The Coolest Lines

Tough Guys (and some gals too)

"Say goodbye to your fucking empty head," Shaft told him. "I don't need it any more."
Shaft's Big Score! (Ernest Tidyman, 1972)

“I saved your life six times today.”
He squinted at me. “Six?”
“Once in that cellar, and five times in this room when I talked myself out of killing you.”

I’ll start with re-breaking your goddamn leg, then see where inspiration takes me.

"You must be the little woman." 
"You must be the dead whore" 

"Don't show me your teeth," Grave Digger snarled. "I'm no dentist. I don't fix teeth. I'm a cop. I'll knock your teeth out." 
The Real Cool Killers (Chester Himes, 1959)

When you bought Shaft, you bought his anger.
Shaft Among the Jews (Ernest Tidyman, 1972)

"You will be the second to die. Right after him. Understand that? It's not a threat; it's a commitment."
Copp For Hire (Don Pendleton, 1987)

"I need a doctor..."
"You'll need an undertaker more."
"Talk." My hand started to go white around the butt.
Me, Hood! (Mickey Spillane, 1963)

I couldn't play it smart. I had to explode and rammed through the door in a blind fury ready to blow somebody into a death full of bloody, flying parts...
The Killing Man (Mickey Spillane, 1989)

This made it thirteen dead. Far from a record. But I was keeping my average up... I was hot. Man, I was going. I was killing left and right.
Good luck, Sucker (Richard Telfair, 1961)


Beard. Ponytail. Beer gut. Tattoos. He looked like one of the first three guys the hero has to fight before he can get to the real bad guy.

The gentleman who preceded me at the desk wore a big white hat and yellow cowboy boots. His silver belt buckle was the size of a TV screen. I was in Texas.

"You must be aware that she is completely devoid of intellect, and therefore that her opinion on any subject whatever is without value. She is not a moron, but the quality of her brain is distinctly inferior."

He was on my left, the .38 in his right hand. and was aiming his dick with his left. Ambidextrous pisser, Jake was. 
Quarry's Ex (Max Allan Collins, 2011) 

A Gentleman of slightly inebriated aspect, whose trousers left much to the imagination.
Bulldog Drummond (Herman Cyril McNeile aka Sapper, 1920)

I'm a professional criminal, what the shrinks call a criminal psychopath.
Sideswipe (Charles Willeford, 1987)

Smoking comforts ordinary men, but I'm not an ordinary man. There aren't many like me left. And it's good thing for the world that there isn't. There'll always be a few of us in America, in every generation, because only a great country like America can produce men like me.I'm not a thinker, I'm a doer. I'm considered inarticulate, so I talk a lot to cover it up. 
Sideswipe (Charles Willeford, 1987)

"Do I look like I was born the fuck yesterday?"
For all the gunk on his hair, he might have been born the fuck a few seconds ago.
The First Quarry (Max Allan Collins, 2008)

"Here you are, sir. Scotch on the rocks." The voice had all the sincerity of a radio commercial for hemorrhoid ointment and the girl would probably smile all the way through a blow job.
Shaft's Big Score! (Ernest Tidyman, 1972)

He was sweating profusely. He stank of death. Shit and death. The two things his life had consisted of.
Chourmo (Jean-Claude Izzo, 1996) 

She looked anxious and lonely, like an overweight ghost haunting the wrong house.
The Instant Enemy (Ross Macdonald, 1968)

He had beautiful teeth, but they hadn't grown in his mouth.
Pearls are a Nuisance (Raymond Chandler, 1950)

This character, Nick told himself, is a real character!
Nick Carter - The Devil's Cockpit (Manning Lee Stokes, 1967)

Food and drink

She had a tuna salad sandwich. She didn’t eat meat, she said. That would be news to the tuna.

He looked at me as if I were a blood-rare steak he had ordered well done and had already sent back twice.

I skipped lunch. It's not that killing some fuck freaked me out or anything, but neither did I work up an appetite.
Quarry's Ex (Max Allan Collins, 2011)

"Now, try this: I call it a Desert Wind. Nine-tenths gin, one-tenth vermouth. No olive. No onion. Nothing, just a toothpick."
I sipped the Desert Wind. "It's fair," I said, smiling, "only next time, skip the toothpick. The wood absorbs too much of the gin."

Wild Wives (Charles Willeford, 1956)


Could easily named this section Coxeman. Here are few other sexy bits found on this blog:

by Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca
I was by that time as jumpy as a virgin entering the Tunnel of Love with an all-in wrestler. 

She was a cold, dry fish, and he took a petty satisfaction in understanding why the Prime Minister had been baking bread in a hotter oven.
Shaft's Carnival of Killers (Ernest Tidyman, 1974)

Elvin spoke of prison for a while, about sports and movies, making it sound not too bad. Though advised Dale to get laid tonight; be his last shot at some front-door lovin'.
Maximum Bob (Elmore Leonard, 1991)

[From Kitty's marriage vows that she wrote herself under the influence of too much and too strong coffee:]
" have and to hold, to love and to cherish, to suck and to swallow, to admit and to welcome into all the openings of my body..."
Getting Off: A Novel of Sex and Violence (Lawrence Block, 2011)

He could see how nervous Kelly was getting. He was jumping like a broad with a sniff of coke on her clit.
Shaft's Big Score! (Ernest Tidyman, 1972)

She murmured in my ear, "Why are we vertical?"
"Shut off the damn shower," she said. "We're not salmon in the spawning season."
The Murderer Vine (Shepard Rifkin, 1970)

Even in the darkness he was conscious of the powerful pull of her sexual magic, her African juju.

Things got so worked up I once mistook her right ear for the natural target but she didn't howl or pull back but considered it another innovation until I explained my muscular mistake to her.

"Shut up," I snarled, "and let's fornicate!"
Coxman #25: The Penetrator (Troy Conway, 1971)


The bullet tugged at the lapel of  Holt's coat in passing and then went on its way with a complaining whine of having missed.
Badge of Evil (Whit Masterson, 1956)

He kept buying off time with bullets.
Four Novellas of Fear (Cornell Woolrich, 1936 - 1940, republished in 2010)

He ran into a brace of slugs and came reeling back with two sudden eyes in his forehead.
All Shot Up (Chester Himes, 1959)

The Luger was like a melting chocolate cake in my hip pocket.
A Killer is Loose (Gil Brewer, 1954) 

It was a beautiful weapon, which Harry knew how to use.Once some people knew how to ride a bike, they could ride any make or model. So it was with Harry and his handgun.
Duel For Cannons (Dane Hartman, 1981)

I had the .45 out then and started throwing lead.
Good luck, Sucker (Richard Telfair, 1961)

“Yes,” I said. “We’ll go away together, honey. I’ve got our tickets right here in the gun. One way and a long way.”
Masters of Noir - Volume 1 (1953-1959, published in 2010)


"This your car?" the fat cop said.
"Nice huh?" I said. "You want to sit in it?"
"What the hell's that supposed to mean?" the fat cop said.
"Sorry," I said. "I didn't mean to talk so fast."
"You'll be talking fast in the back cell under the big lights in a little while," the fat cop said.
"The smaller the town, the tougher the buttons talk," I said.
Perchance to Dream (Robert B. Parker, 1991)

The cops in this town are so crooked they could hide behind a corkscrew without throwing a shadow.

Words of Wisdom

The mentholated smoke tasted wonderful. A man would be a fool to give up smoking altogether.
Miami Blues (Charles Willeford, 1984)

"I know not what this young man has done: I care less. In Russia such trifles matter not. He has the appearance of a bourgeois, therefore he must die."
Bulldog Drummond (Herman Cyril McNeile aka Sapper, 1920)

Better to take an extra twenty seconds to be sure than to do twenty years in Jackson.
City Primeval (Elmore Leonard, 1980)

"A young man can't be too careful, you know. Lot of things going around Florida these days. Asian Flu, sputniks, wheels, nuts and bolts, athlete's foot, old retired couples without driver's licenses..."
Made in Miami aka Lust is a Woman (Charles Willeford, 1958)

"I think that few men can be rational under the assault of luscious female flesh." 
The Lady Kills (Bruno Fischer, 1951)

She bent over her typewriter, pounding the keys like they were part of my face. I lit a cigarette and though profound thoughts about life - like a good woman is never hard to find - it's the bad ones who are so hard to get.

I'm telling you, you learn something new every day. In every way. With every lay.

Morbid ones

[when identifying a corpse ran by the car] 
It was unquestionably him, when you had made the mental adjustment required by the transformation of a sphere into a disc.
Too Many Women (Rex Stout, 1948)

[on OD'd junkie]
He looked like Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic when he starts to drift down under the icy water.
Killer Solo (David Hiltbrand, 2004)

He looked dead, and he had enough bullet holes in him to make death a good guess. 
The Continental Op (Dashiell Hammett, 1923 - 1930)

[During the hostage negotiation situation] 
"Don't be a mad dog like Vincent Coll. Be a man like Dillinger was."
The Real Cool Killers (Chester Himes, 1959)

Mascola didn't answer. He lay stretched out beside Cal's coffin. The right side of his head was missing. A coroner would say there had been probable brain damage before death.
Shaft's Big Score! (Ernest Tidyman, 1972)

The severed head hit the ground and rolled. Flames exploded from the wrecked car and in their flickering light he looked into the sightlessly staring eyes of what had once been Natalie Webb.
"Told you the ride was coming to an end, baby," he muttered.
Squeeze Play (Terry Harknett aka Thomas H. Stone, 1973)

The right side of his chest was soaked with blood, which had finished seeping from the wound made by a knife. The heart they had cut out was lying several feet away from him.
"I always thought he was a heartless bastard," Bogart said between teeth clenched against his pain.
"Just wasn't cut out for the job," Fortune responded.
Squeeze Play (Terry Harknett aka Thomas H. Stone, 1973)

"How do you know he's dead?"
"The blood ran out of him and hardly anyone can live without blood."
That one got what it deserved. "You drunk, young man?"
Halo for Satan (Howard Browne writing as John Evans, 1948)

"You've found Frederic!" Jane's face was suddenly animated again. "That's wonderful! Where's he?"
"Down at the beach," I told her. "To be strictly accurate, he's down in the beach."
The Sometime Wife (Carter Brown, 1965)

Of course, it was dangerous, but it wasn't sure death by any means—at least not for me. Shooting is like swimming. It's hard to get started, but once you're in, things go along all right.

And I put two more slugs into the Hooded Wonder. The figure started to fall forward then didn't. Sort of changed its mind and slumped in the chair... It was not to reason why. It was but to do and die. I mean that I'd do the doing and the figure would do the dying.

I was a little mad too. My suit had set me back seventy-five bucks, and I had burnt a hole in the pocket... Tony Lassario he was called and a knife was his stock in trade. He liked the silence. I grinned. He'd get plenty of it from now on.
Better Corpses (Carroll John Daly, 1940)


Henry Kane is undisputed master of crazy metaphors and I could easily copy & paste most of his stuff into this section. But you have to admit that these below are not bad either:

She was leaning against the doorjamb, glaring at me like I was a prom-night pimple.

You're as wrong as Prohibition.

It was black as a loan-shark's sympathy for delay.

The night was as dark as a pimp's soul. 
Shaft's Carnival of Killers (Ernest Tidyman, 1974)

Fifteen minutes passed and they couldn't have seemed longer at an art movie with no nude scenes.
The Wrong Quarry (Max Allan Collins, 2014)

They had the feeling that time was rushing past like a maniac with a knife.
All Shot Up (Chester Himes, 1959)

Shaft was still playing the outraged innocent. He sounded about as sincere as a cab driver giving thanks for a bent dime.
Shaft Among the Jews (Ernest Tidyman, 1972)

Her round, high breasts were like frozen apples against my bare chest.
Nick Carter - Ice Trap Terror (Jeffrey Wallman, 1974)

Our Hero

"You a mobster or what?"
"That's a funny question."
"Yeah, sure, uproarious. You got a hand gun in your armpit, and you're not Davy Crockett."
"You shatter my illusions."

"Playing at PIs. You wear a fucking trenchcoat and a hat while you fuck him?"
The Good Son (Russel D. McLean, 2008)

"You're Archer! How did you get here?" 
"It all goes back about thirty-seven years ago"
The Way Some People Die (Ross Macdonald, 1951)

"I remember you, Mr. Starr," she said, with a faint smile, as if she were recalling the long-ago day when she still could stand men.
Seduction of the Innocent (Max Allan Collins, 2013)

"Well, what about him?"
"Well, he's dead."
"As if I fucking cared," he said. "Who are you, you cunt?"
"I'm a police officer," I said. "And watch your tongue. One more slip like that with it, and I'll tear it out of your head."
He Died with His Eyes Open (Derek Raymond, 1984)

What I loved was myself, and I was willing to do anything I god-danged had to to go on lying and cheating and drinking whiskey and screwing women and going to church on Sunday with all the other respectable people.
Pop. 1280 (Jim Thompson, 1964)

Pimping was his game, and no good pimp would allow some bitch's daddy to blow his game.
Daddy Cool (Donald Goines, 1974)

"You can't work that, you bastard!" he screamed. "There's a fucking law in this country!"
"That's right," I said, "and I'm it."
The Devil's Home on Leave (Derek Raymond, 1984) 

"Have you get anything, Paul?" She sounded anxious.
"Leprosy. Go away."
Halo for Satan (Howard Browne writing as John Evans, 1948)

"Unlike yours, old buddy," I said, "mine act ain't act." Then I grabbed his wrist and squeezed the heavy silver bracelet into his soft flesh. "Intellectual discourse is great, man, but in my business,  violence and pain is where it's at."
The Last Good Kiss (James Crumley, 1978)

"You're a damn killer, buddy," he told me. "We need people like you." 
The Killing Man (Mickey Spillane, 1989) 

Yep, you could chuck me out of an airplane ten thousand feet in the air, and when I hit the ground I'd have a couple of rods in my fists. Would I use them? Well, that part is doubtful.

I'm not a sentimental fool. Anyone who knows me knows that. Oh, if it comes to a showdown, I'll die for a cause, but I'd much rather kill the cause and live for another one.


I don’t blame Fag. He acted according to his code. Fag was square. If I had told him that I was ribbing Burke up for a trimming, Fag would leave me alone. But when I told him I was through with a graft, had gone queer, that made me his meat. 
The Continental Op (Dashiell Hammett, 1923 - 1930)

The guy knew guns. The safety was off and the rod was ready to spit. 
The Twisted Thing (Mickey Spillane, 1966)

"Cigarette me, somebody," Miss Smith growled. "I'm half dead for a smoke.


"What's your name, man?"
"David Michaelangelo," the bartender said.
"Jesus," Shaft muttered.
"You know my brother?"
I got to get out of here, Shaft thought.
Shaft's Carnival of Killers (Ernest Tidyman, 1974)

They looked up at me like two soldiers from vastly disparate battlefields who had died simultaneously and were now sitting in Limbo awaiting the verdict of Valhalla.
Blonde Faith (Walter Mosley, 2007) 

We are not angels, Lew. Angels couldn't breathe the air down here. They'd die.
The Long-Legged Fly (James Sallis, 1992)


Your mother loves to perform fellatio upon syphilitic dogs
The Thief Who Couldn't Sleep (Lawrence Block, 1966)

"You bastard!" Gerfaut cried. "You stinking dirty shit! Son of a bitch of a son of a bitch of a bastard!"
3 to kill (Jean-Patrick Manchette, 1976)

"I don't trust junkies," Bush said.
"Neither do I," Danny answered. "But this guy ain't a killer, take it from me. He don't even know how to kill time."

While Attar was trying to frame a sufficiently sarcastic reply, Victor snarled a suggestion to the youth that was both biologicaly improbable and illegal under Florida's sodomy statutes.
Attar the Merman #2: War of Nerves (Joe Haldeman writing as Robert Graham, 1975)


He regarded him in a detached way, as if he were a prospect buyer for a product of dubious usefulness.
Scratch One (Michael Chrichton writing as John Lange, 1967)

Ed is the Herald's city editor. A lot of editors are named Ed. It doesn't mean anything. I've known reporters named Frank and Ernest and once I knew a girl named Virginia.
The Deep End (Fredric Brown, 1952)

I thought a moment. "True. It could have been nothing. But it could have been something that Stuart thought was something."
Good luck, Sucker (Richard Telfair, 1961)

I waited.
I waited some more. One minute, as long as eternity.
One more minute, longer than eternity.
Good luck, Sucker (Richard Telfair, 1961)

The sound of my gun had been muffled a bit in the fog. Not quite enough.
Good luck, Sucker (Richard Telfair, 1961)

Would I have killed Jim? I don't know so you don't know.
Better Corpses (Carroll John Daly, 1940)

God! God! God! I don't know if I prayed or blasphemed, but I hoped—yes, and meant to pray; pray that I was free; pray that I was free to kill.

The chief was a middle-aged Irishman with bright pink cheeks, white hair, and electric blue eyes. A strong chin accompanied the patriotic color scheme.
It Ain't Hay (David Dodge, 1946)


From the aesthetic point of view the landscape was highly romantic. From Gerfaut's point of view, it was absolute shit.
3 to kill (Jean-Patrick Manchette, 1976)

"Give me the police."
"Do you wish to report a crime?"
"No, a strawberry festival."
"For Pete's sake, get me the police."
So Nude, So Dead aka The Evil Sleep! (Ed McBain, 1952) 

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