Crime Novels

Crime Novels

American Noir of the 1930s and 40s

Book - 1997
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"The most important collection of crime fiction ever published in the United States." -- Ed Gorman

Evolving out of the terse and violent style of the pulp magazines, noir fiction expanded over the decades into a varied, innovative and profoundly influential body of writing. The eleven novels in The Library of America's adventurous two-volume collection taps deep roots in the American literary imagination, exploring themes of crime, guilt, deception, obsessive passion, murder, and the disintegrating psyche. With visionary and often subversive force they create a dark and violent mythology out of the most commonplace elements of modern life.

James M. Cain's pioneering novel of murder and adultery along the California highway, The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934), shocked contemporaries with its laconic toughness and fierce sexuality.

Horace McCoy's They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1935) uses truncated rhythms and a unique narrative structure to turn its account of a Hollywood dance marathon into an unforgettable evocation of social chaos and personal desperation.

In Thieves Like Us (1937), Edward Anderson vividly brings to life the dusty roads and back-country hideouts where a fugitive band of Oklahoma outlaws plays out its destiny.

The Big Clock (1946), an ingenious novel of pursuit and evasion by the poet Kenneth Fearing, is set by contrast in the dense and neurotic inner world of a giant publishing corporation under the thumb of a warped and ultimately murderous chief executive.

William Lindsay Gresham's controversial Nightmare Alley (1946), a ferocious psychological portrait of a charismatic carnival hustler, creates an unforgettable atmosphere of duplicity, corruption, and self-destruction.

I Married a Dead Man (1948), a tale of switched identity set in the anxious suburbs, is perhaps the most striking novel of Cornell Woolrich, who found in the techniques of the gothic thriller the means to express an overpowering sense of personal doom.

Disturbing, poetic, anarchic, punctuated by terrifying bursts of rage and paranoia and powerfully evocative of the lost and desperate sidestreets of American life, these are underground classics now made widely and permanently available.
Publisher: New York : Library of America : Distributed to the trade in the U.S. by Penguin Books USA, c1997
ISBN: 9781883011468
Characteristics: 990 p. : ill. ; 21 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Aug 18, 2015

LOVED Nightmare Alley. Huge fan of Tyrone Power's portrayal, but the book! One of my fave stories ever. Sadly, William Gresham's novelette should be considered a classic but isn't well known.

Not so crazy about Cain's Postman Always Rings Twice. The Jack Nicholson version closer to the book. I prefer the Lana Turner and John Garfield earlier version. The book is grittier and the characters less sympathetic. But that's Noir in print.

Now I want to check this volume out again for I Married a Dead Man. Watching No Man of Her Own starring Barbara Stanwyck. Seen it many times, but apparently the book is even better.

Plus I want to re-read Nightmare Alley. So good!

Some stories are better read. IF you like Noir well written, THIS volume offers some of the best. Enjoy!


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at DPL

To Top