Friday, December 18, 2009

So Pale So Cold So Fair - Leigh Brackett


Number of words : 11000
Percent of complex words : 6.5
Average syllables per word : 1.4
Average words per sentence : 9.7


Fog : 6.5
Flesch : 79.0
Flesch-Kincaid : 4.7



A dirty mid-western USA steel town with a local crime boss running things. Less than thirty miles from the Pennsylvania border.

Roman Palace

One of Justinian's gambling joints.


Greg Carver

Fordstown Herald reporter and honest man. Had a thing with Marjorie in the past, and her corpse is discovered on his doorstep.

Sheila Harding

A friend of Marjorie's who goes to Carver for help. Her brother was killed by the criminals, and she wants justice.

Joseph Justinian

Fordstown crime boss and Greg's enemy. Had him beaten up when he was drawining attention to them. Runner of gambling rackets.

Carmen Prioletti

A detective and friend of Carver's. A good cop. Wants to see Justinian brought down, too.

Eddie Sego

Justinian's right hand man of the more violent variety. Has ambitions.

Brian Ingraham

Marjorie's husband, and Justinian's other right hand man.

Marjorie Ingraham

Dead woman, killed by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Doc Evers

Poker player and physician. Confirms what happened to Marjorie.

Dave Schuman

Host of the poker game and newspaper employee.

Hughie Brown

Another poker player, owner of Brown's Boat Livery.

Wade Hickey

Fordstown Chief of Police. Not doing a great job.


One of Justinian's thugs. Sent after Carver.

Bill Harding

Sheila's brother, killed for wanting to undirty Harding Steel.

Gilbert Harding

Sheila's uncle. A tycoon with enough clout to help get rid of Justinian, if he has the evidence.


This is Brackett's best and most complex crime short story.

Greg Carver decides to leave his poker game early, and comes home to find the well dressed body of Marjorie Ingraham. He smells enemies, and is soon on the run from crooks and dirty cops.

Joseph Justinian is the local crime boss, Carver's enemy, and of coure involved in the murder, as well as in other such as Sheila Harding's brother. This woman goes to Greg for help and with information. His friend Carmen Prioletti will also help within the limits of his official police duties.

Carver manages to manoeuvre his way through alive, ending in a confrontation that has the criminals turning on each other to deadly effect.

4 out of 5 (but happy to call it 4.25 etc.)

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