Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Paul Cain's FAST ONE--Again

I was happy to find a UK No Exit Press edition of Paul Cain's FAST ONE the other day. I had no intention of reading it. I thought it would be neat to have and the introduction and facsimile of Cain's original book jacket bio was neat too. But over the holiday weekend I needed something to read so I grabbed it. And then it grabbed me. Like never before. This is probably the third or fourth time I've read the book, and while I've previously written on the topic of Cain and his work, this time I want to amend that article and say that, yes, Paul Cain's FAST ONE is the hardest hard-boiled novel ever written and deserves all the praise and wonder it has received since the original publication date. (It also deserves the complaints.)

I don't know what has happened this time, but I can't put this book down and I'm more entertained by the "plot" than ever before. It rockets along like an express train. The characters are thin, yes, but they work well together. How can you not like Kells and Granquist and especially Shep and Borg? They reveal themselves through dialogue and behavior, even erratic behavior. Cain knew how to characterize, he wasn't being lazy, I just think he was doing something different and critics yesterday and today couldn't keep up. I just wish he would have ended it differently.

The fact that FAST ONE moves so fast--ha ha!--and works so well as a whole is amazing to see and I don't know if it has ever been duplicated. Chandler came close in one of the middle sequences of The Big Sleep, but then tapered off. I can't think of anybody else who has done anything close.

I suppose there are some of you that have never read Cain; if that is the case, stop reading this and go acquire a copy of FAST ONE post haste.


  1. Hi,

    Apologies for the off-topic comment, but I couldn't find a contact email for you.

    I recently put out an ebook of my writing, called The New Death and others. It's a collection of short pieces, mostly dark fantasy.

    I was wondering if you'd be interested in doing a review on your blog.

    If so, please email me: news@apolitical.info. Let me know what file format is easiest for you, and I'll send you a free copy.

    You can download a sample from the ebook's page on Smashwords:


    I'm also happy to do interviews, guest posts, or giveaways. Just let me know what you'd prefer.


  2. Nice review Brian and the pic of the vintage cover is the best, Gotta read it.