Friday, April 19, 2013

Book Review: Web of the City by Harlan Ellison

Before Harlan Ellison was an award-winning science fiction writer, he made some attempts at crime fiction. Titan Books has released the first novel he ever wrote, Web of the City, for its first printing in decades. As a historical document of the type of crime fiction that was popular in the 1950s United States, it is a great relic of a time long, long gone. As a work of fiction, it's definitely a pulpy piece of work that feels extremely dated and doesn't show much of any hints of what Ellison would become.

The book is pretty much a story of gang violence in New York - Rusty is in a gang and wants out, and you simply don't get out of a gang that easily. It's apparently based on real events in Ellison's life, which is a redeeming part of the story, but the overall plot is pretty simple and straightforward. Reading it, I just felt like I could get a better version of this by watching Rebel Without a Cause or something similar, given the setting and characters.

I shouldn't 100% condemn this. Titan's been releasing a lot of this old true crime under a discount banner, and we're all better off for it. I just can't see someone who doesn't already have an interest (or is looking to try something very different) reaching for this. If you're interested, however, Titan has it available for sale now.

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