Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Book Review: Lionel White, Clean Break [a.k.a. The Killing] (1955)

Johnny Clay, just paroled, masterminds a complicated racetrack robbery. His inspiration is that he will work with men remarkable only for their desperation, not their criminal backgrounds. Thus, when the job is done, the cops will have no idea whom to suspect. Lionel White's third-person narrative shifts deftly among the parties involved, sometimes making small jumps backward in time as it moves from character to character. The characters are fairly flat, and the prose is there just to get the story told, but these shifts in perspective keep things interesting and keep the pages turning. Grade: A-


  1. I've enjoyed all the Lionel White books I've read. The guy knew how to write caper novels!

  2. Just read this myself, and watched the film. I liked it, but I have to agree with you there on the flatness of the prose and characters. They're stock characters: the dirty cop, the guy with a sick wife, the mastermind fresh out of jail.

    But they're enjoyable stereotypes, and I suppose that's what's important.