This novel was published in 1937, and it feels like it. In part, I would say that like a lot of semi-early versions of a genre, the rawness and the rough around the edges quality of a novel is such a limiting factor and you can feel it. I spoke in an earlier review how the Alfred Bester novel The Stars My Destination was NOT plagued with this kind of sense of adherence to genre and roughness. This one however is, with some differences at times.
So this novel is about a group of bankrobbers, one who’s recently broken out of jail, and the others different versions of career criminals. There’s a lot of discussion of one more big score, there’s a lot of talk about evading the law and being two steps ahead, and then of course there’s lots and lots of casual and off-putting racism. So yeah. Rough.
I guess what I feel like talking about is a trope of a lot of novels, and especially noir, this being absolutely no different or special, use, and that is the main guy…the protagonist we’re watching. No matter how fucked up his life is and no matter how depraved he is, he will a) pull a woman into that life with him, and b) destroy her life as a by-product of their relationship. It’s so so rarely the case that makes a wholly witting decision to be the love interest of a criminal in these novels. Too often, they’re a dangerous person, but they also lie or deceive in order to win over the girl. It’s maybe accidentally a revealing look at abusive relationships, but even then, they’re not usually presented as abusive. Even though they most definitely are.
Anyway, this one’s pretty good. It’s the kind of thing I bet Stephen King read when he was young.