Williams is one of the great underappreciated American crime writers of the 20th century. A Touch of Death, first published in 1953, bears the hallmarks of many of his other works: a down-and-out guy around thirty years old who’s not as smart as he thinks he is, a very smart and practical woman who’s more interested in getting things done than in sticking anyone else’s ideas of morality, and a seemingly simple caper that turns out to be vastly more complicated than it first appears.
Charles Williams' The Big Bite is very good crime/noir thriller, though it’s not quite up there with his brilliant 1953 noir The Hot Spot . The image above shows the cover of Pocket Books' 1973 reprint of The Big Bite. The story is better than the cover, and it takes place in the 1950s, not the 1970s. John Harlan’s pro football career has ended after another driver hit him in what appeared to be a drunk-driving accident.
Harry Madox has drifted in and out of a number of jobs, and has one failed marriage and some unspecified debts under his belt. When the story opens, he’s just landing a job as a car salesman in 1950’s small-town Texas. He’s not in town long before he meets two women. The young, sweet Gloria Harper brings out the best in him, against his nature and sometimes against his will. And then there’s the boss' wife, Dolores Harshaw, who has a knack for getting him into and out of trouble.
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