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Black Wings Has My Angel

4.15  ·  Rating Details  ·  525 Ratings  ·  113 Reviews
Chaze's long-lost noir classic, a legend among noir buffs, is back in print for the first time in nearly half a century. The one book Black Lizard never published, it's the dream-like tale of a man after a jailbreak, who meets up with the woman of his dreams... and his nightmares. Phenomenal work of the period, ranking with the best efforts of Thompson, Woolrich, Goodis et ...more
Paperback, 136 pages
Published May 1st 2005 by (first published 1953)
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When it comes to noir crime fiction, Black Wings Has My Angel is a cult classic. First published in 1953 by Gold Medal Books (known for drugstore paperbacks with curious titles like Dig that Crazy Grave, Meanwhile Back at the Morgue, Dig My Grave Deep, Death Takes the Bus, and Don’t Speak to Strange Girls), it is being reissued later this month as a NYRB classic. I received my copy today, and read the entire novel in a single sitting. Timothy Sunblade is an escaped convict, a car thief, and a wa ...more
James Thane
Apr 27, 2014 James Thane rated it really liked it
Black Wings Has My Angel was originally published in 1953 as a Gold Medal mass-market paperback, one of the hundreds of pulpish novels aimed at male readers that filled paperback book racks in drugstores and other such places all over the country in the Fifties. For whatever reason, though, and unlike so many of the other of these books that can still be found in used bookstores, this one has become extremely scarce, which is a tragedy because it's a classic of the hard-boiled school. Kudos, the ...more
Richard Vialet
Aug 03, 2015 Richard Vialet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of noir or those curious about it...
One thing I love about classic paperback originals are the super pulpy taglines! And this one has a great one:
"She had the face of a Madonna and a heart made of dollar bills."
I love this stuff. :)

The tagline really captured the tone of this hardcore noir, about a convict on the lam named Tim, who spends what was supposed to be one lovely night with a sexy, money-hungry call-girl named Virginia, but which turns into a three-night long love-making session. Afterwards, they're joined at the hip, as
May 18, 2012 Jenn(ifer) rated it liked it
Musical accompaniment:

I love thunderstorms. Something about all that rumbling and crashing, the amazing light show in the sky and the ominous threat of tragedy in the air really gets me going. There is something sinister about thunderstorms, but also something magical. The tap tap tapping on the rooftop. The gratitude I feel for my shelter. The wonder of nature, that I can experience the terror of the storm and yet at the same time feel so safe.

What do t
Deliciously noir and a cracker of a story. Tim Sunblade is an escaped felon who plans a heist that will make him rich and will solve all of his problems in one fell swoop........and then he meets the enigmatic Virginia. Neither character is who they appear and both are running from a past that haunts them.

The writing and style for this novel is deceptively simple but it's a novel that does pack quite a wallop and stays with you long after the last page is turned. It's one of those novels that yo
Kirk Smith
Mar 04, 2016 Kirk Smith rated it it was amazing
Shelves: top-noire, love-noire
What a noire classic! This one's lit not pulp. You will feel this to your core. Powerful, visual and twisty. There's even a nice little scene with five journalists sitting in a bar. Amusing as hell, but it makes me regret seeing the demise of so many of those fellows just to be replaced with enews. This hardboiled tale is also a great love story. This goes to my top shelf.
Oct 07, 2012 Ed rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: literary noir fans
Recommended to Ed by: Bill Pronzini at Mystery*File
This 1953 title is generally acknowledged to be Mr. Chaze's tour de force and a masterpiece in hardboiled/noir crime fiction. I concur. I kept wanting to say the awkward title as My Angel Has Black Wings. Anyway, I'm not going to rehash the plot. Wikipedia delves into it (beware of the spoilers). Tim Sunblade plans and jacks an armored truck (he calls it a "car") with his high class call girl Virginia in Denver. The novel's post-heist half is when the noirish brew really begins to cook. Tim and ...more
Mar 16, 2013 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noirboiled
In 2013, Elliott Chaze’s Black Wings Has My Angel reads like a compendium of noir clichés. This is a partial list: our narrator/antihero—a WWII vet with a permanent head injury who has a mutually abusive relationship with a hooker turned femme fatale—is straight out of Jim Thompson; the armored car heist could come from Richard Stark; the sadistic smalltown cops might have wandered in from Cornell Woolrich; and the novel’s intentionally telegraphed sense of doom could be channeled from David Goo ...more
Mar 09, 2016 Tosh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fucking and crime are the basis of all classic noir, and clearly the novel, "Black Wings Has My Angel," has that in spades. Elliot Chaze wrote a noir tale that is basically a definitive frame of what noir is. A man against a system or himself, and falling for his weakness or the power of the sexual pull. One's life starts from the bottom, and goes straight down to Hell. It's a classic premise for a crime narrative, and Chaze's novel is another example of that shadowy world.

The peaks of heaven a
Dec 14, 2015 Michael rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noir, crime, pulp, 1950s
Elliott Chaze’s Black Wings has my Angel reminds me of a typical James M Cain book; no that that’s a bad thing, in fact; it’s a perfect format for a Noir novel. I was a little surprised that this book went out of print for 50 years and only came back onto the market in the 1980’s, it really is an enjoyable and spectacular noir tale. Black Wings has my Angel tells the story of an ex-con who picks up a call girl in motel and together they stage an armed robbery. Obviously that’s just the beginning ...more
Mar 25, 2009 Johnny rated it it was amazing
Excellent hardboiled thriller that definitely lived up to its reputation. A very similar tone to THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE, where the tragedy is in the couple's meeting, their demise inevitable from the moment they set eyes on each other.

Very violent and as frank about sex as the era would allow. It's equal parts heist story, couple on the run story, and the weight of guilt story.

But, the real strength of the book is in the writing. Chaze accomplishes the most difficult task put to any wri
Kurt Reichenbaugh
Dec 06, 2013 Kurt Reichenbaugh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noir
This book's rep among noir fans is justly deserved. I was in a bookshop earlier this year and saw they had the original Gold Medal paperback in the glass counter. Sticker price: $500! Thankfully, you can read it as part of another Stark House Press two-fer (paired with One is a Lonely Number by Bruce Elliott) for a lot less. I don't know about others out there, but $500 is out of my range.

The story is a basic one: sketchy narrator hooks up with sketchy gal, rough sex and bent dreams result. The
May 06, 2011 Andy rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: psychos like you
Recommended to Andy by: Black Mask download
Shelves: pulp-fiction
One of the sleaziest crime novels ever written, hard to beat. This one has swinging couples in New Orleans banging on carpets of smashed in caramel chocolates, a man stripped naked and tortured on top of a cop cruiser with burning cigars, an armored car guard in his seventies gutted from head to toe, etc. By the time I was done I felt so filthy I sprayed myself with a bottle of 409 and scrubbed my anus with a bar of Lava industrial soap. Recommended.
Feb 08, 2016 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, 2016
I have to admit I was warily of this book when I found out it was to be the NYRB Book of the Month for January. Noir and I do not get along very well. It’s just a fact of life.
However this book – I can see why people like it.
Because Chaze writes a quick moving story that avoids being the in your face moral fable or women as cheap floozies.
And what it says about how law enforcement values life is rather interesting.
What really sells the book is Chaze’s writing. There is an economy to the pro
Ben Loory
Apr 04, 2016 Ben Loory rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
inopportune moment to become clumsy
Adrienne Atkinson
Mar 17, 2016 Adrienne Atkinson rated it really liked it
The New York Review Classic Press reprinted this book in January for the first time in over fifty years, and it’s a good thing they did. Black Wings is just the kind of literary gem you’d expect from an old-school newspaperman, with the quality of its writing and complexity of its characters elevating it far beyond the typical crime noir novel.

What actually happens in the story feels unremarkable: A jailbird named Tim meets a call girl named Virginia, and he falls in love. It starts slow, but m
Peter Landau
Mar 29, 2016 Peter Landau rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There’s something more dramatic about knowing what’s going to happen than being surprised. Alfred Hitchcock knew that he could up the suspense in a scene by giving the audience more information than the characters. Not that Elliott Chaze reveals much, though there are bits of foreshadowing dropped by the narrator in BLACK WINGS HAS MY ANGEL, but if you’ve read any noir you’re not going to find yourself shocked by the developments in the story. They’re all fairly well-worn. Not that the story is ...more
Alejandro Soifer
Un poderoso policial negro de la primera época que contiene los ingredientes típicos del género: un protagonista rudo y de moral cuestionable, una mujer fatal, un crimen en apariencia perfecta y un desenlace que sorprende.
Excelente novela; muy buen rescate editorial y reedición de esta joya perdida.
Apr 21, 2016 E rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016, 1950s, noir, nyrb
You know it's a great noir when it makes you feel sick the whole time you're reading it.
May 15, 2014 Tony rated it really liked it
BLACK WINGS HAS MY ANGEL. (1953). Elliott Chaze. ****1/2.
I was put onto this early pulp novel by a Goodreads friend. I had not heard of either the author or this particular title before, but learned that a copy was available on Kindle. I was really impressed by the plotting and characterization utilized by the author. His dialog is straight out of Jim Thompson, and its style is pure Hemingway. The plot is straight hard-boiled, with characters that were common in the paperback market, but several
Oct 31, 2012 Tim rated it liked it
This book is legendary among Gold Medal originals. It wasn't a particularly common title to start with, and then someone in an article called it the perfect example of Gold Medal originals or something like that and it became really rare. I used to place a modest bid every time a copy showed up on eBay and then forgot about it, always losing. Until one day I didn't, much to my surprise. Now you can buy it fairly cheap, but at the time...

So I finally got around to reading it. Can't say whether or
William Johnson
Wow ... thank you Stark House for finding this and putting it out there. Also, thank you Hollywood for not screwing this up just yet.

A mixture of James Cain and present-day authors like Nic Pizzolatto, Dark Wings Has My Angel is one of the greatest books I've had the pleasure of reading. Visceral and loaded with decadence, debauchery and enough psychosis to choke an psych undergrad, DWHMA is brilliant.

It is not often I get a physical reaction to a book ... TV, movie, sure ... but, and maybe this
Jan 31, 2015 Stephen rated it really liked it
Really really dark tale that is worth reading for the character of the sexy "black angel" Virginia alone. Recommended read for all who appreciate the "noir" genre.
Mar 12, 2016 AC rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-mystery, noir
Not bad. Late 1940's style noirish (though pub. in 1954). Between 3 & 4 stars depending on your mood.
Jan 27, 2016 Frank rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pitch perfect pulp fiction. I’m no connaisseur of 50s pulp, but from what I’ve read this seems to me equal to the best, with above average writing. It’s certainly on a par with Jim Thompson, with the added benefit that Chaze seems more conscious of the artificiality of 50s pulp clichés. Not by avoiding them so much as by revelling in them, laying them on and putting them to good use.
Compared to the lean style of 30s pulp like Horace McCoy’s They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? 50s pulp can sometimes
Oct 16, 2012 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Chantal
Wow what a weird but great book. I suppose its why its a cult classic.
Now i partially read it because Tom Hiddleston is going to be in a movie adaptation with Anna Paquin, but it was A GOOD BOOK. It is also very nearly a 'classic' book since there were many literary devices embedded within the book.
A con man and a call girl pull off a heist in 50's America. Or do they?
Feb 25, 2016 Steve rated it really liked it
A '50's noir pulp cult classic, now available from NYRB Classics. I read the $0.99 ebook version - some complaints elsewhere about typos, but I found less than 10. And, one of the "reviewers" on amazon has been good enough to share Barry Gifford's short intro to the new edition with us. And in that intro, he thankfully lets us know that maybe 1 other of Chaze's novels is worth reading. So no need to shell out those hard earned bucks on hard to find, poor condition, $$$$$ pb's of his other titles ...more
Feb 15, 2016 Steve rated it really liked it
First person crime novel. Tim Sundblad escapes from prison, and goes to work on an oil rig. He saves up a lot of money, and when he's off he hires a prostitute and immediately falls in love with her. It turns out that a fellow prisoner gave him a great plan for a robbery, and Tim gets the woman involved in it. Of course things don't go as planned, right after the robbery and later. It's a pretty serious book, with an ending full of ironies. Chase portrayed the love affair really well, with mixed ...more
Mar 19, 2016 brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Christina Sohn
Apr 18, 2016 Christina Sohn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In my first semester of college, I took a course called “American Gangster Films,” and I thus felt an affinity toward this novel of crime and love even before I opened it. I hold some background knowledge of the tropes of a noir film—a protagonist’s traumatized past, the femme fatale, the pure woman, the plays of shadow and light—and brought it with me as I started to read the story. I suppose that I was also working backwards by transitioning from the study of film to introduction to the crime ...more
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NYRB Classics: Black Wings Has My Angel, by Elliott Chaze 8 36 Feb 04, 2016 02:20PM  
Pulp Fiction can be better than "literature" 1 7 Oct 30, 2013 08:30PM  
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Lewis Elliott Chaze (November 15, 1915 – November 11, 1990) was an American war veteran, journalist, and novelist.
Elliott Chaze was born to Lewis and Sue Chaze in Mamou, Louisiana. In 1932, Chaze graduated from Bolton High School in Alexandria, Louisiana. He attended Tulane University, Washington and Lee University, and graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1937.
Chaze began his journalism c
More about Elliott Chaze...

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“When a rich man dies it is more complex than when a poor man dies. A rich man doesn't simply quit living. He quits being rich, too.” 3 likes
“After all, no matter how long you live, there aren't too many really delicious moments along the way, since most of life is spent eating and sleeping and waiting for something to happen that never does. You can figure it up for yourself, using your own life as the scoreboard. Most of living is waiting to live. And you spend a great deal of time worrying about things that don't matter and about people that don't matter and all this is clear to you when you know the very day you're going to die.” 0 likes
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