RARA-AVIS: Favourite hardboiled book titles

From: Rene Ribic ( rribic@optusnet.com.au)
Date: 24 Jun 2002

I was just going through my 100's of undeleted e-mails, deleting most of them when I flashed past some discussion of YOU PLAY THE BLACK AND THE RED COMES UP & I thought about how the title was one of my all time favourites when it came to noir/hb books. Other titles that I particularly like are THE LAST GOOD KISS (and the snatch of poetry that the title is quoted from); Michael Avallone's THE BRUTAL KOOK; Gil Brewer's SATAN IS A WOMAN; Fredric Brown's THE FABULOUS CLIPJOINT; Mickey Spillane's MY GUN IS QUICK; but the king of cool titles, IMO, was Aussie phenomenon Carter Brown (aka Alan Yates) with some of the most gloriously silly titles in hb history. The best were titles that were published in Aus. in the 1950's - the later novels which were picked up by Signet in the US sported titles that were far more sedate & sensible. Some favourite examples of 50's C Brown titles: VENUS UNARMED; A BULLET FOR MY BABY (I stole that title for a song my band used to do); THE HOODLUM WAS A HONEY; SINNER YOU SLAY ME; BELLA DONNA WAS POISON .... there are scores more. Carter Brown was so successful that his style in titles was widely imitated in Aust. popular fiction of the time. The other great Aust. hb publishing phenomenon from that era was "Larry Kent" (most of these were written by an American ex-pat living here - his name escapes me at the moment). The Kent novels had their own spin on these types of titles, the early ones often featuring the word
"cutie", e.g.: COOL-KILL CUTIE!; CUTIE, QUIT CALLING! There was even a short-lived western series with Carter Brown influenced titles such as SINNER, YOU'RE IN MY SADDLE; STAMPEDE ME BABY; MEET LADY HOT LEAD, etc. Australia may not have made a huge contribution to the body of hb lit. but I can safely & proudly say that no nation on Earth has churned out so many gloriously silly hardboiled titles. I could quote literally hundreds of these titles but I'm sure everyone has the gist by now. Seeing as how the list is very quiet at present & people don't seem to be very "talkative", (especially if we're talking about staying on topic) I thought I may as well ask if anybody else has any particular favourite titles of hb books, knowing how creating lists gets a lot of people excited enough join in. So, any other great/funny or otherwise memorable titles people are particularly fond of?


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