Hardboiled / Noir Crime Fiction Message Board

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Hardboiled / Noir Crime Fiction Message Board

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jul 25, 2006, 9:22 pm

Mikeneko, it's amusing the top books we share are almost all Josephine Tey or the scholarly and literate Amanda Cross - both a far cry from being either hardboiled OR noir! :)

2mikeneko Första inlägget
jul 25, 2006, 9:44 pm

Ha. But I do have a noir tag! I haven't done most of the books here yet. Technical difficulties with catalog. (And this window to type in is approximately 1 inch wide. Yikes.)

jul 25, 2006, 10:04 pm

Yeah, I know! The touchstones are marvelous, but squeeze our typing into the narrow space between a rock and a hard place - so to speak!

You have a noir tag, indeed! It snagged you the invitation. But I do think it's funny... much as I love Tey.

4inkdrinker Första inlägget
jul 25, 2006, 10:14 pm

Thanks for the invite Eurydice... I'm not sure I belong here but I accepted anyway. I do have some noir stuff, but when it comes to mystery I prefer the S. Holmes variety more than the hardboiled variety. However, my mild interest in pulp fiction (mysteries, horror, science fiction, fantasy, and adventure stuff) sometimes pulls me into the noir world.

jul 25, 2006, 10:32 pm

Ah. Well thank you for joining; it sounds as if the British/Irish Mystery group would suit you better still. I probably read more that belongs there, myself; but wanted to give some as-yet neglected areas a home. Tags and authors have much to do with who I chanced to invite. Don't feel compelled - to stay, or to write if you do - but any level of interest is welcome.

6oakes Första inlägget
jul 26, 2006, 12:37 am

Medlemmem har stängts av.

jul 26, 2006, 12:53 am

Always willing to give it a try. What I've read suggests he was pretty bad, but a little of that won't kill us. (Will it?)

Any specific interest among his productions?

jul 26, 2006, 2:43 am

Medlemmem har stängts av.

jul 26, 2006, 3:48 am

Um, a lot of hardboiled/noir stuff will be 'morally horrid' wouldn't it? As opposed to your Midsomer Murders/Agatha Christie type thing. I haven't read a lot of Mickey Spillane, and not for a while, don't remember anything that particularly would make it stand out in that direction.

jul 26, 2006, 4:34 am

OK! To assist Tey out of her uncomfortable spot, I just added in a stack of Ross Macdonald to my catalog. If anyone was in need of more cover choices, I did scan my books as well, all Bantam paperbacks, '70s - '80s.

11papalaz Första inlägget
jul 26, 2006, 4:38 am

Spillane is well wort reading but for my money ((Derek Raymond)) is the all-time master of hard-boiled. ((Chester Himes)) is always rewarding too.

Check out (The Killer) by ((Colin Wilson)) if you can snag a copy.

jul 26, 2006, 5:37 am

Then I, the Jury it is. :) Anyone interested in reading together, or no?

Yes, a lot of it is, at least, 'unsavory.' But several early heroes of the genre maintain a relative - and very individual - moral high ground. The Continental Op questionably, Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe and later Lew Archer, far more clearly. But they have a certain charm, either way.

I you use brackets, instead of parentheses, the 'touchstones' will work - in my opinion, easily and brilliantly. :) It does make it much easier to access the work discussed.

A thousand thanks to mikeneko on easing the discomfort of that dear lady, and ushering Mr. MacDonald into his rightful place. Papalaz: I look forward to giving them a look.

13tartalom Första inlägget
jul 26, 2006, 6:32 am

Hello fellow noir lovers. Thank you Eurydice. I've been reading books in this genre since I picked up my dad's green penguin version of (the long good bye) nearly thirty years ago.

jul 26, 2006, 6:51 am

Do'h. Square brackets! I'll try again - you should all read The Long Goodbye as well as The Pledge.

jul 26, 2006, 7:01 am

Tartalom - glad to have you. :) I finally got a copy of The Long Goodbye last month, and I'm hoping to read it on a plane NEXT month - if I can wait that long.

I have to thank film noir for introducing me to the genre... in books and film. But only some 15 years ago, with no reading till about five: so I'm a latecomer. Philip Marlowe, as ever inimitably played by Bogart, in The Big Sleep, is what I remember best: one of several responsible for hooking me.

jul 26, 2006, 7:31 am

Well. you are in for a treat. A lot of my reading in american noir ever since has been an attempt to re-encounter the joys of Marlowe. Step forward, amongst others: James Crumley, Jim Thompson, James M. Cain, George V. Higgins, Chester Himes, Derek Raymond, James Ellroy even Carl Hiaasen. The best crime stuff I have read lately has been the Richard Price stuff set in NYC/New Jersey: Clockers, Freedomland, Samaritan absolutely brilliant.

17davidabrams Första inlägget
jul 26, 2006, 11:25 am

Hello, fellow noir-ers...Let me start by saying that my knowledge of film noir is more extensive than that of hardboiled literature (though the two are inevitably intertwined), but I'm trying to catch up on my pulp fiction. I've read a bit of Jim Thompson, Cornell Woolrich and, many moons ago, John D. McDonald, but I'm seriously lacking in Hammett, Spillane and Cain. I did, however, make the time to read the Library of America's Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1930s and 1940s during my recent tour of duty in Iraq. Great, fun reading!

jul 26, 2006, 12:57 pm

I happen to have I, The Jury on the shelf, but haven't read it. I'll make it my next book and offer up what I think.

I agree with tartalom Clockers is truly brilliant!

jul 26, 2006, 5:18 pm

Medlemmem har stängts av.

jul 26, 2006, 5:30 pm

I think I'm going to settle for The Mike Hammer Collection, volume 1, which includes I, the Jury, My Gun is Quick, and Vengeance is Mine - $10.40 at Amazon. They seem unusually low on used copies - with the cheapest I, the Jury at $7.00 ($10.50 after shipping). But at least it will be here in a couple of days - probably faster than I can hunt one up.

jul 26, 2006, 5:51 pm

Thanks tartalom, davidabrams, and quartzite for excellent suggestions. David - definitely you need at least a fair amount of Chandler, and preferably Hammett as well. (As I do Woolrich, Jim Thompson, and more Cain - at least to start with.)

My personal favorites by Hammett are The Dain Curse and The Glass Key. As attractively as The Thin Man filmed - I don't like the book. It's spare to the point of disappearance, among other things. But of course that ignores The Maltese Falcon; also excellent.

Do you have any good books about film noir?

jul 26, 2006, 6:00 pm

No, no books specifically about film noir. I've got Terrence Rafferty's The Thing Happens, but I'm not sure if there's a chapter in there on noir.

jul 26, 2006, 6:08 pm

The book closest to the spirit of film noir, by my lights, is Hollywood Babylon, I can imagine James Ellroy perusing it in his alcohol soaked days and plotting his route out of hell

jul 26, 2006, 6:26 pm

I know there are a number of film noir criticism and theory, as well as simply 'guides to...' but have none (and just spent my substance on Mickey Spillane).

jul 26, 2006, 6:37 pm

Thanks for the invite, Eurydice. I look forward to participating. My Ross MacDonalds and Raymond Chandlers are mostly from the late 60's and early 70's. Also the Hammetts. I don't think I ever read a Spillane. I'm eager try some of the authors, above, that I've never read. Richard Price sound interesting. This should be fun!

jul 26, 2006, 11:14 pm

etrainer said: 'This should be fun!'

I hope so! At any rate, I'm equally eager to explore. :)

jul 27, 2006, 8:35 am

I've always been confused on what defines Noir but I have plenty of hard boiled crime books. I think I have I, the Jury on my bookshelf somewhere. I will have to try and find it and make it my next read. And I also have a ton of John D. McDonald works - just haven't put them in here yet!

jul 27, 2006, 12:33 pm

One very good book that I think falls into this category is Craig Holden's Four Corners of the Night. Quite dark, but head and shoulders above his other stuff, with beuatiful writing.

jul 27, 2006, 1:15 pm

quartzite has jumped to the top of my shared list. Must have happened in the last day or two.

jul 27, 2006, 1:47 pm

I'll let you into a secret, etrainer. Not to speak of someone 'present' in the third person, but he's also (been) at the top of mine. :) - As a couple of others here are very high on it.

Quartzite, thank you. Four Corners of the Night sounds extraordinarily good, from Amazon's descriptions of it. Glad to have my attention drawn that way.

Devilbuny, even in film, 'noir' is 'hard to define, but easy to recognize.' More on this (and what does define it) soon. My feeling that hardboiled and noir shade into each other and share the same ground is very strong - but I'm no expert. What do others think?

jul 28, 2006, 1:43 pm

"Ha ha now I am definitely reading a noir book. Sadly one that no one else seems to have! I have just started Web of Murder by Harry Whittington. So far it is very good about an attorney in a love less marriage who falls for his secretary - then they plot to do away with her. For this one I have added a Noir tag!"

jul 29, 2006, 2:50 am

My copy of I, the Jury, in The Mike Hammer Collection, arrived this afternoon. I haven't read far, but my feeling is that there's a flatness, a lack of affect or inflection, that's different from anything you find in Hammett or Chandler - even when they're 'deadpan.' In the preface to my volume, Max Allan Collins argues that Mickey Spillane is a 'distinctive prose stylist' who 'belongs on the same short shelf with Hammett and Chandler. I'm not so sure.

Oakesspalding commented to me that it reads like a parody of itself, and I agree. The only question is - do you find it funny?

jul 29, 2006, 2:52 am

Hey, devilbuny - sounds perfect. Classic. I will get back to you on the subject of what constitutes noir soon.

Anyone else want to contribute a thought or two?

jul 29, 2006, 5:55 am

Reading Our Mutual Friend at the minute which is kind of noir - city, fog, dark deeds, victorian london noir - a subgenre I suppose. See also The Woman in White

jul 29, 2006, 6:14 am

Mm, yes... so that we might almost define noir as 'modern urban gothic,' in relation to it. The Woman in White is a particularly fruitful point of illumination, tartalom; especially as I know it better. Thank you.

jul 29, 2006, 7:07 am

"I don't know if I put The Woman in White in that same noir crowd. I have read that one along with a few others of Wilkie Collins - I think he would be more just straight gothic even going into the gothic romance genre. But like I said earlier - noir is hard to define.

jul 29, 2006, 9:20 am

Eurydice is ahead of the crowd here. The French coined the term Roman Noir for certain 18th century English Gothic novels. It fits The Woman in White very nicely.

If my memory is correct, Roman Noir predates the Hardboiled Noir genre by quite some time. Hardboiled Noir was applied retrospectively by a couple of French critics after examining the American crime genre of the 30's and 40's.

The last 10 or 20 years has seen a Gothic revival, probably spawned from the massive growth in popularity of Fantasy, and then the birth of the modern Graphic novel. 'Modern urban gothic' is a nice fit.

If I can find a decent reference, I will post it later.

jul 29, 2006, 9:51 am

Eurydice, go and buy yourself a black poloneck, a beret, and a pack of Gitanes

jul 29, 2006, 10:30 am

"I just came across my copy of I, the jury while grabbing books to enter into my library. I have a very old pulp edition. When I put that one, I will have to scan in the cover. It's got a great cover! I will have to read that one next after I finish my current book.

jul 29, 2006, 11:07 am

Okay just put it in there and scanned the cover - check it out if you get a chance. The art is great! I have a 1959 Signet edition of I, the jury

jul 29, 2006, 12:46 pm

Okay, I finished I, The Jury and I'm afraid it went promptly on my discard pile. Though Spillane occasionally has a nice turn of phrase, after all that's a great title, the writing is pretty bad. The characters are a joke and most of the dialogue is dreadful, though occasionally so ridiculous that it's amusing. The plot, as Hammer says at one point about a mystery film, is as full of holes as swiss cheese. Despite a high body count, no real graphic violence or sex--the most distasteful bits were racist and homophobic. Mainly, it bored me.

jul 29, 2006, 2:00 pm

Wow - you think it's that bad. Now I just have to read it to see how bad it really is - kinda of like when someone says "Eww this tastes horrid." You can't help yourself trying some yourself! :)

jul 29, 2006, 2:34 pm

And now I have to read the copy of Kiss Me, Deadly that I snagged at a library sale a few years back...a Signet 40th anniversary paperback edition (making it a 1992 printing, I guess) with pulpy art and pages turning brown, and oh yes....the author's signature on the title page. As I paid a quarter for it, I've never investigated whether the signature is authentic...but isn't it pretty to think so. (Not all the hard-boiled characters are in the "crime fiction" genres, are they?) Mickey Spillane has always been kind of a bad joke in my mind, since when I was a kid, his books were the kind my teenage uncle hid under his mattress so my grandmother wouldn't know he was reading them. (Never mind how I know that.)

jul 29, 2006, 3:42 pm

I think teenage uncle probably describes the intended

jul 29, 2006, 3:43 pm

I've not read much Spillane, but when he died I wrote a brief blog post about I, the Jury.

"It's almost as though Spillane took the Western genre and transposed it to the hard-boiled detective one. Westerns end with shootouts. The good guy survives (often wounded), but the law is only tangentially involved unless he's the lawman himself (see High Noon). In detective stories, the cops, no matter how bumbling (think Lestrade in the Holmes stories), are handed the crook after the brilliant detective susses out the facts."

I got some argument about whether Lestrade was a bumbler, but I think my main point remains valid.

jul 29, 2006, 5:58 pm

Tartalom: But of course!

jul 29, 2006, 6:14 pm

Medlemmem har stängts av.

jul 29, 2006, 6:50 pm

I fell asleep over I, The Jury last night, but am in agreement with Oakes' review, quartzite and most of the comments I've seen (even devilbuny's 'Is it that bad? I've got to try it!' view).

I bought it partly because there was a kind of campy feel to reading Spillane at all. Unlike, say, Agatha Christie, however, his enormous popularity isn't redeemed by real gifts. She has the virtue of surprising you with wit and humor, self-parody, tight writing, and cunning plots. Oakes nailed Spillane, to the contrary, perfectly in the latter part of his review. So I won't indulge in creative plaigarism; merely concur.

But doesn't just the name, 'Hammer,' say a great deal we've already discussed, about Mickey Spillane?

jul 29, 2006, 6:50 pm

Wow! I'd never thought of reading a Spillane book before but he sounds so resoundingly shit I might try one. With this stuff I'm supposing we are very much on the hardboiled side of the Harboiled / Noir spectrum - tasteless, overcooked... ps. this man is hardboiled (in a good way) and very noir Akutagawa, Ryunosuke

jul 29, 2006, 6:51 pm

Linkmeister, it seems an apt observation, though my experience of Westerns is limited entirely to film.

jul 29, 2006, 6:55 pm

On the noir issue.. generally I think it's important to see the links between genres, the way genres change, and the seemingly different forms similar impulses take at different times. I do think noir, in contrast to the simply harboiled, IS (modern, urban) gothic in its sensibility. However, I'm more curious than informed about the genesis of noir, and this group is spurring me to finally get the books about the noir, in film and fiction, which I've wanted. (Though it may have to wait a little while.)

I look forward to seeing whatever cogitno comes up with for us!

(wearing a black beret and lighting a Gitane...)

jul 29, 2006, 8:04 pm

I've never had any urge to read Spillane because I know he doesn't serve up what I'm looking for in these books. I like the undercurrent of wistfulness that some of them have beneath the grime and the crime. Um, I think they're really touching? (Wuh, embarrassing . . .) So the top ranked with me are Hammett's Dain Curse, Chandler's High Window, and Macdonald's Sleeping Beauty.

jul 29, 2006, 8:08 pm

Yes, mikeneko, I agree with you: on the sentiment, and the books.

jul 29, 2006, 8:30 pm

Does anyone think the non-Travis McGee John D. MacDonald novels qualify as noir? Certainly some of the 1950s ones which take place in Florida have the seamy corrupt political atmosphere down pat.

jul 29, 2006, 11:16 pm

The Noir references I promised.


Both are short. The latter tends more to film. While my memory didn't fail me completely, it did transpsoe film and literary history. Oh we11, the years do condemn.

I have the impression that Noir fiction represents an important social marker in American history. I have read some of the fiction, I wouldn't now mind understanding the context. Can anyone point me to a suitable source(s)?

Spillane: One of only 2 crime authors that I can recall being mentioned in MASH. Winchester was forced to read 'I, the Jury' to Klinger as part-payment for Klinger having saved his life. Winchester's expression as he read was sufficient to keep Spillane of my reading list. Always trust an olde Bostonian, right?

jul 30, 2006, 7:29 am

The books by John D. MacDonald do have a noirish setting and circumstances, but they feel less noir to me than others, I think because of the attitudes of the heroes/protaganists. They seem very action oriented and focussed on problem solving, despite the occasional extended asides on whatever the problem is with the world/Florida in these times. They don't seem to have the have the same ongoing interior monologue of other noirish heroes. This of course does not refer to the other type of noir told from the point of view of the villains, who appear to carry out there acts with a single minded focus on gratification with no introspection at all--leaving it to the reader to anticipate tragedy.

57TheBlindHog Första inlägget
jul 30, 2006, 7:03 pm

As I understand it, noir requires a couple of elements. First, there must be a femme fatale, and second, there must not be a single character with redeeming qualities. Rather, everyone works for their own self-interest and/or have very ambiguous moral codes. Good modern examples are Scott Smith's "A Simple Plan", Kent Harrington's "Dark Ride", and Scott Phillip's "The Ice Harvest", to name a few.

Other authors who sometimes blur the lines between noir and hard-boiled fiction are Lawrence Block, Charles Willeford, George Pelecanos, and James Ellroy.

jul 30, 2006, 7:36 pm

TBH, by that definition MacDonald } surely doesn't fit.

jul 31, 2006, 7:29 am

cogitno - Thanks for posting those websites, they were excellent and I think give the best definition for Noir that I have ever read.

Talking about John D. Macdonald - what about One Monday we Killed Them All?? I haven't read it yet, but by looking at the synopsis and cover, it looks Noir-ish to me. Now I'm going to have to read that one soon too! This board has already planned out my next four books to read!

jul 31, 2006, 9:01 am

I've read most all of MacDonald's stuff, though I think his Travis McGee novels with their colorized titles were his absolute best. I'd also definitely recommend his collection of pulp/noir stories called The Good Old Stuff, but his follow-up to it, called More Good Old Stuff, is not nearly as fine or as much fun either.

jul 31, 2006, 2:39 pm

I've been re-reading non-McGee MacDonald recently and reviewing them here at LT as I go, for what that's worth.

62dethbird Första inlägget
jul 31, 2006, 9:09 pm

DUDE give those old MacDonald novels a retry. He was doing great stuff back then. One senses Travis growing tired as those colors fade.


jul 31, 2006, 9:21 pm

I really am enjoying James Ellroy I wish they would turn more of his books into movies :)

aug 1, 2006, 3:14 pm

A few people have already mentioned Lawrence Block and the early to mid Matt Scudder mysteries I think are agood contemporary entry in this category. As the character has grwon and mellowed in old age the stories have become less noir/hard-boiled, but still very good.

Also shading into this category, but unfortunately pretty much out of print is Michael Z. Lewin, who I laways enjoyed.

aug 1, 2006, 3:17 pm

Also Cogitno has a pretty awesome collection in this category!

aug 1, 2006, 3:38 pm

Just finished Web of Murder by Harry Whittington - wonderful book. I really liked this one and it is pure Noir. I posted a review for it and scanned in the book cover. Quartzite - I see you also own this one, you should read it soon, it's very good.

aug 1, 2006, 6:15 pm

Looks great, devilbuny - thanks for posting the review and the cover!

Has anyone else read/finished I, the Jury? A few nights ago, I finally came to the end. Oakesspalding's right that he may - given the right circumstances - be better than no mystery. I may even read one of the others in my omnibus. But he's distinctly not of the best. I asked whether the appearance of self-parody amused; and I rather think the answer is 'not enough.'

However, I'm happy to hear other opinions.

Speaking of a pulp novel that is surprisingly good, and rather noirish, has anyone else here read Laura?

aug 1, 2006, 6:54 pm

Cogitno: Sorry to be so long replying. My thanks for the links on noir. I see the first leads to a longer discussion and year-by-year highlights in noir publishing, from 1950. As if I needed more reading ideas! ;) ;) ;)

I remember the MASH scene, and (in this case) Winchester has my sympathy. What 'exquisite pain' it must have given his sensibilities...

The book Laura is not terribly gritty, but it is mysterious and disillusioned - and inspired a noir film. Gilda, which I loved as a teenager and watched again last week, has some affinities.

aug 1, 2006, 8:23 pm

Thanks for the invite, devilbuny! Considering the wide variety of books like to read, I tend to forget my passion for noir, both in literature and cinema.

The book I'm reading right now, a 1956 paperback called My Brother's Wife, has the trappings of a mystery, but so far (I'm halfway through) is playing far more heavily on the dramatic lover's triangle than the hardboiled angle.

I think one thing that attracts me to the older noir stuff is the antiquated dialogue and catchphrases that are both amusing and cool, sometimes simultaneously. Like the early 87th Precinct novels when they explain to the reader how a good and trusted detective is often called a "Down Cat" by his peers, or when searching for details in an interregation they tell the perp to "Spell it".

In My Brother's Wife, I've found an expression I've never come across, where twice men who are known to chase women and sleep around alot are said to have acquired a "Gay Dog" reputation. Funny how times change.

But its also the poetic quality that comes through, and with that thought I leave you with a line of narration as the lead of the story regrets the indifference he feels towards the woman that loves him:

"She was anyone there in that darkness, and I knew it, and hated myself again."

aug 1, 2006, 8:45 pm

Eurydice: Read I, the Jury awhile ago, and was somewhat disappointed when I did. Great imagery and such, but sometimes it is no fun knowing who the killer is by the second chapter not because of any great leap in logic, but because the author is obviously going for a shockingly dramatic twist ending that in turn is simply cliche and predictable. That's just me, though.

aug 1, 2006, 11:10 pm

Yes. I found that a bit tiresome. (By no means the only thing I felt that way about.) If everyone who's interested has read it, we can of course be more specific. Anyone else planning to, that I shouldn't deprive of what little surprise you may find?

aug 1, 2006, 11:50 pm

reverends: I was struck by the line you quoted so I googled R. E. Sebenthall. Your authour cloud is the sixth link returned. It seems librarthing is being regularly, and quite deeply indexed.

Your discrimination is finely tuned: most of the (non commercial) links relate to her a Wisconisn poet.

aug 2, 2006, 12:16 am

Yikes, my apologies to the late Roberta E Sebenthall.. Of course the last phrase should read .."as a Wisconsin poet".

aug 2, 2006, 12:31 am

Yes, it is striking. Reverends, My Brother's Wife sounds classic... though even in the 1950s, referring to convivial womanizers as 'gay dogs' was rather long in the tooth, for slang... drawing on the idea, I should think, not only of 'gay' as exuberant and licentious, but also perhaps a dog's affinity to a 'wolf,' or a dog's lack of choosiness.

You're right about the wonderful slang one can find, the period atmosphere - and the bit you quoted.

aug 2, 2006, 5:38 am

All right - picking up two to read next, the infamous I, The Jury and the one I mentioned a way back One Monday we Killed them All by Macdonald. I see we can now post other topics in our groups! Yeah! Maybe we should start one just for Jury? We can talk about how bad it is . . . :)

Also on that note, on the back of my edition here is the amusing write-up:
Mikey Spillane - is the most popular new mystery writer in the country. Over 15,000,000 copies of his books have been published in Signet editions. His unique blend of suspenseful storytelling and breathtaking action have won him millions of loyal fans in every walk of life --- from housewives to Washington political columnists, from college professors to servicemen.

aug 2, 2006, 3:44 pm

I'm pretty sure I have already read Web Of Murder, if its the one I'm thinking of it was pretty good.

aug 3, 2006, 2:48 am

Medlemmem har stängts av.

aug 3, 2006, 3:26 am

I have no memory of the big screen product, but I probably saw a few of the television shows. I used to like Stacy Keach, so I'd have watched a couple just to see how he did.

'Course, TV has (or had) "standards" that would have precluded much of the books' content being put on screen.

aug 3, 2006, 7:15 am

I've only seen the one Spillane movie, Robert Aldrich's Kiss Me Deadly, and it's very good. Hammer is still a pretty repellent character, but he's well played by Ralph Meeker, and it suits the whole tone of the film. I understand that it does differ widely from the source novel, however.

My own opinion of Spillane is that he's not a patch on Chandler or Hammett; his touch is not as deft or as subtle as those two authors, and much of hs work seems soaked in casual misogyny.

aug 3, 2006, 4:10 pm

Well, one of Spillane's remarks (widely mentioned in the obits) was to the effect that he didn't have readers, he had customers. That might indicate how he felt about writing as art.

aug 3, 2006, 9:33 pm

My own opinion of Spillane is that he's not a patch on Chandler or Hammett; his touch is not as deft or as subtle as those two authors, and much of hs work seems soaked in casual misogyny.

Aptly put. I'd held off on mentioning it, but while not usually overly offended by period values from period writers (it depends), Spillane's misogyny actually does offend me. Though not perhaps even aware of any negative feelings toward them, he sees women very little as human beings, and very much as bodies. (I could cite certain details Hammer 'noticed' while preparing to shoot a woman, among other things.) Obviously other issues are also offensive: as the racism previously mentioned. Compare Chandler's Farewell, My Lovely: the representation of racism there is even harder to read, yet it's clear Chandler doesn't (completely?) share it, and the condemnation of police and government indifference is implicit. There's purpose in it, and awareness of human suffering, that is immeasurably removed from Hammer's 'I can go into dangerous areas and beat up big black men' swagger.

While I think Oakes should be forgiven his cavalier attitude in thanks for his chivalry, not only was the first 20 pages of I, the Jury the best, and most amusing in its unconscious self-parody; but I suspect his friend is capable of putting a tactful spin on opinions, as well as being (initially) wrong. :)

aug 3, 2006, 9:35 pm

I did put in the touchstones, but the server's been overloaded, and never did catch them. So: Chandler's Farewell, My Lovely absolutely tramples the (less violent!!) I, the Jury.

aug 3, 2006, 11:14 pm

I suspect his friend is capable of putting a tactful spin on opinions, as well as being (initially) wrong.

(I hope everyone hears the great modesty with which this statement was made....)

aug 4, 2006, 7:10 am

I'm about halfway through I, The Jury right now and I can see what you mean about it and Spillane. It is even hard to put into words what offends you about it - but it does have that trash feel to it that other crime/noir books don't. And it does read like a parody. Now the other one I'm reading at the same time byMacdonald is just so much better in writing style and characters and plot. Still not sure if you could consider it Noir or not but it is a crime novel. More to come as I get further through it.

aug 4, 2006, 7:22 am

To everyone's interest - on Ebay, auction number 270013241732 is a lot of 100 hardboiled/crime/noir paperbacks. Looks like several good ones. I don't think I have the money to try and win this one so I figured I would throw it out there for the rest of you. It's at 36.00 right now which isn't bad for 100 books.

aug 4, 2006, 8:31 am

Before I worked out how to use the Touchstones I posted here in favour of : Derek Raymond aka robin cook and also for chester himes now I have no doubt about Derek Raymond qualifying - in fact I was Dora Suarez may be the best noir book of all time but how do you all feel about Chester Himes? Do his harlem cycle books fit here do you think?

aug 4, 2006, 8:00 pm

devilbuny, though I also haven't got it at the moment, it sounds great. What I was wondering, given our discussion of what constitutes noir, and interest in its origins, is whether anyone would be interested in reading a book (or two) about noir or film noir next month. If so, I'd be happy to post some suggestions tonight, or take any you all happen to have. Beginning in September would give us some time to get any books we decided on - and allow me to join in. I'll be leaving on Wednesday, so maybe we could throw out some ideas and try to get it decided before then?

aug 4, 2006, 8:09 pm

papalaz: I freely confess. I don't remember ever hearing about I was Dora Suarez before. Can you tell me a bit more about it? You're the only group member who seems to have it, and from what I can see on LT, Amazon, Abe and Alibris, copies are relatively expensive (and few). Otherwise, contenders for top noir novels - especially those few of us own - would also make attractive group reads.

I leave the Chester Himes query to those who'd know better.

aug 4, 2006, 10:00 pm

Isn't Mickey Spillane the guy who typed straight to a roll of butcher paper and knew the book was finished when the roll ran out? Maybe that explains the quality of the writing. As for the popularity, that may have been explained in the Happy Days pilot, which depicted a whole gang of randy adoloescents gathered around to hear the salacious parts read aloud.

As for suggested noir fiction, I recommend Jim Thompson. He came along after Spillane, Chandler, and the others, but I'm not sure he's ever been matched for grittiness. I haven't read the whole work, but I can vouch for Pop 1280, South of Heaven, and The Getaway. His characters are bottomless in the depths of their depravity and not one of them has struck me as at all likable or sympathetic.

Another very hard-boiled, though not so noirish, author was Charles Willeford. His Hoke Mosley novels must not be judged by the movies "based" on them (Miami Blues, for one).

Willeford and Thompson both began writing in the 1940s and both were considered pulp writers. Thompson had just one hardcover publication in his entire career. He was "discovered" by collectors in the early eighties, at about the same time that Willeford made his big splash with the aforementioned Miami Blues.

In a sort of reverse engineering, I'd say that if you like the moralistic and humorous work of Carl Hiaasen, you may enjoy the darkly humorous Hoke Moseley novels by Charles Willeford, and if you enjoy those, it may be worth your time to explore the very dark and gritty noir of Jim Thompson.

aug 5, 2006, 12:41 am

TheBlindHog hit the nail on the head in describing Jim Thompson's writing. I'd only add the words nihilistic and psychopathic to TheBlindHog's description of the characters as "bottomless in the depths of their depravity". At his best he is every bit as good as Chandler and Hammett; at his worst, still very readable. The fact that his best and worse are found in the same novel might be a problem to some.

I can also recommend The Grifters and The Killer Inside Me.

Maybe the darkest of the noir writers before Marc Behm's "The Eye Of The Beholder" was published in English. Touchstones report the wrong result for "The Eye of the Beholder".

aug 5, 2006, 1:19 am

Eurydice - I am amazed that I am the only one with a copy of this seminal work. I point you to review that doesn't give too much away: http://www.boston.com/ae/books/articles/2003/12/28/a_writer_who_went_down_into_d...

aug 5, 2006, 7:12 am

Eurydice - I am interested in reading a "what is Noir" type book and then talking about it. I have no idea what is out there - does anyone have a suggestion for what we should pick?

aug 5, 2006, 7:29 am

As devilbuny found, I did post a thread on this separately. Hopefully some of the suggestions will prove interesting...

aug 5, 2006, 7:36 am

Papalaz: It sounds harrowing. I'm not sure I could say of I Was Dora Suarez that I'd be 'happy' to read it, as I have of some; yet I will have trouble forgetting it. And perhaps one day, when I come upon a cheap copy, I'll feel impelled to finally read it.

aug 5, 2006, 7:48 am

On the fringes of this category, I would like to offer up Stuart Kaminsky's Rostinikov mysteries set in the USSR and later Russia. The settings of Soviet and post-Soviet society with their labyrinthe and corrupt political structures, and unrelenting gray, have a nice noirish quality, Black Knight in Red Square, perhaps. Other books with the same setting sometimes have a similar quality say Gorky Park

aug 5, 2006, 7:57 am

Sounds very good, quartzite. That reminds me: has anyone here read Philip Kerr's Berlin Noir? I've been wanting to get it for a couple of years. It sounds relatively similar in some ways, set in Germany during (and after?) World War II. - Though it has typical detective elements, and the authorial voice is supposed to be... acidic Chandlerian, more or less.

(Correct me if I'm wrong.)

aug 5, 2006, 5:31 pm

Eurydice: I second papalaz's recommendation of I was Dora Suarez, it's a heart- and gut-wrenching read, though in my opinion Derek Raymond's finest work is How The Dead Live. (If the latter title sounds familiar to you, it may be because Will Self grabbed it for one of his own novels. Grrr!)

aug 5, 2006, 5:33 pm

I have read it and definitely two thumbs up on Berlin Noir, which is actually a trilogy of three novels, two set just before the war and one after, all with the same protagonist. The back of my copy quotes from various reviews such "Taut brutal, believable, gripping stuff"--Sunday Telegraph. I think I've seen something that Kerr may have something new out.

Redigerat: aug 20, 2006, 4:03 pm

Quartzite, would that be The One and the Other, out in hardcover next month? I quote Amazon: 'Set in 1949, Kerr's excellent fourth novel to feature Bernhard Gunther (after 1991's German Requiem) finds the erstwhile PI managing a failing hotel about a mile from the site of the Dachau concentration camp.' Etc.

Sounds like it was more than time I got into the trilogy.

(insert five minute break here)

Penguin Non-Classics has some great new covers. I would have deferred and bought the omnibus and so on, but.... I saw a remaindered copy of March Violets for seventy-four cents. Yes, you know what happened. :) As I've been wanting it for two or three years, at that price... it vanquishes all thoughts of 'I can't just at the moment'!

aug 5, 2006, 5:58 pm


aug 5, 2006, 6:00 pm

Thank you, bibliotheque! I'll keep Derek Raymond on my mental radar - for more works than one.

aug 5, 2006, 6:16 pm

Det här meddelandet har tagits bort av dess författare.

aug 5, 2006, 6:16 pm

Det här meddelandet har tagits bort av dess författare.

Redigerat: aug 20, 2006, 5:09 pm

To be on topic for a second, though, has anyone read In a Lonely Place, Brick Foxhole, or Build My Gallows High? I've seen the films of each (the middle one being filmed as Crossfire), and I was wondering if any of the books were worth reading too.

aug 5, 2006, 6:21 pm

Yes, well... that's what I thought. No dice, though.

aug 5, 2006, 6:33 pm

No, but I've wanted to read In a Lonely Place, incidentally recently reprinted, as was The Blackbirder. Darn, I selected a touchstone which doesn't give the full author's name - and can't change it now. It should be Dorothy B. Hughes.

Back to the subject: the same press issued my copy of Laura, which I found surprisingly good; and Ride the Pink Horse, as I recall, was well-written, as well as being made into a somewhat haunting film. (I haven't seen it since I was 15, though, so that judgment may be wobbly.) My impression has been that Hughes was the best female practitioner of the hardboiled/pulp/noir novel - at least in the 40s.

aug 5, 2006, 10:18 pm

Just wanted to jump in on the Jim Thompson bandwagon and recommend a book written about him, a fictional tale of an aging and struggling Jim Thompson writing for hollywood ala Barton Fink in Manifesto for the Dead.

aug 7, 2006, 7:52 pm

Thank you, reverends.

For anyone not watching the other thread, a handful of us seem to have decided on doing a group read of Jim Thompson's After Dark, My Sweet, beginning Sept. 1. Hopefully others who are Thompson fans will join the discussion, or otherwise enlighten or argue with us (albeit politely!), when the time comes, whether or not you read along. :)

aug 8, 2006, 3:54 am

I'd like to suggest here, as well as on the other thread, that anyone interested in subsequent reads help think about them NOW! :) That way when we finish After Dark, My Sweet, we'll be through the bother of getting books, and ready to go on immediately. My own hope is to read one or more books on the genre(s), and I've mentioned some. But if you have other ideas, feel free! Just add them to the other thread in the next couple of days. I will be gone starting Wed., but hope to be able to check in while I'm away/

Do you all feel like attempting, say, three group reads and seeing how it goes? No one should feel pressured to read or discuss the books, but it would give us food for discussion, and perhaps stir us to read things we'd like to but might not get on our own. They'd be a complement, not a replacement, for our more casual and varied interchanges. Any interest, reactions, or ideas??

aug 8, 2006, 3:16 pm

Eurydice, your proposal sounds good to me. I'd like to try it. For me, the drawback is that I work a part time job in addition to my somewhat demanding day job (single income family in S. Cal - ugh!). My time is limited. I'll always be behind. If you don't mind a straggler, I'll join in.

aug 8, 2006, 7:35 pm

No, no, a straggler is perfectly welcome! :) Just do what works for you; we'll be glad of the extra voice.

aug 8, 2006, 9:13 pm

I'm more than game to join the reading group in September, as long as I can get my hands on a copy of After Dark, My Sweet. If anyone has a spare copy laying around they'd be interested in trading, please check out my trade bookshelf (username: ReverendS) at PaperBackSwap.Com.

aug 8, 2006, 9:16 pm

Just thought I'd mention that, since my previous post about R. E Sebenthall's My Brother's Wife, I've gone ahead and uploaded a scan of the cover. I know some people are into pulp novel covers, and this might be the place to share. I'll also be uploading scans of the covers for Be My Victim and Behind the Crimson Blind shortly.

aug 9, 2006, 5:40 am

That is a great cover! After I get the rest of my huge collection loaded in I plan to start the task of scanning in all the covers. I've done a few right now but ohh it is going to be a task!

aug 11, 2006, 10:36 am

I want to mention two books by Jonathan Lethem that fall firmly into the noir catagory, Gun, with Occasional Music which is a great sci-fi twist on the genre, and Motherless Brooklyn, a straight detective whodunit where the avenging gumshoe suffers from severe Tourette syndrome. Anybody read this, and if so, what did you think?

Also, got the cover for be my victim up the other night, for anyone interested.

aug 11, 2006, 2:13 pm

Reverends: Don't know about how "firmly" those two fit into noir ... IMHO Gun, with occasional music, along with Lethem's earlier books like Amnesia Moon and Girl in Landscape, really strike me as "Dick-like" (as in Philip K. Dick) ... and I thought Motherless Brooklyn was kind of gimmicky ... of course, when you really think about it, a fair amount of Dick's work could almost be considered surrealist noir, if you will.

If we want to stretch the boundaries a bit, a great noir graphic novel, is Torso ... it's a retelling of Eliot Ness' later career as chief of police in Cleveland, working on a particularly disturbing -- and never solved -- serial murder case.

aug 11, 2006, 5:19 pm

Reverends and KromesTomes:

Torso, I confess, sounds interesting but not appealing (- to me). However, I've been very interested in getting Gun, With Occasional Music - among other of Lethem's work. While we can stick to a more rigid definitiion of what noir IS (if that's possible ;) ), I think the group should encompass conversation about books influenced by noir, or books that play with it, twist it, subvert it, or reference its conventions in some interesting way. I'm glad to see some being drawn in. (And I thank you both.)

I'm short on time, but will love to have a look at the cover later on, reverends. KromesTomes, welcome, and thanks for adding to the discussion. :)

aug 11, 2006, 9:58 pm

I see the Group has passed the 100,000 books mark ... Thanks, I would guess, to KromesTomes. No flashing lights, nor ringing bells. As recognition, perhpas I should put aside my prejudices and read my first graphic novel. Torso seems a good place to start. I hope it is not too visually gory.

aug 12, 2006, 7:29 am

Another good book that sits on the SciFi/Noir borderline is City Come A Walkin' by John Shirley, with "the brutal avatar of the city of San Francisco crystallized into a single egnimatic being, an amoral superhero."

aug 12, 2006, 9:14 am

KromesTomes: I guess the only reason you'd have to not count Gun, with Occasional Music would be if you didn't like mixing your genres. I think the true test of it is that if you remove all of the sci-fi trappings, what you still have left is a gripping detective drama with all of hallmarks of great noir.

From a movie standpoint, you could say that any films not shot in black and white during the 40's and 50's aren't truly film noir, yet this would leave out more modern examples that are worthy of the name, like the 70's modern day remake of The Long Goodbye, the Coen Brothers' Miller's Crossing (an uncredited remake of The Glass Key) and Big Lebowski (modern rehash of The Maltese Falcon), or even untraditional attempts like Red Rock West and Bladerunner (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?).

Of course, I did trail off on a movies, which is my stronger area of knowledge, but my point is that Sci-Fi and Crime Noir are two great tastes that go better together, when properly cooked, as in the case of Gun, with Occasional Music.

Also, I have to protest against the "gimmicky" comment. Almost all good fiction has a gimmick, or hook, that seperates it from the rest. That's what draws us in, and that's what adds a depth to the character and his predicament. You could call Cornell Woolrich's The Black Curtain "gimmicky" because of its use of the now cliche Amnesia plot device (as indeed many people did the same with Memento, a great modern noir that was knocked by people whi couldn't look past the "gimmick" to see what was done with it), and The Maltese Falcon itself falls into that big "gimmicky" whole with the old "avenging the death of a partner" cliche.

Not arguing against your opinion of Motherless Brooklyn, mind you, although I don't agree. I just really dislike the "gimmick" argument when it comes to entertainment criticism.

aug 12, 2006, 9:17 am

At first I was going to question whether or not Torso could be counted as Noir, since it leans more closely towards True Crime. But then I remembered The Black Dahlia, which straddles that line as well. So, Torso it is.

aug 12, 2006, 10:43 am

(Message 120) Reverends, I'd like to suggest another non-traditional noir: Kim Newman's Night Mayor. Newman is better known as a dark fantasist, but his first novel was an outstanding anomaly that imagines a world that exists only in the mind of a terrorist imprisoned for unleashing a WMD-style attack on London. A computer genius and noir film buff, he improvises a way to plug his mind into a computer network and there creates a world where "It is 2am and raining. It is always 2am and raining." (I think that approximates the opening sentence - I don't have the book in front of me.) In any event, to unplug him would likely cause his death and capital punishment is not supported, yet it is far too galling to allow him to continue to exist in such a perfectly realized alternative reality. Prison officials select an equally adept mind surfer and plug him into the dreamscape to play Sam Spade.

Newman is a renowned film critic and draws on his love of noir to create a very credible pastiche that incorporates many of the film actors of the golden era (e.g., Andy Rooney hawking newspapers on every corner, Edward G. Robinson strangling Joan Bennett with a string of pearls.)

I can't imagine why no one has filmed this very intelligent noir tribute.

aug 12, 2006, 1:57 pm

The other day totally by accident I caught a very violent modern Noir film - Payback. Has anyone else seen it? The entire film is done in a blue tint that always makes it look dark and moody - a cool effect. It also has plenty of crime, people out for only themselves, action and sex. I think it is a good example of a modern Noir film. I was hoping it was based off a book but I searched the internet and didn't find too much information about it.

Talking about Blade Runner Paul M. Sammon has written a book about the making of it called Future Noir. I always loved that movie - dark and moody - perfect Noir environment.

aug 12, 2006, 3:26 pm

Payback is a remake of a film called Point Blank, directed by John Boorman and starring Lee Marvin. Needless to say, I much prefer the original. It also is indeed adapted from a book. It's "The Hunter" (later republished as "Point Blank", and then as Payback, to tie-in with the respective movies) by Donald Westlake. I've only put touchstones on the latest title as no-one on LT appears to have an earlier edition.

Redigerat: aug 12, 2006, 4:08 pm

TheBlindHog: Thanks for the heads up on The Night Mayor. I already own a few of Kim Newman's books on film criticism, so it would be a nice addition to the library.

aug 12, 2006, 4:07 pm

I'm a big fan of the film adaptation of Payback, but the only book I've ever tried by Donald Westlake was Cops and Robbers, which I gave up on halfway through as rather dull and uninspired. Does anyone recommend any of his other books?

aug 12, 2006, 8:53 pm

HoldenCarver - have you read the book? I liked the movie and was thinking of hunting the book down. Is the orginial movie as violent??

aug 13, 2006, 5:33 am

devilbunny: I haven't read the book yet, I've not managed to track down a copy of it yet (though I have only been half-looking).

The original movie is perhaps more violent than the remake as the violence is, in a way, more 'real'. What really sells the original for me is the direction, as John Boorman is very much an 'auter' director and he infuses the film with its own unique sensibility. Well worth watching.

aug 13, 2006, 6:44 am

I added Point Blank to my netflix queue - sometimes I think I am a little too wired to the internet! :)

aug 13, 2006, 10:26 am

Okay just finished I, The Jury and it was everything you guys said it was, I posted my take on it in a review. Kind of like a guilty pleasure because even though it really is that bad, I still kept on reading it. And Mike Hammer has no redeeming qualities. Has anyone else read any other Spillane books? I know this was his first one and before he was writing comic books so I am wondering if his style and maybe even the character do get better in his later works.

aug 13, 2006, 2:07 pm

devilbuny: I don't know. His 'apologist,' Max Allan Collins, seemed to think the third book - which I think was Vengeance is Mine, was where he really hit his stride. I haven't bothered to read it, though it's in my omnibus.

Perhaps when I get into one of the situations oakesspalding mentions. ;)

I've been enjoying the discussion - especially about genre-bending or -crossing, Gun, With Occasional Music and Night Mayor, film, etc.

aug 14, 2006, 5:40 am

Well I think I won't actively search out any Spillane books but if they happen to come in a big lot, I'll give another one a try.

aug 14, 2006, 7:04 am

Has anyone read a book called The Ice Harvest by Scott Phillips? Is it worth checking out?

aug 14, 2006, 1:14 pm

tartalom : I've read it, and to answer your question, I'd give a cautious "Yeeeeees..." to it being worth checking out. This because it is a tale with a wonderful atmosphere, which the writer does have a deft hand at crafting - who wouldn't like a snowy town in the middle of nowhere? - and for a long time I was going through the book thinking "This would make a *fabulous* film" (something of a modern day "On Dangerous Ground", if you like).

The problem is, about 2/3rd of the way through the book, the main character turns into something of a one-trick pony. And, worse still, the ending is utterly, utterly awful.

So, yes, it's worth reading for the good bits, but there are, unfortunately, bad bits too.

Oh, and it was made into a movie. Which, from what I've heard, ended up being pretty mediocre. Bum.

aug 14, 2006, 1:22 pm

HoldenCarver: Thanks. Sounds like I won't be getting unless it's car boot sale fodder: 50p or less :)

aug 14, 2006, 2:08 pm

tartalom : If you're a member of a library, try seeing if they have it. It's not a long book, I got it out of my library and blasted through it in a matter of days.

Don't get me wrong, though. The parts of it I liked, I really liked. But the parts of it that are bad, are quite bad. Especially the ending. Overall, I would say I'm glad I read it, but I can only say that by pretending the book abruptly finishes halfway through. :)

aug 14, 2006, 2:24 pm

I liked The Ice Harvest, and thought it was very well written--even liked the ending. That it said it definitely fits the noir definition The BlindHog posited in post 57 above "there must not be a single character with redeeming qualities", and lists The Ice Harvest as an example. It kind of makes you want to take shower after reading it. I own, but have not read, the sequel The Walkaway, which continues the story.

aug 14, 2006, 2:31 pm

I've just realised I've got a book by Scott Phillips: Cottonwood a very enjoyable western/pastiche/noir? thingy. Must learn to check author pages more often.

aug 17, 2006, 12:01 pm

Came across a Shell Scott novel by Richard S. Prather while going through my backstock. Anybody in here have any input on this guy?

aug 17, 2006, 2:31 pm

Det här meddelandet har tagits bort av dess författare.

aug 17, 2006, 2:31 pm

I just read my first Shell Scott The Wailing Frail and I enjoyed it. Now that I have read Spillane it was seems to me to clearly be a tongue in cheek parody of his type of stuff. Amusing and deliberately so, with at least one extended comic set piece. The plot was okay, though nothing to write home about. For me it was fun, but I was not inspired to track down more at this point.

aug 18, 2006, 5:21 am

I've picked up quite a few Shell Scott books but so far haven't read any of them yet. I figured they were more straight mystery instead of Noir??

aug 18, 2006, 1:18 pm

Okay finally finished One Monday We Killed Them All by John D. MacDonald - excellent book! It would be more of a crime novel then what you would call Noir. It has the correct setting of a run down little town with very little money and future but the lead character is a cop who is a good person. If you are interested in hearing more about it - read my review, I'm off to post that now.

Redigerat: aug 20, 2006, 4:16 pm

Well, I'm home again, and finally edited the message that's had us all in italics here.

On the 'possible group reads' thread, devilbuny's put up a great list of prospective books to read together once we finish After Dark, My Sweet. You might have a look at it, and post if any of them interest you - mentioning (apologies, tartalom!) which ones. :)

aug 23, 2006, 5:24 am

Was just thinking as I watched TV last night that wouldn't you consider the movie Mad Max futuristic Noir? It has the bleak, run down environment, the characters that have nothing to lose and a former cop bent on revenge (also a really, really cool car).

aug 23, 2006, 7:09 am

devilbuny: I would agree that Mad Max is some flavour of Noir. From memory, it contains all the required story elements except a 'femme fatale'. The film critics may disagree on the grounds that it isn't dark enough ... but it would be difficult to get that traditional Noir tonality in the Australian outback.

The car is an 1973 Ford Falcon XB GT. Built in Australia for the local market (never exported). It ran a 351 Cleveland, if that means anting to you. It does to me .... an early-rising neighbour had one, and she just loved to hear that motor roar.

aug 25, 2006, 1:22 pm

I forgot about the no femme fatale - so I guess it doesn't fit right in. It's a little borderline genre. Yes I love that car - I think I've watched a documentary on it one time - the big blower on the car was actually fake. It didn't even work, just there for show and movie magic.

aug 25, 2006, 5:21 pm

I think the dystopian and noir genres do border each other; this, for me, always felt part of the former.

Film noir is modern, but suggests the modern world has a darkly dystopian tinge. However, it does have a somewhat more specific set of characteristics. Noir literature (which I frankly think is darker, and which is a little different) is also broader.

Last night I watched The Lady from Shanghai - which is an odd but fairly definite bit of film noir. Even where it is bright, it's distorted, queasy, vertiginous. From the beginning, you've stepped into a madhouse, or a 'funhouse,' where everything's distorted - and certainly you're there at the end.

The femme fatale, may I say - as one woman speaking of another - is breathtaking. (But I've always liked her.)

aug 25, 2006, 6:14 pm

Just want to remind everyone that those who are interested are set to begin reading and discussing Jim Thompson's After Dark, My Sweet September 1st. Thereafter, a rather smaller number will go on to Hardboiled America, while we can also be beginning Rendezvous in Black. Other choices and suggestions are on the 'possible group reads' thread, for future choices. Feel free to make comments, cast votes, or offer suggestions, there.

I hope a fair number of people will join the conversation, in whatever way suits you individually - whether you're reading a book; have read it; are familiar with the author, if not the work; or are simply curious. One post or seventeen; whatever suits you will be fine. The only constant is that whatever you contribute will be valued. And appreciated. :)

aug 27, 2006, 8:25 am

Eurydice - talking about The Lady from Shanghai - reminded me of a double book I have finished awhile back (my mind works strange - it was just the boat that triggered it). When I first read them I was thinking of them as strictly mystery books but now I think you could class them both as Noir. But they are by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding - the books included were The Blank Wall and The Girl who Had To Die - my touchstone isn't working for that one. Anyway, The Blank Wall was the more popular novel that has been turned into a movie twice (I think badly both times), it is about a mother of two living in a nice little town during the war with her father. Her husband is away fighting and she gets involved with murder and gangsters - very edge of your seat novel. The other one is the boat one, about a guy on a cruise ship who hooks up with the wrong woman. Before he knows it he can't get away from her he loves her and hates her and wishes she would die. Murder,mystery and lots of tension follow. They were both really good books.

aug 29, 2006, 10:28 am

Reverends: This goes back a bit, but I've been offline a bit ... this is regarding "gimmicks" ... maybe it was the wrong word to use for "Motherless Brooklyn," because I understand what you're saying about books having "gimmicks" such as the Maltese Falcon ... for me, the Tourette's in "Brooklyn" seemed too ... I guess tacked on to the rest of the book ... it didn't integrate well with the rest of the story ... but that's just me.

Anyway, are there any fans of Martin Cruz Smith's Arkady Renko books? I've read them all and just finished "Wolves eat Dogs" ... I think he's one of the best noir writers currently going.

Redigerat: sep 22, 2006, 11:24 am

Gorky Park etc? Sure, have only read a couple. The aforementioned is excellent, though.

City come a walkin' has the atmosphere.

The protagonist in Richard Morgan's fabulous Altered Carbon is actually doing private detecting to go along with the rest, on the SF front.

sep 2, 2006, 2:37 pm

If anyone`s looking for a change of literary scene without leaving the hardboiled/noir scene altogether, my home town of Nottm UK at one point spawned a volume called either City of Crime or possibly Nottingham ; City of Crime, published by local publisher Five Leaves - you`ll find them on the net easily enough.

It`s a collection of crime short stories, set in Notts and written by local writers. Some are amateurs, one or two being serving Police Officers. I recall that one was a Detective Sergeant Keith Someboy-Or-Other, based at Bulwell in Nottingham (known to residents as Bull-hell !).

I`m sorry if I`m a bit vague here. We had a planned house move fall through so a lot of our stuff is in boxes and hard to get at.

You might find a copy on Abe - the publisher was(is?) run by a man named Ross Bradshaw and I`ve seen other books he was involved with on there.

Just as a side-issue, another Nottingham writer (and an ex-Nottingham Police Officer) is John Harvey , whose detective is a cat-loving jazz-fan. I`ve been to readings by him and couldn`t help noticing he was a cat-loving jazz fan.

sep 2, 2006, 6:06 pm

Writing from life, I see. :) Well, when I've improved my acquaintance with the great masters of the genre, I'll have to look into it. I'm sort of glad my own hometown has not spawned - to steal your word - such a book. I'm sure it could. But there'd be something uneasy in reading it.

Sorry to hear the move fell through, nickhoonaloon. Particularly once you'd packed!

Redigerat: sep 3, 2006, 6:21 pm

Not a good feeling, I can tell you.

Actually, Nottingham gets a bad press - it also has the history, the countryside, myself, lots of good things like that.

Of course, City of Cat-Loving Jazz Fans wouldn`t have quite the same ring to it as a title, though you could argue it`s just as appropriate. There are certainly more jazz gigs than shootings !

Anyway, returning to the matter in hand, a few choices of my own that people might like - New York Noir - not fiction, but interesting to see how the style of the `30s crime photos influenced the films.

Meant to be kids books, but popular with a big kid like me - Felix Bogarte`s The Dead Detective books - Throw Away The Key , Ghost Car 49 and others - published by Books Noir of Glasgow. Can he really be called Felix Bogarte ?

Lastly, Shadow Man, the Dashiell Hammett.

Just noticed - Felix Bogarte is actually two people , Joan Love and Mhairi MacDiarmid. Great stuff anyway.

sep 18, 2006, 12:13 pm

Has anyone else come across Partners and Crime - a shop in Greenwich Village ?

Their website is called www. crimepays or something like that. It looks worth checking out anyway.

Greenwich Village is where David Johansen lives isn`t it ?

sep 18, 2006, 12:19 pm

Hey just wanted to let you all know - I put my extra copy of The Simple Art of Murder by Chandler up on Bookmooch.com - also put up my extra copy of One Monday we Killed Them All by Macdonald which was a very good book. Come on people and mooch my books so I can get more! :)

jan 21, 2007, 5:47 am

Just read Rat City by Curt Colbert the first of a hard-boiled series set in post-WWII Seattle. It was a nice fun read, and I will look for the sequel Sayonaraville. Fast action, some comedic touches to lighten the darker bits. Some of the usual genre quibbles--people seemed to function awfully well directly after either horrific beatings or consuming mass quantities of alcohol and also seemed to get away with shooting people in self-defense with very little paperwork despite a testy relationship with officialdom. Some nice historical touches.

apr 27, 2007, 1:27 pm

Just finished reading a really nicely done double-volume re-print of two detective novels by David Markson. The books are Epitaph for a Tramp and Epitaph for a Dead Beat. I found them to be very enjoyable and laugh-out-loud funny in many places. Here's a link to a review of the books: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/books/reviews/11084/epitaph-for-a-tramp-and-epitaph...

I was reading the review and when it quoted Harry Fannin's one-line summation of Lolita, I laughed so hard my computer monitor gained an Earl Shibe-like coating of Mountain Dew.

Redigerat: apr 27, 2007, 1:58 pm

David Markson writes detective novels?!? Thanks for that link bookstothesky, I'm going to have to keep my eye out for those ... I love his other books, hadn't heard of these 'till now.

apr 28, 2007, 2:45 am


Markson apparently wrote 3 detective novels, but the third one hasn't been re-printed, to my knowledge. I found the book with the first two novels at one of the larger B&N stores in my area. You may have to order it, though, because not all B&N's will carry it (judging from my local store, which never carried it). Do track it down, you won't regret it.

apr 28, 2007, 7:03 pm

Check your library. Even if your local branch doesn't have it, you may be able to get it through an intra-library loan. I tried yesterday and found a copy containing both books. I'm #3 in the request queue.

apr 29, 2007, 1:07 pm

The review (>160 bookstothesky:) has got me ready to give these books a try. They sound like a lot of fun.

maj 10, 2007, 2:30 pm

I've now read the David Markson book containing the two novels. They definitely fit the noir description. Harry's an appealing character, he's got a buddy on the police force who puts up with/covers for him, and the dames are not all what they seem.

maj 12, 2007, 6:55 pm

--> 165
Linkmeister, I started the Markson today. Looks like it will be fun.

maj 16, 2007, 3:07 am

Finished the Marksons tonight. Really good. ' . . . there was enough ripe womanhood in her arms alone to melt nonferrous metals." A favorite line in the second novel.

maj 16, 2007, 3:49 pm

I confess I haven't read David Markson's other writing, as I clearly should have; but the review hooked me. The noir pair looks wonderful. (Thanks, bookstothesky!) Hopefully I'll clear enough reading-space out to get to them, soon.

maj 18, 2007, 10:29 am

I read an interview where Markson said he did not think of himself as a writer of crime stories or considered as noir. But I still really like him. He is almost 80.

Redigerat: maj 20, 2007, 8:55 pm

Re: 168 and others

You're very welcome, Eurydice. There's very little I like more than "discovering" an overlooked or semi-forgotten gem of a book and passing it along to others I think would enjoy it; unfortunately, it doesn't happen often enough.

I haven't read any of Markson's other works either and, despite all the positive words in favor of doing so, probably won't ever bother with them. I simply prefer reading stories where characters are shot, stabbed, clubbed, light-sabered and/or ensorcelled, and I don't think Markson's other works qualify. I have, however, dipped my toes into the literature pool by beginning to read Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union. I'm about 20-ish pages into it and the story's grabbed me pretty strongly. I'll post my impression of the book after I finish it.

jun 29, 2007, 3:24 pm

Here's a review of Peter Rabe's Murder Me for Nickels. I got it from the library and enjoyed the first story of the two in the book; the second ("Benny Muscles In") is so dark it bothered me. Benny's a small-time hood trying to move up the ladder in the syndicate, and he's not at all a sympathetic character.

Rabe was a contemporary of John D. MacDonald's at Fawcett Gold Medal books when it was publishing OPBs; they changed editors and the new one didn't get along or like Rabe's books, apparently. There are a couple of good biographical sketches and eulogies for the author in this Stark House Press edition.

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