Penguin books is re-releasing 50 classic crime novels to the Australia market. I was happy to see that Charles Willeford’sMiami Bluesmade the list but I was shocked that not a single novel from either Jim Thompson or James Cain was included.
I’m happy to see that a new collection of Lawrence Block short stories is going to be released by Hard Case Crime in September. A few years ago I read another collection of his short stories, “One Night Stands and Lost Weekends”, and I really enjoyed them. I still remember one of the stories in that collection quite vividly. It was a 7 page story titled “Frozen Stiff” about a man who is dying of cancer and sets out to kill himself by locking himself in a walk-in freezer so that his wife can collect an insurance payout for an accidental death. The story moves sideways when the man’s wife walks in with her new boyfriend and locks him in the freezer before he has a chance to lock himself in. The ending is masterful but I won’t spoil it for you here.
Over the weekend I read James M. Cain’s final unfinished novel as published by Hard Case Crime. It’s a story of a femme fatale who is torn between two men who each have something that she wants: sex and money. Both men end up dead and the reader is left to decide what actually happened (Is she a murderess or a victim of circumstances?). I enjoyed reading the novel even though the story was a bit uneven. There were enough good passages to make it a worthwhile read. The story was also much more racy than I had expected, although I suppose the lurid cover should have clued me in.
The novel is followed by an afterword by the book’s editor, Charles Ardai, whose love for Cain’s writing is apparent. Ardai describes Cain as one of the three greatest writers in the hardboiled tradition (Chandler and Hammett being the other two). He talks about what sets Cain’s writing apart and how his earlier writings were received by other writers and the general public. The most fascinating part of the afterword is Ardai’s description of bringing the novel to print. From tracking down the manuscript to piecing together multiple rewrites and fragments, the 9 year publication process reads like a detective story in itself.
I received this book as a gift not too long ago from someone who knows that I enjoy reading crime fiction. It sat on my shelf for awhile but when I picked up the book, I read it almost straight through. Although title may suggest otherwise, the book does not glorify violence. Instead, it focuses on how to respond to, survive, and deal with the legal repercussions of violence. This should be required reading for all young men who, at some point during their adolescent and young adult years, will undoubtedly experience violence.
Here are some of my favorite tips from the book:
You are not a tank. Do not stand in one place when fighting, which inexperienced fighters are prone to do. If you stand in one place you will get hit and it will hurt. Get hit enough times, and you will be seriously injured, even if you outlast your opponent and “win” the fight.
Don’t go to the ground. Bad things happen to fighters who find themselves on the ground. Get up as quickly as possible to avoid serious injury.
Weapons are ubiquitous; nearly everyone carries a pocket knife and, those who don’t, will make do with improvised weapons such as beer bottles.
This is a great introduction to self defense. I wish I had read this when I was younger - it would have definitely helped me to avoid some of the jams I got myself into.
I decided to read this book after watching this book trailer. The premise of the book is interesting: a room is discovered that contains a cache of guns used in murders in New York City throughout the years. A detective tracks down the serial killer who created this shrine, using his knowledge of the history and geography of New York. The book was enjoyable although the ending was disappointing.