By Amsterdam’s Crime Fiction Buyer Jilles
(With apologies from your Blogmistress because this post is looong overdue. Due to the very hectic December month there was very little time for proper blogging – as you might have noticed – and I’m only catching up now. Some of these titles might have sold out over the holiday season, but we can always special order them for you.)
Since the 1850s, when the crime thriller was born, there have been a lot of thrillers and detectives published. Most of them are too far removed from our reality to really get into them like you would one on the bestseller list right now. Some of them have stood the test of time, with good reason, and are still in print. But with the massive amount of books coming out every month, supported by big marketing campaigns, these classics kind of get snowed under and can be almost forgotten. So here is a chance to reacquaint yourself with some of the best crime thrillers written in the last sixty years or so that we have in stock again in Amsterdam.
The Eiger Sanction – Trevanian
In the mid-1970s three back-to-back best sellers were provided by the reclusive and mysterious author who wrote under the name Trevanian. Of the three novels The Eiger Sanction was the best. It’s the thrilling story of a once famous mountaineer and retired government assassin-turned-college-art-history-professor who is forced back into the assassin business by the spymaster of a clandestine government agency that requires his services.
The Hunter, The Man With The Getaway Face – Richard Stark
Richard Stark is the pseudonym of Donald E. Westlake. Stark debuted in 1959, but only made a real impact when his first novel The Hunter came out in 1962. From 1962 to 1974, sixteen novels about the relentless and remorseless Parker, a tough, pent-up professional thief and a “bastard” who slaps women and makes them like it. On the one hand this is unrepented, hard-boiled tough-guy pulp, on the other hand, it’s terrific. It may be a period piece to some, but it’s also been hugely influential to writers like Elmore Leonard, John Banville, Max Allan Collins and Dan Simmons.
The Killer Inside Me, Pop. 1280, The Grifters – Jim Thompson
Jim Thompson wrote twenty-nine novels, all published as paperback originals. He also wrote two screenplays for the Stanley Kubrick films The Killing and Paths of Glory. An outstanding crime writer, the world of his fiction is filled with violence and corruption. In his noir stories he examines the ugly underbelly of American society. Several of his novels have been filmed, resulting in classic noir including The Killer Inside Me (1952), and The Grifters (1963 & 1990) and The Getaway (1972).
First Blood – David Morrell
One thing you need to know about First Blood: it has not that much to do with the film of the same name that gave us Rambo. This is the story about a young wanderer in a fatigue coat and long hair, a young Vietnam veteran who is pitted against a small-town cop, also a war veteran of the Korean war, who doesn’t know who he’s dealing with — or how far Rambo will take him into a life-and-death struggle through the woods, hills, and caves of rural Kentucky. Morrell doesn’t takes sides in this story about these two men who were both formed by their own war experiences. A great thriller from the ‘father’ of the action thriller.
Rogue Male – Geoffrey Household
This book is a classic thriller and a great suspense read about a professional ‘hunter’ who passes through an unnamed Central European country ruled by a vicious dictator. The hunter penetrates undetected into the dictator’s private compound and has his potential target in his sight when security catches him. Imprisoned, tortured and doomed to a painful death, the hunter makes an extraordinary escape, fleeing to the safety of his native England. But that safety is only temporary. His pursuers will not be diverted from their revenge. The British government cannot protect him without seeming to endorse his deed, so the hunter must flee society, and goes underground, literally. The hunter has become the hunted. Amazingly, this book was written in the 1930’s but reads like any Bourne/Bond/Mission Impossible thriller!
Nothing Lasts Forever – Roderick Thorp
Author Roderick Thorp knocked out thriller readers in the 70s with this fantastic bestseller. A dozen heavily armed terrorists have taken hostages in a Los Angeles skyscraper, issued their demands, and promised bloodshed. All goes according to plan. But they didn’t count on a death-defying, one-man cavalry with no shoes, no backup, and no intention of going down easily. As cops swarm outside, the terrorists wield machine guns. Sound familiar? Ho ho ho and merry Christmas to all with this thriller that was the basis of the movie Die Hard.
The Last Good Kiss, The Wrong Case – James Crumley
Described as the literary offspring of Raymond Chandler en Hunter S. Thompson, Crumley wrote tough, hard-boiled, and brilliantly suspenseful crime. None of the books that Crumley wrote ever became bestsellers, but he had a cult following and received great critical acclaim. The Last Good Kiss is an unforgettable detective story starring C. W. Sughrue, an investigator who kills time working at a topless bar. Hired to track down a derelict author, he ends up on the trail of a girl missing for more than a decade. The tense hunt becomes obsessive as Sughrue takes a journey through the dark underbelly of America’s sleaziest nightmares.
The Night Of The Hunter – Davis Grubb
The Night of the Hunter was written in 1953, became a bestseller and was a finalist for the 1955 National Book Award. It’s the story of a murderous ex-convict who misrepresents himself as a prison chaplain when he is released from prison. The “reverend” cons his cellmate’s widow into marrying him in hopes that her children will tell him where their father hid the money from his last robbery. After killing their mother he embarks on a hunt for the children, who have sensed his evil and are on the run. This book was made into the classic 1955 movie with Robert Mitchum as the reverend. Even now, after more that sixty years, this book still pulls its punches.