A blog dedicated to reviewing crime novels published by independent presses everywhere.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Review of The Killer and Devil on Two Sticks
The work of Wade Miller (the duo Bob Wade and Bill Miller, who also wrote under the name Whit Masterson) is an excellent example of the hard boiled paperback original ideal. The prose is lean, the stories are violent and the protagonists are, to be charitable, morally ambiguous.
The Killer and Devil on Two Sticks, originally published in 1951 and 1949 respectively, are two good examples of Miller's work, and repackaged side by side by Stark House Press, make for an interesting study in Miller's moral preoccupations.
On the surface, the two books are different. The Killer is about Jake Farrow, a professional big game hunter, who takes a commission to hunt a bank robber and murderer. Devil on Two Sticks is about Steve Beck, a mob enforcer in San Diego who has to ferret a rat out of his boss's organization. Farrow is a rugged outdoor type, while Beck is an urban sophisticate, but both stories revolve around the pride both men have in their work and women who make them ask unwelcome questions about the morality of that work and the validity of that pride.
Both novels are compact, muscular affairs, but Devil on Two Sticks stands out as superior, both for its more involved plot and its ending, which has more resonance than the happier ending of The Killer. Still, both of these books are the real thing.
Welcome to the Indie Crime Blog. As the name implies, this blog is dedicated to reviews of crime fiction published by independent presses. There are many books published every year that seem to be ignored for a variety of reasons. The books sections of newspapers are getting smaller. Bookstores give more shelf space to more established authors. I could go on, but you get it.My intent is to review books both old and new in the hopes that some deserving writers and worthy publishers will gain some exposure. I can be emailed at IndieCrime-at-gmail-dot-com