19 July 2008

No House Limit

I'm a big fan of the Dorchester/Winterfall line of Hard Case Crime novels. HCC-045, No House Limit by Steve Fisher is the latest (July '08), and one of the best. The copyright is fifty years old this year--maybe that's why so many HCC's have 1958 dates! (The afterword is written by one of the late Mr. Fisher's sons.) Steve Fisher is another one of those forgotten noir greats. He wrote the novel I Wake Up Screaming, which served as the basis for the 1941 film, and he also had a hand in the screenplay for Dead Reckoning among countless other projects. No House Limit is a fast-paced story of gambling in Vegas during the early days of the Strip. The action centers around a hard-boiled anti-hero, casino owner Joe Martin, a defiant independent in the land of corporations and syndicates. Good side stories, more than one romance angle, some mystery, suspense, violence, this book has it all, and it is well-told, smart and engaging. I like a book that can talk about hope, faith and dreams but keep its feet on solid ground with sweat, tears and blood. Mr. Fisher pulls the balancing act off nicely, mostly by creating some memorable characters and giving them plenty of chances to pull out the stops and follow their passions. Noir at its best.

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