Wednesday 23 June 2010

New Rabes: The Out is Death and Bring Me Another Corpse by Peter Rabe

On Monday I mentioned I'd have a couple more Peter Rabe books turning up soon, and here they are:

A 1959 first UK edition of The Out is Death (originally issued in the US in 1957), with a cover by Mitchell Hooks, and a 1960 UK edition of Bring Me Another Corpse (originally issued in the US in 1959), cover artist unknown. Both of these were published in paperback in the UK by Frederick Muller, in association with Fawcett Gold Medal, the original US publisher – essentially the same books and covers, but with a UK price on the cover and UK title/copyright page. And they're both Daniel Port books – Rabe's loose series of novels featuring a reluctant hoodlum, numbers two and five, I believe.

I'm currently halfway through the first Daniel Port novel:

and I'm beginning to see Rabe's influence on Donald Westlake. Rabe has a really understated way of dealing with, say, violence, for instance. In another writer's hands a violent sequence might be described thoroughly, but Rabe almost completely avoids the violence itself, simply describing the effects in a blunt, factual manner – much like Westlake does in his Parker novels. Occasionally it's almost comedic. Here's one example:

Port knocked on the door... Kirby opened it. He took one look, a smirk came over his face, and he stepped back ceremoniously. "Walk in! Walk while you can walk," he added, and started to laugh.
Simon stepped to one side so Port could go in first, and then he followed without haste. He walked slowly up to Kirby and moved his arm towards Kirby so that it looked like nothing. Kirby collapsed on the floor and Simon shut the door quietly.

Or how about this, from the same chapter. Here, Port is addressing the unfortunate Kirby's partner, George:

"And now I want to ask you something else. You know this girl Katie?"
"I don't know no girl Katie."
"Yesterday. The one you took away from my friend Simon."
"Oh," said George and looked at Simon.
He meant to say more, but Simon had thrown the chair at him.

Great stuff. I reckon I'll definitely be trying to track down the books in the series I'm missing.

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