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Solomon's Vineyard

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  108 ratings  ·  22 reviews
First written in 1941 but banned from publication in the United States until 1988, this hard-boiled mystery covers such unsavory but potent topics as grave-robbing, religious cults, kinky sex, and whorehouse violence. In this classic noir novel, a private eye from St. Louis, who likes his steak rare, his liquor hard, and his women fallen, arrives at the small town of Pault ...more
Paperback, 129 pages
Published June 1st 2004 by (first published 1941)
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James Thane
This is a classic piece of pulp fiction that was first published in Britain in 1941, but which was deemed much too racy for the U.S. at that time. Accordingly, it was first published here in an sanitized version that glossed over all the parts that were too "adult" for the delicate sensibilities of the American reading public. The opening couple of sentences of the original version might suggest why:

"From the way her buttocks looked under the black silk dress, I knew she'd be good in bed. The si
Bill  Kerwin

The best hardboiled detective novel you've probably never heard of, "Solomon's Vineyard" was published in Britain in 1941, but never issued in unexpurgated form in its author's native U.S.A. until 1988.

As Detective Karl Craven tells us in his very brief introduction: "This is a wild one. . . it's got everything but an abortion and a tornado." Does it ever. It begins like classic Hammett (a wandering daughter job, a murdered partner, "Red Harvest" style intrigue), gradually transforms into Chand
A quick, fun, gin-soaked ride of a story. In many ways, ahead of its time, especially in its approach to sex and violence (probably why it wasn't in print in the US unedited until 1988). Even though it was written in 1941, it feels much more like a Mickey Spillane era story.

As it states in a kind of mini-prologue (I'm paraphrasing): This is a wild one. It has everything but an abortion and a tornado.

I would be interested in reading THE FIFTH GRAVE, the edited version that was published in the US
Feb 04, 2010 Andy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Mystery nerds who think they've read it all
Recommended to Andy by: Satan
Shelves: hardboiled-dicks
The most brutal detective novel ever written. A dick gets sent to Heartland USA to find a missing girl hidden in a crazy religious compound protected by vicious racketeers. Our rotund hero is (literally) in bed with the Cult's princess and the gangsta's gun moll, too. Loads of sex and murder, "Solomon's Vineyard" never gets boring. And I didn't even mention the necrophiliac part, either.
A short and convoluted crime noir brimming with hedonism. Like ANTONY AND CLEOPARTRA, the characters in SOLOMON'S VINEYARD live only for pleasure, and most of them end up dying for it.
Hollywood pervsion and noir.
What a perfect book to have read during Banned Book Week 2014! Lurid, fast-pasted, sex and lots of it--especially the rough stuff, a wise-cracking "private dick" who creates as much mayhem as possible . . . AND a cult with its own lurid practices. Private investigator Karl Craven, if that's his real name, is one smokin' piece of work. Elmore Leonard, I am sure, took some of his cues from Latimer! Great pulp fiction, the unexpurgated version of Solomon's Vineyard was not published here in the USA ...more
A private detective is hired to bring a rich man's niece home. But the niece is being held captive by a religious cult with a sinister plan for the girl, and the cult is led by a beautiful blonde. There's also a local mob boss, who has the prettiest girl in town.

This book was written in 1941 but banned from publication in the U.S. until 1988, though I can't figure out why. The "kinky" sex scenes are brief and almost laughable, but no more graphic than any other pulp writing at the time.
The writi
Ryan Jones
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
M. Myers
SOLOMON’S VINEYARD by John Latimer offers a real treat for readers who’d like to savor a story by one of the pioneers of the hardboiled style of detective fiction. Originally written in 1941, it was banned in the U.S. because of sexual references and a kinky encounter. It reflects the attitudes of its time and conventions of the pulp fiction heyday.

Contemporary readers unable to enjoy this as a period piece will find something to offend every sensibility: racism, ethnic slurs and sexism. The ma
This is the kind of '40's style noir that is as fun to read as a ride through a Coney Island Scare House from decades ago. It's got everything from whorehouse scenes to grave robbing. And, guess what? A femme fatale named Princess. When the first line of a book reads: "From the way her buttocks looked under the black silk dress, I knew she'd be good in bed", then you know you have the real thing in your hands. All the hard-boiled writers of today owe a tribute to Jonathan Latimer.
Vardan Partamyan
Not nearly as good as I expected it to had it all: shoot-outs, femmes fatale, alcoholic protagonist, cults, corrupt politicians, gangsters...sounds like a good cocktail eh? Well... not quite. Raymond Chandler, for me at least, continued to reign supreme
Glenn Zorpette
Jonathan Latimer managed to do something unusual and wonderful: he made hard-boiled mysteries that were funny. Not dry and witty like John Dickson Carr and Hammet in the Thin Man series, but rather bawdy and loopy and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. "Murder In The Madhouse," "Solomon's Vineyard," and "The Dead Don't Care" are three of his best.
Latimer's characters occasionally refer to booze as "panther spit." If you think that's funny, you'll probably like Latimer.
Tim Schneider
Very solid noir detective novel. I guess I can see where this would be hardcore enough to cause issues when it was published, but the "banned in the U.S." thing is ultimately very silly.

That said it's a well-written book that pushes the boundaries of the day (apparently a bit too far). The writing isn't on par with the greats. The plot is enough "Red Harvest" to not be terribly original. But somehow the whole is more than the sum of the parts.
As outrageously offensive as you'd hope a hard-boiled pulp from '41 would be. Apparently never copy edited, this edition contains weird mistakes like the word 'off' repeatedly being printed as 'oil,' which makes me think that the author had some stuck keys on his typewriter, but the publisher was just churning out books and ran it as it was.
Philip Fracassi
This is a GREAT pulp book. It's creepy, and cultish, and there are horrible deaths and sexy ladies.

Well written and borderline disturbing, not Jim Thompson 'he cut her head off with a blender' disturbing, more like 'she showed some bloody thigh in church' disturbing.

That's as best I can sell it.
John Wilson
I took a peek into the grave. Flowers had almost covered the coffin. I thought: there goes $135. It was the first time I'd ever spent that much on a doll without getting something in return.
I'd like to know which sewer this book oozed out of so I could go and get the rest of the books out. What a delight!
Chris A
Pretty good read in the Chandler Hammett hardboiled tradition although not quite as complex.
Vincent Eaton
Noir-noir dime novel of its time; of historical interest. Sex and violence and wiseacre.
great dick fiction from the 40's. better than d. hammet.
Lisa marked it as to-read
Dec 08, 2014
Sawyer marked it as to-read
Nov 17, 2014
Paul marked it as to-read
Nov 15, 2014
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Jonathan Latimer was born in Chicago on 23rd October 1906. His main series character was the private investigator Bill Crane. An important character in the development of the hard boiled genre. A notable title is Solomon's Vineyard, the controversy over the content saw the US publication delayed by nine years. The author later concentrated on screen plays and also worked for five years on the Perr ...more
More about Jonathan Latimer...
Lady in the Morgue (Bill Crane, #3) Headed for a Hearse Murder in the Madhouse The Search for My Great Uncle's Head The Dead Don't Care (Bill Crane, #4)

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