Dark Passage

by David Goodis

Hate walked in and floated at the side of fear.

After a daring prison escape, innocent Parry finds himself at the mercy of Irene who followed his trial and believes in his innocence despite the guilty proclamation.

Parry’s first order of business is to make himself unrecognizable to the law, and his second is to find out who framed him. As the relationship between Parry and Irene grows, more murders are being chalked up in his name—Parry needs to get out of the city before police close in and put him in the chair.

Dark Passage is yet another lightning classic crime read. It’s told from Parry’s perspective, and an aspect of the writing that jumps out repeatedly is a rambling inner monologue, when situations are at their most stressful, where Parry’s growing paranoia threatens to force his actions. In these instances sentence structure goes from a simple, Hemingway style to large run-ons with no chance for the narrator to breathe, conveying a walls-are-closing-in type of claustrophobia that threatens to derail everything.

Published in 1946, this novel was the basis for the key film noir of the same name, partially famous for the onscreen combination of Bogart and Bacall. While the film was excellent, the book is the superior way to get at the story.

“He’s a liar. You’re a liar—“
“Everybody’s a liar,” Bob said. “But it’s amazing the way all these lies fit together and click, like a key opening a lock.”

4+ (5-) stars

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