Hard Case Crime discussion

21 views
Grifter's Game (Hard Case Crime #1)

Comments Showing 1-11 of 11 (11 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Gregory (new)

Gregory (gregamused) | 20 comments I wanted to like this one a little more than I did (gave it 3 stars). Maybe it was the drawn out ending. The whole heroin addiction sequence was bizarre and then it ends with the suggestion of his own coming addiction. Maybe I didn't buy that he would have done it given his previous actions but I've not been around heavy drug use and can't imagine the appeal. Joe Marlin didn't seem the addictive type or was I missing something.


message 2: by Thomas (last edited Aug 27, 2009 09:26AM) (new)

Thomas (thomasroche) | 5 comments Greg, re: the Grifter's Game heroin addition sequence, it's not at all realistic. It's actually kind of hilarious if viewed in the context of real drug use. It is about as reflective of modern heroin use as the off-duty cop "drug educators" who used to come to my Catholic grammar school and scream at us hysterically that we were lucky we went to Catholic school because at public grammar schools there were people who would grab us, drag us into the bathrooms and make us smoke pot so they could get us "hooked."

However, that's not what sticks with me about the book any more than the actual differences between orangutans and humans is what sticks with me about Murders in the Rue Morgue. I have to look at it from a historical perspective. It's kind of a snapshot of the American fears at that time, and the perception of heroin that could lend to forced addiction's use as a critical story device in a novel like this. Dope was a bugaboo of the middle class and particularly of readers of "cheap" paperbacks, and in that context I find the way it's used in the book to be disturbing because of what it represents about the change of the viewpoint character. I see it as metaphorical. I'm not sure for what, maybe "the worst thing ever." Maybe in my reading heroin addiction is serving as a metaphorical stand-in for murder/suicide here, I'm not sure.

That is not at all how Block intended it at the time, I'm sure, he was just writing a crime novel.

Your criticism is absolutely valid. I always think of things as a historian, and to me I think this is one of those crime novels that provides a chilling snapshot of the fears and longings of its time -- precisely because of that heroin addiction sequence and that at that point it essentially devolves into nightmare. I find it utterly disturbing.

But no, it's not at all realistic.

I have to concede the point that even apart from those realism issues, the ending was a bit drawn out -- I remember thinking it took too long to get where we were going.

Grifter's Game is one of my favorite crime novels of all time despite all that. I just love it, and the ending, outlandish or no, just totally creeps me out.


message 3: by Jim (new)

Jim | 13 comments anyone ever see SHOCK THERAPY with Lauren Bacall, James Whitmore, Roddy Mc Dowell?

has a great sequence of what induced catatonia looks like from the perspective of the person experiencing it

I was wondering if anyone that has seen it knows whether depiction of what catatonia feels like was realistic


message 4: by Adam (new)

Adam | 43 comments I agree with Thomas's take on the novel.

The ending of Grifter's Game reminded me of the way Jim Thompson ended a lot of his books. I think it was Donald E. Westlake who said that all of Thompson's books end the same way, "everybody goes to hell." Thompson's endings were often unrealistic (e.g., The Getaway), but they often worked on some deeper, nightmarish level (again, see The Getaway). These types of endings are bound to disappoint some readers, but they really toilet-snake the souls of some other readers.


message 5: by Dan (new)

Dan Schwent (akagunslinger) | 125 comments Adam wrote: "I agree with Thomas's take on the novel.

The ending of Grifter's Game reminded me of the way Jim Thompson ended a lot of his books. I think it was Donald E. Westlake who said that all of Thompson'..."



I'm stealing the phrase "toilet-snake the souls" for future use.



message 6: by Mohammed (last edited Aug 28, 2009 04:54PM) (new)

Mohammed  (mohammedaosman) | 142 comments Adam wrote: "I agree with Thomas's take on the novel.

The ending of Grifter's Game reminded me of the way Jim Thompson ended a lot of his books. I think it was Donald E. Westlake who said that all of Thompson'..."


Adam wrote: "I agree with Thomas's take on the novel.

The ending of Grifter's Game reminded me of the way Jim Thompson ended a lot of his books. I think it was Donald E. Westlake who said that all of Thompson'..."


I dont care about how Thompson books end i find the trip to the ends so rewarding. They are often deep stories about the kind of freaks,criminals you find in his stories.

That makes him one my fav writers in Noir,in crime genere overall. Few writers i rate as highly.
Although i havent read too many of his books yet. This one isnt near the top of the list. He did several others that interest me more.

Westlake is my nr.1 though. Where did you read Westlake qoute about him ? I havent read much of what he says outside his books other than what he said about Hammett,The Thin Man thats often mentioned.



message 7: by Thomas (new)

Thomas (thomasroche) | 5 comments "Toilet Snake the Soul," that is an amazing phrase.


message 8: by Adam (new)

Adam | 43 comments I agree with Mohammed about Thompson's books. No matter what kind of strange territory they enter, the characters and situations are so memorable. His best books are "true" in a way not many books are. My favorites are The Grifters, After Dark My Sweet, and Savage Night.

I don't remember exactly where I read the interview with Westlake in which he discussed Thompson's novels, but I'm pretty sure the context was that he was talking about adapting The Grifters as a screenplay. It's a pretty good movie. His screenplay for The Stepfather is pretty good, too.


message 9: by Mohammed (new)

Mohammed  (mohammedaosman) | 142 comments My fav so far are The Killer Inside Me.

I plan to watch those Thompson movies since Westlake is special to me. I just have to read the books first. I cant have the movies being my first version of those stories.


message 10: by Adam (new)

Adam | 43 comments Sorry, I implied that The Stepfather was based on a Thompson novel. It's not. It's just a good movie for which Westlake wrote the screenplay. It's based on a story by Carolyn Lefcourt and Brian Garfield (the guy who wrote the novel "Death Wish").


message 11: by Mohammed (new)

Mohammed  (mohammedaosman) | 142 comments I understood that since i know they have made only two films by Thompson books. Grifters,Getaway.

My bad i meant i want to see The Stephfather because its Westlake script and not because its Thompson/Westlake like Grifters.

Death Wish is a book ? Hollywood do really never come up with their own story.


back to top