Amy's Reviews > Crime Novels : American Noir of the 1950s

Crime Novels  by Robert Polito
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Aug 27, 08

Read in August, 2008

8/3 - Book #1: "The Killer Inside Me"- Jim Thompson. This book is told from the perspective of the murderer and I found the main character to share some similarities to the title character in the television series "Dexter." However, instead of working as a forensic expert, this killer works for the local police department. Lou (like Dexter) is a likable character, even when he's doing not so likable things. Short, fun, pulpy, and particularly interesting for the genre.

8/11 - Book #2: "The Talented Mr Ripley"- Patricia Highsmith. I was physically tense while reading this book at times. Tom Ripley can be such a pathetic turd, but one still gets nervous wondering if he will get caught. I can't really say much more without giving things away. An enjoyable, unconventional mystery.

8/16 - Book #3: "Pick-Up"- Charles Willeford. Least compelling of the stories so far. Takes place in San Francisco and follows a failed artist working dead end jobs, and his girlfriend with whom he develops an intense relationship. The most conventional story so far, with the possible twist during the penultimate sentence of the entire story that depends entirely on the reader's conceived vision of the characters.

8/24 - Book #4: "Down There"- David Goodis. This novel was the basis for Truffaut's "Shoot the Piano Player." Eddie has a checkered past and two older brothers that can't stay out of trouble. On top of that, this dumb broad keeps wanting to hang out with him, all though she's only serving to make things harder for Eddie and unsafe for herself. Eddie is more like the protagonist of "Pick-Up" than the lead characters of "Ripley" or "Killer Inside Me", in the way that he's not really a bad guy, and is maybe only guilty of losing it a bit when he fights.

8/27 - Book #5: "The Real Cool Killers"- Chester Himes. A story of cops, teenage gangs, racial tension, and perverts in Harlem. A man referred to as "the Greek" is shot at the beginning, and a young gang member is killed by the police. The rest of the story revolves around the police's search for the murderer...a search that crosses the paths of many characters and caricatures of Harlem.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Nora (new)

Nora Dillonovich OH! The Talented Mr. Ripley... how I love Tom. Be still my heart. Let me know how the others are. We could do a Ripleathon. Together. I know, I know- I am nothing but empty book club promises, filled with rhetoric about conversations and mutual enhancement through readings and chats about booksblahblah. However, I almost always want to read more Ripley. Some afternoons I find I must exert EXTREME willpower to curb the reaching of my arm toward the third book of the Riplead (sp?) tucked away on my bookshelf. Oh, struggles.


message 2: by Elena (new)

Elena This looks like fun. I have never read these two authors. Looking forward to your review, Amy.


message 3: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy It's actually 5 different books all wrapped up in one collection, so the author is not actually Polito (Willeford did write one of the novels), but rather Jim Thompson, Patricia Highsmith, David Goodis, and Chester Himes.


message 4: by Tosh (new)

Tosh i am a mega-David Goodis fan. He was a fascinating guy who liked to be beat up by overweight women. Nevertheless he's the poet of the despaired ones.


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