First published by Doubleday in 1932 in the depth of the Great Depression, an era whose seamy side it depicts, and only recently rediscovered, Fast One by Paul Cain (one of the mystery men of American literature) explodes into real life with the story of one of the toughest characters ever to emerge in American fiction.
Paul Cain is the pseudonym of Peter Ruric, a man who e...more
Gerry Kells comes to town with the intention of being the top man; there are quite a number of floozies, plenty of money floating about, much of it seemingly for no apparent reason, and there are numerous bumpings off, many ...more
The fat man sad: "Put your hands up, Skinny." Kells shook his head slightly.
The young man in the raincoat leaned forward and slapped Kells across the mouth. Kells looked up at him and his face was very sad, his eyes were sleepy. He said: "That's too bad."
- p. 70
Fast One is a book I feel like I've been meaning to read forever. Hardboiled crime stories from the 20s, 30s, and 40s were pretty much the first books that I started really reading for fun -- I still remember buying Hammett's The Continen ...more
This is indeed the type of story Chandler spoke about where a man with a gun is constantly entering the room to keep the story going. It happens a lot at the end of cliff-hanger chapters. Furthermore I've never read a story where the protagonist was knocked unconscious so often. It’s got a good paci ...more
one thing done is there's a l ...more
Paul Cain’s only novel (described in Max Decharne’s intro as the hardest of the hard-boiled), it reads with urgency and violence, like it was thrown out of the typewriter and printed without revision. And it works because of it. To revise or edit would probably take away its distinctiveness.
Lead character Kells’ dialogue reads as if it was tailor-made for Bogart (some years before Bogart became Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe) and it’s as unpredictable as hell. Kells, tough as ...more
As an aside, "an advance copy of the US First Edition of "FAST ONE" sold at Christies auction in New ...more
Some things may not have aged well (spicks, chinks) but that aside...
An utterly unpredictable plot inhabited by stereotypes - but written before they'd become stereotypes - where the pace starts out fast and keep getting faster. This book is what the formula was built from, but the story itself is not formulaic in any which way.
The damsels are drunk as skunks, the men are mean and sometimes you lose.
If you like ...more
This edition must have been OCRed from the original magazines or some other source. It's full of typos, which any editing should have easily spotted. The story lacks the finesse of Chandler and Cain, and reminds me a bit more of Hammett. I don't think the characters ever become more than the stereotype though, so the casual noir fan may have trouble getting into this one.
If you drop your attention from Cain's freight-train narrative and you'll find yourself lost pretty quickly. If you can keep up you'll end up enjoying a very unique experience indeed.