Friday, August 07, 2015

Friday's Forgotten Books, August 7, 2015

NOTE: COMPUTER CRASHED THIS MORNING AND I LOST A FEW POSTS. If you are not up here and should be, let me know. Seems to be all ones I put up last night. Strange.


Forgotten Books--The Long Saturday Night by Charles Williams 

Reviewed by Ed Gorman whose latest book in the Dev Conrad series is ELIMINATION.

Over what was essentially a quarter century career Charles Williams worked in various sub-genres of the suspense field. He came to prominence writing the small-town Southern crime novel and I always had the feeling that that was his favorite form. But he did adventure novels, sea novels, comic novels and his version of caper novels as well.

The Long Saturday Night rarely gets mentioned when the discussion turns to Williams and I've never understood why. This is a sleek and fevered man on the run novel that also incorporates another Williams acidic take on small town society.

John Warren is typical of the Williams Man. He is angry, even sullen much of the time because of a wandering wife he loves far too much. Also like the typical Williams protagonist he laments the past. He was a college football player whose career was stopped by an accident. He's atypical Williams in that he is a successful businessman, not a car salesman bored with life and up for anything if the sex is good.

Warren is a hunter. As the book opens he is returning to his office from an early morning session in a duck blind. A useless session. Though he heard two shots coming from another blind, he just assumed somebody had had better luck than his own. Turns out though that the shots were cover for a murder--and the dead man was a guy who would soon be identified as a man who rented office space from Warren--and who also had an affair with Warren's wife.

Couple problems here. Warren is an outsider and people don't like outsiders so when the sheriff and especially his deputy start questioning Warren it's clear that he's in a lot of trouble. And when his wife finally wanders home he's even in more trouble.

This could almost be considered a companion novel to another Williams Gold Medal, that one called, conveniently enough, Man on The Run. What sets them apart from the usual chase novel is the intelligence of the narrator. He doesn't just run, he fights back. In this case he hires a private detective of note to help him find the real killer. And he keeps company with one of those bruised tentative women Williams likes so much--in this case his thirtyish secretary who is smart and decent without being treacly. Finding a sentimental note in Williams is tough unless it's buried in a revery about a woman who has betrayed him.

Truffaut filmed this. I saw it a few years ago and didn't like it. Maybe it was my mood. There's a sadness at the heart of the best Williams novels and Truffaut, at least for me, didn't get to it. He relied more on the cleverness of the story than the disappointing lives led by Warren and the secretary he comes to love.

This is a short book, a one sitting read, two at most, and an intense, brooding folk tale (as John D. MacDonald described the kind of book he and Williams wrote) that will stay with you for awhile.

From Randy Johnson archives - 2 Guns For Hire


Like many working writers, Todhunter Ballard used different pseudonyms on his prose. Neil Macneil was one of many that he used on his Costa in and McCall novels.
Tony Costaine and Bert McCall were partners, PIs that billed themselves as business detectives. They didn’t get paid by the hour, but received a fee of 20,000 dollars. Plus expenses of course.
Which is to say criminal activities might not slip into their lives.
Like their current case. The Climax Car Company, high end models, was on the verge of bankruptcy, no longer able to compete with the big three, and the founder, Magnus Paddock, had recently committed suicide. The family called them in because they’d done work for the old man before. And they didn’t believe it was suicide.
In the course of the case they deal with a corporate raider that’s offering more than the it’s worth, shots fired at them, hot women, another murder, a half brother to the family with criminal tendencies, and cops that keep arresting them even though they are usually on the receiving end of the violence.
A lot of fun.

Sergio Angelini, THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY, Helen McCloy
Joe Barone, THE CASE OF THE LATE PIG, Margery Allingham
Yvette Banek, OPERATION PAX, Michael Innes
Les Blatt, FIRE BURN, John Dickson Carr
Brian Busby, IN PASSION'S FIERY PIT, Joy Brown
Elgin Bleecker, THE BROKEN GUN, Louis L'Amour
Bill Crider, GUN THE DAME DOWN, Gil Brewer
Scott Cupp, A MAN OF MANY MINDS, E. Everett Edwards
Martin Edwards, QUICK CURTAIN, Alan Melville
Jon Hegenberger, WASH TUBBS AND CAPTAIN EASY, Roy Crane 
Rick Horton, Wandl the Invader, by Ray Cummings/I Speak for Earth, by Keith Woodcott (John Brunner)
Nick Jones, A Ripley Timeline 
George Kelley. McBAIN'S LADIES, Ed McBain
Margot Kinberg, WORKING GIRLS, Maureen Carter
Rob Kitchin, NINE TAILORS, Dorothy L. Sayers
B.V. Lawson, SUDDENLY AT HIS RESIDENCE, Christianna Brand
Evan Lewis. THE DEAD DON'T CARE, Jonathan Latimer
Steve Lewis, PUBLISH AND PERISH, Sally Wright
Todd Mason, ENOUGH, Donald Westlake
J.F. Norris, MODESTY BLAISE, Peter O'Donnell
Graham Powell THE DEADLY PERCHERON, John Frankin Bardin
James Reasoner, THE THREE MUSKETEERS, Alexandre Dumas
Richard Robinson, AN ANIMATED LIFE, Ray Harryhausen
Kerrie Smith, POIROT'S EARLY CASES, Agatha Christie
Kevin Tipple/Barry Ergang, DEATH GODS, Richard S. Prather
TomCat. DEVIL'S PLANET, Manly Wade Wellman
TracyK, MOTOR CITY BLUES, Loren Estleman


Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

This is my contribution Patti:



pattinase (abbott) said...

I had it on there last night. Wonder where it went.

Charles Gramlich said...

Those old covers. wow

J F Norris said...

Mine's posted now, Patti:

Modesty Blaise by Peter O'Donnell

Sort of a rushed job and not as detailed as my usual posts. But I wanted to say something about the book and the character. Modesty Blaise is celebrating her 50th birthday this year!

TracyK said...

I enjoyed both the reviews you included, Patti. I plan to read some books by Charles Williams and now I will look into Neil Macneil (and other pseudonyms) also. Thanks for including my link.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks, Tracy.