He shot Jake Halloran in the head, then turned to me, smiling, the Luger held loosely in his right hand.
"Hello, pal," he said. "My name’s Ralph Angers. What’s yours?"
That’s how I met him, this grave-looking, clean-cut, totally mad young man, who walked through my town with a gun, leaving a wake of tears and agony and murder behind him.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
If I could write a novel one-tenth as good as this one, I would. Gil Brewer should be better known than he is. This book is a masterpiece from cover to cover. It is up there with the best of Jim Thompson's work. The descriptions of the people, the places, and the moods are crazy good. This is noir as it was meant to be. A man is down on his luck, way down. His wife, Ruby, is at least nine months ready and he hasn't found a lick of work in six months or more. Selling the last of his gun collection ought to pay a few bills. So he goes to his favorite bartender to sell it. Trouble finds him though in the person of Ralph Anger, who is do aptly named. And, hours of pure terror with a crazed gunman ensue. This book is so good you'll want to read it again as soon asyou finish it.
As the other review here says, this is considered a classic of hardboiled crime/noir among some people. Hapless protagonist accidentally saves the life of a stone-cold psychopath who takes a liking to him -- and then they go out have some wacky misadventures.
I kid, but that really is part of the problem. This is a very episodic book: when it works, and it does in sections, it works in *moments*. The first two killings and the episode of the piano-playing girl are all excellent, Brewer gets the prose just right here and manages to convey both the offhand madness of the villain and something of the terror involved. The book does succeed sporadically.
The problem though is that Brewer has to tell a full story here, not just a sucession of "scenes", and the book doesn't really cohere as a whole. It doesn't make sense. While certain characters behave very believably, others don't give relevant information, or behave in strange ways to keep the plot going. The villain...
NOTE: This review is for the out of print Gold Medal paperback original from the 1950s. I have not read the Kindle version, so I cannot say if it is properly formatted or has other ebook issues (like new typos introduced by the electronic scanning process). But as this is one of my all-time favorite noir novels and seeing how no one else has reviewed it yet, I wanted to share my thoughts with you.
PLOT: Steve Logan, an out of work ex-cop with a pregnant wife and too many bills to pay, finds has his life turned upside-down by a chance meeting with insane killer Ralph Angers. Logan saves him from being hit by a bus, not knowing the man is a dangerous lunatic, and Angers repays him by abducting him at gunpoint. They hook up with a hot stripper Angers has also abducted and then it's one violent killing spree after another as Angers drags them all over town in his mad quest to "save lives." He doesn't want to kill his two new pals but will if they don't do what he says. This all...
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