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Charles Williams Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Big City Girl (1951) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Catfish Tangle aka River Girl (1951) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Hell Hath No Fury aka The Hot Spot (1953) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Nothing in Her Way (1953) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Go Home, Stranger (1954) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Touch Of Death aka Mix Yourself A Redhead (1954) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Scorpion Reef aka Gulf Coast Girl (1955) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Big Bite aka Operator (1956) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Diamond Bikini (1956) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
All The Way aka The Concrete Flamingo (1958) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Man in Motion aka Man On The Run (1958) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Talk Of The Town aka Stain Of Suspicion (1958) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Sailcloth Shroud (1959) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Uncle Sagamore and His Girls (1959) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Aground (1961) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Long Saturday Night aka Finally, Sunday! (1962) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Dead Calm (1963) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Wrong Venus aka Don't Just Stand There (1966) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
And The Deep Blue Sea (1971) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Man on a Leash (1973) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle


Arguably, one of the most renown writers of American crime fiction is a man called Charles Williams.

Charles Williams was born and bred in San Angelo, Texas. He attended school but quit at tenth grade to serve in the US Merchant Marine, where he committedly served for a decade before he quit to marry his sweetheart, Lasca Foster.

In his years of service with the US Merchant Marine, Charles Williams trained and gained invaluable experience as a radioman. This training helped him to get a job as an electronics inspector for a number of entities. First, he worked with RCA in Galveston, Texas before offering his services at the Puget Sound Navy Yard situated in Washington State. He served there until the end of World War II.

After the end of World War II, he and his wife moved to San Francisco where he got a job at the Mackay Radio company. Here he offered his radioman skills until he published his first novel called Hill Girl. That was in 1951. The novel was a blockbuster success. It gave Williams enough fortune that enabled him to quit his job as a radioman and concentrate on full-time writing of novels.

Charles William’s Works

Undoubtedly, Charles Williams was a prolific writer. In his life, he wrote twenty-two novels- sixteen of which were paperback originals. However, despite launching his writing careers in early 1950s with Gold Medal, it was only in 1972, almost two decades on, that one of his books was finally nominated for an Edgar. But even so, Frank McAuliffe’s I Charge More For Murder won the award instead. It is hard to understand that, especially bearing in mind the fact that Hill Girl, one of Charles William’s most successful works, sold a whopping 2.5 million copies.

Upon leaving Gold Medal toward the end of the 1950s, Charles Williams, together with his agent, proceeded to publish highly successful hardcover novels with the Viking Press, Dell, G.P. Putman (responsible for publishing Leash in the year 1973), as well as Macmillan.

At the onset of the 1960s, Charles Williams’ readership significantly shrunk. It acutely nosedived. The book sales flagged. It isn’t clear what the exact cause of the shrinking readership was; however, a notable critic, one Woody Haut has opined that it is probably due to the fact that Williams couldn’t tailor his fiction work to suit the events of the 1960s, mainly protests. According to various critics of literature, the dwindling readership wasn’t due to lack of talent, rather, because of early conditioning and the unfortunate fact that Charles Williams was at this time a little too old to adapt.

However, it is noteworthy that Charles Williams was a modest man who abhorred self-advertisement. His literary agent, one Don Congdon, describes him as genuinely modest’ and a hard luck kind of person.’

What was Charles William’s Literary Style?

The writer’s work is often associated with hardboiled crime writing, and one of his first novels Hell Hath no Fury,’ which was published by Gold Medal Books, received a review from popular literature critic Anthony Boucher of New York Times. Anthony Boucher compares Charles William’s work to that of the two of the foremost noir fiction writers, Cornell Woolrich and James M. Cain. Two other notable literature critics, Ed Gorman and Geoffrey O’Brien, have shared their thoughts on Charles William’s novel Hell Hath No Fury.’ There are many other critics who have heaped lots of accolades on this particular brainchild of Charles Williams.

Charles Williams and John MacDonald

A number of critics have drawn parallels between a renowned mystery novelist called John MacDonald and Charles Williams. For example, Max Allan Collins describes Charles rather favorably, putting him on an equal pedestal with the more popular John MacDonald. In fact, MacDonald himself thinks highly of Charles Williams. According to some literature critics, Williams’ prowess is much more preeminent than that of MacDonald, especially owing to his enviable knack of maintaining suspense throughout his composition. They, therefore, agree that Williams has been unfairly neglected.

Maxim Jakubowski, a literary critic has noted that Charles Williams is one of the most unfairly neglected authors of paperback original Golden Age. His tales are so evocative, and there are few, if any, hardboiled fiction better than his.

Popularity outside America

The popularity of Charles Williams outside the frontiers of America is rather puzzling. His 18th novel, Leash, was translated into French. At least eight of his titles have been translated into the Danish language. According to author Jiro Kimura, three of William’s novels have been translated into Japanese. There are claims that there are Spanish, Italian, and German translations.

Posthumous fame

There has been negligible fame for Williams even after his death. The literary agency responsible for his estate supervised reprints of Williams’ books, but still, there seems to be little gain in fame.

Despite all that, there is concurrence that indeed Charles Williams was indeed a great writer.

What distinguishes William’s novels is his clean and often casual narrative style. His novels are diverse- from hard-boiled noir to suspense thrillers. They are mostly set in the sea and Deep South. Despite the fact that his works were published by pulp houses, they have garnered amazing critical claim. Besides, many of his novels have been adapted as screenplays- for example, Don’t Just Stand There’ which was written in 1966, and Dead Calm’ which was written in 1963.

His Death

His wife, Lasca Foster, unfortunately, died of cancer in the year 1972. That prompted Williams to purchase property along the California-Oregon border. Here he lived alone for some time in a trailer before relocating to Los Angeles. It is in Los Angeles, in his apartment in Van Nuys, that he committed suicide on the April of 1975. There are false rumors being propagated by some sources that he drowned in the Gulf of Mexico. Williams was survived by a daughter named Alison.

Conclusion

He might not have been very famous; he might have dropped out of school; he might have led a checkered life; but all the same, Charles Williams’ right place is in the pantheon of the 20th century’s finest authors. Few writers could maintain suspense as he did, or adeptly weave narratives as he did; yet he was underappreciated and neglected, though that does not in any way slight his legacy.

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