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By Chet Williamson

ISBN-10: 0812527208

ISBN-13: 9780812527209

In Merridale, semi-transparent blue ghosts are showing. The town's useless are reappearing, frozen of their ultimate moments of lifestyles for all to determine, and none to disregard. The ghosts aren't the true tale the following, even though - it's those people who are nonetheless alive. confronted with the deaths and tragedies in their family, and enemies, can Merridale's sanity live to tell the tale? A vintage novel of horror.

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Sample text

Both Marlowe and the Op speak with a satirist’s mocking insight, but Marlowe’s insights are not the savage ironies of the Op. Instead, his habitual form of self-defence is teasing, elegantly phrased and ironically 38 The Noir Thriller guarded. In Farewell, My Lovely, for example, when Marlowe tries to make Anne Riordan see the rottenness of Bay City, he says, ‘ “Sure, it’s a nice town. It’s probably no crookeder than Los Angeles. But you can only buy a piece of a big city. You can buy a town this size all complete, with the original box and tissue paper.

Two of the most notable Black Mask contemporaries of Chandler, Paul Cain and Raoul Whitfield,37 both moved their investigative figures nearer to criminality, emulating the ‘tougher’ strains in Hammett’s Hard-boiled Investigators 41 writing, particularly in Red Harvest and The Glass Key. Their protagonists fulfil the functions of the private eye and are not altogether without scruple. But they are exposing the underside of a society from which they cannot themselves be dissociated. Whitfield, who wrote nearly a hundred stories (of varying quality) for Black Mask between 1926 and 1930, published (starting in December 1929) ‘The Crime Breeders’, a story sequence reissued in 1930 as a novel called Green Ice.

The ironies of his stories spring from a widespread tendency to trust the wrong people, or to distrust ‘everybody except the guy who was holding the knife’ (181). Characters often make errors of this sort, and there is always someone with a knife. Paranoia is on the whole structural rather than clinical: if someone has come to the view that everyone was trying to double-cross them, then ‘Everybody probably was’ (184–5). As readers, we cannot even feel sure that the narrator is trustworthy, since he is as likely as any other character to be guilty.

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Ash Wednesday by Chet Williamson


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