Category Archives: Noir fiction

Pulp Friday: Guns with plots

Let’s make one thing clear. I don’t own a gun. Never have and never will. Indeed, the only guns I want to see are in film or on the cover of books like the ones featured in today’s Pulp Friday post.

For a while now I have been obsessed with the cover above of the 1964 Panther edition of Len Deignton’s The Ipcress File. The cover, done by influential English graphic designer, Ray Hawkey, who would go onto to do a number of paperback covers, exudes a style and tone I could never imagine being used today except as a deliberate retro homage.

It speaks to the everyday grime, drudgery and unglamorous boredom of the Cold War spy racket, which the Deighton novels featuring the working class spy, Harry Palmer, evoke so well. There is also the mess that comes with the trade: a cold cup of tea (probably cold); cigarettes, because in the sixties every fictional spy smoked; paperclips for the paperwork; and, a gun and bullets, because sometimes you have to kill someone.

It is a gritty, cluttered layout I associate with mass paperback novels of the type that were largely targeted at men in the 1960s and 1970s. As it turns out, a bit of a dig around reveals it was a style that was widely used in those two decades – but it also bled over into the 1980s – by mass market paperback publishers in the crime, mystery and espionage thriller categories.… Read more

Nothing but one big shill

Okay, you best all be warned, the following post is one giant shill, mostly on behalf of yours truly.

I am flat out at the moment with the third year of my PhD, so I am finding it hard to make the time to post as much as I would like on my various cultural obsessions, film noir, crime fiction and pulp. That said I still have a lot going on.

First up, this coming Friday, May 4, from 7pm, I’ll be taking part in the first of what will be a series of free events run by my local bookstore, the wonderful Brunswick Bound, in which authors will be reading from the opening chapter of the their current work. This one has a crime theme and there’ll be four of us reading, including me doing a section from Gunshine State, which was re-released earlier this year by Down and Out Books. So, if you are inner Melbourne north way this Friday and feel like hearing some words and drinking some wine, drop on down, 361 Sydney Road Brunswick.

The second incarnation of Gunshine State has been getting a bit of love recently, the best of which is this review of the site of Canberra based blogger and writer, Tim Nappertime.… Read more

The grifters and con artists of Nightmare Alley

I have a piece on the new Crime Reads site – a spin off of the respected Literary Hub- on William Lindsay Gresham’s 1946 little known novel, Nightmare Alley. Gresham’s book is a masterful story about the art of the grift and the best fictional depiction of the carny (slang for the traveling carnival employee). But most of all, it is a stone cold classic piece of low life noir fiction, dark, visceral, surprisingly sex-drenched for its time, and utterly devoid of redemption.

The piece is available in full here on Crime Reads.

Book Review: Getting Carter, Ted Lewis & the Birth of Brit Noir

The time is past when one could accurately describe Ted Lewis as a lost or under appreciated author. His best books have recently been re-released, Mike Hodge’s 1971 film, Get Carter, based on Lewis second novel, Jack’s Return Home, continues to be seen as a crime cinema classic, and Lewis’s profound, albeit posthumous, influence on the origins on Brit Noir is regularly reiterated by many of the leading lights of crime fiction.

But we know little about Lewis as a person and the influences on his work. Nick Triplow’s Getting Carter: Ted Lewis and the Birth of Brit Noir is obviously the product of considerable time, energy and shoe leather spent hunting down the facts of Lewis’s life. That Triplow doesn’t completely succeed in unravelling all the mysteries surrounding Lewis’s spectacular rise and fall is not for want of trying and, it must be stressed, the book is none the worse for it.

Contemporary literary culture, with its focus on the writer’s journey, literature as personal confession and the book scribe as media celebrity, is a relatively new phenomena. Lewis went to his grave without leaving a detailed archive of papers or journals and having only done a handful of newspaper interviews. He had neither the time nor, one suspects, inclination to record his inner most thoughts.… Read more

Guest post: Tony Knighton – character arc or is crime fiction literature?

Today I’m thrilled to host a guest post by my friend, Tony Knighton, Philadelphia’s only fire fighting crime writer and, I mean, he really is a fire fighter. Tony has a new book out, Three Hours Past Midnight, via Crime Wave Press, also the publishers of my first novel, Ghost MoneyThree Hours Past Midnight is Tony’s second book. His first, was a terrific collection of short stories titled Happy Hour and Other Philadelphia. Three Hours Past Midnight is the story of a professional thief who teams with an old partner eager for one last score – a safe in the home of a wealthy Philadelphia politician. But they are not the only ones set on the cash. It’s on my Kindle. Read Tony’s guest post and then pick up a copy of Three Hours Past Midnight for yourself.

Take it away, Tony.

Andrew has graciously invited me to post an essay about my latest work Three Hours Past Midnight from Crime Wave Press. A novel, it is set in my hometown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and features the un-named protagonist from an earlier story of mine, ‘Mister Wonderful’.

While speaking about the Richard Stark books and Stark’s master thief Parker, crime fiction writer Eryk Pruitt said, ‘The least interesting character in the Parker books is Parker’.… Read more