Sunday, April 10, 2011

Book Review: Gil Brewer, Nude on Thin Ice (1960)

In the opening pages of Nude on Thin Ice, you can hear the plot gears grind before Gil Brewer gets his machine in gear: Our noir anti-hero, Ken McCall, is summoned to console Nanette Schroeder, the widow of a recently deceased acquaintance. The acquaintance, Carl Schroeder, was a lecherous bastard who didn’t live long enough to spend his fortune. Ken heads to the Schroeder residence with dollar signs in his eyes, but he arrives to find that he is not the only one with designs on the dead man’s money. In the trajectory of Brewer’s career, Nude on Thin Ice is remarkable primarily for its heightened sexual content. Dating to his earliest days with Gold Medal, Brewer was forced to reign in the “perverse” sexual content of his writing, but by 1960 he had considerably more freedom. In Nude on Thin Ice, he doesn’t use that freedom tastefully, but in noir this is not necessarily a bad thing. Grade: B


  1. Always curious about this book because of its blatant title. I'm surprised that you gave it so high a letter grade.

    I aways figured that Brewer was fighting sexual demons his whole life. Most of his heroes seemed content to wind up in jail of half dead after they joined some dirty woman on a rampage.

  2. Nude on Thin Ice is the twenty-first Brewer novel that I've read (and graded), and it does get to be a strange business after a while. Occasionally one of his novels will be radically different from the others (A Killer Is Loose comes immediately to mind), but when so many are so similar, what do you do? Do you grade Brewer down more and more for repeating himself, or do you grade him for how well he is using the formula? I'm doing the latter, and this one was sufficiently competent and creepy (in part because of its sexual content) that I thought it was pretty good. Naturally, your mileage may vary.

  3. You can't go wrong with Gil Brewer.