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The Murderer Vine
Shepard Rifkin
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The Murderer Vine

3.7  ·  Rating details ·  194 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
In this fictional version of the infamous 1964 killing of three young civil rights workers, the wealthy father of one of the victims offers a New York detective one hundred thousand dollars to execute each of the five suspected killers, including the local sheriff.
278 pages
Published April 12th 1973 by Hale (first published 1970)
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Dan Schwent
Three college students travel to Mississippi to work for civil rights and don't come back, and it's up to New York private eye Joe Dunne and his assistant to find out what happened to them. And he gets a hundred thousand apiece for killing their murderers...

The Murderer Vine is a fairly good crime tale. You've got deception, murder, some sexual tension, and a shit storm of bullets at the end. The tension between himself and Kirby, who's posing as his wife, is what keeps the story going. It would
Southern fried revenge. I felt like eating a pan of corn bread while reading it.

Published in 1970 and set a few years earlier, this reprint features Joe Dunne as a low-rent New York private detective who isn’t above taking the occasional strong-arm job like beating up a heroin dealer to stop him from selling near a school.

Three civil rights workers disappeared while on a voter registration drive in Mississippi. (Obviously this was inspired by actual events.) One of the missing kids had a wealt
May 16, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The Murderer Vine, is part of the Hard Case crime series, devoted to reissuing minor but deserving works of hard boiled detective fiction, or new works written in a classic hard boiled style. Originally published in 1970, this is a a VERY minor work that must have made the cut largely because of the novelty of its setting--the segregated South in the 1960's. The story involves a detective hired to go undercover in Mississippi to kill the murderers of three civil rights workers (obviously modeled ...more
Fran Pereira
O pai de um estudante assassinado com dois amigos no Mississipi contrata um detetive para desvendar o crime. Razoável, mas não é dos mais empolgantes.
Out of the 20 or so Hard Case novels I've read, THE MURDERER VINE is my favorite. Don't be put off by the mixed reviews--everything about this novel is top notch. If I were a college professor teaching a class in mystery lit., this one would be on my syllabus.
In terms of genre, THE MURDERER VINE is a perfect blend of novelty and cliche. The world-weary gumshoe and his smart, blonde bombshell secretary are exactly the sort of team-up you'd expect from a noir-ish detective story, but the Southern-
May 23, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noirboiled
Mississippi Burning crossed with a detective novel crossed with a revenge novel crossed with stupidity. North meets South done with a nuance that makes My Cousin Vinny look like Proust. Dumbest of the dumb (spoiler follows!): Our New York private investigator has been hired to infiltrate Mississippi, to get proof that five rednecks have murdered three civil rights workers, and then to execute the rednecks. Our genius p.i. floats on top of an inflatable mattress beneath the swamp-side clubhouse o ...more
This book surprised me. Its view of the twisted and complicated nature of racism, of the distorting effect racial hatred has had on the culture of the American South, and of the long trail of injustice and suffering it leaves behind is nuanced and fascinating. (I wish its views of gender were a fraction as nuanced, but maybe that's a bit much to ask of a book published in 1970) Its plot barrels along at a good clip, and its prose is clean and readable. A lost gem, and I'm glad Hard Case Crime ha ...more
Taut little noir thriller which exploits just about every Southern cliche on the way to getting where it's going. (Accents... check. Chitlins... check. Hint of voodoo... check.) The framing makes it a little predictable, but no less fun, and Rifkin has a soupcon of Chandler's poetry in his soul.
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Murderer Vine is an absolutely terrific book and an enjoyable read at that. The cover features top-notch artwork by Ken Laager of a compelling blonde in high heels and a bed sheet with her feet wrapped in a vine. Although this precise scene is not in the book, it gives some of the atmosphere of the book and the woman is obviously none other than Kirby. In a brief foreword to the book, Rifkin explains that that, in the Amazon, a vine grows that climbs higher every year and has tentacles that ...more
Craig Childs
I finished The Murderer Vine about a week ago. I did not like it at the time, but my feelings toward it have improved a little. Like many vintage pulp crime novels, this one reflects the prevailing attitudes and prejudices of its time. These were glaring, but if you can get past them, the author deserves some credit for crafting two compelling characters and a decent plot.

Set in 1970 and loosely inspired by the real life case of Civil Rights workers murdered in the Deep South (the event that als
Apr 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As the first novel I've ever read by Shepard Rifkin, I found the The Murderer Vine to be a very compelling read. It's the 43rd installment in the Hard Case Crime series of crime fiction books and it did not disappoint.

Written and set in 1970, the novel takes place mostly in a small Mississippi town as a New York private detective, Joe Dunne, covertly tracks down the murderers of three civil rights workers (specifically, three college students that were crisscrossing the area trying to register
From the first few pages, the novel’s dark atmosphere works as a strong hook, drawing you in through the pain-filled narrative of Joe Dunne, a narrative he relates to a passing American missionary who’s stumbled into the Mexican seaside village Dunne has “retired” to. The atmosphere is enhanced not only by Dunne drowning his sorrows on the lam, however; it starts with the back cover blurb about the plot.

Three young college students go missing in Mississippi while working on voter registration, a
Normally Hard Case Crime novels are a welcome diversion into a world of noir, this was a rare disappointment. A PI is hired to enact vengeance on a group of Southerners who have gotten away with murdering three students that were working for Civil Rights. Rather than being enjoyable, the abundant racism, ignorance, and hatred that is obviously vital to the plot is difficult to read. The first half of the book deals with background and only then delves into the PIs actual journey south to infiltr ...more
Oct 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pulp-fiction
"In those private-eye novels i had been reading for the last three days, i knew what the hero would do. He would go home, he would get a gun. Or if he couldn't go home, he would get one somewhere. He would bust in & have himself a shoot-out. He would kill them with a few well-placed shots. He would suffer a bullet in the shoulder which would miss the bone. Then there would follow an interview with an angry assistant D.A. The D.A. would warn him to watch his step in the future or he would lo ...more
Jun 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
another novel with narrative drive to spare from Hard Case Crime, this one set in the 60s and featuring killers of civil rights workers as the very fully realized heavies. I didn't like it quite as much as my man Eddie Muller, but it's very good.

Eddie wrote in the SF Chron:
Written in 1970, the book is a raucously amusing - and ultimately stunning - detective-story version of the 1964 Mississippi murders of civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner. If only the 1988
Jan 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fairly good entry into the Hardcase series, this novel has enjoyable characters and a dark but simple plot involving the Civil Rights movement in the South, and revenge. The main character is sensible, never over the top, which makes him a dry, intriguing character even as he's chasing after a large amount of money, and eventually being disappointed in all of his hopes.
His assistant is quick, witty, and fun to read about. Her reactions are, at the same time, very real for her position in the n
Jan 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recommended
One of the better pulp crime books that I have read lately. The narration is a bit unique, the main character is addressing his father. While this device is thrown out during the main part of the story and only used as a framing device, it is a good hook. Also, since it was written in 1970, it's a bit less bogged down by convention. The author is not afraid to add sex and some graphic violence to the story. It does jump to the extreme convention that all Southern politicians are racist and the p ...more
Peter Martin
The atmosphere is laid on thick in this book, which is structured as an extended flashback. That's always seemed like a bit of a cheap trick -- if I wanted to know the end of the story before the beginning, I'd just read the last few pages first -- but I enjoyed the characters and the way the story played out, anyway.

Again, I'm not terribly in love with Southern speech patterns being reproduced on the page, but it worked for the most part. In fact, that's how the book as a whole functions: desp
May 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
The first HCC I've read that I wished was longer. Murderer Vine has a great premise--riffing off of the Schwerner, Chaney, Goodman murders in the 1960s, the father of a civil rights workers hires a detective to go down to Mississippi and kill the Klansmen who murdered his son. Rifkin provides some good atmosphere as his detective navigates his way in the Deep South, but the plot's resolution struck me as rushed and ordinary compared with the setup. Often the case with pulp, but as I said the pre ...more
Nov 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this was really entertaining. I kind of wish that the story hadn't been written as a flashback, because that would've meant there would be more surprising the ending. As it is, you kind of know what happened before the story even begins, although you don't know the details. I found the two main characters to be very likable and the villains to be very evil and easy to hate. I thought this was one of the better hard case crime books I've read so far.
May 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Smart, well written, dealing with a despicable and dark subject in a pulpy, hard-boiled way. Brave and unusual, especially when considering it was written back in 1970.

More here (review includes spoilers!):
Hard Case Crime #43.
Just arrived when I got home from the ATL this a.m. Finally, an HCC set in the South! Kinda proto-Mississippi Burning. So far, so fun.
Vikas Datta
Apr 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Absorbing till the end... you know something has gone wrong somewhere but never know what till the shocking end...
Kiran S
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Mar 27, 2017
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Nov 14, 2014
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Nov 15, 2012
Jake Duffie
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Oct 18, 2016
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Jul 16, 2012
Michael Pozzi
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Apr 11, 2014
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