Sunday, February 03, 2008

Frenzy -- James O. Causey

James O. Causey is one of those writers about whom I know nothing at all. I have three or four books by him, and that's it. This one is the real thing, right there in Jim Thompson territory.

The narrator is a self-described two-bit grifter, a small-timer who screws up every time he gets close to the big time. After his most recent beating, he goes back to his hometown and sees the opportunity to make his big score at last. He's willing to do whatever it takes to get to the top. He'll lie to anyone, use anyone, cheat anyone. Old friends? Screw 'em. Family members? Screw 'em. When you think he's gone about as low as possible, he sinks lower. And finally . . . well, that's what you'll have to find out for yourself. The ending packs quite a noir punch.

Frenzy has a lot of sex and even more violence, along with one of the most despicable characters you'll ever run across. I'm surprised this one hasn't been reprinted, but reading copies turn up cheap now and then. Check it out if you like the down and dirty.


August West said...

Bill: So true. This one is a classic and one of the finest noir crime novels published. I believe it came out in 1960. I picked it up years ago not expecting anything special. When I read it, I felt I was slammed through a wall. There is something about starting a book and not expecting much and it turns out terrific. No doubt Causey's best. I also read "The Baby Doll Murders" that came out in 1957 thru Gold Medal. It was very good and probably his second best effort.
Thanks for the solid review.

Juri said...

Sounds absolutely great, will have to check for a reading copy.

Causey wrote some horror and science fiction stories in the fourties and fifties. He wrote some with comic historian Bill Blackbeard. Someone could write him and ask about Causey, as I think he's still alive.

Stephen B. said...

I do love noir books.

Thought I made a connection or remember FRENZY by Hitchcock, but I think it is the title only (not this plot from this book). Causey, though, did have a story or contributed to the old show Alfred Hitchcock Presents!

Stephen B. said...

A tough find - any copy I see (9/22) is about $23.90, found on a couple of pages!

mybillcrider said...

Yikes. I didn't know it was so pricey.