Reviewed by Mark D. Nevins:

  CHARLES WILLIAMS – The Hot Spot. Vintage/Black Lizard, softcover, 1990. Originally published as Hell Hath No Fury: Gold Medal #286, paperback original, February 1953. Film: Orion, 1990 (starring Don Johnson, Virginia Madsen and Jennifer Connelly).

   If asked to pick an archetypal roman noir from the 1950’s you could probably do a lot worse than The Hot Spot. Average-ish guy moves into average-ish small town, where an opportunity for a bank heist proves too tempting to resist.

   Charles Williams makes a case for being a storyteller on par with the best of his era (Willeford, Thompson, or my benchmark John D. MacDonald): the novel is fast and lean, and filled with noir nuggets such as “When you break the law you can forget about playing the averages because you have to win all the time.”

   Of course The Hot Spot also features a good good-girl and a very bad bad-girl — the latter maybe one of the better femmes in pulp fiction: “I thought of a full and slightly bruised peach beginning to spoil a little. She was somewhere between luscious and full-bloom and in another year or so of getting all her exercise lying down and lifting the bottle she’d probably be blowzy.”

   Dolly Harshaw is a deadly piece of work who lives up to this novel’s original (and much better) title Hell Hath No Fury. Williams is a great writer, and I look forward to reading more of his work.