Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Hardest Hardboiled?

What is the hardest hard-boiled crime novel you have read? Or the noirest noir?
I am going with THE KILLER INSIDE ME. Top that!



31 comments:

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Patti, put it that way, I don't think I have read the "hardest hard-boiled crime novel" yet. Spillane's Mike Hammer novels probably come close. I'll have to check out THE KILLER INSIDE ME.

pattinase (abbott) said...

A tough read, Prashant. I usually avoid this sort of book.

Walker Martin said...

I would have to go with FAST ONE by Paul Cain. The novel has no real hero and everyone is just about doomed from the beginning. Sounds depressing and it is but it also is the fastest and toughest hard-boiled novel. It was a series of 5 novelets in BLACK MASK in the 1930's and has been in print ever since in the novel version.

Anonymous said...

For the sheer sense that no one will be redeemed, Elliott Chaze's Dark Wings Has My Angel is hard to beat. James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice also has that sense of doom from the first line, plus the plot twist (spoiler) that the couple gets away with murder...at first.

Let's not forget Sanctuary, William Faulkner's contribution to the genre. Beneath the literary flourishes, it's a tough story. And then there's James Hadley Chase's No Orchids for Miss Blandish, a Brit's attempt to out-noir the Yanks.

All of 'em about utter doom and, paradoxically, all of 'em fabulous.

Deb

Anonymous said...

Sorry--Chaze's noir is Black Wings Has My Angel. Yikes--brain fade!

Deb

pattinase (abbott) said...

Phil would certainly chose NO ORCHIDS, which scared him to death.
I have been meaning to read Paul Cain. Thanks for the reminder.
Didn't know that about Sanctuary. Need to read more Faulkner.

Anonymous said...

If we're doing Jim Thompson I'd have to go with the incredible (especially the ending) A HELL OF A WOMAN.

Jeff M.

Ed Gorman said...

One is A Lonely Number by Bruce Elliot (available from Stark House Press). I've never encountered a like him. Terrifying.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I've heard the title but never the author's name before.

col2910 said...

I'm mainly over here to pick-up some recommendations.
I recall reading a couple form Herbert Lieberman many years ago that were fairly bleak, is bleak hard-boiled? probably not.
Anyway - City of the Dead by Lieberman

Dana King said...

Hardest boiled: James Ellroy, THE COLD SIX THOUSAND. Hated the book--the writing is ugly--bu you can;t boil a rock any harder.

Noirest noir: DOUBLE INDEMNITY, for the ending, which is not at all like the movie. I sat there with the book in my hand for several minutes when I finished it.

Anonymous said...

I like Lieberman's CITY OF THE DEAD a lot. Pretty bleak.

Jeff M.

George said...

I, The Jury by Mickey Spillane has a classic noir last line.

le0pard13 said...

I'll go with something a little different, the one that really started its own form, but I think qualifies: RED DRAGON by Thomas Harris.

pattinase (abbott) said...

RED DRAGON scared me to death. The TV show HANNIBAL does too. But I can't look away.

Jerry House said...

I'm surprised no one has mentioned Ken Bruen's Jack Taylor series.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I have read most of them. The darkest for me was THE DRAMATIST--and you will probably know why. I am watching them on Netflix streaming right now.

Charles Gramlich said...

Definitely it would be Jim Thompson. The Killer Inside me is probably my choice too.

John said...

Well, late to the party as usual and everyone seems to have picked the darkest of the lot, but I'll offer up two more:

The Vengeful Virgin by Gil Brewer

Grifter's Game (aka Mona) by Lawrence BLock

Both are pretty damn nasty and have horrific endings.

Heath Lowrance said...

I love the question. I'd go with either:
The Name of the Game is Death, by Dan J. Marlowe (which I've already raved about here at your blog)
or
The Black Mass of Brother Springer, by Charles Willeford

pattinase (abbott) said...

Ooh, I have never even heard of that Willeford one. The Marlowe I loved.

Dave Zeltserman said...

Hard to beat Dead City by Shane Stevens for hardest hardboiled and noirest noir. Runners up also in both categories would be Red Harvest by Hammett (Continental Op destroys a corrupt city because he's pissed that someone took a shot at him), The Name of the Game is Death by Dan Marlowe, and Cockfighter by Willeford. My Jim Thompson noir choices would be Savage Night,Hell of a Woman, The Getaway and A Swell-looking Babe. I;ll throw Double Indemnity in also. And for pure hardboiled, I, The Jury.

Graham Powell said...

My hardboildest novel is INTERFACE by Joe Gores. A really brilliant novel. Not a techno-thriller, despite how computers have taken over the title.

Anders E said...

I have to add DEVIL IN DUNGAREES by Albert Conroy and DRAWN TO EVIL by Harry Whittington to the hardboiled list. None of them easy to find, I guess. And Albert Simonin's TOUCHEZ PAS AU GRISBI is a French attempt to out-tough the American originals.

For Noir, most titles by Charles Williams but especially HELL HATH NO FURY (filmed as THE HOT SPOT).

pattinase (abbott) said...

Only the Williams' is familiar.

Anders E said...

At least GRISBI was turned into a movie of the same title, starring Jean Gabin. It's probably easier to find than the novel.

Todd Mason said...

Since the novels have been given a good going-over, I'll suggest two short fictions that I suspect won't be raised in this discussion but should be:

"The Animal Fair" by Robert Bloch (first question)
"The Night They Missed the Horror Show" by Joe R. Lansdale (second question)

Todd Mason said...

And, of course, Joe Gores taps back in with "Goodbye, Pops," "Watch For It," and to some extent "The Second Coming."

Theodore Sturgeon, though this is horror by any measure, "A Way of Thinking."

Richard Matheson, "The Distributor."

Keishon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Keishon said...

Sorry, I thought I had misunderstood something. I would add I WAS DORA SUAREZ by Derek Raymond. That was pretty dark and the Jim Thompson you mentioned is not bad either except I prefer Pop. 1280.

pattinase (abbott) said...

There is apparently an excellent essay in the NYRB by Joyce Carol Oates on Derek Raymong. I have the first book in the series but haven't yet read it. Thanks!