Saturday, April 10, 2010

Book Review: Charles Williams, Scorpion Reef [a.k.a. Gulf Coast Girl] (1955)

As part of my ongoing project of dividing noir into as many subcategories as possible, I am proclaiming
Scorpion Reef to be an example noir gonade, that special brand of noir in which a woman seizes control of a male protagonist's brain via his testicles and thereby leads him to believe things and to do things that no sane man would otherwise believe or do. Scorpion Reef is a frame narrative: The Joseph H. Hallock, an American tanker, finds a small, abandoned boat drifting in the Gulf of Mexico. On the boat, a coffee pot is still warm. Clearly, the boat has not been abandoned for long. But what has happened to its occupants? The answer lies in a log book in which our protagonist, Bill Manning, has written his story. Reading over the shoulder of the Hallock's master, we learn how Bill had his gonades seized by a tall blonde he calls "Swede" . . . and we learn how they ended up on that small boat with some bad guys . . . but enough about the plot. Bill Manning's story is somewhat interesting, and the novel's frame makes it even more so. The danger of spoilage prevents me from saying more than that. Grade: B


  1. David--
    In your search for noir sub-categories, how about "macho noir". I encountered a pretty good version of that in SHOOT by Douglas Fairbairn (1973). I wrote a review of it, too, and it appeared a couple of days ago on Check it out and see if you agree.

  2. Thanks for the tip! I'll check it out!

  3. I loved Charles Williams' books especially the Gold Medals. His whole oeuvre is worth reading.