RARA-AVIS: Paul Cain - Seven Slayers

From: Paul Farrell ( pm_farrell@hotmail.com)
Date: 28 Aug 2004

I recently read Paul Cain's SEVEN SLAYERS, the collection of seven of Cain's 1930s Black Mask stories. Maybe it's because of my high expectations before reading it, due to Cain's huge hard-boiled reputation, but I found myself disappointed with many of the stories. While certainly readable, the writing style makes them feel unmemorable. The stories are made up predominantly of dialogue and descriptions of characters' actions. The dialogue is admirably terse, but is also rather flat and functional. The shortcomings of the style become particularly apparent in the stories with many characters ('Pineapple', 'Murder in Blue'), where you realise that there is little characterisation to differentiate them. The best story, IMO, was 'Pigeon Blood'. In this one, it felt like Cain was allowing his style to ease out a bit; there's more description of the settings, and the characterisation is much sharper.

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 28 Aug 2004 EDT