Tuesday, September 21, 2010

You Gotta Read These: Fifteen Paperbacks You Might Have Missed by Bill Crider

Now and then, this blog will run highlights from the golden days of The Scream Factory and bare•bones. We'll also be running pieces that were written for bare•bones but never published. Today, we're proud to "reprint" Bill Crider's list of 15 crime paperbacks you may not know about. Good luck hunting them down.

1. Revenge by Jack Ehrlich. Ok, you've already read Jim Thompson's The Killer Inside Me and Dan Marlowe's The Vengeance Man. Is there anything out there that's remotely like them? Yes. Try Revenge.

2. One for Hell by Jada Davis. And if you don't want to read Revenge, read this one.

3. The Broker by Max Allan Collins. This book begins Collins' homage to Richard Stark's Parker series. It's dedicated to Westlake, and the protagonist is a killer-for-hire.

4. Baby Moll and Danger in My Blood by Steve Brackeen. Brackeen is really John Farris. These were written very early in his career.

6. Let Them Eat Bullets by Howard Schoenfeld. An amazing parody of the hardboiled p.i. genre. (This was reprinted by Hard Case Crime a few years ago -PE)

7. A Rage at Sea by Frederick Lorenz. No one talks about Lorenz these days, but he was good.

8. Four for the Money by Dan J. Marlowe. A nifty caper novel. Marlowe's an under-rated writer.

9. The Case of the Beautiful Body by Jonathon Craig. Craig started writing police procedurals about the same time ed McBain did, but with a slightly different approach. Any book in the Pete Selby series is worth picking up.

10. Ride the Gold Mare by Ovid DeMaris. Nearly any crime novel by DeMaris is worth reading. Try this one, The Slasher, or The Gold-Plated Sewer.

11. Drive East on 66 by Richard Wormser. Wormser's another sadly neglected writer.

12. Paperbag by Richard Russell. Great hit-man novel. Read Reunion and Point of Reference too. Series has to be read in order.

13. The Bloody Medallion by Richard Telfair. Part of a really over-the-top spy series that's generally lots of fun.

14. Kill the Boss Good-Bye by Peter Rabe. Everyone knows about Rabe. Don't miss this one or The Box.

15. Whom the Gods Destroy by Clifton Adams. Adams usually wrote westerns, but this is a dandy crime novel.

Allow me to add a baker's dozen of my favorites that you may not be hip to. -PE

1 April Evil by John D. MacDonald. Usually the JDMs cited are the Travis McGee series or The Executioners (Cape Fear), but I prefer this slow burn heist novel.

2 The Hot Shot by Fletcher Flora. College basketball tampering in the 1950s? Yep, just as relevant today as it was fifty years ago.

3 One is the Loneliest Number by Bruce Elliott. Before too long, an escaped convict is going to wish he was back in the pen.

4 A Touch of Death by Charles Williams. Embezzling and two-timing babes. Two essential nutrients for great crime fiction.

5 Key Witness by Frank Kane. Proves that being a good samaritan can be a bad idea.

6 Judas Cross by Jeffrey Wallmann. Bad cop investigates his partner's murder. This has one of the nastiest final scenes I've ever read.

7 Big Man by Richard Marsten (Ed McBain). I've read dozens of Ed McBain novels. This is his nastiest work, I think. It doesn't have the "New York woke up like a five dollar whore" brushstrokes of his 87th Precinct novels (which are a joy to read) and that may be a good thing.

8 He Rode Alone by Steve Frazee. The plotline's been done a thousand times in westerns: lone horseman comes into town looking for revenge. This one's got something different - a writer who can mold that cliche into a great read.

9 The Kidnapper by Robert Bloch. The man forever to be associated with...writing that novel the famous Hitchcock flick is based on... comes up with a fabulous crime novel. There's a kick in the gut midway that you won't see coming.

10 Murder Me for Nickels by Peter Rabe. So you thought the jukebox business was all fun and games?

11 The Lime Pit by Jonathon Valin. The first (and best) of the Harry Stoner novels. I'm not big on P.I. novels and their inherent cliches but Valin steers away from the same old thing in this tale of what befalls a pretty girl in the porn inductry.

12 Stolen Away by Max Allan Collins. Another P.I. novel that eschews all the old standbys. Collins plops his Nathan Heller character smack dab in the midst of the Lindbergh baby kidnapping.

13 The Hook by Donald Westlake. The Ax got most of the praise (and it's warranted) but I think The Hook is the best of Westlake's contemporary thrillers (aside from the Parker novels). Deadly case of writer's block!


Richard R. said...

Great lists. I wonder how many times that image on the cover for MURDER ME FOR NICKELS has been used?

Anonymous said...

"One for Hell" by Jada Davis is coming out soon from Stark House...

Peter Enfantino said...

Yes, I'd just read that about "One for Hell." Stark House is doing wonderful things with vintage crime.

Unknown said...

Fantastic list, sir. I especially love FOUR FOR THE MONEY -- and you're right, Marlowe is certainly underrated.

Walker Martin said...

I love lists like this and will dig through my original paperbacks to see what I need to read. I still have several issues of SCREAM FACTORY and couldn't believe it when you ceased publication. The magazine was the best of its kind and died an early death.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Lovely list. I have read....one.

Peter Enfantino said...

Well then, you have quite a bit of reading to catch up on. I envy you!

Naomi Johnson said...

OMG, you have so exposed my ignorance.

Peter Enfantino said...

No we haven't. There are a LOT of paperbacks out there and only Bill Crider has read them all!

George said...

fantastic list, Bill. i must disagree with you on THE HOOK and THE AXE, though.