RARA-AVIS: Re: Raoul Whitfield

From: prosperena (prosperena@yahoo.com)
Date: 15 Jun 2009

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    I agree that some of Whitfield's novels can have a repetitive element, which may sometimes be due (as John pointed out) to their having been compiled from serializations elsewhere. And if you didn't like "Green Ice" you'd hate "The Virgin Kills." But don't give up on Whitfield! You might try "Death in a Bowl" (1931) a fine hardboiled novel with private detective Ben Jardinn (a Hollywood p.i. predecessor of Philip Marlowe). I read this novel based on James Sandoe's recommendation in his checklist of hardboiled fiction (he was an early champion of crime fiction). Although I can't agree with Sandoe when he says: "Try this just after Chandler's 'Farewell, My Lovely' and see if its toughness isn't more compelling," it is worth reading and is the best of the Whitfield novels.

    Whitfield also wrote 2 books under the pseudonym Temple Field. I definitely would not recommend "Five" (1931) but do highly recommend "Killers' Carnival" (1932). Both appeared originally in serial form in "Black Mask" but they differ from each other so greatly you'd think they were the work of different authors. Not mysteries, but rather hardboiled tales of revenge. "Five" is mannered and repetitive to the point of ludicrousness but "Killers' Carnival" is a well-written, suspenseful gangster tale full of vivid imagery (it would have made a fine Warner Bros.' film at the time). In "KC", I think (Whit)Field uses repetition effectively (when he does use it) in an almost rhythmical manner.

    Kari E Johnson

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