This one may not be forgotten, but how many of you have read it? It's a noir classic, though people can't agree on just what kind of classic it is. But I'll get back to that. Let's start with the title. as there ever a better title for a noir novel? I can't think of one.
The author is Richard Hallas, whose real name was Eric Knight. Knight was a versatile writer. He wrote Lassie, Come Home; This above All, and You Play the Black and the Red Comes Up. Three more different books would be hard to find.
You Play the Black and the Red Comes Up is the story of a guy who calls himself Dick Dempsey (he looks like the champ). His wife takes their kid and leaves him, so he hops a freight to go to California and it's just one damned thing after another, all of them leading downhill. Dick gets involved in a robbery. A man is killed, but Dick escapes with the money. He meets a woman. Then he meets another woman and decides there's only one way to get rid of the first woman. You can guess what that is. The wrong woman dies. And then there's the ending. Some people think one thing happens, some think another. I can't say more without spoiling it for you.
Now as to what kind of a book it is. Some critics think it's a parody of the hardboiled novel. Some think it's not. Who cares? Long, long ago, the Diamonds recorded a song called "Little Darlin'." It had been originally recorded by a group called the Gladiolas, and many people thought the Diamonds' version was a put-on. But it doesn't matter. Put-on or not, it's still a great rock 'n' roll song. And put-on or not, You Play the Black and the Red Comes Up is still a fine hardboiled noir novel.