Sometimes, you can, in fact, judge a book by its cover. I offer up Day Keene’s Home is the Sailor as today’s exhibit:
See that gorgeous cover by R. B. Farrell and Gregory Manchess? That’s what you get. The book delivers exactly what that image and those words promise. If that sort of hard-boiled, film noir, pulp goodness doesn’t appeal, just walk on by.
Fortunately, this gift from a good friend was right on the money. I couldn’t eat this meal every day, but it was a tasty snack filled with lines like…
Her eyes were gray and smoky, like ashes over a wood fire. They made me feel like a fool.
I found one [a turnoff] a quarter mile down the road and followed it to the crest of a high bluff overlooking the sea, with a silver moon laying a course along the thirty-fourth parallel for China.
Or this description of a street scene in Mexico…
Most of the kids were a little high, their money burning holes in the pockets they wished they had, buying junk in the cheap stores, having their pictures taken on burros. Mixed in with the crowd were a few uniformed cops and a scattering of Mexican streetwalkers. With something else to sell. The cops kept their eyes on the streetwalkers. The streetwalkers kept their eyes on the sailors. The sailors kept their eyes on the streetwalkers. Everybody happy.
So if you’re interested in seeing a retired Swedish sailor blow his chance to go home to Hibbing, find a nice girl, and settle down, instead becoming a murderer and outlaw because of a woman who is as much trouble as she is beautiful, pick up Home is the Sailor.
And next time I’m in this mood, I’ll check out some more of the fine catalog of Hard Case Crime.