Thursday, August 31, 2017

Remembering the “Forgottens”

When, in April 2008, Detroit short-story author (and now novelist) Patricia “Patti” Abbott launched what would soon become a Web-wide Friday tribute to “forgotten books,” it seemed like an excellent idea with a limited shelf life. Certainly, I thought, this weekly delivery of posts about what Abbott called “books we love but might have forgotten over the years” would soon run its course, as bloggers and other literary pundits sought fresh challenges, convinced they’d done enough already to highlight works deserving of renewed attention. But I must have been projecting, believing my own tendency as a freelance journalist (one sadly divorced from the collective energies of an office environment) to lose interest in even worthwhile efforts over time would be shared broadly. I had not expected that nine years later, the Friday forgotten books venture would still be going strong, with a few writers—including Bill Crider, Martin Edwards, B.V. Lawson, and James Reasoner—ponying up fresh posts with astounding regularity.

The Rap Sheet’s contributions to Abbott’s series began quite early on, with indefatigable British correspondent Ali Karim writing on May 2, 2008, about H.F. Saint’s Memoirs of an Invisible Man. After that, our “Books You Have to Read” posts accumulated quickly, with each week’s guest reviewer asked to pass the baton off to another person he or she thought could further enliven the mix. Some weeks even brought more than one new nomination to the lineup, so enthusiastically did crime novelists and critics take to the task. Within a little over two years, The Rap Sheet had touted 100 unjustly neglected books.

At that stage, I decided to slow things down to a saner pace. The result being, though, that it’s taken seven years for this blog to amass another 49 “Books You Have to Read” posts. And tomorrow The Rap Sheet will finally publish its 150th such piece—a look back at William Murray’s 1967 “sin and surf and sand” novel, The Sweet Ride.

Glancing over the list below of our “forgotten books” endorsements, I am pleased by their diversity. Only a handful of authors—Eric Ambler, Ellery Queen, William Campbell Gault, Bernard Wolfe, David Markson, Derek Raymond, Newton Thornburg, Jim Thompson, and John D. MacDonald—have had more than one example of their work considered. I’d like to see more writers of color featured, but at least there are many women included on the roster. Also needed are additional non-American wordsmiths, and more tales that combine crime fiction with other genres, such as science fiction. If all this sounds as if I am planning to continue The Rap Sheet’s “Books You Have to Read” series, that’s because I am. There are still other works I would like to remark upon, and I know Steven Nester—who has become a frequent contributor—has further ideas up his own sleeve. With any luck, some of the reviewers and authors reading this post will drop me an e-mail note, suggesting vintage yarns they’d like to write about, too.

Following each book title and author name here, I’ve identified (in parentheses) the person who commented on the work.

The Sweet Ride, by William Murray (Steven Nester)
Dog Soldiers, by Robert Stone (Steven Nester)
Beverly Gray in the Orient, by Clair Blank (Carmen Amato)
Durango Street, by Frank Bonham (Steven Nester)
The Origin of Evil, by Ellery Queen (Vince Keenan)
Angels, by Denis Johnson (Steven Nester)
Desert Town, by Ramona Stewart (Steven Nester)
Junky, by William S. Burroughs (Steven Nester)
A Dandy in Aspic, by Derek Marlow (Jim Napier)
Persuader, by Lee Child (Diane Capri)
Dreamland, by Newton Thornburg (Steven Nester)
Sidewalk Caesar, by Donald Honig (Steven Nester)
The Hunter, by Richard Stark
(Terrence P. McCauley)
Epitaph for a Tramp,
by David Markson (Steven Nester)
The Fear Makers,
by Darwin L. Teilhet (Steven Nester)
The Black and the Red,
by Elliot Paul (Steven Nester)
The Late Risers,
by Bernard Wolfe (Steven Nester)
Epitaph for a Dead Beat,
by David Markson (Steven Nester)
The Red Carnelian, by Phyllis A. Whitney (Erica Obey)
Siam, by Lily Tuck (Jame DiBiasio)
The Name of the Game Is Death, by Dan J. Marlowe (Jed Power)
They Don’t Dance Much, by James Ross (Steven Nester)
In Deep, by Bernard Wolfe (Steven Nester)
Yardie, by Victor Headley (Michael G. Jacob)
The Unquiet Night, by Patricia Carlon (Patrick Balester)
Carambola, by David Dodge (Randal S. Brandt)
A Rage in Harlem, by Chester Himes (Ayo Onatade)
Life’s Work, by Jonathan Valin (Linda Barnes)
Tapping the Source, by Kem Nunn (Steven Nester)
Bimini Run, by E. Howard Hunt (Steven Nester)
True Confessions, by John Gregory Dunne (Steven Nester)
Billy Phelan’s Greatest Game, by William Kennedy (Steven Nester)
Cut Numbers, by Nick Tosches (Steven Nester)
Shaft Among the Jews, by Ernest Tidyman (Steve Aldous)
The Egyptian Cross Mystery, by Ellery Queen (Tony Hays)
The Labyrinth Makers, by Anthony Price (Jim Napier)
The Dead Lie Still, by William L. Stuart (J.F. Norris)
The Man with a Load of Mischief, by Martha Grimes (Dana Cameron)
New Hope for the Dead, by Charles Willeford (Kevin McCarthy)
An Unsuitable Job for a Woman, by P.D. James
(Kristine Kathryn Rusch)
Money, Money, Money, by Ed McBain (Richard L. Pangburn)
Street of the Lost, by David Goodis (Michael Lipkin)
Doctor Frigo, by Eric Ambler (James Thompson)
Rose, by Martin Cruz Smith (Ann Parker)
A Gypsy Good Time, by Gustav Hasford (Dan Fleming)
Breakheart Pass, by Alistair MacLean (J. Kingston Pierce)
Up at the Villa, by W. Somerset Maugham (Sam Millar)
The Prone Gunman, by Jean-Patrick Manchette (R.J. Ellory)
The Other Girl, by Theodora Keogh (Steven Powell)
Diva, by Delacorta (Ronald Tierney)
The Iron Gates, by Margaret Millar (Patti Abbott)
Tony and Susan, by Austin Wright (Maxim Jakubowski)
The Song Dog, by James McClure (Stanley Trollip)
Caleb Williams, by William Godwin (Andrew Taylor)
Drink to Yesterday, by Manning Coles (Irene Fleming)
Thumbprint, by Friedrich Glauser (Patrick Lennon)
The Black Path of Fear, by Cornell Woolrich (Thomas Kaufman)
Blanche on the Lam, by Barbara Neely (Naomi Hirahara)
The Zimmerman Telegram, by Barbara Tuchman (J. Sydney Jones)
Murder Fantastical, by Patricia Moyes (Jim Napier)
Death of a Peer, by Ngaio Marsh (Les Blatt)
Shoot, by Douglas Fairbairn (Mike Dennis)
Train, by Pete Dexter (David Thayer)
The Great Zapruder Film Hoax,
by James H. Fetzer (Michael Atkinson)
The Adventures of Max Latin,
by Norbert Davis (Ed Lin)
Swag, by Elmore Leonard (Mike Dennis)
Build My Gallows High, by Geoffrey Homes (Thomas Kaufman)
Light of Day, by Eric Ambler
(Leighton Gage)
Alley Kat Blues, by Karen Kijewski
(Karen E. Olson)
The Most Dangerous Game, by Gavin Lyall (Calum MacLeod)
The Saint-Fiacre Affair, by Georges Simenon (Matt Beynon Rees)
The Body on the Bench, by Dorothy B. Hughes (Jeri Westerson)
The Drowner, by John D. MacDonald (Ace Atkins)
Dead Man Upright, by Derek Raymond (Ray Banks)
I Was Dora Suarez, by Derek Raymond (Cathi Unsworth)
How the Dead Live, by Derek Raymond (Russel D. McLean)
The Devil’s Home on Leave, by Derek Raymond (John Harvey)
He Died with His Eyes Open, by Derek Raymond (Tony Black)
The Staked Goat, by Jeremiah Healy (Libby Fischer Hellmann)
Nightmare Alley, by William Linday Gresham (Kelli Stanley)
The First Deadly Sin, by Lawrence Sanders (L.J. Sellers)
The Dolly Dolly Spy, by Adam Diment (Tom Cain)
Freak, by Michael Collins (Russell Atwood)
Who Killed Palomino Molero?, by Mario Vargas Llosa
(Marshall Browne)
The Cracked Earth, by John Shannon (Dick Adler)
The Last One Left, by John D. MacDonald (Bill Cameron)
Room to Swing, by Ed Lacy (Art Taylor)
Someone Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe, by Nan and Ivan Lyons (Jeffrey Cohen)
Solomon’s Vineyard, by Jonathan Latimer (Mike Ripley)
Modesty Blaise, by Peter O’Donnell (Vicki Delany)
Modus Operandi, by Robin W. Winks (Stephen Miller)
The Eighth Circle, by Stanley Ellin (J. Kingston Pierce)
The Woman Chaser, by Charles Willeford (Kathryn Miller Haines)
The Friends of Eddie Coyle, by George V. Higgins (William Landay)
GBH, by Ted Lewis (Ray Banks)
The Criminal, by Jim Thompson (Nate Flexer)
Trent’s Last Case, by E.C. Bentley (Stefanie Pintoff)
The Depths of the Forest, by Eugenio Fuentes (Ann Cleeves)
Putting the Boot In, by Dan Kavanagh (Michael Walters)
Switch, by William Bayer (Col Bury)
Sympathy for the Devil, by Kent Anderson (John Shannon)
The Quiet Strangers, by John Buxton Hilton (Stephen Booth)
Raffles: The Amateur Cracksman, by E.W. Hornung (Chris Ewan)
No Orchids for Miss Blandish, by James Hadley Chase (James R. Benn)
War Against the Mafia,
by Don Pendleton (Matt Hilton)
Daddy Cool,
by Donald Goines (Gary Phillips)
Edith’s Diary,
by Patricia Highsmith (Jason Starr)
Night of the Panther,
by E.C. Ayres (J. Kingston Pierce)
Death of a Unicorn,
by Peter Dickinson (Keith Raffel)
The Andromeda Strain, by Michael Crichton (Anthony Rainone)
The Bigger They Come, by A.A. Fair (J. Kingston Pierce)
Death of a Citizen, by Donald Hamilton (Rob Kantner)
The Double Take, by Roy Huggins (J. Kingston Pierce)
The Overseer, by Jonathan Rabb (Simon Wood)
A Coffin for Dimitrios, by Eric Ambler (Ali Karim)
The Scarf, by Robert Bloch (John Peyton Cooke)
The Ebony Tower, by John Fowles (Michael G. Jacob)
The Grifters, by Jim Thompson (Chris Knopf)
A Clubbable Woman, by Reginald Hill (Simon Wood)
The Bloody Bokhara, by William Campbell Gault (David Fulmer)
Journey into Fear, by Eric Ambler (Charles Cumming)
Despair, by Vladimir Nabokov (Robert Eversz)
Marathon Man, by William Goldman (Linwood Barclay)
Mayhem, by J. Robert Janes (Cara Black)
The Caves of Steel, by Isaac Asimov (Jane Finnis)
The 12:30 from Croydon, by Freeman Wills Crofts
(Dolores Gordon-Smith)
The Golden Crucible, by Jean Stubbs (Amy Myers)
Rilke on Black, by Ken Bruen (Tony Black)
The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey (Judith Cutler)
Nine Times Nine, by Anthony Boucher (Jeffrey Marks)
The Three Coffins, by John Dickson Carr (Edward Marston)
Some Must Watch, by Ethel Lina White (Mary Reed)
The Golden Gate Murders, by Peter King (Anthony Flacco)
The Big Bow Mystery, by Israel Zangwill (Will Thomas)
Coffin’s Got the Dead Guy on the Inside, by Keith Snyder
(Timothy Hallinan)
The Twisted Thing, by Mickey Spillane (Max Allan Collins)
The Falling Man, by Mark Sadler (Robert J. Randisi)
Don’t Cry for Me, by William Campbell Gault (Ed Gorman)
No Human Involved, by Barbara Seranella (Louise Ure)
Watcher in the Shadows, by Geoffrey Household (Mike Ripley)
Cutter and Bone, by Newton Thornburg (Kirk Russell)
Funeral in Berlin, by Len Deighton (Tony Broadbent)
God’s Pocket, by Pete Dexter (David Corbett)
Chinaman’s Chance, by Ross Thomas (Tim Maleeny)
I Am the Cheese, by Robert Cormier (Steve Hockensmith)
The Honest Dealer, by Frank Gruber (Dick Lochte)
When the Sacred Gin Mill Closes, by Lawrence Block (Dick Adler)
The January Corpse, by Neil Albert (Kevin Burton Smith)
The Lunatic Fringe, by William L. DeAndrea (J. Kingston Pierce)
Memoirs of an Invisible Man, by H.F. Saint (Ali Karim)

READ MORE:Kirkus Reviews’ ‘Rediscovered Reads’ Series,”
by J. Kingston Pierce.


pattinase (abbott) said...

The only sad thing about the nine-year venture is that we have lost some of our greatest reviewers (Ed Gorman, Ron Scheer and other less regular contributors I am forgetting) and I never expected to be around long enough for that to happen. And also thanks to Todd Mason who spells me when I have to be away from the desk. And thanks to you, Jeff, for making this more widely known and sharing the tributes to forgotten books with me.

Todd Mason said...

And there are so many books left to do...and not solely books, but mostly...

Todd Mason said...

Randy Johnson another consistent contributor whom we've lost altogether...I hope we haven't had too many other contributors who couldn't rejoin us if they wanted. And a fine list on contributions from this blog.