From: George Pelecanos ( shoedog1@erols.com)
Date: 19 Nov 2000

After The Name of the Game is Death, I would recommend The Vengeance Man
(1966). On page 8 (my Black Lizard edition), Marlowe's "protagonist," Jim, bursts into a motel room where his wife Mona is making it ("Mona was still rising") with local pretty-boy Whit Bailey. Jim draws his .38 and shoots his wife two times ("For a fraction of second I could see the double dimple in her sweaty flesh just below her breast where the slug caught her; then the dimples exploded outward in a froth of blood.") He then takes care of Whit Bailey: "I stepped up to the side of the bed and put single bullets through both his buttocks, deep. His screaming soared, and he flopped onto his back like a grassed fish."

Vengeance ends, as in many Marlowes, with a peculiar brand of justice served. The book works for genre fans, but the real value of this one is in Marlowe's cynical take on post-Camelot America and the period details: loose-limbed ex-jocks drive Galaxies and still hit cigarettes and gin over ice. In drawing his protagonist, Marlowe mixes a 60's-cool hero with a Willeford nihilist and comes up with a gene-deficient Travis McGee.

Kent Harrington's Dark Ride seems to take some of its inspiration from The Vengeance Man, with excellent results.


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