Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Noose in Hell

"She had washed the blood off her face but she was still a long way from being a beauty. Her face was swollen, her lips were split and puffed all out of shape. But she had found a clean blouse from somewhere to replace the one I had torn off her - and in her hands she had a bottle of whisky."

 Copyright 1951 Fawcett World Library - 3rd Printing Jan 1964

The above passage reads like it could be from any one of dozens of Gold Medal noirs from the 1950's. Clifton Adams's terrific noir western, A Noose for the Desperado is as bleak and fevered as any of the best of the noir classics. I've read a couple of Adams's westerns and all of them were good. I'm sure at some point they'll get a spotlight in TRF, but today it's this dusty gem. The story is a sequel to The Desperado, which I have not read. There isn't a real need to have read that one to enjoy Noose anyway as far as I'm concerned. Perhaps Tall Cameron would be more of a sympathetic character with the first novel's background to go from, but here he's someone right out Jim Thompsonville as a man completely unhinged by violence and bloodshed. He trusts no one and will sell his very soul to maintain his freedom from the lawmen and outlaws gunning for him, all stemming from a murder in self defense. Tall hooks up with another rider by the name of Bama, whose stark outlook on life is kept drowned in whisky. They both get involved in a plot to raid a smuggling party south of the Arizona border. No one is trustworthy, and life isn't worth a spent slug in the desert south of Ocotillo. If you like crime, noir and westerns, you'll like this one. It's not too hard to find in used bookstores or online, and is well worth the hunt, pardner.

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