Friday, November 3, 2023

Black Friday

 Black Friday (1954) by David Goodis

Hart is on the run from a murder charge in New Orleans. He heads north on a train and when he spots undercover cops he jumps off the train in Philadelphia, leaving his suitcase and everything he has behind. He's got very little money in his pocket (his stash was in the suitcase as well...) and, coming from the south, is not prepared for the wintry weather. He resorts to theft to get himself a warm overcoat and then as he's escaping from the area of the robbery walks into the middle of a gangland "disagreement." He winds up trapped in a suburban house with the gang (four psychotic criminals and two women who run the house for them) who planning a big heist on Friday the 13th--forced to think on his feet, find a way into the leader's good graces, and manage to stay alive. 

I've said this before on the blog, but it bears repeating: I am not a noir/hard-boiled devotee. Most of what I've accumulated in the genre have come in lots of books on ebay where there were some highly desired books in with an assortment of what the seller was pleased to call "mysteries." Would I have deliberately bought this book if it had been on its own? No. But, man, Goodis can write. His first line is so telling of the situation Hart finds himself in--not only is the winter cold closing in on him, but so is the law and the crooks he's gotten himself mixed up with. There is no way out that won't result in heartache (at least) and with Hart in a situation far worse than where he started (most likely). Hart's story is even more affecting when we learn where he comes from and why he killed and is on the run. It's a brutal read--but, oddly enough, beautifully written and it expresses the loneliness and desperation of the man on the run so well. ★★★★

First line: January cold came in from two rivers, formed four walls around Hart and closed in on him.

Last line: He had no idea where he was going and he didn't care.


Deaths = 4 (3 shot; one beaten to death)

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