RARA-AVIS: Violent Saturday

From: William Denton ( buff@pobox.com)
Date: 21 May 2003

W.L. Heath's VIOLENT SATURDAY (1955) is fine stuff. It's been mentioned a couple of of times before on the list, and I see that Mr. Beaver and Mr. Clinton liked it. It's short, and I'd recommend reading it in one or two sittings--it's divided between Friday night and Saturday afternoon.

Three hoods pull into a small Alabama town, ready to rob the bank the next day. About ten people are introduced in detail--a bellhop, some businessmen, their wives, a librarian--and they're all somehow involved in the robbery. Heath does a great job of showing life in a small southern U.S. town in the 1950s. There's a sense of trouble building as soon as the hoods arrive, and after that, a lot goes wrong. I can see why people put Heath in with country noir, and why Ed Gorman in his introduction compares it to the Florida social history that John D. MacDonald covered in his books from the same time.

One interesting thing is that the bank robbery, which is shown being planned and put in motion, is then almost left out of it. Heath lets a couple of people tell what they saw happen, but he never describes it in the main narrative. Other events, and reactions, prove to be more important. It's not what I expected.


William Denton : Toronto, Canada : http://www.miskatonic.org/ : Caveat lector.

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