Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Curt Cannon, Matt Cordell, Ed McBain and Evan Hunter

Had to go to the doc's today (nothing serious) and just as I was walking out the door the mailman handed me a package from Hard Case Crime containing The Gutter and The Grave by Ed McBain ($6.99) with a great, gritty cover from R.B. Farrell.

It was the right book for a rainy day. I read half of it at the doc's office and then came home and read the second half instead of going to work on my own book. It had that kind of hold on me.

You want the good old stuff, this is the good old stuff. I still remember reading it in my high school days when it was a Gold Medal called I'm Cannon for Hire by Curt Cannon. McBain had done a series of stories for Manhunt about a private eye named Matt Cordell who went a little bit too far in beating the holy crap out of the dude currently bomping Matt's part-time wife.

From there Matt, shorn of ticket and gun, goes straight to the Bowery to do his 24/7 drinking, working on cases only when he's dragged into them, usually by a friend in need.

And it all works, an exciting reminder of just how good Evan Hunter/Ed McBain always was at simply telling a hardboiled pulp tale. This one is a search through society high and low as Matt tries to find a murderer and a little bit of dignity. It also contains three beautifully crafted set pieces and some very nicely observed moments about being down and out in New York City circa 1958. The plot's a pip and the people all talk McBainspeak which is still, for me, as good as crime fic dialogue gets.

This is the best seven bucks you'll spend on a paperback this month. The good old days are here again. You can almost imagine The Gutter and the Grave in one of those creaky old metal swivel paperback racks as each turn reveals either another Gold Medal title or a Dell First Edition.


Blogger mtmorgan said...

Sounds like this qualifies for a Gormando. I'll have to pick up a copy.

3:06 AM  
Blogger Craig Clarke said...

Definitely pick up a copy. This one is a real winner.

4:58 AM  

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