Monday, July 07, 2008

Hell Is Too Crowded, by Jack Higgins

(pb; 1962)

From the back cover:

"It all seemed to be chance...

"The face swimming at him out of the fog.
The strange young woman appearing suddenly.
The invitation to her flat. The offer of a drink.
The drink was the last thing Matt Brady remembered.

"When he woke, the police were swarming about -- and the body of the girl was lying near him on the floor. Of course, they did not believe his story. He was charged with murder and sent to prison for life.

"There were few prisons strong enough to hold Matt Brady. And Matt knew he had to break out of this one fast. He had to find out the truth behind this bizarre nightmare. Who wanted to frame him? Who wanted him out of the way?

"All he remembered was a face in the fog, a half-remembered face that was his only link with sanity..."


Lean, hard-to-put-down noiresque/action novel that grabs you from the first word, and doesn't let up. Higgins's story is fast-moving and straight-forward, with a few plot-tasty twists that keep with noir standards. It doesn't stand out, storywise, but Higgins's exemplary writing renders that point moot -- Matt Brody, much like Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer, is a perfect noir creation: pissed-off, smart, driven, and violent (or roughly tender) at the right moments.

Worth your time, great for an afternoon read. Excellent B-movie material, in the right cinematic hands.

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