Saturday, October 15, 2016

Charles G. Booth: What do you know about him?

Charles G. Booth is largely unread today, according to The Black Lizard Big of Pulps, where I have just read his story "Stag Party." Even the Thrilling Detective Web Site, my first source for posts like this.

That's all too bad, because "Stag Party"'s stripped-down toughness reminds me a bit of Paul Cain, the greatest of the hard-boiled writers who followed Dashiell Hammett at Black Mask, and one of the very few, perhaps the only one, whose writing qualifies as noir.

"Stag Party"  doesn't dig as deeply into the doom and resignation that make noir what it is, and its plotting is weaker, but it does contain such Cain-worthy bits as:
"I've been in pictures.' Her voice was husky. `That's where you've seen me.' 

"`No, it isn't,' McFee said. `Sit down.'"
"Cruikshank was careless with his eggs."
Booth also worked bits of social-realist type description into the story a good deal less obtrusively and to better narrative purpose than is often the case with such writing, and his bitter cops sound a good deal more like real people than such characters often do. So maybe Booth has a touch of Horace McCoy in him, too.

"Stag Party" has its protagonist, McFee of the Blue Shield Detective Agency, address one female character continually as "sister," and the story repeatedly mentions another by her last name only.  Each is reminiscent of Cain's referring to the protagonist's girlfriend in Fast One most often solely by her last name: Granquist.

Here's the most thorough discussion I've been able to find of Booth, on the Bear Alley blog. All right, readers: What should I know about Charles G. Booth? What should I read by him?

© Peter Rozovsky 2016

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