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Rosemary's Baby
If you have managed to live this long without knowing how this book ends, read no further. Major spoilers are on the way!

This first 90% of this book i
Sep 29, 2008
Aug 22, 2008
The Big Sleep
Comment upon second reading: Philip Marlowe's fate is the same as it was the first time I read this book: to be a five-star character trapped in a thr ...more
Sep 16, 2009
Jan 21, 2009
The Criminal
The title of this low-key masterpiece (low key for Jim Thompson, anyway) is either highly ironic or an oblique reference to almost every character in ...more
May 18, 2012
May 17, 2012
Hell Hath No Fury
With his fourth novel, Charles Williams hits his stride. In Hell Hath No Fury, an Average Joe moves to a small town to work at a used car lot, and he ...more
Jul 21, 2008
Feb 11, 2008
The End of the Night
Having recently read Weep for Me (1951), which John D. MacDonald identified as the worst of his early novels, I felt obligated to follow up by reading ...more
May 11, 2011
Apr 21, 2011
A Hell of a Woman
Comment from 2008: In recent months, I seem to have stumbled into the project of reading in publication order the collected works the noirboiled great ...more
not set
Apr 04, 2008
Mop Men: Inside the World of Crime Scene Cleaners
Neal Smither and his business, Crime Scene Cleaners, are great material for a book, but are they enough material? The answer is yes and no. Author Ala ...more
Aug 09, 2010
Aug 10, 2010
A Touch of Death
As with many noir novels, the less you know about the plot going in, the better. So let me describe my reading experience in abstract: This was my fir ...more
Mar 02, 2009
Apr 06, 2008
Nude on Thin Ice
In the opening pages of Nude on Thin Ice, you can hear the plot gears grind before Gil Brewer gets his machine in gear: Our noir anti-hero, Ken McCall ...more
Jul 28, 2013
Apr 02, 2011
Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization
The brilliance of this book lies in its restraint. Baker is not an academic historian, nor is he writing a work of conventional history. Thus, he has ...more
Apr 25, 2008
Apr 19, 2008
Mr. Majestyk
I picked this one up because it appeared on James Lee Burke's pleasantly idiosyncratic list of the all-time best mysteries, which was published recent ...more
Jul 03, 2009
Jul 02, 2009
The Little Sleep (Mark Genevich, #1)
The Little Sleep might as well come with a questionnaire stapled to its cover asking you to compare it to The Big Sleep, so I will oblige the marketin ...more
Apr 21, 2009
Apr 11, 2009
Black Wings Has My Angel
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 wi ...more
Mar 14, 2013
Mar 06, 2013
The Maltese Falcon
Maybe it's sacrilege to be thinking of John D. MacDonald while reading The Maltese Falcon, but that's what I've been doing. In 1981, when asked if he ...more
Nov 06, 2011
Oct 26, 2011
In a Lonely Place
If Mickey Spillane had named one of his heroes "Dix Steele," it would leave me shaking my head and rolling my eyes, but when Dorothy B. Hughes gives t ...more
Feb 28, 2010
Oct 01, 2007
Down There
Why do so many readers rank David Goodis so highly in the pantheon of noir? My theory goes like this: His best books, including Down There, are remark ...more
May 15, 2012
May 11, 2012
Love's Winning Plays: A Novel
Raymond Love, son of a high school football coach, aspires to coach at the college level, and he's got his foot on the lowest possible rung at an SEC ...more
Aug 24, 2012
Aug 21, 2012
Freaky Deaky
Freaky Deaky begins with three major characters who appear at first in pairs of alternating chapters: Chris Mankowski, a Detroit cop who is leaving th ...more
Jan 29, 2010
Jan 24, 2010
Memory of Passion
Contrary to what you may have heard, Gil Brewer had his mojo working well beyond the 1950s. Memory of Passion tells of a husband wife who still have " ...more
Aug 28, 2013
Sep 22, 2011
A Killer Is Loose
Comment on first reading: In Gil Brewer's fifth novel, he moves beyond the dated titillation that dominates much of his earlier work. A noir Everyman, ...more
Jul 10, 2013
Feb 11, 2008
Somebody Owes Me Money (Hard Case Crime #44)
Lightweight, pleasant for a while, tedious in the end--and the author knows it. Near the end of the novel, one of our heroes asks, "Do you know this i ...more
Jun 10, 2009
Jun 05, 2009
The Blackbird (Alan Grofield, #3)
One reason that the Parker novels are superior to the Grofield novels is that, over the long haul, it's more pleasant to spend time with a sullen soci ...more
Sep 25, 2011
Sep 22, 2011
Double Indemnity
As lean as noir comes with pacing so relentless Cain seems to be daring you to notice that his razor-thin characters disappear when viewed from the si ...more
Apr 12, 2015
Jun 17, 2009
Bad News (Dortmunder, #10)
An excellent Dortmunder in which Westlake succumbs to his weakness for low-hanging fruit only when he has to name law firms. (Kleinberg, Rhineberg, St ...more
Feb 09, 2014
Feb 11, 2014
Flashfire (Parker, #19)
After the Great Parker Hiatus, Ronald Starlake restarted the series with a sequence of linked titles: Comeback, Backflash, Flashfire, Firebreak, and B ...more
Feb 03, 2013
Feb 05, 2013
The Three Coffins (Dr. Gideon Fell, #6)
If you like traditional whodunnits, you may well love this book. In my case, The Three Coffins served to remind me why I quit reading traditional whod ...more
Jan 03, 2009
Dec 22, 2008
The Black Ice Score (Parker, #11)
Comments on second reading: I decided to reread The Black Ice Score, a relatively crappy Parker novel, in the wake of having read the first Dortmunder ...more
Feb 17, 2013
Mar 17, 2011
The Girl from Hateville
The Girl from Hateville reads like the outline of a Gil Brewer novel--the outline of a bad Gil Brewer novel. The narrative is so thin that it often fe ...more
Jun 06, 2009
Jun 04, 2009
Dirty Money (Parker, #24)
The final Parker novel, Dirty Money, is good in the ways that all Parker novels are good, but there is nothing otherwise remarkable about it. It picks ...more
Jan 06, 2013
Jan 03, 2013
The Scarlet Professor: Newton Arvin: A Literary Life Shattered by Scandal
Newton Arvin, though a central figure in the early days of American literary studies, is not important enough or interesting enough to warrant a full- ...more
Dec 23, 2011
Dec 13, 2011
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