Pulp poems, book reviews, and other tidbits from the noirboiled world
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Book Review: Don Tracy, Criss-Cross (1934)
Don Tracy's Criss-Cross was published the same year as James M. Cain's debut novel, The Postman Always Rings Twice. If Criss-Cross had been written two decades later, it would have fit easily into the Gold Medal line. Narrator Johnny Thompson, an ex-boxer who works as a guard for the Laird Armored Car Agency, wants nothing more than the love of femme fatale Anna Krebak, who dates Johnny when he has money, ignores Johnny when he is broke, and makes no effort to hide her desires and motivations: money, money, money. Johnny is no fool—he sees Anna for what she is—but he is still a fool—he cannot leave Anna well enough alone. Anna soon marries an acquaintance of Johnny's, a local hood who has money enough to keep her satisfied, and when the hood becomes ambitious for a big score, his thoughts turn, naturally, to Johnny and the Laird Armored Car Agency. The first half of Criss-Cross is a bit leisurely in pacing, but its second half is strong. Especially worth reading for those interested in the early development of noir. Grade: B+
A: Excellent. I intend to read it again. B: Good. I might read it again. C: So-so. I didn't mind reading it. D: Bad. I resented reading it. F: Atrocious. I finished it only because I'm compulsive that way.