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Asbury's crime fiction

At The New Yorker, Jon Michaud looks at the two long-forgotten (and very different) crime novels written by Herbert Asbury, The Devil of Pei-Ling and The Tick of the Clock.
The two styles also evoke the opposing influences of Asbury’s youth—the fear of hell and damnation that shaped the lives of his ancestors, and his own commitment to rationalism, which eventually led him to refute such rhetoric. His upbringing may have made him particularly well suited to inhabit both sorts of fictional worlds.
Asbury is best known for his non-fiction, particularly The Gangs of New York (which later became the basis for the 2002 Martin Scorcese film of the same name). Nearly ten years ago I enjoyed his similar volume The Gangs of Chicago; that book was originally called (with likely sarcasm) Gem of the Prairie but the title was changed at its latest reissue, probably as a ploy to profit from the Scorcese connection. But if that was the publisher's intention, it appears to have mostly failed.

September 11, 2015 in Books | Permalink

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