Re: RARA-AVIS: racketeers, the forces behind them, and crime novels

From: James Rogers (
Date: 17 May 2000

  One would have to mention _The Glass Key_, in which the gambling establishments, the newspapers, the politicians, and the courts are all run by two guys. Of course, by this time the American public was quite used to seeing this stuff for real in Chicago and Kansas City. In some ways, I think that you could argue that this is the book in which Hammett comes closest to enunciating a somewhat socialist, or at least "class-conscious", point of view.


At 07:47 PM 5/17/00 -0400, Jay Gertzman wrote:
>Could anyone help me in finding noire crime novels which deal in detail
>with the way the "rackets" or "vice industry" is structured? A novel
>like _The Big Sleep_ shows that the criminal organization does not have
>at its head underwrold types, but people with political and ecomomic
>power in the community--Eddie Mars, but also the DA, oil and movie
>magnates, real estate owners and others who profit variously from the
>rackets Eddie Mars runs. It is this truth, the suppression of which has
>led to the propaganda that organized crime is an ethnic-inspired cancer
>on the healthy body of America, that I am interested in seeing fictional
>accounts of. I can think of (maybe) Chandler's _Farewell My Lovely_,
>Hammett's _Red Harvest_, and Goodis' weird, almost goofy but also
>somehow incisive treatment of the racketeer and the forces beyond him in
>respectable society. I am thinking of Sharkey in _Street of No Return_
>and Grogan in _Night Squad_.
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