RARA-AVIS: Re: Best noir novel (was Red Right Hand)

From: Mark D. Nevins (nevins_mark@yahoo.com)
Date: 03 Mar 2009

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    As a relative newbie I'll have to read more noir to cast my vote, because right now DOUBLE INDEMNITY stands alone--I can't think of another to put next to it. The novel is so lean and tight, and while I had seen the film several times NOTHING could have prepared me for that ending. Stunning, terrifying--nothing like it anywhere I've ever seen, and in the hands of almost any other writer that ending would have been corny rather than utterly blood-chilling.

    I also liked POSTMAN ALWAYS, but I don't think it's even close to INDEMNITY.

    For modern candidates, I'd put forward Aleas's SONGS OF INNOCENCE. I liked the two Blake books a lot, even though I think each had flaws--some inconsistencies, I thought, in character, and a bit of flabbiness in each case that, rather than being a major flaw in and of itself, served to remind me of how hard it must be to pull off what Cain and Hammett seem to do so effortlessly. I guess SONGS OF INNOCENCE is not a classic noir, but it has an ending for the ages.

    Mark Nevins

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