Monday, May 28, 2007

Crime novels worthy of reconsideration

The Rap Sheet had a wonderful idea: they asked several authors, critics and crime fiction bloggers what crime novel they thought had gone unnoticed or had been forgotten. You can see the results here; look also here: this blog archives all the posts about the subject.

I thought about posting to Rap Sheet's masterminds whether I could have my votes in, but didn't have time (and also suffered a stroke of low self-esteem), but here in Pulpetti I can do whatever I want and don't have to restrict only to one novel. I'll pick some up, mainly from memory and my 2000 book, Pulpografia, that introduces over 300 American pulp and paperback crime authors translated in Finnish. These are by some authors that are rarely, or maybe never, discussed on blogs and other venues highlighted by interest in noir and hardboiled.

W.T. Ballard: Murder Las Vegas Style (Belmont 1967): a misfortunate P.I. gets dragged in a triangle drama of deception and deceit

Jonathan Craig: So Young, So Wicked (Fawcett Gold Medal 1957): a mob hitman is hired to kill a 15-year old nymphette who lures the man into a web of deception

Ben Benson: Broken Shield (Mill 1955): quiet and wise police procedural about a young cop whose partner is killed

Tedd Thomey: Killer in White (Fawcett Gold Medal 1956): comes close to Jim Thompson in its depiction of evil dressed as a doctor

Al Conroy: Devil in Dungarees (Fawcett Crest 1960): ultrahardboiled book about a big caper gone hugely wrong

Stephen Ransome: I'll Die For You (Doubleday 1959): an old pulpster, Frederick C. Davis, being in top of his form in the late fifties' hardback mystery novel under a pseudonym

Floyd Mahannah: The Golden Goose (Duell 1951): almost a deconstruction of a P.I. novel, very unorthodox crime novel about a bad P.I. whose's assigned for his last job; almost as good as this is Mahannah's other novel, The Golden Widow (1956)

Walt Sheldon: Gold Bait (Gold Medal 1973): only crime paperback I know that's been written in the form of letters and diary entries (if there's another one, please let me know!), beside that it's also a fast-paced adventure novel about trying to find a gold treasure

Richard Deming: Hit and Run (Pocket 1960): a sleazy, half-criminal P.I. is hired by a woman to kill her husband; they keep the body in ice in the bedroom - wanna guess where they get their ice for the drinks?

Zekial Marko (John Trinian): Scratch a Thief (Gold Medal 1961): a melancholy take on a prisoner just released from prison

Bruno Fischer: Run For Your Life (Gold Medal 1953): a chase novel about a man who's being framed for a killing, a surprisingly political novel about the McCarthy era

Charles Alverson: Fighting Back (Bobbs-Merrill 1973): a quiet mob novel about a restaurant owner who won't back down in front of Mafia

John Jakes (as William Ard): Give Me This Woman (Monarch 1962): very hardboiled and violent book about a sleazy P.I. who's on the hunt for a psychopath journalist (who's on his honeymoon with a dead woman in the trunk of his car!) and who's being hunted by a knife-wielding psycho killer

I think any of these could merit being reprinted by someone like Hard Case Crime or Stark House Press or any other small press that does noir and hardboiled reprints.

There's also the case of being Finnish and in Finland there's not much market for hardboiled crime fiction (even though Chandler and Hammett have been quite popular here and guys like Michael Connelly and Dennis Lehane are being published to critical acclaim and to rather wide readerships). So there are several - dozens and dozens - authors who haven't had their due in Finland: Donald Westlake whose early hardboiled thrillers have been published only in obscure paperbacks and some not at all, Lawrence Block, Robert J. Randisi, etc. (I've been writing about this earlier here and here.)


Unknown said...

I've read most of those, and I agree about them. Some great stuff there.

Juri said...

I knew you'd've read some of these.

I notice now that Ed Lynskey has written a lengthy and interesting article on Bruno Fischer here:

(Sorry, don't know how to make links in the comments.) This shows that Fischer at least is somewhat renowned amongst the hardboiled literati.

Anonymous said...

W.T. Ballard was one of the original contributors to Black Mask Magazine in the '30s, and continued to write for the detective pulps through the '40s. Then moved to writing some for TV and film, as well as paperbacks.

Juri said...

Yes, I've read some of his pulp work and it seems pretty good. I've also liked his westerns a lot, even some of his pseudonymous work under the Jack Slade moniker.

I've posted lengthy entries for Ballard I wrote for my books Pulpografia and Kuudestilaukeavat (Six-Guns) in here:

Sorry, the texts are in Finnish.