© Peter Rozovsky 2015
"Because Murder is More Fun Away From Home"
"Much of a crime novel's texture comes from the bits between the main action, and no one writes those bits better than New Jersey's Charlie Stella. If you like Elmore Leonard, you'll love this guy and his funny, unsparing yet sympathetic looks at mid-, high-, and low-level mobsters, hangers-on, and cops."Judge the book by its cover, or the cover by its book. In this case, it really is all good.
"He took a short quick one. snapping off the neck. and turned to stare at the wall of Florida jungle growth beyond the road shoulder.
"Florida, he thought. Why can't I get away from it? Shove it--every last flat, wet, stinking acre."Why, readers, was this the case?
"I still had my baloney sandwich in my pocket because we’d just got to the track when the Pinkertons drafted Pop and I remembered it was wrapped in a sheet of yesterday’s racing form. I hauled it out and took a bite of the baloney while I showed ’em,The Diamond Bikini shows Williams could write comedy, just as Nothing in Her Way showed he could write a beautifully convoluted con-artist story. What's especially impressive is that neither is typical of Williams' more frequent stories of a down-at-the-heels man who tries to better his lot, but only gets himself in ever deeper trouble. And that versatility suggests to me that, by God, Williams could write. Who else is that versatile? Who among your favorite crime writers excelled at more than one kind of crime story?
"‘Now, here,’ I says, pointing to it with my finger. ‘Look at this. Barnyard Gate (M) 105* ch.g.3, by Barnaby—Gates Ajar, by Frangi-Pangi. Dec. 5, TrP, 6f, 1:13 sy, 17, 111* 11 15, 13, 89, Str’gf’l’wG AlwM, Wo’b’g’n 119, C’r’l’ss H’s’y 112, Tr’c’le M’ff’n 114. You see? And now take a look at this workout. Fly 2 Aqu ½ft: 48 3/5 bg. A morning-glory and a dog, and if you ever put ten cents on his nose even in a two thousand claimer you got rocks in your head. He’s a front runner and a choker and even Arcaro couldn’t rate him off the pace and he always dies at the eighth pole.’
"They stopped me then, and there was hell to pay. They just wouldn’t believe I was reading it. I told ’em it was all right there, as plain as the nose on their face, that Barnyard Gate was a three-year-old chestnut gelding and had never won a race, and that he was by Barnaby out of Gates Ajar, by Frangi-Pangi, and that the last time he’d run he’d gone off at about 17-to-1 in a six-furlong Maiden Allowance at Tropical Park on December 5th with George Stringfellow up and carrying 111 pounds with the apprentice allowance claimed. The track was sloppy and the winner’s time was 1 minute and 13 seconds, and Barnyard Gate led at the start, at the half, and going into the stretch, and then had folded and come in eighth by nine lengths, and that the first three horses had been Woebegone, Careless Hussy, and Treacle Muffin. I told ’em they was the ones didn’t know how to read, and they said, ‘Well, I never!’
"That did it. They said a boy that the only thing he could read was the racing form was a disgrace to the American way of life and they was going to court and have me taken away from Pop and put in a Home. I didn’t like it, of course, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it and I just had to wait for Pop to get out of the draft.".
|Photo by your humble|
blogkeeper of a kind of
sign Bill S. Ballinger
might well have seen in
|And I like to think Barr Breed might have had|
drink here. This one's also by your humble
|All photos by your humble|
maker, Peter Rozovsky
1974 marked the beginning of Westlake's 23-year hiatus from the Parker novels he wrote under the name Richard Stark. It was also the year of Jimmy the Kid, the worst of his comic caper Dortmunder books, Westlake's writing of which began to grow more sporadic around the same time. Instead, he concentrated on standalone novels for the next few years, though he eventually returned to both Parker and Dortmunder. So 1974 obviously marked a kind of crisis for Westlake. Now here's your question: Was Westlake's crisis merely personally, or was 1974 indeed a crisis year for crime fiction? Was his gloomy pronouncement accurate?
“But it was known,” thinks Childan, “relations between Japanese and yanks, although generally it was between a Japanese man and yank woman. This . . . he quailed at the idea. And she was married. He whipped his mind away from the pageant of his involuntary thoughts and began busily opening the morning’s mail.”I’ve read just chapter, but Dick has already demonstrated that he can go beyond the concept and explore what that concept means for his characters. It’s a hell of a start.