Sunday, April 05, 2015

Lost Classics of Noir: Whip Hand by W. Franklin Sanders (and/or Charles Willeford) BRIAN GREENE


In case you’re confused by the author credit in the heading here, let me just say that I join you in your befuddlement. This 1961 noir novel was originally published as a Fawcett Gold Medal paperback original, with W. Franklin Sanders tagged as the writer. But over time it came to be revealed that Charles Willeford wrote some, if not all, of the book. Sanders may have been his co-author, but then Sanders may have also been a make-believe person. If you’re interested in reading up on that intrigue, there is no shortage of material available on the web. I’m going to leave that subplot alone and just focus on the book, which is a gem of a read.

But first a couple words on Willeford. I doubt I need to sell many readers of this site on the merits of his writing. Some Willeford fans might think of his Hoke Moseley series as his finest work, while others might prefer his earlier titles such as Cockfighter (1962) or The Burnt Orange Heresy (1971). Of the Willeford books I’ve read, it’s his second novel, Pick-Up (1955), that I value the most. When I first started this column, I drew up a shortlist (well, it was actually long) of books I might cover, and Pick-Up was among those. I haven’t gotten around to writing an appreciation of it, and maybe I never will for this series, as I have purposely been avoiding covering the same writer twice, in order to spread the hardboiled love. In any case, Pick-Up is a hell of a noir novel. If you like this kind of stuff and haven’t read it, do so. And while you’re at it, read the one I’m about to discuss; because whether it was written by Willeford or this Sanders guy, or some combination of the two of them, it’s pure.

   for the rest go here:


RJR said...

I met Willeford just before he hit it big with the Hole Mosely novels. He lamented to me that he was not well enough to enjoy the success. Too bad. Great guy, great writer.

Ed Gorman said...

I had the same experience, Bob. He used to send reviews to Mystery Scene while I was editing it. We talked at length several times. Great guy and great writer. So when he got the big contract--the second or third Hoke Norris one I think--I called to congratulate him. He didn't sound good. He said "I won't be here to spend it." He was dead within a month.