Book Review: Black Wings Has My Angel by Elliott Chaze

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Black Wings Has My Angel is a noir novel first published in 1953 by Elliott Chaze. This novel had gone somewhat unnoticed over the decades, but is getting a lot of talk lately. Part of that is due to a new edition from New York Review Books.

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The other reason is this book is maybe made into a movie starring Tom Hiddleston, Anna Paquin and Elijah Wood. Barry Gifford who helped with the screenplay wrote an introduction in the new edition of the book. I unfortunately read an older edition of this, so did not get to read this intro. This film took the makers more then a decade to obtain the rights to the book. It was supposed to be filmed in 2012, but due to Paquin having twins filming was postponed. The film is still in pre-production, but maybe with the boost in popularity that the book is getting we will still see a film in the future.

This book revolves around Tim Sunblade, who is an escaped convict and Virginia, who is a high class escort on the run from the law. After Sunblade gets done with a legitimate job, he knows it is time to move on before people start looking into his background. He has a pocket full of money and decides to get a prostitute for the night. When Virginia shows up, Sunblade is surprised by the classy woman that shows up at his room. They soon go on a road trip to Colorado. This leads to the idea of a armored car heist and that is only the beginning.

A bit of a Bonnie and Clyde story with Virginia being a femme fatale for Sunblade. Our leads have a love and hate relationship with some domestic abuse on both parts, but an attraction to each other that is disturbing on some level. This story is a big road trip for our two leads, going from the South to Colorado, back to New Orleans and then to Sunblade’s small hometown and back to Colorado. Sunblade has returned from the war and has changed into a violent criminal, a theme tackled in many noir books and films noir of the time.

This book is for fans of 1950’s pulp noir books and is a well written story. I feel fans of Jim Thompson will enjoy this book. It reminded me of his work a lot while reading it. A forgotten classic that we hope will never be forgotten again and hopefully a film that does justice to the source material.

 

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Favorite Tidbit: This book was re-published twice under different titles, in 1962 as One for My Money and in 1985 as One for the Money.(I found this information on Wikipedia, but this cover looks like it is from 1962 and is titled One for the Money.)

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Book Review: Quarry’s Cut by Max Allan Collins

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Quarry’s Cut is the fourth book in the Quarry series by Max Allan Collins. This one is an interesting installment in the series, but we will get to this in a minute. This story starts with pure coincidence…or is it? Quarry is eating dinner at his favorite local restaurant, when he looks out the frosted window to see his ex-partner getting gas. When he finds his ex-partner, Turner, is renting a room that has a view of Quarry’s little A-frame home on the lake, Quarry thinks he is Turner’s next hit. Though this might be enough for a short, under 200 page novel, you would be wrong.

Quarry soon enters a porn shoot and things seem to degenerate into a classic 70’s or 80’s slasher movie plot. In fact this book was originally titled Slasher. On reading this I figured Collins was inspired by movies like Halloween and the slasher films that followed, but since this book was published in 1977, a year before the release of Halloween, I would be wrong. Maybe he was inspired by the Italian giallo films of the early 1970’s and threw his hitman Quarry in the middle of one of these film plots to stir things up?

Collins hits on a number of topics in this book, like a homosexual romantic triangle, a serial killer, the porn industry and let’s not forget hired hitmen. This is a bit weaker book then the first three Quarry books, but no less entertaining and worth reading. It is a fun pulp noir that probably was a lot fresher back in 1977. A must read for Quarry fans and I can not wait to start a new Quarry book soon and looking forward to the new television series!

Book Review: Quarry’s Deal by Max Allan Collins

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Thanks to the new Cinemax TV series and Hard Case Crime, the first 5 books in the Quarry Series is becoming available again. This is the third book in the series and the fourth one I have read so far. This book has just recently been re-released and the next one will come out next month.

This book is as all of the Quarry books is told in the first person from Quarry’s point of view. It is fun to learn what is going on as our hero does. Quarry is a professional hitman who used to work for the Broker. If you have read the first two books you know what happens there. The last book is called Quarry’s List, and without giving away any spoilers, Quarry’s List leads him to a woman that goes by Ivy or Lu or Glenna. Lu is a professional assassin as well and Quarry has tracked her down to a swinging singles apartment complex in Florida. Soon it looks like Lu is on her way to the Mid-West and Quarry is on her tail to see what her assignment is. Does Lu know Quarry is also a professional killer? Will Quarry figure out who her partner is and who her target is? Will he stop her?

Max Allan Collins does it again with this book. This book is pure 60’s pulp fun! With all the pop culture references and Collins’ great turn of words makes for a fun read with a good story. Lu is a bit of a femme fatale, or is she? Her friend Ruthy is definitely a man eater.

I truly love all the Quarry books so far and cannot wait to start the next one. I hope the television series is as good as the books. If it is, I believe a lot of people will discover this series and even prompt Collins to write more of these books.

 

Article: ONE OF THE GREAT UNSUNG CRIME NOVELS OF THE 20TH CENTURY

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BARRY GIFFORD ON THE LONG WAIT FOR ELLIOTT CHAZE’S BLACK WINGS HAS MY ANGEL

Here is an article by Barry Gifford, a former editor over at Black Lizard Books about the forgotten classic Black Wings Has My Angel by Elliott Chaze. Another interesting author and book that time has forgotten. I actually heard about this book over on Goodreads and have it downloaded on my Nook. I hope to read it out soon after reading this article. It also looks like a film adaption is in the works. Maybe this book and author will be rediscovered by a new generation of noir fans. Read the full article here:

http://lithub.com/one-of-the-great-unsung-crime-novels-of-the-20th-century/

Book Review: Nine Toes In The Grave by Eric Beetner

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Nine Toes In The Grave is “A Hard Luck Novella” by Eric Beetner. I have seen Beetner’s previous novel Rumrunners on more then one “Best of 2015” list. This, and with the folks over at All Due Respect sending me a copy of Nine Toes In The Grave, put this book to the top of my “To Read” list. This book is short, at just over 100 pages, but packs quite a story.

Beetner starts this story with a bit of a “The Postman Always Rings Twice” vibe. Our protagonist Reese is working at a greesy spoon as a short order cook. He is having an affair with the owner’s wife to start his downward spiral of bad luck. She tries to convince him to kill her husband so she will inherit the restaurant. Reese has always done the right thing and been a good guy and refuses to do this. The wife kills her husband anyway and looks to frame Reese. Reese figures his best bet is to run for it.

Reese makes it 50 miles to the next county and hits up a bar. Out of money and nowhere to go, Reese meets two guys willing to pay him $500 for a repo job on a car. It seems like easy money and Reese agrees to do it. His luck does not get any better is all I have to say.

Beetner tells a good story and it is well written. I will be looking for more from Beetner in the future. If you want to read some good modern pulp, Beetner is as good a place to start as any.

You can pick up a copy of this book and others from All Due Respect here:

http://allduerespectbooks.com/

Book Review: Two Bullets Solve Everything By Chris Rhatigan and Ryan Sayles

Two Bullets Solve Everything is a double feature of noir novellas from All Due Respect.  Both stories are quite different from each other and unique in their own right.

Our first story is Disco Rumble Fish from Ryan Sayles.  This is written from a first person perspective of a SWAT team member.  A stranger who has bumped into a cop, while handing a mafia member a handgun.  This happens while the mafia member is in custody and being transported. The mafia member uses the hand gun on the officer and escapes.  The SWAT team is looking for the mysterious stranger who brought the gun to the mafia member.  This is my first story I’ve read about a SWAT team and it was interesting and action packed, as you would expect.

The second story is A Pack of Lies by Chris Rhatigan.  This story is about a small paper journalist, who is past his prime and basically going through the motions at his job.  He also bribes people to keep their stories quiet.  This story has him doing this twice, the first one may have him lose his job, the second may cause him to lose everything.  A Pack of Lies is interesting as our protagonist starts out in a bad place, but in control and we witness him make one bad decision after another on his downward spiral.

I really liked the first story and really loved the second story.  Disco Rumble Fish is action packed and has some good humor.  A Pack of Lies kept me turning the pages and looking at how few pages where left and kept wondering “how is this going to end?  Are there enough pages left to complete this story?”  The tension was strong and kept me on the edge of my seat all the way to the end.  I think noir fans will really like both of these stories.  All Due Respect delivers again with this book.  Check out their website for this book and other great books here;

http://allduerespectbooks.com/

I can’t wait to read more from this little publishing house!  Thanks for getting these great noir stories out to the masses!

Book Review: Love You to a Pulp by C.S. DeWildt

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Love You to a Pulp is another great book from the small publisher All Due Respect.  This one is from C.S. DeWildt.

The story telling here is very interesting, it tells two stories, alternating from chapter to chapter.  Both revolve around our hero Neil.  The first story is about our adult Neil, a glue sniffing down on his luck, hardboiled private detective.  The second story is about a teenage Neil growing up.  I found this interesting because we find how he was raised and why he is a glue sniffing adult.

Like all the noir fiction I’ve read from All Due Respect, this book is very dark and this one made me cringe more than once.  The story starts with Neil taking a case from a father who wants his daughter back in his life.  The daughter and her boyfriend have ripped him off, the father owns a pharmacy and the pair has taken a bunch of drugs from the store.  He doesn’t want his daughter to get in trouble, and wants her taken away from her boyfriend.  The second story shows Neil growing up with his pimp father and whore mother.  To make a few bucks, his father enters him into illegal fights, reminiscent of dog or cock fights, but with young boys.  We learn as the story goes on and gets darker and darker how Neil grew up to be a man.  We also take a crazy voyage in the present, with Ex-wives, lawyers, shady motels, drug deals, suicides, strippers and on and on.

I enjoyed this book immensely, the characters were interesting and most were more twisted than Neil if you can believe that.   I think it is safe to say, after three books, if you have a weak stomach don’t read anything from All Due Respect.  If you like to go deep down that dark rabbit hole, All Due Respect is your one stop shop.  This is another amazing original noir for the hard-core fan.  I look forward to reading more from DeWildt and hope to soon.  Check out All Due Respect’s website to find this and other great books.

http://allduerespectbooks.com/