Monday, January 21, 2019

Tears Are For Angels

During the paperback explosion of the 1950s, many writers of different stripes tried to ride the post-pulp cultural wave with varying success. Fawcett Gold Medal released three stand-alone noir paperback original novels by New York Times columnist Tom Wicker using the pseudonym Paul Connolly, including the 1952 effort, “Tears are for Angels.”

When we meet our narrator, Harry London, he’s only got only one arm, and he’s alone in a remote cabin - drunk and depressed about something to do with his ex-wife. He’s visited by an attractive female named Jean Cummings whom he greets with suspicion and violence when she wants to hear his story. These opening scenes are a bit frustrating because the reader has no idea what’s happening or how Harry got into this position. Stick with it, though. You’re in for quite a ride.

It’s midway through chapter five - about 15% into the paperback - that the flashback begins enlightening the reader about how London finds himself in such a bad place. I don’t want to give too much away, but there’s an infidelity, a murder, a frame-up, and a cover-up followed by a scheme to exact revenge. There are many clever plot twists here that you must read to experience. This a great book written by an author with clear literary aspirations and an ability to craft a plot utilizing prose far exceeding most of the era’s noir stories. Things get a bit melodramatic towards the end, but the quality of the writing never fails. 

“Tears are for Angels” really is a quality work of forgotten noir fiction that hasn’t been legally reprinted since its release over 66 years ago. It would be a natural fit for a modern release at the hands of Stark House or Hard Case Crime. For the rest of us, it’s just great reading. Recommended. 

Buy a copy of the book HERE

1 comment:

  1. Stark House will be reissuing this book next month, February 2020. I received an ARC back in December. Reading it now and will be posting a review at my own blog -- Pretty Sinister Books -- the first week of February. You might be interested in finding a copy of Tom Wicker's first novel published under his own name. The Devil Must is an indictment of racial inequality in the American South done in the context of a murder mystery/police investigation. Frequent use of the word nigger and harsh character opinions of Black Americans in general, unfortunately, will probably prevent it from ever being reprinted. Nevertheless, it's just as good as the work he did as "Paul Connolly."