RARA-AVIS: Vigilante Killing

From: Michael Robison ( miker_zspider@yahoo.com)
Date: 24 Oct 2007

This is another favorite theme in hardboiled. I got a wonderful taste of it in Lawrence Block's A Ticket to the Boneyard. (Spoiler follows.) Scudder and his lady friend are threatened and hurt by a killer who appears to be crazy. At the end when Scudder subdues him, rather than call the police and take a chance that the killer will be out on the streets on some technicality or walk after only a few years, he wraps the killer's hand around a .38 and gives him a round in the mouth. Great story.

Vigilante killing runs deep in the hardboiled river. It was one of the major themes of The Virginian also. It made Spillane's I, The Jury a world record bestselling novel.


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