The novel stars Cameron, a rugged WW2 veteran who has recently been released from prison after paralyzing a man who was sleeping with Cameron's mendacious wife. The prison stint left Cameron with very little purpose and even less money. To solve both issues, Cameron travels to France to reunite with his old war buddy Thorne for a potential heist.
It's explained that during the war the allies dropped arms and gold to the Maquisards, a fierce underground band of French Resistance fighters. After the war was over and the Germans were gone, no one bothered to locate the whereabouts of these guns and riches. In 1945, the gold was cached by certain parties and left undetected. Now, five years later, Thorne finds himself in debt to a local gambling house and forced to make a daring venture to clear his account. Teaming with Cameron, the duo aim to move the gold to Switzerland undetected by authorities. After one night in the city, Cameron finds Thorne murdered. Who killed him? Who else is after the gold?
The upside is that Cameron is a great character, and I loved his backstory with the cheating wife and his two love interests in the novel. Both were just so sexy and Hunt expertly describes these encounters. The main problem, and there are many, is that Cameron isn't a formidable hero. He is routinely assaulted by the enemy and left to mend his wounds for another chance. He's just so average in terms of respectability but has the makings of a tough guy – war veteran, paralyzing his wife's lover, chick magnet. Further, I couldn't grasp the dense, overly contrived plot. Even Cameron seems confused with what's happening with the gold and just summarizes the confusion with a lackadaisical “I guess that makes sense?” statement.
My largest complaint is that Hunt uses this book as a way to boast of his knowledge of French locales and cuisine. Large parts of the book are in French – names, dialogue, food, wine, hotels, bars – and I found myself missing key moments of the story due to the language barrier. Hunt was a legit spy and his expertise in European affairs with the likes of Russian commisars, the Tireurs-et-Partisans, the FTP (?) and the Maquisards is impressive. I wanted a slick action-adventure novel with treasure seekers, paid assassins and beautiful women but Hunt failed to produce a compelling story among these unnecessary details.
Nevertheless, I'm happy I read the book, and I still have a lot of respect for Hunt's writing and the numerous novels he produced. However, they aren't all gems and The Violent Ones proves that.
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I love the fact that everytime you read a Hunt book, you bring up the espionage and watergate. Gives it a new layer of weirdness, but also, let's not forget who this guy was.ReplyDelete
"The Violent Ones" is also included in the ebook, "The Best Noir Pulp Fiction Megapack: 25 Hardboiled Novels". For what it's worth, the compilation also contains:ReplyDelete
The Sharp Edge – Richard Himmel
Fare Prey - Laine Fisher
Root of Evil – James Cross
One for the Road - Robert Dietrich
The Captive – Norman Daniels
Self-Made Widow – Philip Race
The Chinese Keyhole – Richard Himmel
The Scarlet Venus – Chalmers Green
I’ll Find You – Richard Himmell
The Lusting Drive – Ovid Demaris
The Judas Hour – Howard Hunt
I Like It Tough – James Howard
Killer Take All – Philip Race
Be My Victim – Robert Dietrich
And Be My Love – Ledru Baker Jr.
The Long Night – Ovid Demaris
The Cheaters – Ledru Baker Jr.
Johnny Come Deadly – Philip Race
Die on Easy Street – James Howard
The Hoods Take Over – Ovid Demaris
Beyond Desire - Richard Himmel
Frisco Flat – Stuart James
Brute Madness – Ledru Baker, Jr.
Kiss or Kill - John Burton Thompson
Thanks for mentioning the THE BEST PULP NOIR SUPER PACK, Dennis! There's now a second volume, 25 hard-boiled, pulp noir novels written by 15 masters of the genre, back-in-print for the first time in 60 years, in one thrilling, action-packed, 3412 page collection bursting with crime fiction greatness. :-)Delete
The novels are:
The Murder Specialist by Bud Clifton
The Enforcer by Ovid Demaris
I'll Get You Yet by James Howard
The Bad Girls by Bud Clifton
Carnival Girl by Max Gareth
The Cheat by Robert Dietrich
Cry of the Flesh by Richard Himmel
Blow Out My Torch by James Howard
The Dark of Summer by E.M. Parsons
Deadhead by Charles Marquis Warren
End of a Stripper by Robert Dietrich
The Gold-Plated Sewer by Ovid Demaris
Hot Blood by John Burton Thompson
Judge Not My Sins by Stuart James
Let Him Go Hang by Bud Clifton
Lust for Youth by Warner Jackson
Murder on her Mind by Robert Dietrich
One More for the Road by John Burton Thompson
Outlaw Breed by William Byron Mowery
Ride The Gold Mare by Ovid Demaris
Run For Your Life by Sterling Noel
So Fair, So Evil by Paul Connolly
Swamp Nymph by John Burton Thompson
Two Deaths Must Die by Richard Himmel
Pieces of the Game by Lee Gifford