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The Hot Spot

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  901 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
A dark, brooding masterpiece of guilt, greed, and lust in a town ripe for felony.

Madox wasn't all bad.  He was just half-bad.  But trap a man like Madox in a dead-end job in a stultifying small town, introduce him to a femme fatale like the Harshaw woman, and give him a shot at a fast fifteen thousand dollars--in a bank just begging to be knocked over--and his better natur
Paperback, 190 pages
Published October 10th 1990 by Vintage (first published 1953)
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Dan Schwent
Apr 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
Madox is new to town when he hatches a scheme to rob the bank. At the same time, he's having an affair with his boss's wife and has the hots for the loan officer at the used car lot where he works. The robbery goes as smoothly as it can but Madox's life goes spiraling out of control in a web of sex, murder, and blackmail.

I'm going to have to track down more Charles Williams books. The writing was slick and the book had so many "Oh shit!" plot twists that I lost count. While Mrs. Harshaw was pure
What was my batting average so far for staying out of trouble when it was baited with that much tramp? It was an even zero, and I didn't see anything in the situation here that promised I'd improve very much.
All I can do is chuckle whenever I read about people being in such an uproar recently about the ending of the book and movie Gone Girl. I keep thinking that obviously they've never really read true classic noir fiction. Because if they had, then they'd know that an ending like that is tr
May 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
I prefer the original title "Hell Hath No Fury" , but "The Hot Spot" works too. Mother Nature conspired to put me in the mood for this, by bringing 42 Celsius in the shade (108 F) heat wave upon my humble town. I really feel the pain of Harry Madox, trapped in a stifling motel room, drenched in sweat and contemplating his bleak future in a dead end job. Standing there looking around at the evidence of boredom was like watching a burning fuse. He's only 30 years old, but his voice in the
I’d forgotten just how subversive this 1953 Williams noir was. Unlike some of his other blackmail driven plots - The Big Bite and A Touch of Death - which both feature an everyman protagonist narrator driven to crime by hard luck and the lure of a sexy woman, Harry Madox is a criminal from the get go. In this novel Charles Williams and Jim Thompson are simpatico. The other writer I kept thinking about when casting for comparisons, however, is Cornell Woolrich, because for much of the novel we ha ...more
Joe Valdez
Jun 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-crime
Published as Hell Hath No Fury by Gold Medal in 1953 and as The Hot Spot for its trade paperback release by Vintage Crime in 1981, this was my introduction to the pulp fiction of Texas author Charles Williams, a 10th grade dropout from San Angelo who joined the U.S. Merchant Marine at the age of 20. Williams began publishing while earning a living as an electronics inspector and this, his fourth novel, is suspense wired at an precision level and kept me tuned through the end.

The tale is narrated
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 happens to notice how easy it would be to rob the local bank. Women and noir ensue. This is a classic novel of its type, in which a sympathetic protagonist does rather unsympathetic things, but we root for him all the same as events spiral out of his control. In order to enjoy books of this sort, readers must grant writers a bit of latitude in the ...more
Gerard Cappa
Dec 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Classic 50's pulp fiction. Harry Madox is a drifter, and drifts right into a maelstrom of opportunity and temptation; a bank begging to be robbed, a beautiful young girl with troubles, his boss' bored wife who is trouble.

"I was still sweltering when I went back to the room. I couldn't sleep. In the next room an old man was reading aloud to his wife from the Bible, laboring slowly through the Book of Genesis, a begat at a time, and pronouncing it with the accent on the first syllable. I lay there
Nov 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
I read this some time ago, and for some reason I thought this was a book by Charles Wileford (?). Anyway, this author did a wonderful job of concentrating on just what you needed for the story and no more. The setting, with its one-horse town and the one family in town with some money, will stick with you. The bored wife who could chop your nuts off if you do the wrong thing seemed like a real person in an era of bullshit femme fatales. The writing reminded me of Highsmith with a little Jim Thom ...more
Otto Penzler
Aug 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Hot Spot is a novel with the perfect mixture of greed, guilt, lust, revenge, and violence that exemplifies 50's noir. Harry Modox, a drifter, wanders into town one day and finds a job at a used car lot. Soon, he’s talked into robbing a bank and, before he knows it, he’s tangled up in murder, an affair with his boss’ wife, and a beautiful girl not entirely what she seems. Small town America is intimately felt, William’s characters are colorful and sleazy, and the plot is fast-paced and exitin ...more
Jun 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: sex fiends
Shelves: pulp-fiction
Pretty inspired sleaze from the unheralded king of erotic noir, Charles Williams. If you haven't seen the steamy Dennis Hopper movie starring Don Johnson, then check out the novel about the used car dealer who knocks off a bank while knocking around the local Madonna and the local whore, all within the same 190 pages. The pages will make your fingers burn and so will your pants!
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Charles Williams (1909–1975) was one of the preeminent authors of American crime fiction. Born in Texas, he dropped out of high school to enlist in the US Merchant Marine, serving for ten years before leaving to work in the electronics industry. At the end of World War II, Williams began writing fiction while living in San Francisco. The success of his backwoods noir Hill Girl (1951) allowed him t ...more
More about Charles Williams...
“I got both hands on her throat and there was nothing inside me but the black madness of that desire to kill her, to close my hands until she turned purple and lay still and there’d be an end to her forever. Let them send me to the chair. Let ’em burn me. All they could do was kill me.” 4 likes
“And that was when it really came home to me what I was about to do. I was going to rob a bank, committing the additional crime of arson in the process, and if I got caught I'd go to prison.
Well, I thought, go on selling second-hand jalopies for another forty years and maybe somebody'll give you a testimonial and a forty-dollar watch.”
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