Friday, May 18, 2012

#20: The Silent Wall by Peter Rabe

After World War II, a man returns to a remote Italian village looking for a lost love, and slights a few members of the local populace;  this starts an escalating series of incidents that quickly turn desperate in Peter Rabe's chilling noir The Silent Wall.

Rabe creates a nightmarish, steadily worsening situation as the local populace closes ranks--a silent wall in several ways--and won't allow the former G.I. to leave.  His various schemes to escape--all the while getting interested in another local beauty--are the center of a worsening gyre.  Although I saw the ending coming a little ways out, the storytelling is compelling throughout.

I think Peter Rabe is one of the lesser-known great noir writers of the 50s and 60s, but I have always had a soft spot for him as he is really the first author to turn me on to this genre.  His themes of darkness and despair are, to me, the equal of Cornell Woolrich and he has the spare prose of a Raymond Chandler.  I think it is interesting that several of his books take place in Italy. 

As I was returning to Italy this summer, I decided to seek one out that I had not read.  I found this one for my beloved Kindle and read it quickly.  Recommended for noir fans.

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