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Hell hath no fury by Charles Williams
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Hell hath no fury (1953)

by Charles Williams

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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The Hot Spot by Charles Williams is such fantastically good pulp that, from the very first bite of it to the final morsel, it is as good as it gets. What descriptions can I use to describe it? Awesome. Wonderful. Far out. Top notch. Every single sentence in this book drips with pulpy goodness. It is a rich treat so filled with the good stuff that you just drown in it. To put it in a nutshell, if you like the good pulp fiction from the fifties, you can't do any better than Charles Williams' The Hot Spot.

It is plot-wise a story about Harry Madox who has drifted from one job to another and ran into Harshaw somewhere in Oklahoma or something who offered him a job as a car salesman in a small town. It's a job so Madox bites, but boy. maybe you shouldn't just grab the first thing that comes along no matter how hard up you are. Nothing wrong with the job. It's a straight arrow sales job, or at least as straight as car sales can be. But, there's this twenty-one year old blonde in the loan office who Madox can't take his eyes off. And, worse for him perhaps, is Harshaw's wife, she's ripe, perhaps over-ripe and lucious and she wants Madox whenever Harshaw isn't around. There's also one bank in this small one-horse town and, when there's a fire in a cafe, everyone in town including the bank tellers peel out to help put the fire out, leaving one doddering old fellow in the bank with all the drawers still open. Anyone who wants to can just waltz in and take what they want. All they have to do is get past one old dude and a blind guy who sells pencils on the corner. Of course. Madox can't resist. "Why not." he explains. "In this world you took what you wanted; you didn't stand around and what for someone to bring it to you." What he didn't count one was that bosses' wife is onto his game and the country sheriff isn't any dumb fool.

What follows is a hardboiled masterpiece that just drips with the good stuff. It doesn't matter how many napkins you bring with you, this stuff is going to drip all over you, just spilling out of the pages.
The story opens with Madox starting to tell Harshaw to get somebody else to run his errands when he sees the girl (Gloria Harper) come in and changes his mind. "[S]omehow she made you think of a long- stemmed yellow rose." Her hair was the color of honey or of straw, with sun-burned streaks in it. Somehow, Williams, in telling this tale, without even trying to, creates an awkward tension between them, but its a tension that burns hot and passionate. Even after they part that day, he "couldn't get rid of her entirely because random parts of her kept poking into [his] mind, the odd gravity about her eyes, the way she walked, and the way the top of her head reminded you of a kid with sunburned hair."

But that's nothing compared to the hot molten metal that is Harshaw's young wife. "Somehow she made you think of an overloaded peach tree." She was "lucious" and "overripe." And, when Madox goes to see her, "She had on a little-girl sort of summer dress with puffed-out short sleeves tied with bows, and was rattling ice cubes in a highball glass." But, "the teenage dress didn't do anything for her overripe figure except to wander on to the track and get run over, and she looked like a burlesque queen in bobby socks." When he leaves her place, he can't figure out how to "push the sultry weights of Dolores Harshaw off [his] mind. She was dangerous in a town like this." And, there was "a steel-trap deadliness" about her. "She was as tough as a shark, and she got what she wanted."

Charles Williams can write like few others can. He tells more in a sentence or two then other writers can tell in whole chapters or even in whole books. He takes the reader on a journey with him, on a red- hot burning journey to hell and back. These characters are alive. There are no cardboard cutouts here.
( )
  DaveWilde | Sep 22, 2017 |



I much prefer the original title and cover of the original edition...Visceral tone...lots of carnality...

I've finished this book when in Lisbon the temperature has risen to 43ºC... The book's "temperature" and the weather temperature are one of a kind...

This story of a guy caught in a web of two-timing, bribery, deceit and murder is what makes Noir what it is today.

The book was published in 1953. I was quite surprised with more than a few suggested scenes of sex.

"Hell hat no Fury" gives us two alluring female characters to embody the polar opposites of saintly and femme fatale roles.

It’s very easy to look through Maddox’s eyes and see two alternate lives stretching out ahead. He thinks he is master of his own destiny,ie, he believes he can control events, but this is Noir, and there is no escape from the web of fate...

" ( )
  antao | Dec 10, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charles Williamsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Phillips, Barye, 1924-1969.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Madox, a dull town, a beautiful woman, and an easy bank heist spell doom In a town so small that Main Street is only three blocks long, there isn't a lot to do-other than work, ogle women, and think about fast ways to get rich. After a year of aimless wandering, Madox has landed here, nearly broke and with no prospects but a dead-end job selling cars to yokels. Until one afternoon a fire at the burger joint draws the attention of everyone in town-including the men who are supposed to be guarding the bank. It's almost too good to be true, but there it is-$15,000 lying around, watched by no one. Now all Madox needs is a little nerve and a second distraction. And while one woman will give him the nerve, another will make him ready to kill.… (more)

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