Early Jim novel where he combines a dollop of Nietzschean philosophy with a sprinkling of Marx to illuminate, no, provide an X Ray of American proto capitalism. Jim choses the movie business to expose, the small house players in a burgeoning town making their way up a greasy pole.
Wilmot is the product of orphanage and reform school working his way up from hired help to cinema owner. He is sharp and also likeable in his way. The story is told through his eyes and he is a far more adjusted character than the Sherrif's in other books, but he has to double deal to stay afloat within his chosen profession. Just like now with the charitable sector, the little players are at the mercy of the big consumers wanting to create monopolies to dictate to the distributors who plays the films when and at what rate. Jim goes into considerable detail about how capitalism works in the film showing business. He provides a far greater explanation of free trade than Adam Smith, Hayek and Milton Friedman could ever do. Jim tells it like it is, without the baggage of fairy tale ideology. This book should be a staple on an MBA, it traverses the pulp genre of crime to highlight how "trade" and greed become converted into crime and eventually murder.
It is profusely rich in detail and may be off putting to those who just want their "kicks" imagining they are the gangsta man with a stick. This book is marketed as pulp but instead tells a far more vibrant story.
Not as macabre as Pop 1280, Killer Inside Me or Grifters but far better than standard crime fayre whodunnit produce, the bread and butter of this genre. You know, the good detective setting the world to rights through....errr... detection although an element of this pipes away in the background.
Double crossing, double dealing blows across the prairie of barren minds whilst love withers on the vine after a brief flowering in spring. Jim introduces a kaleidoscope of elements into the plot, such as revenge for institutional violence, the protagonist a killer his apeothesis the insurance man his mirror double, good and strangely capitalist evil. Jim still had a modicum of morality when he wrote this book but don't let that put you off.