Thomas B. Dewey – The Mean Streets (1954)


Golden Age
Category: TBR First Lines
Date Finished: September 6, 2015

I’ve had this on my To Be Read pile since 2005 or so, not quite wanting to read it lest it be gone and something no longer to look forward to, like the last piece of cake. Mac is undercover as a baseball coach in a mid-sized city of 200,000, investigating juvenile gangs and an mob boss who has them organized. At first this seems like a typical 1950s expose of juvenile delinquency, but we should expect more from Dewey. There is a couple of murders, the mystery of the mob boss’ identity, some bittersweet romance with a sad, lonely wife, and Dewey’s writing. Taking the title from a Chandler quote, Dewey doesn’t quite come up to the poetry of Chandler, but it is still very good. I read it in a day after struggling to be interested in another book for most of the preceding week.

Oh, my first lines from which this book was selected were:

George Harmon Coxe, Murder with Pictures (1935)
“Foley, the red-faced, uniformed deputy on duty in the hall, peeked through one of the glass ovals in the courtroom doors and said, “Hey, the jury’s comin’ out!”

Ellery Queen, The Tragedy of X (1932)
“Below, shimmering in a blue haze, was the Hudson River, a white sail scudded by; a placid steamboat waddled upstream.”

Brandon Bird, Death in Four Colors (1950)
“The hands holding the knife were almost part of the futuramic [sic] decor.”

Thomas B. Dewey, The Mean Streets (1954)
“He came tearing down the street with this newspaper in his hand, looking back over his shoulder, and I figured he’d swiped it from some stand.”

This was a tough choice, but I’ll get to the others at some point.

Vintage Golden Card 2015-09-06


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