Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2014 August 15 • Friday

This is the original Gold Medal printing of Charles Williams's Hell Hath No Fury, later to be reprinted by Black Lizard as The Hot Spot, which name it shares with a 1990 movie adaptation.

I frequently buy Gold Medal books when I see them but I don't think I have this one. I picked up the Black Lizard edition at Mast Books on Avenue A.

This is a pretty great novel about a tough and angry guy who gets involved in equal amounts of good and bad things in a small southwestern town. The plot involves bank robbery, murder, sexual assault, black mail, embezzlement, adultery and arson. There's also a lesbian character, which is unusual for this kind of book, I think.

Here's how it begins: "The first morning when I showed up on the lot he called me into the office and wanted me to go out in the country somewhere and repossess a car".

There are many, many great lines, such as this description of the woman on the cover, who causes a lot of problems for the narrator: "The teenage dress didn't do anything for that over-ripe figure except to wander on to the track and get run over, and she looked like a burlesque queen in bobby socks".

There are many others I'd quote but I already gave the book to a friend. In addition to hardboiled pulpy writing, Williams also does great descriptions, scene-setting and characterizations. I remember at one point the narrator describing a starry night sky as being like "silver dust across a mirror".

The plotting and pacing are swift, logical and consistent. You could accurately describe this book as lean and mean. It's one of the best of this sort that I've ever read.