Friday, August 31, 2012

The Wounded and the Slain (David Goodis, 1955)

I was tricked into buying this one by front cover saying that author wrote Dark Passage and of course being published by one and the only Hard Case Crime. Some of their re-discovered and re-published stuff is just amazing but unfortunately this one is not one of them. And when I think a bit harder, I must admit I never really liked Dark Passage that much also...

It starts okay with a drunken guy contemplating a suicide in a bar. So you think there must be something sinister in his past, some fucked up crime that he had committed. We pretty soon realize we are in Jamaica so there’s a possibly of some espionage cover-up secret operation. And there’s a dame on the cover and you expect her to walk in any moment. Because they almost always do.

Well, nothing of above turns out to be true. He’s basically drinking himself to death because he is unhappy with his life. He’s unhappy with his life because his job sucks (no wonder; he’s a Wall Street scum) and because his wife is frigid. She’s frigid because she used to be molested as a kid but tries to push those memories deep into her subconscious. In the meantime - in her present conscious state - she’s trying to decide whether to have an affair with some guy who’s also staying at the same hotel as they are. But back to our hero – we learn that he’s also tormented because a hooker back home fell in love with him and killed herself because he didn’t return her feelings. So now he drinks. 

This finally (after app 150 pages) brings us to a crime - accidental death of a street mugger trying to rob our drunk!??! And right after we get a slim hope of some action and development, this thing really starts to fall apart. Because for some reason not very clear to me, he doesn’t report this shit to the police and so he gets blackmailed by some local asshole. And this leads to more moral dilemmas, inner struggles, family shit and so on.

Why was this published by Hard Case Crime? Fuck me if I know. I’m not saying they should publish just a hard-boiled stuff; Nobody’s Angel was original and not bad at all for example. But this is just depressing messy melodrama crap that doesn’t move anywhere. Writing is good, but very bleak and passionless which is probably intentional in order to reflect the atmosphere. There are sections totally lacking any dialogue at all and we need to struggle through this guy's (or her's) whining. Must admit I was tempted few times to just skip a paragraph or two.

Not good, not bad, just boring and definitely not my cup of tea.



James Bevan, 37. Customer's man for a Wall Street investment house, averages $275 a week.

Kingston, Jamaica

Body count:
A hoodlum gets himself killed in self defense while trying to rob our hero. So technically there is a body count of one, but somehow it doesn't really count...

Not really, not in a "pure" sense anyways. We have a frigid wife, hooker with a golden heart and overweight owner of a bar. They all play some kind of role but none very pivotal. No femme fatale here I'm afraid.

It does catch the spirit of a novel. Our hero spends most of his time drinking and contemplating his relationship with his wife. She spends her time waiting for him and contemplating having an affair. I think her facial expression is way better than his.By Glen Orbik.

Few, but they are all caused by excessive drinking.

Cool lines: /

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