Re: RARA-AVIS: Charles Williams

Etienne Borgers (
Wed, 10 Nov 1999 01:11:01 -0800 (PST)

Charles Williams seems to have written 23 novels, and in my documentation I do not find the title you mention.

I red at least 18 or 19 of them. It's one of the writers that hooked me to the HB genre, with Hammett and JD Mc Donald... long, long time ago (maybe even on another planet?). Looking back I realize how lucky I was to have found these authors, when you compare them to the heap of trash the popular lit (mysteries included) was producing in the USA and Europe during the 50's and 60's, trash that was widely distributed.

In French speaking Europe, Williams was considered already in these days as one of the greats...just next the classics of HB, his reputation growing until his unfortunate death.

This Charles Williams, the Texan, is the story teller of incredible scams, unfortunate turns of fate and struggling counter-heroes trying their last run to get somewhere. In terrific books. His first "original" book: River Girl (1951) was already of this breed (before this, there were 2 novels in a more naturalistic vein, but I do not recall to have red them).

Do not miss novels such as: Nothing in her Way The Big Bite The Long Saturday Night and even: A Touch of Death

also the better known: The Sailcloth Shroud and Dead Calm.

There is more, but it's a good start.

And, by any means, do not overlook 'The Diamond Bikini' (1957), or bootleg country explained by a small boy 7/8 years old, who's telling the story... A masterpiece of humor! not at all in line with the other C.Williams works, but remarkably written. The follow-up with the same set of characters: 'Uncle Sagamore and his Girls' is still funny, and enjoyable, but does not reach the achievements of the first novel.

Yes, this Charles Williams was a great HB author, and a complete commented biography should be something urgent to publish. Is there really no American university that could harbor such a publication? I understand that due to the feeble recognition Charles Williams got in his own country, such an essay will be a specialist book, not interesting ordinary publishing houses. But hey! universities...? are they not the shrines of culture?

E.Borgers Hard-Boiled Mysteries

--- Staffars Serier <> wrote:
> Hum. I have a book by one Charles Williams, called
> "The Wrong Venus".
> Haven't read it for ten years, but I don't think
> it's HB. So would
> that be the right guy?

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