Saturday, September 26, 2015

My Bouchercon 2015 panels: Max Allan Collins on Jack Carter's Law

How tough and convincingly authentic is Ted Lewis' 1974 novel Jack Carter's Law?  Here's what Max Allan Collins had to say in his introduction to Syndicate Books' recent reissue of the novel:
"Spillane's fever-dream Manhattan is never as real as Lewis's London, and while [Mike] 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 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.
Jordan Foster will discuss Ted Lewis as part of a panel I'll moderate at Bouchercon 2015 in Raleigh, N.C.,  called "Beyond Hammett, Chandler, Spillane, and Macdonald." The panel happens Thursday, Oct. 8, at 2:30 p.m.
© Peter Rozovsky 2015 

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