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The Twenty-Year Death (The Twenty-Year Death #1-3)

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  625 Ratings  ·  131 Reviews
A breathtaking first novel written in the form of three separate crime novels, each set in a different decade and penned in the style of a different giant of the mystery genre.
The body found in the gutter in France led the police inspector to the dead man’s beautiful daughter—and to her hot-tempered American
Hardcover, 670 pages
Published August 7th 2012 by Hard Case Crime (first published January 1st 2012)
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Dan Schwent
Feb 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shem Rosenkrantz and his French wife Clothilde's lives turn toxic over the course of two decades.

I owned this gerbil masher since it came out but couldn't bring myself to read it until the kindle edition went on sale for ninety nine cents.

The Twenty Year Death is three interlinked novellas, each written in the voice of a past master. Malniveau Prison is written in the style of Georges Simenon. The Falling Star is written in the style of Raymond Chandler. Police at the Funeral is written in the
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-said, paperwhite
Hands up!  When it comes to hard boiled or pulp fiction as I tend to call it I am most assuredly not well read.  I have read a few sure, but not enough to weigh in as well informed.

That said:

The Twenty Year Death is comprised of three interlinked stories each of which is told through the voice of a past master of the genre.

Malvineau Prison:  1931 France.  When a dead man is found in a gutter, the investigation leads the authorities to Malvineau Prison and a series of unexplained disappearances.
Dec 10, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-as-night
Reads like a literature student who thought it would be easy to write a genre novel after reading a few works by great authors with readily identifiable styles, only Winter fails in this instance because he fails to understand what makes those authors so great - hint it's not the surface style. The Simenon pastiche is full of anachronistic Americanisms and Winter goes to great lengths to explain his fake Maigret's thought processes - something that Simenon never would have considered. The Chandl ...more
Oct 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
I’m torn between being enthusiastic and ever so slightly churlish over this one. We have three novelettes welded together by character and theme. The first one is a French set mystery very much in the mould of Georges Simenon; the second is your Raymond Chandler Hollywood mystery; while the third is the Jim Thompson special of a man facing desperation and brutality in a small city in the middle of nowhere. The first and third are excellent tales, which really understand their source material and ...more
Feb 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Composed of 3 short, connected crime novels, with a writer and his wife appearing in each of them. A bit of a gimmicky concept, but not bad.

Malvineau Prison: Set in 1931 France, written in the style of Georges Simenon. Interesting characters and setting. 3 stars.

The Falling Star: Set in 1941 Hollywood, written in the style of Raymond Chandler. I thought the writing wasn't as strong, especially the characters. 2 and 1/2 stars.

Police at the Funeral: Set in 1951 Maryland, written in the style of Ji
Eddie Dobiecki
Apr 22, 2013 rated it liked it
In general, I love the Hard Case Crime books (Except for Stephen King's "I shouldn't have to write an ending" addition, but I can hardly blame them for publishing it).

But this ambitious book, while encompassing a great deal of the types of fiction they publish, is a technically interesting work that falls flat in the telling.

This is going to be a bit of a long review, so hold on to your hats, folks. In my defense, this is three novels bundled as one.

Let’s start off with some basics in case th
Jan 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
THE TWENTY YEAR DEATH comprises three novels, the first of which, 'Malniveau Prison' is a police procedural with a hint of the hardboiled. The second, 'Falling Star' is a formulaic, by-the-numbers hardboiled PI set amongst the glitz and glamour of the movie biz tainted with blood and lies. Rounding out the trio is 'Police A At Funeral' - an ode to noir which highlights the struggle of a fractured man with everything to gain and nothing to loose. The concept is refreshing and the execution exempl ...more
Jul 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Ever since THE TWENTY YEAR DEATH was announced, I've eagerly awaited a chance to read it. The idea of a crime novel(actually three crime novels) spanning twenty years and written in the style of a novelist prominent during the period of that novel struck me as a unique idea. The overall story is of an author in which tragedy strikes all those around him.

MALNIVEAU PRISON has a French inspector come to a small town in 1931, one with a prison, to visit a criminal he put away years ago and gets caug
Robert Carraher
Nov 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I’ve read trilogies that had five books (Douglas Adams) but I’ve never heard of a debut novel that was, in fact, three complete novels. To be fair, Ariel Winter did – well write isn’t completely correct – publish a picture book. For children. And he has written short stories. For Elle, The Urbanite and McSweeney’s.

Hardly the background you’d expect for a crime novelist, though in his former life as a book seller, he no doubt read some crime fiction. But to decide to write your debut novel, that
Feb 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Let me start off by saying that if you haven’t heard of Hard Case Crime by now, you need to be shot. Well, maybe not shot. That might be a tad harsh. Maimed, then? Bludgeoned about the head and shoulders? Slapped with a catfish? Yeah, that’s about right. When I’m king of the world, all justice will be dispensed via catfish, so we’ll go with that one.

Hard Case Crime is a line of books, formerly of Random House, now of Titan Books, that specializes in reprints of classic crime novels, new novels b
Oct 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a big, ambitious and very good book. It comprises three crime novels, the first set in 1931, the second in 1941 and the third in 1951. The three are written in the style of, respectively, Georges Simenon, Raymond Chandler and Jim Thompson. They're linked by the character of alcoholic writer Shem Rosenkrantz, who's almost peripheral in the first novel, moves closer to the focus of the second, and is the protagonist and first-person narrator of the third.

The first novel is set in a small F
Monique Snyman
In the first segment of The Twenty Year Death by Ariel S. Winter, called “Malniveau Prison” starts off with the discovery of a corpse that’s found in a gutter in France in 1931. The Chief Inspector, Pelleter is led to Clotilde-ma-Fleur Rosencrantz – the dead man’s daughter - and her hot-tempered American husband, who is a successful writer. The second segment of the novel, ”Falling Star” plays off in Los Angeles, 1941. Los Angeles private investigator, Dennis Foster is hired to keep an eye on th ...more
Jun 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, mystery-thriller
The first book opens up with a scene of pouring with rain and a baker screaming murder as he finds a John doe lying sprawled out dead in the street. There are more troubles on the streets and behind the bars that pop up and show their face. Suspicion falls upon those behind bars, inmates and staff.
This story was a good read and I was enjoying the pursuit of truth.
The first book was all around a good noir crime thriller.
The second and third book just did not grab my attention is the right wordin
Milo (BOK)
Original Post:

“An original, if flawed, entertaining peice of noir fiction with a fantastic premise.“ ~The Founding Fields

I haven’t read a noir crime novel before, and this is probably my most under-read genre, apart from paranormal romance (But there’s a reason for that), and if it wasn’t for the wonderful opportunity from Titan Books to read this novel, I probably would have continued without reading any noir crime novels. However, that opportunity came
Victor Gentile
Jul 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Ariel S. Winter in his new book, “The Twenty-Year Death” published by Titan Books gives us a mystery that takes twenty years and three detectives to figure out.

From the back cover: THERE’S NEVER BEEN A BOOK LIKE

A breathtaking first novel written in the form of three separate crime novels, each set in a different decade and penned in the style of a different giant of the mystery genre.

1931—The body found in the gutter in France led the police inspector to the dead man’s beaut
Shellie (Layers of Thought)
Jul 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: crime fiction readers
Recommended to Shellie (Layers of Thought) by: Titan Books
Original review by John posted at Layers of Thought.

A unique three-in-one pulp fiction crime saga.

About: This is three separate murder mystery stories in one book - each story set ten years apart; each featuring the same two characters, which binds the stories together; with each story written in a different style, mimicking three classic crime writers (Georges Simenon, Raymond Chandler and Jim Thompson).

Clotilde Rosenkratz seemed to be destined for success and for a time was on the verge of bec
the gift
this is a later addition: reading a review which highlights the gender politics, the misogyny, inherent in a chandler novel, i have to consider this critical perspective, which is not one i adopt without pause. is the 'hard boiled', the 'detective noir', the crime novels of midcentury America, flawed in any way more than other artworks of the time? i have read some of the more contemporary crime novelists, such as Andrew Vachss, which suggests this style is not necessarily predicated on rather v ...more
Rick Urban
Jul 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
A trio of stand-alone crime/noir novels that actually form a complete story when read together, The Twenty-Year Death is a homage to the novels of George Simenon, Raymond Chandler and Jim Thompson. In fact, each novel is written in the style of these authors, and while I haven't read anything by them, I'm aware of their stylistic niches, and the stories definitely seem to be faithful to them. The Inspector Maigret-type opener, Malniveau Prison, was the least resonant to me, as it takes place in ...more
Jul 22, 2012 rated it liked it
Novel received courtesy of giveaway

I've never read a mystery novel like this! The novel is split into three separate sections, each taking place 10 years apart. Each section was written as a copy of a famous crime writer's style. Although I'm unfamiliar with the crime writers that Mr. Winter is echoing, I enjoyed the premise and styles of the novel. The character, Shem Rosencrantz, is introduced in the first section of the novel and by the end, he becomes the main character. His wi
Benoit Lelièvre
May 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
THE TWENTY-YEAR DEATH is definitely a peculiar cat. It's been written and more or less sold as a literary tribute to George Simenon, Raymond Chandler and Jim Thompson, but for all I know (having read two out of the three), there is a lot of Ariel S. Winter original content in this novel. He might mimick the style of three iconic hardboiled authors, but he has the mastery of his own tone which is noticeably dark compared to Chandler and even Thompson.

Some aspects of THE TWENTY-YEAR DEATH were rou
Aug 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
Stab, stab, beat to death. This is not three separate novels, as billed. Neither is it "a tour de force." One character, oh wait two, appear in all three stories. They are not interesting or likable. I suppose I enjoyed the first installment most. I thought those unanswered questions would be explained later, but the unanswered question gap only grew and grew until the stink ending. Maybe I'm being overly harsh because I just read and loved Elmore Leonard's hilarious and well plotted Up In Honey ...more
Sep 03, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime
Yes, a clever premise: a three novella pastiche of three different writers famous in their decade, Georges Simenon, Raymond Chandler, and Jim Thompson. To be honest, I skimmed the last one, but then I find Jim Thompson too dark too. The imitation was well done, except for a few out-of-period clunkers (automatic coffee makers in the 1940s?), but why read an imitation? Yes, why did I read it? Gulled by good reviews. I've read all three in the original and I recommend you stick to the real thing.
Jun 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Simenon: Excellent. Chandler: Very good. Thompson: Not quite as misanthropic as the original, but then, who is?
Jul 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-souffle
Disclosure: I was sent a free copy of this book by winning it from a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. My opinions about the book are my own.

First of all, I want to mention that I really like the design of the book and its resemblance to an authentic 1950's pulp mystery novel. Everything from the cover, to the choice of fonts, to the publishing logo on the inner pages brought back nostalgia of the many mystery novels I consumed back when I was a teenager, and I enjoyed reliving the experience.

I wa
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Twenty-Year Death is Ariel S. Winter's first crime fiction publication. It is, in effect, three separate books linked by a common character. The three separate books (Malniveau Prison, The Falling Star, and Police at the Funeral) are, in some sense, pastiches or mimics of the styles of famous crime authors of different time periods in the twentieth century: Malniveau Prison is in the style of Georges Simenon. The Falling Star is in the style of Raymond Chandler and Police at the Funeral is in th ...more
Jun 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime, mystery
This book by Ariel S. Winter is actually three novels, each written with the voice of a noted writer of the decade in which each story is set, combined to form a first book. Containing three full-length novels, it is a large book, and it does take time to read through them all; just how much time it takes for you, individually, might depend on how well you like the authors channeled. Me, personally, I thought I would never get through the first novel, “Malniveau Prison,” which is set in 1931 and ...more
May 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was three books in one. I really liked best the first story. It took place in a small French village in 1931 and it had the feel of a small town mystery. I also enjoyed the second tome, which took place in a mythical Los Angeles known as San Angelo, in 1941. This was a classic hard-boiled detective story and I found the first person narrator compelling and interesting.

The third segment I felt was the weakest. It took place in 1951 n the East Coast and it was also a first person narrative, b
Jun 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime-thrillers
This book was alright, but there was a lot to be desired. There were some very exciting moments, but most of Winter's writing never felt authentic enough, and there were many times where I questioned his insight to many of the issues and situations he wrote about. The characters were fun, but they always felt rushed, like there could've been more to them. Speaking of rushed, what is with the ending to the third story?! A very disappointing note to end on after nearly 700 pages of reading.
Jun 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Three novels in the style of three masters of crime fiction. The third was, perhaps, slightly less flashy with the prose than I remember Jim Thompson being, but it certainly had the seediness down cold. A remarkable achievement.
Feb 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I just love his prose. So entertaining, even if the last tale is so bleak that some of the fun drains away. Definitely worth the investment.
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Ariel S. Winter was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Shamus Award, and the Macavity Award for his novel The Twenty-Year Death. He is also the author of the children’s picture book One of a Kind, illustrated by David Hitch, and the blog We Too Were Children, Mr. Barrie. He lives in Baltimore.
More about Ariel S. Winter

Other books in the series

The Twenty-Year Death (3 books)
  • Malniveau Prison (The Twenty-Year Death Trilogy Book 1)
  • The Falling Star (The Twenty Year Death trilogy book 2)
  • Police at the Funeral (The Twenty-Year Death trilogy book 3)

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