Max Allan Collins on Jack Carter's Law
Then I decided to take a break with Jack Carter Law's, second in Syndicate Books' welcome reissues of the great Ted Lewis' catalogue, and lo, this new edition of Lewis' chilling, funny, deadpan 1974 classic comes with an introduction by—Max Allan Collins.
Collins notes Lewis' bleak sense of place and Carter's deadpan first-person narration. (Carter is also the protagonist of Get Carter, published originally as Jack's Return Home, then retitled after the success of the celebrated movie that starred Michael Caine. He is also the protagonist of Jack Carter and the Mafia Pigeon, coming soon from Syndicate.) Did I mention bleakness? Here's Collins comparing Lewis and Carter to Collins' beloved Mickey Spillane and Mike Hammer:
"Spillane's fever-dream Manhattan is never as real as Lewis's London, and while Hammer is a good guy who defeats bad guys with their own methods, Carter is simply a bad guy with methods."Maybe that bleakness, that deadpan is what makes so many of Carter's observations so unsettling and so funny at the same time, including this, about the two gangster bosses for whom he is an enforcer and planner:
"The room I am in is all Swedish. It's a big room, low-ceilinged, and when Gerald and Les had it built on top of the club they'd let a little poof called Kieron Beck have his way with the soft furnishings. Everything about the room is dead right. The slightly sunken bit in the middle lined with low white leather settees ... the curtains that make a noise like paper money when you draw them—everything is perfect. The only things that look out of place are Gerald and Les. So much so that they make the place look as if you could have picked all the stuff up at Maple's closing-down sale."Jack Carter's Law is. so far, bleaker and wittier than the just about anything in the great Richard Stark's bleak and witty Parker novels. And it has the style that modern-day makers of gangster movies such as Guy Ritchie can only dream about.
© Peter Rozovsky 2014