Charles Williams: Hell Hath No Fury

“It began to come home to me then that maybe I didn’t know all there was to know about her.  I began to sense a steel-trap deadliness of purpose operating somewhere behind that baby stare and sensuous face.  She was as tough as a shark, and she got what she wanted. She’d be hard to whip, because she got fat on her enemies.”

Charles Williams does Southern Pulp with Hell Hath No Fury, sometimes called The Hot Spot. We get a used car salesman.  By accident he stumbles on great, criminal opportunity: a small town bank left almost deserted anytime a fire breaks out.  He commits arson and robs the bank.  In the meantime, he gets involved with two women: one, a stunning young innocent, the other, the wife of his boss, a nymphomaniac with a crazy streak and an unbreakable will. Soon, he’s stuck in a vice. He’s got the cops, the wife, a blackmailer, and his own ambitions to reconcile without getting killed, or worse.

This is my first Williams and he’s damn good. He’s not flashy, sometimes he explains to much, but hell, he creates a world, however small, where anything can happen, where anyone could turn bad at any moment.  True noir.

The writer of many hardboiled novels, some screenplays, Williams committed suicide in 1975.

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