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The Murderer Vine
Shepard Rifkin
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The Murderer Vine

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  137 ratings  ·  15 reviews
In this fictional version of the infamous 1964 killing of three young civil rights workers, the wealthy father of one of the victims offers a New York detective one hundred thousand dollars to execute each of the five suspected killers, including the local sheriff.
278 pages
Published April 12th 1973 by Hale (first published 1970)
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Dan Schwent
Three college students travel to Mississippi to work for civil rights and don't come back, and it's up to New York private eye Joe Dunne and his assistant to find out what happened to them. And he gets a hundred thousand apiece for killing their murderers...

The Murderer Vine is a fairly good crime tale. You've got deception, murder, some sexual tension, and a shit storm of bullets at the end. The tension between himself and Kirby, who's posing as his wife, is what keeps the story going. It would
Southern fried revenge. I felt like eating a pan of corn bread while reading it.

Published in 1970 and set a few years earlier, this reprint features Joe Dunne as a low-rent New York private detective who isn’t above taking the occasional strong-arm job like beating up a heroin dealer to stop him from selling near a school.

Three civil rights workers disappeared while on a voter registration drive in Mississippi. (Obviously this was inspired by actual events.) One of the missing kids had a wealt
The Murderer Vine, is part of the Hard Case crime series, devoted to reissuing minor but deserving works of hard boiled detective fiction, or new works written in a classic hard boiled style. Originally published in 1970, this is a a VERY minor work that must have made the cut largely because of the novelty of its setting--the segregated South in the 1960's. The story involves a detective hired to go undercover in Mississippi to kill the murderers of three civil rights workers (obviously modeled ...more
Mississippi Burning crossed with a detective novel crossed with a revenge novel crossed with stupidity. North meets South done with a nuance that makes My Cousin Vinny look like Proust. Dumbest of the dumb (spoiler follows!): Our New York private investigator has been hired to infiltrate Mississippi, to get proof that five rednecks have murdered three civil rights workers, and then to execute the rednecks. Our genius p.i. floats on top of an inflatable mattress beneath the swamp-side clubhouse o ...more
Taut little noir thriller which exploits just about every Southern cliche on the way to getting where it's going. (Accents... check. Chitlins... check. Hint of voodoo... check.) The framing makes it a little predictable, but no less fun, and Rifkin has a soupcon of Chandler's poetry in his soul.
From the first few pages, the novel’s dark atmosphere works as a strong hook, drawing you in through the pain-filled narrative of Joe Dunne, a narrative he relates to a passing American missionary who’s stumbled into the Mexican seaside village Dunne has “retired” to. The atmosphere is enhanced not only by Dunne drowning his sorrows on the lam, however; it starts with the back cover blurb about the plot.

Three young college students go missing in Mississippi while working on voter registration, a
Normally Hard Case Crime novels are a welcome diversion into a world of noir, this was a rare disappointment. A PI is hired to enact vengeance on a group of Southerners who have gotten away with murdering three students that were working for Civil Rights. Rather than being enjoyable, the abundant racism, ignorance, and hatred that is obviously vital to the plot is difficult to read. The first half of the book deals with background and only then delves into the PIs actual journey south to infiltr ...more
another novel with narrative drive to spare from Hard Case Crime, this one set in the 60s and featuring killers of civil rights workers as the very fully realized heavies. I didn't like it quite as much as my man Eddie Muller, but it's very good.

Eddie wrote in the SF Chron:
Written in 1970, the book is a raucously amusing - and ultimately stunning - detective-story version of the 1964 Mississippi murders of civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner. If only the 1988
Smart, well written, dealing with a despicable and dark subject in a pulpy, hard-boiled way. Brave and unusual, especially when considering it was written back in 1970.

More here (review includes spoilers!):
Peter Martin
The atmosphere is laid on thick in this book, which is structured as an extended flashback. That's always seemed like a bit of a cheap trick -- if I wanted to know the end of the story before the beginning, I'd just read the last few pages first -- but I enjoyed the characters and the way the story played out, anyway.

Again, I'm not terribly in love with Southern speech patterns being reproduced on the page, but it worked for the most part. In fact, that's how the book as a whole functions: desp
The first HCC I've read that I wished was longer. Murderer Vine has a great premise--riffing off of the Schwerner, Chaney, Goodman murders in the 1960s, the father of a civil rights workers hires a detective to go down to Mississippi and kill the Klansmen who murdered his son. Rifkin provides some good atmosphere as his detective navigates his way in the Deep South, but the plot's resolution struck me as rushed and ordinary compared with the setup. Often the case with pulp, but as I said the pre ...more
this was really entertaining. I kind of wish that the story hadn't been written as a flashback, because that would've meant there would be more surprising the ending. As it is, you kind of know what happened before the story even begins, although you don't know the details. I found the two main characters to be very likable and the villains to be very evil and easy to hate. I thought this was one of the better hard case crime books I've read so far.
Just arrived when I got home from the ATL this a.m. Finally, an HCC set in the South! Kinda proto-Mississippi Burning. So far, so fun.
Great premise, and some great sections, but overall poorly executed
Hard Case Crime #43.
Gitte marked it as to-read
Jun 27, 2015
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Pat Elvidge
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