This is a novel based on the screenplay of The Nice Guys. The movie was a comedy/buddy movie about a private detective, Holland March, investigating the death of a porn star, and a thug, Jackson Healy, who beats him up to keep him away from a missing woman case – then they find they must team up to survive! Plus throw in the detective's too-mature-for-her-age teen daughter.
The novelization is interesting because, on one hand, it is very faithful to the screenplay. I can't think of anything that's been changed or left out. (For instance, the author even does his best to prop up the detective's out-of-nowhere infatuation with an FBI agent – but it's still lame.)
Where the novel excels is in tone and added background. Charles Ardai writes in the 'hardboiled detective' genre, and the bumbling protagonists from the movie are transformed into tough and even tragic characters. Holland's alcoholism, used for laughs in the movie, becomes a real curse in the novel. The new background material transforms Healy from a buffoon to a dangerous, violent man who wants to improve his life.
Can you wargame it? Like the movie, the novel includes a wonderful scene of everyone fighting it out at a Los Angeles car show, chasing a rolling, bouncing film canister. I like the novel's version better. It could inspire a wild skirmish scenario.
I thought the movie was fun. The novel is even better.
Reviewed by Editor in Chief Bill .