Re: RARA-AVIS: Recent reads

From: Doug Bassett (
Date: 17 Feb 2007

I've been reading as many mysteries as ever, but not a lot of hardboiled stuff recently. I recently reread Hammett's RED HARVEST and am now firmly convinced this is one of the great American novels, as pure as a folk tale. I read Hard Case's GRAVE DESCEND, by John Lange, and thought it was reasonably good, better than some of the stuff they've dug up. (I thought that Pete Hammill book -- THE GUNS OF HEAVEN? -- was just awful.)

I'm currently going through the Pronzini/Adrian edited HARD-BOILED anthology from Oxford UP. I think a mixed bag so far, but I did like Ellroy's "Gravy Train", the touching love story of a man and a pampered pit bull; Raoul Whitfield's "Mistral", which makes me want to seek out GREEN ICE; Chester Himes's "Marijuana and a Pistol" which shouldn't work but somehow implausibly does, mainly because Himes keeps the whole thing short and stark; and Robert Sampson's "To Florida", which is almost unbearably grim but does succeed in what it sets out to do. But I'm not done yet.


--- Karin Montin <> wrote:

> I got Bust, by Jason Starr and Ken Bruen, for
> Christmas and read it recently. It's good noir fun.
> And the cover art matches the contents! Angela is
> actually blonde as depicted. Not a real blonde, but
> still. Their coauthorship is so well achieved that
> it's impossible to tell who wrote what. I really
> enjoyed it, right up to the ending, which I found
> just a little glib. There's a sequel coming out soon
> and I'll be interested to see what becomes of Angela
> and Max in that. Hard Case Crime is touting Slide
> READ!"
> I'm in the middle of Rough Neck, Jim Thompson's
> second volume of autobiography (haven't seen the
> first, Bad Boy). He has more adventures and
> misadventures and meets more colourful characters in
> the first fifteen pages than most people would in a
> lifetime. He was a very young man when the
> Depression began and he had a hard time earning a
> living. Amazingly, he kept on writing fiction even
> as he worked a variety of low-paying jobs with long
> hours.
> Karin

Doug Bassett

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