Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Big Clock - Kenneth Fearing (21/81)

Category: Noir/Hardboiled
C1946 175pages 5 stars

Pauline Delos is dead. But who killed her? The man spotted in the alley beside her building, or the one seen entering her apartment later that same night? The Big Clock is about a man hunt. Or more precisely, two men hunting each other. But they're not strangers. They know each other, even work together. They both know which one of them did the deed. The only question is who will take the blame?

This little noir is fast read, a real page-turner. The clock motif really helps with pacing; you feel the walls closing in on our protagonist(s). It's not a who-did-it but rather a how-did-they-get-away-with-it. It does feel dated, but truthfully, that's something you live with when you read in this genre. I am rather peeved at the Introduction, which gives away quite a bit of the story. I don't understand why they put that type of material in the front and not afterwards.

I picked this book because I read that it was the basis of the movie No Way Out. There was another, earlier, film made off of it too. I can see why they keep coming back to it, it's very clever. It reminds me of the movies The Fugitive and Out of Time and of Ira Levin's A Kiss Before Dying, which was one of my favorite books last year.

favorite quotes:

"The awfulness of Monday morning is the world's great common denominator. To the millionaire and the coolie it is the same, because there can be nothing worse."

"It came to me again that a child drinking milk has the same vacant, contented expression of the well-fed cow who originally gave it. There is a real spiritual kinship there."

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