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Paperback Fast One Book

ISBN: 067975184X

ISBN13: 9780679751847

Fast One

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good


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Book Overview

This description may be from another edition of this product. Billed as "the most hard-boiled novel of the 1930s" and featuring one of the most brutal finales in crime fiction history, some say this lost 1933 masterpiece took hard-boiled crime writing too far....

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Fast One is the Best One

This book is truly a hidden treasure and has never gotten the recognition that it deserves.

Rough, quick, terse. Cain's only novel.

Fast One is ranked as a noir classic. But why, and who would enjoy reading it? Paul Cain's only novel features simple, declarative sentences. Cain's direct prose effectively communicates the slam-bam violence that drives the story. Fast One is rough, action-packed, terse, staccato. Author Cain (1902-1966) published no stories after 1936, but continued his career as a B-film screenwriter into the late 1940's under the name "Peter Ruric." FYI: Another Black Mask writer, Carroll John Daly, wrote the first hard-boiled detective novel, The Snarl Of The Beast, in 1927. Blunt, quick, lean. Cain uses fewer conjunctions than any author I have read. This passage illustrates the point: `The house-phone rang; Borg answered it, said, "Send him up," hung up. He said, "Faber," over his shoulder, went to the door.' Cain generally uses the colon to introduce quotations. This convention, used by several pulp writers of the time, gives a more precise break, reinforcing the staccato rhythm of Cain's prose. Cain knows Hollywood and Los Angeles. This is a prohibition-era account of corrupt L.A. politicians, cops on the take, warring underworld figures, and amoral lovers desperately trying to move ahead. This is a uniquely American tale, and could only have been written during the depths of the Depression. The prose doesn't flow like Hammett's, but Cain's terse dialog still sounds pretty good. Cain uses no hyperbole, and this leanness holds up well. Gambler and gunman Kells leads a desperate race against fate. He refuses to be messed with by anyone. Every chapter has double-crosses, car chases, black-mailings, two-fisted action, bombings, stabbings, or shootings. The violent pace is unrelenting. After 200 pages of turmoil and continued introduction of more characters whose primary function is to die, I was ready for something else. The furious pace was numbing. The last chapters primarily concern Fells and his lover Granquist. Greater narrative power is achieved by focusing on the main characters and their fate. If there is any moral element in this tale of corruption and double-crossing, it is that Fells falls only when making a grab for the big score rather than purely seeking revenge against those who have wronged him. Cain's terse style and manic pacing have perhaps never been topped. However, the introduction of too many stock characters and too many sub-plots weakens the appeal. Fast One is fun reading for those wanting to investigate the only published novel from an influential Black Mask writer. However, readers wanting insights into the motivation of the main characters will not be drawn into the story. Four stars based on the strengths of Cain's blunt style and the stunning noir conclusion.

True beginning of the noir genre

A keen dive into L.A. noir, before anyone else, and a likely influence to Hammett's Red Harvest and its subsequent manifestations, from Yojimbo to A Few Dollars More to film Last Man Standing. Not the same story, however. Great voice- hear the word "homeboy" used correctly in context from nearly seventy years ago. Ellroy's White Jazz is possibly the only evolutionary offspring.

Tougher than a twenty minute egg

Every fan of Chandler and Hammet owes it to themselves to DEMAND that their local mystery store carry this book. From the tough as nails dialog to the bleak ending, bitter as a bucket of limes, this is the penultimate hardboiled novel. Fast One makes Grafton, Cornwall, et al look like lukewarm consommé at a spinsterish tearoom. The literary equivalent to a baseball bat baptism

The ultimate hard-boiled crime novel.

It's a crime that this book is currently out of print. If Paul Cain had published more novels (this was his only one, though he wrote many fine short stories), he might well be as famous as Hammett and Chandler. One reviewer, years ago, wrote that reading Fast One was like traveling to Antarctica -- once you arrived, there was no where else to go. In other words, this novel is truly the hardest, toughest, bleakest and bloodiest of the hard-boiled genre. It defines the outer edges of tough-guy fiction. Spare, terse and without redeeming social value, it is a remarkable work. I highly recommend it. Do whatever you can to find a copy, but you can't have mine
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