Pick-Up by Charles Willeford

This novel is one of the best hardboiled crime novels ever written. Gritty, dark and bitter. Charles Willeford was one of the finest writers in this genre, and this novel might well be his best. Similar to the work of Jim Thompson, David Goodis, Horace McCoy; all writers whose work transcends any notion of genre fiction.

I had read this before, but I came across a copy and couldn’t help but pick it up and start reading.

Here’s the first paragraph from the first chapter:

It must have been around a quarter to eleven. A sailor came in and ordered a chili dog and coffee. I sliced a bun, jerked a frank out of the boiling water, nested it, poured a half-dipper of chili over the frank and sprinkled it liberally with chopped onions. I scribbled a check and put it by his plate. I wouldn’t have recommended the unpalatable mess to a starving animal. The sailor was the only customer, and after he ate his dog he left.

That was the exact moment she entered.

Grade: A.


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