pastiche of hard-boiled crime fiction that doesn’t scrimp on the lurid pleasures of the genre ... De Palma and Lehman, while giving their story a conspicuously contemporary setting (Twitter, iPhones, 9/11, Ferguson), have aimed less at modernizing than simply transplanting its styles and tropes to the 21st century. As pastiche, this partly works, but it may have a distancing effect on readers ... Elizabeth de Carlo, the most fatale of the book’s femmes...[has] something retrogressive about her presentation. Perhaps a hint of cool irony can be detected here that some readers will enjoy, but it feels more like an opportunity missed. The book’s chauvinistic dialogue is another sticking point. While it’s obviously an intentional stylistic effect, it feels anachronistic ... Elsewhere, melodramatic overtones threaten to tip some scenes into the absurd ... Still, the chapters zip by with the pace and economy of scenes in a movie, and there are enough good jokes...and plot twists to pass the time guiltily enough.