Re: RARA-AVIS: Top Five List

From: Bob Toomey (
Date: 04 May 2002

The problem with playing this game is that really good last lines don't make much sense if you haven't read the story that went before them. The best last line I've ever read comes at the end of *Rogue Moon* by Algis Budrys:
"Remember me to her." Not much of a line by itself. Read the book and it'll break your heart. It's SF, but it's pretty hardboiled. The other problem is that a lot of really good last lines give away the book, which hardly seems fair. But here's one I like by Clark Howard, the best short story writer in the business. It's from an okay novel, published under what was either the worst pseudonym of all time or a stupid publisher's mistake. I'm guessing the latter. From *Last Contract* by 'Howard Clark' --

"After Willis had left the alley, the cat came out of it's hiding place behind the garbage cans and walked over to Trevor. It whined once, as if in misery, and licked the cheek of the dead man.

"Then it sat with Trevor all night and kept the rats away from him until his body was found by a milkman early the next morning."

I like to think my cats would do the same for me.



George Upper wrote:

> Hi, folks. I made this list for a poetry group to
> which I belong (nevermind why, I just did). I thought
> that some rara-avians might have some other favorites
> that didn't make my list.
> G.
> Top Five Last Lines / Passages from Hard-Boiled
> Detective Novels:
> 5. She had said it to her killers before she died.
> Her name was Mae Robicheaux. And I was her son.
> (James Lee Burke, HEAVEN'S PRISONERS, 1988)
> 4. And then the goddamnedest thing happened. I
> started to cry. (Lawrence Block, EIGHT MILLION WAYS
> TO DIE, 1982)
> 3. It would be one kind of penance. And there are
> never enough kinds. Not for him. Not for me. And
> certainly not for you, my friend. (John D. MacDonald,
> 2. I might just as well have saved the labor and
> sweat I had put into trying to make my reports
> harmless. They didn't fool the Old Man. He gave me
> merry hell. (Dashiell Hammett, RED HARVEST, 1929)
> 1. The Danzig brothers and I were sharing a table and
> a bottle inside with Hattie tending bar when
> Lieutenant Valery Kozlowski showed up with the walking
> sputum from the Detroit Prohibition Squad. (Loren D.
> Estleman, PEEPER, 1989)
> =====
> George C. Upper III, Editor
> The Lightning Bell Poetry Journal
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