Thursday, November 16, 2017

Done: "The Out is Death" by Peter Rabe

Done: The Out is Death by Peter Rabe, 1957 (original), 2014 and 97819 33586656 for Stark House omnibus.

Second novel in the Daniel Port series. Port has left behind the people and city of the first novel and is in California (Washington? Oregon?) to help out an old pal. The old pal is literally that, an old crook. Port knows Old Crook from a few years before and is fond of the man. Old Crook is just out of prison, in poor health, and asking Port for assistance.

Turns out Old Crook just finished a ten year prison term and has a chronic illness. Old Crook worked as a skilled burglar and jugger for several years. Now he is in poor health and just wants to go East and live with his family. But, after getting out of prison Young Crook shows up. Young Crook and Old Crook worked before the prison term and Young Crook is now blackmailing Old Crook. "Help me plan this factory burglary or I tell the cops you boosted that bank a few years ago - and I have your old planning notes to prove it!" Except, for the all the jobs Old Crook did he did not even do that one.

Anyhoo. Port shows up and tries to talk some reason into Young Crook. No dice. Young Crook is a vain, prideful jackass. When Port pushes Young Crook, Young Crook pushes back and uses his hoodlum friends. This end up at a draw. Old Crook cannot go back to prison because he'll die there. Either Port gets Old Crook out from under Young or Old Crook has to do the job.

Port's in a bind. He's made promises to Old Crook. Old is a tight lipped guy about his past. He is stubborn as well. Port convinces Old Crook to at least tell Port where Old Crook really was when the bank job went down several years ago.  Port heads to small town Minnesota to find the woman Old Crook was with at the time.

The novel takes a weird detour with Port heading out to try and convince the woman to help out Old Crook. C'mon, Mrs. Smith, do him a solid. But, Mrs. Smith is no longer the teenager her alcoholic father pimped out to gangsters on the lam. She wants nothing to do with Port or Old Crook or any old memories.

More things happen. Port returns to the West and he and Young Crook clash. Port cajoles Young Crook's abused girlfriend to betray the guy. Port's set-up to stop Young Crook goes wrong and Old Crook is in peril. IN PERIL!

A fairly simple novel. No madcap adventures. Few characters. No convoluted plots. A quick read and mostly enjoyable.

1. I am close to finishing the third novel in this omnibus and I'm only so-so on these Rabe novels. I liked the first one and it's small city hoods and politicos. That one reminded me of Hammett's Glass Key and Red Harvest.

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