Deals made in the shade by those packing heat
Six noir novels for the Summer of 2018
NOTE THAT THE STARTING TIME HAS CHANGED TO 7:00 PM
Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett (1929)
Drawn upon his experience as a Pinkerton strike breaker in the 1920 Anaconda miners strike, Hammett creates the character of the Continental Op, a detective hired by a copper boss to clear the town of the gangsters the boss originally hired to break a miners’ strike. The Continental Op knows the gangsters and he knows the cops and he knows how to set them against each other—all set in the town of Poisonville.
Farewell My Lovely by Raymond Chandler (1940)
Moose Malloy just got out of prison and he’s looking for Velma, his old flame. The big man drags Philip Marlowe into the search for Velma. By the end of the night, Marlowe witnesses Malloy kill a man. The cops aren’t overly concerned to find Malloy because the dead man is black. Marlowe decides to keep looking for Velma. The search draws him into the seedy side of Hollywood: blackmailers, drug peddling psychics, crooked cops and a crooked city government..
The Kill Off by Jim Thompson (1957)
Set in a resort town which did not enjoy any kind of post-war boom. Not only is the town not getting enough summer visitors, the richest lady in town is a mean gossip and everyone has a reason to kill her. When she’s found dead, the question is, which of the self-deceiving, vicious, and broke residents killed her? Jim Thompson, honored as a “dimestore Dostoevsky” excels in writing the interior monologues of isolated and frustrated small town individuals.
The Mad and The Bad by Patrick Manchette (1972)
This, like all good descendents of pulps, is a quick, violent story with an ending that is not a comfortable happy solution. Manchette, a veteran of the events of France during May of 1968, returned the French detective story to corruption and violence. In The Mad and The Bad thugs and a contract killer attempt to kill Julie, a troubled young woman, and her charge, an unpleasant orphan.
Ripley’s Game by Patricia Highsmith (1974) continues the successful career of the murderer and art forger Thomas Ripley who decides to amuse himself by manipulating a man who slighted him into committing murder. Ripley uses gossip and the unsavory characters who move art forgeries to break a sick man anxious for his family’s well-being after his death.
The Shadow of a Shadow by Paco Ignacio Taibo II (2006)
Four friends gather to play dominoes in 1922. The Mexican Revolution has been betrayed and the four are trying to get by: the poet by writing patent medicine ad copy; the union organizer by silences and strikes; the lawyer by representing prostitutes; and the crime reporter by churning out copy. Left to their own devices, the group would have waited out Carranza’s presidency, but they witness a series of strangely related murders and begin to suspect a conspiracy involving the oil-rich lands of the Gulf Coast, greedy army officers, and American industrialists. Taibo sets the four out to investigate with a great sense of humor, despite the grisly realities.
THE ANTI-BOURGEOIS SUMMER READING GROUP is open to all. This is a second consecutive summer exploring noir/crime fiction. We spend two weeks on each book.
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