Underground Reading: Night Walker by Donald Hamilton
Friday, May 31, 2013
This is the latest installment in our scheme to review each and every Hard Case Crime publication, one every week. You can follow along here.
Donald Hamilton was prolific writer of hard-boiled espionage fiction. I've always classified him as slightly more macho than his contemporaries (especially Stephen Marlowe), but also, in his favour, a bit edgier.
Hamilton wasn't scared of writing flawed characters, and his success with the modern reader relies a great deal on how well those characters (and their flaws) have withstood the test of time. Novels I've previously reviewed include The Steel Mirror (another standalone, very good) and The Shadowers (part of the Matt Helm series and eergh). I've read about a half dozen more, and, to spoil the ending: I think Night Walker is a perfect expression of Hamilton's strengths and his weaknesses.
So let's get to it, shall we?
Night Walker (1951, Hard Case Crime in 2006) begins with Lieutenant David Young reluctantly returning to the Navy. He served with distinction in World War II, but his career ended when his ship caught on fire (and he, not without reason, had some serious PTSD). He's now been called back to active duty. After sacrificing his train fare to a drinking binge, David is stuck hitching his way to the base to report.
Fortunately, a kind-hearted stranger is there to give him a life. The two bond for a while and, just when David starts to relax, the stranger hits him on the head with a wrench, crashes the car and sets it (and David) on fire. KIDS, NEVER HITCHHIKE.
Continue reading "Underground Reading: Night Walker by Donald Hamilton" »