Book review: Perfidia by James Ellroy

Perfidia is the first volume of the Second L.A. Quartet. The L.A. Quartet–The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, and White Jazz–covers the years 1946 to 1958 in Los Angeles. The Underworld U.S.A. Trilogy–American Tabloid, The Cold Six Thousand, and Blood’s a Rover–covers 1958 to 1972, on a national scale.

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Help I am Being Held Prisoner to be re-released 2/18

It isn’t easy going to jail for a practical joke. Of course, this particular joke left 20 cars wrecked on the highway and two politicians’ careers in tatters – so jail is where Harold Künt landed. Now he’s just trying to keep a low profile in the Big House. He wants no part […]

News for week ending 2017-12-22 (open thread)

News for week ending 2017-12-22 (open thread) […]

Nackles: A Christmas story by Donald Westlake (2017 repost)

Note: I believe this story to be in the public domain. If it is not, please let me know and I will remove it from the site.

Merry Christmas!

Nackles

By Donald Westlake (writing as Curt Clark)

Originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, January 1964

Did God create men, or does Man create gods? I don’t know, and if it hadn’t been for my rotten brother-in-law, the question would never have come up. My late brother-in-law? Nackles knows.

It all depends, you see, like the chicken and the egg, on which came first. Did God exist before Man first thought of Him, or didn’t He? If not, if Man creates his gods, then it follows that Man must create the devils, too.

Nearly every god, you know, has his corresponding devil. Good and Evil. The polytheistic ancients, prolific in the creation (?) of gods and goddesses, always worked up nearly enough Evil ones to cancel out the Good, but not quite. The Greeks, those incredible supermen, combined Good and Evil in each of their gods. In Zoroaster, Ahura Mazda, being Good, is ranged forever against the Evil one, Ahriman. And we ourselves know God and Satan.

But of course it’s entirely possible I have nothing to worry about. It all depends on whether Santa is or is not a god. He certainly seems like a god. Consider: He is omniscient; he knows every action of every child, for good or evil. At least on Christmas Eve he is omnipresent, everywhere at once. He administers justice tempered with mercy. He is superhuman, or at least non-human, though conceived of as having a human shape. He is aided by a corps of assistants who do not have completely human shapes. He rewards Good and punishes Evil, And, most important, he is believed in utterly be several million people, most of them under the age of ten. Is there any qualification of godhood that Santa Claus does not possess?

Continue reading Nackles: A Christmas story by Donald Westlake (2017 repost)

Added to the cover gallery: A Portuguese edition of The Score

Rififi (Portugal) (19??)

Title translation: The Cake. VWOP Portuguese-language correspondent Carlos explains: “Bolo” is also used in Portuguese as slang for the pile of money accumulated in the middle of the table in a card game (the betting money). The equivalent of the “pot” in poker games.

Cover text translation: “Twelve assault an entire […]

Hard Case Crime Review: Bust by Ken Bruen & Jason Starr (HCC-020)

5 IMPORTANT LESSONS YOU CAN LEARN BY READING BUST:

When you hire a hit man to kill your wife, don’t pick a psychopath. Drano is not the best tool for getting rid of a dead body. Those locks on hotel room doors? Not very secure. A curly blond wig isn’t much of a […]

Added to the cover gallery: A Portuguese edition of The Outfit

Rififi (Portugal) (19??)

Title translation: The Gang

I can’t read the text well enough to run it through Google Translate.

News for week ending 2017-12-15 (open thread)

News for week ending 2017-12-15 (open thread) […]

Hard Case Crime review: Forever and a Death by Donald E. Westlake (HCC-129)

The Bond That Never Was.

Two decades ago, the producers of the James Bond movies hired legendary crime novelist Donald E. Westlake to come up with a story for the next Bond film. The plot Westlake dreamed up – about a Western businessman seeking revenge after being kicked out of Hong […]

Added to the cover gallery: A Portuguese edition of The Damsel

Rififi (Brazil) (19??)

The artwork here makes this lighthearted romp look absolutely terrifying.

Title translation: The Girl

Cover text translation: “Grofield, an extraordinary adventurer, rescues a young woman in trouble in a race of life and death across Mexico.”