On Frederick Nebel, plus who was the best Black Mask-era writer after Hammett and Chandler?
On the one hand, Nebel's prose is not always, pace an admiring introduction, "as fresh today as it was in the 1930s." It can't be, not filled as it is with "clipped, "chided," or even "gritted" rather than "said." That method of jazzing up prose wears decidedly less well today than when Black Maskers routinely indulged it.
On the other, the wit, the pace, the plotting, and some of the descriptions remain fresh. This little word picture, for instance, matches a clumsily archaic job title with a sardonic observation that would not be out of place in Hammett: "District Leader Skoog, nursing a bottle of Cointreau and trying to give the impression he had a refined taste."
|Photos by your humble shooter, Peter Rozovsky|
"Sergeant Otto Bettdecken sat at the desk in the central room eating a frankfurter-on-roll, A clock ticked on the wall behind him. Bettdecken was a large man, with fat rosy cheeks and heavy jowls that overlapped his tight standing uniform collar. From time to time he raised a bottle of home-brew from behind the desk, cast searching eyes around the large room, and took a generous swallow. After each swallow he sighed with that profound air of a man serenely at peace with the world and thankful for the small creature comforts which it bestows upon mankind—and especially police sergeants."
Now, here's your question: Who is the best hard-boiled crime writer of the 1920s, '30s, and '40s other than Hammett and Raymond Chandler? And why?
© Peter Rozovsky 2015