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Le plancher des garces
Day Keene
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Le plancher des garces

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  232 ratings  ·  37 reviews
Pulp legend Day Keene offers a harrowing tale of lust and murder--available for the first time in more than 35 years! Swede Nelson just wants to meet a nice girl and settle down--but he meets Corliss Mason instead: seductress, murderess, and maybe something worse.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published 1967 by Editions Gallimard (first published 1952)
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Dan 1.0
After a career at sea, Swede Nelson comes ashore with the thought of buying a farm in Minnesota and finding a nice girl to marry. It's a shame he runs into the widow Corliss Mason, the owner of the Purple Parrot, and her web of sex, lies, and murder...

Home is the Sailor, much like fellow Hard Case entry The Vengeful Virgin, is straight out of the James M. Cain playbook. You know the plot: a guy falls for a hot young woman and commits murder for her, then starts cracking under the pressure once h
First off, I hate the title of the book. It makes no sense to me except in a grammatically tortuous way. Where is the sailor? Home is the Sailor. You mean the sailor is home? Yeah that's what I said, home is the sailor. Those who live in glass houses and are allergic to editing their reviews shouldn't throw stones though.

There wasn't anything about this novel that really stood out for me, and I have a feeling I'll forget almost everything about it in a month or so, but for a quick read it has e
Another gem from the files of Hard Case Crime.

Read on the plane from London to Doha.

The penultimate read from my trip around Europe, saved specifically for this flight, and my gosh was it worth it.

Swede Nelson is not only a great classic noir character, tough and hard-boiled with a major weakness - in this case booze - but his name is so completely perfect for noir too. Fresh from three years at sea, he has a large bankroll and a dream of a farm in rural USA. What he gets is Corliss Mason, the m
One of the best of the Hard Case series that I've read so far (and I've read some bad ones as well). On one hand, there's nothing new here (other than the sailor hero's ability, once ashore, to put down an ocean of booze). Drunk he may be, but the Swede continues to notice the little things, like his girlfriend's casual squishing of a bug on the car window, or the details of a murder in the newspaper. It all adds up to Set-up in the end. But it's Day Keene's attention to the little things that j ...more
Feb 06, 2008 Andy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: drunken sailors, motor inn tramps
Shelves: hard-case-crime
Nutty book about a discharged sailor who swills enough go-go juice to stun an army of elephants. The swabby falls hard for a trailer court tramp he thinks is the Venus De Milo with arms but she flirts and flops with any granite head thug that’ll beat Popeye silly for his dough. We refuse to put the book down because we can’t wait to see what beating he’ll take next and Day Keene doesn’t disappoint. The beatings and boozy blackouts keep coming. What a brilliant piece of trash. I couldn’t put the ...more
Michael Mallory
"Home Is the Sailor" (and for the benefit of those below who don't understand the title, it's taken from a line in a famous poem by Robert Louis Stevenson)is a virtual template for a hard-boiled crime novel. Today one might accuse it of being cliched, but it was written more than sixty years ago, when today's cliches were just getting started. The protagonist of the book is one Swen "Swede" Nelson, a career sailor who wants to retire from the sea and settle down. Unfortunately, the girl he choos ...more
If this isn't a noir masterpiece I don't know what is. I've reread Cain, Chandler, Hammett, and get over them people, they were not the only ones to write great noir. Just because they are taught in schools and Keene isn't is no reason to anoint them and not him.
The bee continued to buzz, like the drone of a dentist's drill. Corliss reached out a finger and squashed it. Against the glass. Slowly. The small plop of its body filled the car with sound.

"Anyway you're through going to the sea, Swede
I found the main character in this to be so stupid and unlikeable that I didn't care what happened to him.
Greg of A2
Swede Nelson is a tough guy. He's a recently retired Merchant Marine looking to take his service savings back to Hibbing, Minnesota to start a farm and find a bride. The problem for Swede is that after disembarking, he lands in a seedy California tourist court with lots of shady people looking to make use of his passion and to twist his dreams. Frankly, Swede is a monosyllabic guy who drinks too much and hits too hard when gets in to all too frequent fights. Is he a likable central character? Qu ...more
David Cain
Another pulp-tastic potboiler in the Hard Case Crime series. This brief novel has it all - murder, intrigue, and double-crossing, with a healthy dose of fighting, drinking, and sex. It's a fast-paced thrill ride that I polished off in about three hours. Does not disappoint if you're looking for something fun from the 1950s.
More of a comment than a review. I thought Day Keene's Home is the Sailor was a good book, a little predictable, but definitely representative of the noir-pulp genre. Patio-Roofdeck-Commuter readers like me will be pleased.

Some reviewers comment edthat some of the characters came across as so unlikeable that they don't engender concern. I actually found that to be a positive point.
James  W. Powell
Perhaps not quite as violent or as sexy as similar novels from the era, HOME IS THE SAILOR reaffirms that Day Keene knew how to write a crime thriller. Swede is one hell of a drunken sailor, and Corliss is the sexy dame you know is just too much trouble despite her looks. This is another great example of crime thrillers written in the heyday of the genre.
Fast-moving 50s noir with lots of Spillane-ish sexism and an unexpectedly touching conclusion. If you think of it as a movie, you could see it as an entertaining programmer with, say, Sterling Hayden and Faith Domergue. Fun, if a little trashy.
I loved this book. It's true noir. The story of Swede Nelson who has saved several thousand dollars in cash and decides to give up the sea where he has spent the last 20 years. His plan is to head back home to Minnesota, buy a little farm, find a wife, and raise a family, but fate has other things in store as he meets femme fatale Corliss Mason.
As with all Noir stories, the femme fatale is the most beautiful, sexiest woman that our protagonist has ever met with the greatest sex. He will follow
Jeff Powers
Though the character's motives are somewhat unexpected and their actions, at times, a bit unrealistic, this dark hard-boiled bit of ham-fisted action doesn't hold back. With a lightning fast pace and a short running length, it is a quick and fairly enjoyable read.
Brian Koppin
My favorite hard case crime book and I've read most of them
A roller coaster of a pulp yarn that pulls no punches, satisfies every cliche and never loses momentum. Day Keene's staccato sentences, steamy set-ups and sordid characters make this the most entertaining vintage crime book I've read in a long time. Sure, it's over-the-top with mood and plot twists. But that's what this genre is all about.
Jason Seaver
Another Hard Case book that covers all the noir/pulp bases - femme fatale, hard-drinking hero, ending you can probably see coming the moment that the narrator takes a particular interest in a newspaper story. Still a fun one to read, as it's quite enjoyable to watch the poor dumb lug in the middle get played so badly. It works because there's hints that he may be capable of figuring out the situation, but may have dug himself into too deep a hole to escape.
The sailor is a drunk and a brawler and has a woman in every port. He goes on a bender and finds love, so he thinks. Swede, the sailor, is a well-drawn character. He is violent and always drunk, but he is also an innocent and dreams of a perfect life.

The plot is fairly straight forward; I guessed the big secret halfway through, but the characters kept my interest up. Recommended.
A little The Postmas Always Rings Twice, a little Maltese Falcon, without the literary quality of either of the above. The plot relies a little too heavily on the protagonist's being, to put it mildly, a dumbass for my personal taste. Still, if you're a fan of the Femme Fatale, look no further. And I'm changing my favorite pickup line to, "Hello, Sailor. Lonely?"
Victor Whitman
I'd read three Keene novels before, and this fourth one was by far the best. It is a classic noir tale that I highly recommend. The writer C.J. Henderson gave me this book at a pulp fiction expo in Manhattan this October as a free gift for buying the fine collection of short stories, "Battling Boxing Stories." Loved it!
A good read, if you like noir. Tough but sensitive but not too bright sailor decides to leave the sea, meets a femme fatale (of course), instantly falls in love, ends up caught up in murder and intrigue. Well done, but the cover copy that claims it makes Jim Thompson or James M. Cain look tame overstates the case.
Fairly well-written noire pulp. The plot was somewhat predictable. Stands out as being fairly racy for a novel written in the 50s. I found the protagonist a bit irritating because he spent about three two thirds of the book quite drunk (which actually did contribute to the plot).
Sailor has tempestuous affair with beautiful dame. Everything goes peachy until Murder is committed! What are her secrets? Elements of Double Indemnity here, and the plot twists are all too easy to spot, but a solid Hard Case Crime entry all the same. Rated M for some violence. 2.5/5
Chris Griffith
Cheesy, stereotypical, and unbelievable, but a fun crime times.
Edward Butler
"Five stars? Really?"

Fair enough. I grade on a curve; and this was a sterling example of its type, a trim, tasty potboiler that failed in no respect to deliver what I wanted from it, so why sell it short?
Predictable plot but great fun! Another winner from the Hard Case Crime series (#7).
Robin Hemmer
Just could not get into this book - had to put it down before finishing it.
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Day Keene was the pseudonym for Gunnar Hjerstedt.
More about Day Keene...
Sleep with the Devil To Kiss or Kill World Without Women Framed in Guilt/My Flesh is Sweet Dead Dolls Don't Talk / Hunt the Killer / Too Hot to Hold

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“I wish I was a man. A man can do so many things. He can go to sea. He can be a soldier. He can fly. He can crawl in and out of beds. He can get drunk and into messes. Then all he has to do is sober up and take a bath and no one thinks less of him".” 0 likes
“Love. A Will-o`-the-wisp. St. Elmo's fire. A biological urge. The chemical affinity of one body for another. The deep-rooted urge of the male to propagate his kind. A package of cigarettes. A Hershey bar. A ten-thousand-dollar mink coat. Five dollars.” 0 likes
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