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The Twenty-Year Death (Hard Case Crime #108)

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  417 ratings  ·  101 reviews

A breathtaking first novel written in the form of three separate crime novels, each set in a different decade and penned in the style of a different giant of the mystery genre.

The body found in the gutter in France led the police inspector to the dead man’s beautiful daughter—and to her hot-tempered American hu...more
Hardcover, 670 pages
Published August 7th 2012 by Hard Case Crime (first published January 1st 2012)
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Hard Case Crime
75th out of 80 books — 1 voter
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Best Experimental Mysteries
12th out of 13 books — 5 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,356)
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Ever since THE TWENTY YEAR DEATH was announced, I've eagerly awaited a chance to read it. The idea of a crime novel(actually three crime novels) spanning twenty years and written in the style of a novelist prominent during the period of that novel struck me as a unique idea. The overall story is of an author in which tragedy strikes all those around him.

MALNIVEAU PRISON has a French inspector come to a small town in 1931, one with a prison, to visit a criminal he put away years ago and gets caug...more
THE TWENTY YEAR DEATH comprises three novels, the first of which, 'Malniveau Prison' is a police procedural with a hint of the hardboiled. The second, 'Falling Star' is a formulaic, by-the-numbers hardboiled PI set amongst the glitz and glamour of the movie biz tainted with blood and lies. Rounding out the trio is 'Police A At Funeral' - an ode to noir which highlights the struggle of a fractured man with everything to gain and nothing to loose. The concept is refreshing and the execution exempl...more
Robert Carraher
I’ve read trilogies that had five books (Douglas Adams) but I’ve never heard of a debut novel that was, in fact, three complete novels. To be fair, Ariel Winter did – well write isn’t completely correct – publish a picture book. For children. And he has written short stories. For Elle, The Urbanite and McSweeney’s.

Hardly the background you’d expect for a crime novelist, though in his former life as a book seller, he no doubt read some crime fiction. But to decide to write your debut novel, that...more
Monique Snyman
In the first segment of The Twenty Year Death by Ariel S. Winter, called “Malniveau Prison” starts off with the discovery of a corpse that’s found in a gutter in France in 1931. The Chief Inspector, Pelleter is led to Clotilde-ma-Fleur Rosencrantz – the dead man’s daughter - and her hot-tempered American husband, who is a successful writer. The second segment of the novel, ”Falling Star” plays off in Los Angeles, 1941. Los Angeles private investigator, Dennis Foster is hired to keep an eye on th...more
The first book opens up with a scene of pouring with rain and a baker screaming murder as he finds a John doe lying sprawled out dead in the street. There are more troubles on the streets and behind the bars that pop up and show their face. Suspicion falls upon those behind bars, inmates and staff.
This story was a good read and I was enjoying the pursuit of truth.
The first book was all around a good noir crime thriller.
The second and third book just did not grab my attention is the right wordin...more
Rick Urban
A trio of stand-alone crime/noir novels that actually form a complete story when read together, The Twenty-Year Death is a homage to the novels of George Simenon, Raymond Chandler and Jim Thompson. In fact, each novel is written in the style of these authors, and while I haven't read anything by them, I'm aware of their stylistic niches, and the stories definitely seem to be faithful to them. The Inspector Maigret-type opener, Malniveau Prison, was the least resonant to me, as it takes place in...more
Shellie (Layers of Thought)
Sep 04, 2012 Shellie (Layers of Thought) rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: crime fiction readers
Recommended to Shellie (Layers of Thought) by: Titan Books
Original review by John posted at Layers of Thought.

A unique three-in-one pulp fiction crime saga.

About: This is three separate murder mystery stories in one book - each story set ten years apart; each featuring the same two characters, which binds the stories together; with each story written in a different style, mimicking three classic crime writers (Georges Simenon, Raymond Chandler and Jim Thompson).

Clotilde Rosenkratz seemed to be destined for success and for a time was on the verge of bec...more
Let me start off by saying that if you haven’t heard of Hard Case Crime by now, you need to be shot. Well, maybe not shot. That might be a tad harsh. Maimed, then? Bludgeoned about the head and shoulders? Slapped with a catfish? Yeah, that’s about right. When I’m king of the world, all justice will be dispensed via catfish, so we’ll go with that one.

Hard Case Crime is a line of books, formerly of Random House, now of Titan Books, that specializes in reprints of classic crime novels, new novels b...more
Eddie Dobiecki
In general, I love the Hard Case Crime books (Except for Stephen King's "I shouldn't have to write an ending" addition, but I can hardly blame them for publishing it).

But this ambitious book, while encompassing a great deal of the types of fiction they publish, is a technically interesting work that falls flat in the telling.

This is going to be a bit of a long review, so hold on to your hats, folks. In my defense, this is three novels bundled as one.

Let’s start off with some basics in case th...more
Novel received courtesy of giveaway

I've never read a mystery novel like this! The novel is split into three separate sections, each taking place 10 years apart. Each section was written as a copy of a famous crime writer's style. Although I'm unfamiliar with the crime writers that Mr. Winter is echoing, I enjoyed the premise and styles of the novel. The character, Shem Rosencrantz, is introduced in the first section of the novel and by the end, he becomes the main character. His wi...more
Stab, stab, beat to death. This is not three separate novels, as billed. Neither is it "a tour de force." One character, oh wait two, appear in all three stories. They are not interesting or likable. I suppose I enjoyed the first installment most. I thought those unanswered questions would be explained later, but the unanswered question gap only grew and grew until the stink ending. Maybe I'm being overly harsh because I just read and loved Elmore Leonard's hilarious and well plotted Up In Honey...more
Sep 03, 2012 Betty rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: crime
Yes, a clever premise: a three novella pastiche of three different writers famous in their decade, Georges Simenon, Raymond Chandler, and Jim Thompson. To be honest, I skimmed the last one, but then I find Jim Thompson too dark too. The imitation was well done, except for a few out-of-period clunkers (automatic coffee makers in the 1940s?), but why read an imitation? Yes, why did I read it? Gulled by good reviews. I've read all three in the original and I recommend you stick to the real thing.
Benoit Lelievre
THE TWENTY-YEAR DEATH is definitely a peculiar cat. It's been written and more or less sold as a literary tribute to George Simenon, Raymond Chandler and Jim Thompson, but for all I know (having read two out of the three), there is a lot of Ariel S. Winter original content in this novel. He might mimick the style of three iconic hardboiled authors, but he has the mastery of his own tone which is noticeably dark compared to Chandler and even Thompson.

Some aspects of THE TWENTY-YEAR DEATH were rou...more
Feb 21, 2014 Jan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
The author had an interesting idea and I think he created it very well. That said, I didn't particularly enjoy this book, in part because he did such a good job at carrying out his idea and using the style of three different writers. This book is three crime novels in one. Each is written in the style of a different classic mystery writer. Each takes place in succeeding decades, starting with the 1920s, and there are characters who appear in all three. I enjoyed the first story the most; the suc...more
this is actually three books in one. do not know if would have read them individually, but the idea of writing each in the style of famous crime writers of the last century, writers of whom many read, this intrigued me. have never read simenon's inspector maigret novels, only his 'roman durs', but think these are the ones referred to. and well. clean, simple, direct, this is longest and obliquely introduces the central protagonists. the second is in the style of chandler, and, of course, set in...more
Simenon: Excellent. Chandler: Very good. Thompson: Not quite as misanthropic as the original, but then, who is?
This book by Ariel S. Winter is actually three novels, each written with the voice of a noted writer of the decade in which each story is set, combined to form a first book. Containing three full-length novels, it is a large book, and it does take time to read through them all; just how much time it takes for you, individually, might depend on how well you like the authors channeled. Me, personally, I thought I would never get through the first novel, “Malniveau Prison,” which is set in 1931 and...more
The trouble with doing a pastiche of past styles, especially when you're directly referencing particular authors, is that it just puts the reader in mind of those authors. And when you say you're doing a pastiche of Raymond Chandler, you had better be a pretty goddamn talented writer. Ariel Winter isn't bad, but he's definitely no Chandler (nor Simenon, nor Thompson for that matter). I'm not sure if the Twenty Year Death would have appealed to me more if it weren't trumpeting the fact that Winte...more
Kara Jorges
I was surprised to see such a hefty tome from Hard Case Crime, until I realized this novel was three books in one. Each of the three parts is a story unto itself, with a common thread between them. Each part of the story is also written in a different style, paying homage to a noteworthy pulp writer of yore.

Part One begins in a small town in France, where a body is found in a rain storm. The chief inspector happens to be in town to pay a visit to an inmate at nearby Malvineau Prison, and gets pu...more
Victor Gentile
Ariel S. Winter in his new book, “The Twenty-Year Death” published by Titan Books gives us a mystery that takes twenty years and three detectives to figure out.

From the back cover: THERE’S NEVER BEEN A BOOK LIKE

A breathtaking first novel written in the form of three separate crime novels, each set in a different decade and penned in the style of a different giant of the mystery genre.

1931—The body found in the gutter in France led the police inspector to the dead man’s beaut...more
Margaret Sankey
This is brilliant--the hapless descent of one hard-boiled and cracked American in the form of three procedural novels. In book one, Shem Rozenkrantz, living in 1931 France with his young wife and writing pulp novels, gets caught up in a small-town prison break investigated by a very tired police inspector a la George Simeon ("To have a Rue Victor Hugo had apparently been deemed necessary, but that the town had settled on this back alley for the designation was small town politics in its most ess...more
This novel is as much an homage to three different authors, as it is to a genre of books. The volume is composed of a character arc split into three distinct stories with separate title pages and logo-marked endings.

I have not read any Georges Simenon, but could still sense the references from the first book/section. The shift to Chandler put me in more familiar territory (though my travels with Chandler are embarrassingly light). Beyond the direct reflection of Chandler, the middle section seem...more
It's a great idea - Have three separate novels in three consecutive decades in the style of three different crime novelists with characters that are in all three. And the idea works, to a degree.

The first two novels are fantastic in their own right. The 30's tale of murder and corruption in France and the 40's Chandler-esque detective yarn in Hollywood really work well. They feature great protagonists and unpredictable twists that are a hell of a lot of fun for classic pulp fans. The third novel...more
This book is three novels in one. Yep, three. Three separate stories, spanning three decades, tied together by one character that is a minor player in novels one and two, and the center stage performer in the final novel.

Oh, there is one other thing; each novel is written in a different style: the first one is an homage to Georges Simenon, the second one to Raymond Chandler, and the final one to Jim Thompson.

An ambitious project to say the least. And Winter does a pretty good job of capturing...more
A first crime novel of startling virtuosity, a brilliant flawed masterpiece. The Twenty-Year Death is billed as a three-in-one thriller, though it's really three separate novels with a thin thread holding them together. Winter writes the first, Malniveau Prison, in the style of the classic puzzle writer Georges Simenon. The second, The Falling Star, is a Chandleresque "seamy side of Hollywood" tale featuring a cynical Marlowesque narrator who can't be dishonest even when he'd like to be. The thi...more
Wow, I mean really wow. This was a fantastic read, actually this was three fantastic reads. What I found most amazing was what you have here is three separate novels that could have been written by three separate but all very talented authors. I love a good piece of noir so as you can imagine I was very excited to be chosen as first reads winner. I took a great deal longer to read this than my average because I really was enjoying every single nuance.

The first part was my favorite and I think t...more
Bane of Kings
Original Post:

“An original, if flawed, entertaining peice of noir fiction with a fantastic premise.“ ~The Founding Fields

I haven’t read a noir crime novel before, and this is probably my most under-read genre, apart from paranormal romance (But there’s a reason for that), and if it wasn’t for the wonderful opportunity from Titan Books to read this novel, I probably would have continued without reading any noir crime novels. However, that opportunity came...more
Dmitri Ragano
The Twenty Year Death is a marvel in terms of style and storytelling... it falls short of greatness and that is only disappointing because it has the scale and ambition to be a seminal contribution to the mystery genre. Winter's ability to emulate and riff on the style of three great noir authors -- Simenon, Chandler and Thompson -- is breathtaking. The second part of this three-part sequence of mystery novellas is based on the Philip Marlowe series and it is really stunning how well he captures...more
Holly Hodson
(Originally posted on Amazon UK by me)

The first thing to say about this book is that it is not one book, but three! All written in a different style.

The first story, Maliniveau Prison follows a police detective trying to solve a murder in a small town in France.
The second, The Falling Star, follows a private detective who has been hired as protection for a movie star.
The third, Police At The Funeral, is about a man who goes to hear the reading of his ex-wife's will and accidentally kills his son...more
Disclosure: I was sent a free copy of this book by winning it from a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. My opinions about the book are my own.

First of all, I want to mention that I really like the design of the book and its resemblance to an authentic 1950's pulp mystery novel. Everything from the cover, to the choice of fonts, to the publishing logo on the inner pages brought back nostalgia of the many mystery novels I consumed back when I was a teenager, and I enjoyed reliving the experience.

I wa...more
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Ariel S. Winter is the author of the forthcoming picture book One of a Kind (June 2012) illustrated by David Hitch, and the forthcoming novel The Twenty-Year Death (August 2012).
More about Ariel S. Winter...
One of a Kind The Falling Star (The Twenty Year Death trilogy book 2) Malniveau Prison (The Twenty-Year Death Trilogy Book 1) Blue Light/Blue Heat Police at the Funeral (The Twenty-Year Death trilogy book 3)

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