Despite its exemplary early 1950’s paperback cover, Hill Girl goes far beyond its sexy sales pitch. It’s a brilliant charHill Girl by Charles Williams
Despite its exemplary early 1950’s paperback cover, Hill Girl goes far beyond its sexy sales pitch. It’s a brilliant character study of the relationships of two brothers shaped by their beliefs and reactions to circumstances they create or confront. Williams’ characters live within the rigid cultural roles of the era. The men must maintain a tough, unsentimental worldview, yet his prose skillfully reveals their underlying emotions and motivations, in plain, but indirect narrative and dialogue. It’s a story of unexpected depth and facility.
The catalyst that forces brothers Bob and Lee Crane to embrace or deny their adulthood is eighteen-year-old blossom, Angelina, smothered by an overprotective father whose unwittingly strict doctrines produce exactly the opposite effect he intends.
The setup in Hill Girl may sound like a familiar bawdy gag, but Williams takes it in unexpected directions, exposing character and driving action in a sort of perfect dark symmetry, making a fast read, even faster. Classified as country noir, Hill Girl, is a satisfying exploration of an out-of-balance mix of human flaws and virtues.
I reviewed Williams’ A Touch of Death, from Hard Case Crime, last year, and knew I wanted to read more of his work. Clark Dissmeyer read my review and sent me Hill Girl in response. Turns out, it was Williams’ breakout novel, published in 1950, with sales over a million copies. The copy Clark sent was the fourth edition, one of three printing in 1951 alone. Williams may not be well known today but he was considered one of the finest suspense writers of his day. His novels were the basis of a dozen movies and teleplays, including Dead Calm (1989) and The Hot Spot (1990).
The success of Hill Girl enabled Williams to write full time and he quickly followed it with Big City Girl and River Girl. Next was Hell Hath No Fury, perhaps his most well-known work, and on which Dennis Hopper’s The Hot Spot was based. In all, Williams published 22 novels during his lifetime. He committed suicide in 1975, at the age of 65. In my book, Hill Girl easily earns: ✪✪✪✪✪...more
The Harry Dresden series may be the closest thing to a pulp magazine on the newsstands today. It combines all of the heroic, fantasy, and criminal eleThe Harry Dresden series may be the closest thing to a pulp magazine on the newsstands today. It combines all of the heroic, fantasy, and criminal elements common in the heydays of characters like the Spider and the Phantom Detective, and updates them to a modern day setting.
I first heard about the character from watching the TV series, The Dresden Files. Another short-lived—rare, but genuine hit—that aired on the Sci Fi channel. Paul Blackthorne was brilliant playing the scruffy freelance wizard-for-hire. Unfortunately, the show wasn't renewed for a second season.
While browsing the newsstand, I discovered the novels and was pleased to learn they weren't based on the show, but rather the TV series was drawn from them. That was enough incentive to give the first one a try.
There's no doubt the show influenced my enjoyment of Storm Front. I already knew the characters and could picture the well-cast TV personas as I read the book. Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed this murder mystery with a spellbinding twist. I also really enjoyed the backstory of the character's lives and histories that connects the novels beyond the excitement of the current edition.
I always enjoyed Ditko's Dr. Strange and although Harry Dresden the man, is nothing like the good doctor; as a wizard he recalls the magic and excitement of those wondrous realms of good and evil. If you're a fan of the old pulp magazine heroes, The Dresden Files offers you a glimpse of what it may have been like to pick up the latest title back then and lose yourself in its pages.