A hard-boiled detective yarn takes plenty of snap, crackle, pop. Especially the old-school, throwback kind I crank out for my monthly series. Whether it’s a pointed simile or jaunty dialogue, the pressure’s always on to keep up the pepper. But it can also be a blast. Put a bunch together, and you’ve got some kind of shorthand philosophy, an abbreviated treatise on life and death seen through a pulpified lens.
- Blackmail is a bad taste you can never spit out.
- Bang bang! Right out of the blocks. No time to think. No time to breathe. No stopping for blowing your nose or adjusting your cuffs. Just duck and roll and pray, if praying’s your idea of getting things done.
- The hole blown into his back could’ve been from a .38. It didn’t matter to him. Corpses aren’t choosey about things like that.
- But somebody put the squeeze on you. Or on someone you’re close to. Or maybe you just need the money like Howard Hughes needs a crash helmet.
- His words sealed my fate, but he made it sound like he was forgiving my sins.
- Don’t go around taking funerals for granted. That last one’s a pip.
- Janus Piquant couldn’t put it over. Nothing more than a rookie, he was. Whatever league he normally played in, he’d been caught up in something well beyond him. And he couldn’t sell me.
- “Don’t touch it,” I said.
She said, “Not for all the ice in Iceland.”
- Some things can’t be helped any more than a stiff can help being anti-social.
- The monkey suit clung to him like a bad skin-grafting job.
- She was as forthcoming as a monk with laryngitis.
- She gave me one of those pained grins, the kind you spot on loan officers and morgue attendants.
- He looked about as enthused as a desk sergeant getting a hot tip about a vicious jaywalker.
- As big as he was, Donovan Creel looked weaker than a blade of grass. He couldn’t sell a pardon to a lifer.
- You can’t un-pull a trigger.
- Even though five thousand’s a lot of dough, it won’t necessarily buy you peace of mind. It does make for an awful nice down payment.
- The sounds of Massin’s flight receded. I eased over to the door and glanced down the alley. Quiet. Emptier than a dead man’s dreams.