Roy Epstein wrote:
> I recently found a couple: A HOUSE IN NAPLES and
> NAME GADGET. Anybody read em? Opinions?
HOUSE IN NAPLES is one of the good ones. CODE NAME GADGET is
one of the worst, part of a series of poor spy thrillers he
wrote near the end of his career.
Other good Rabe novels would include: KILL THE BOSS GOODBYE
(one of Donald Westlake's favorites, and a very sharp piece
of writing, with something of the icy feel of Richard Stark),
ANATOMY OF A KILLER (probably Rabe's best, it was originally
published in a tiny hardcover edition that's virtually
unobtainble, but can be found reprinted in Ed Gorman's DARK
CRIMES anthology, which is in most libraries -- bless you Ed
Gorman), THE BOX (reprinted, again by Ed Gorman, in PURE
PULP), MURDER ME FOR NICKLES (a change of pace for Rabe, this
is a hardboiled comedy, although all of Rabe's work contains
elements of grim humor), and MY LOVELY EXECUTIONER.
Those are the best. Among the worst: GIRL ON A BIG BRASS BED,
THE SPY WHO WAS 3 FEET TALL and CODE NAME GADGET (tiresome
spy pastiches), WAR OF THE DONS and BLACK MAFIA (ganster crap
riding the crest of Puzo's THE GODFATHER); then another
attempt to do a series, this time about a dull guy named
Danial Port: BRING ME ANOTHER CORPSE, IT'S MY FUNERAL, DIG MY
GRAVE DEEP, THE OUT IS DEATH and TIME ENOUGH TO DIE; a couple
of bad standalones: JOURNEY INTO TERROR and STOP mTHIS
The rest of his novels fall between the two poles, partial
successes with some good writing and some bad. Rabe tended to
crank books out at white heat, and, like the little girl with
the curl on her forehead, when he was good he was great and
when he was bad he was horrid. Reading him at random, you're
just as likely to pick up a piece of junk and quit on him as
to pick up one of his classics and want to read everything he
Hope this helps you cut your way through the jungle.
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