Customer Reviews: Night Squad
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on September 15, 2000
NIGHT SQUAD has all the elements of classic hard-boiled pulp. You've got the anti-hero, Corey, a disgraced cop who figures the only way to stay alive is to go criminal. You've got mobsters who fear nothing except betrayal. You've got a mysterious branch of the police you have an unhealthy interest in the anti-hero's business. And you've got the ex-wife who, somehow, still manages to be in love with the big lug.
But it doesn't fall together.
David Goodis writes tough dialogue with the best of them. His novel BLACK FRIDAY is a wonder of desperation and fear. But NIGHT SQUAD has too many avenues that don't engage the reader. The ex-wife is too mysterious, and her reason for being in the story is never clear. It relies too heavily on coincidence. Repressed memories suddenly surface, to unsatisfactory effect. Corey's final stab at redemption doesn't ring true.
It's as if Goodis had a good, tight story, but then realized he didn't include enough cliche's. It's a good night's read, but it doesn't stick with you.
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on April 22, 2015
I recently read a short story by David Goodis, "The Professional Man," and I was hooked !.I am a big fan of the better known noir writers like Raymond Chandler, Dashiel Hammet, Cornel Woolrich, James Cain,and Jim Thompson,David Goodis' writing is the same caliber as the aforementioned authors. Night Squad may have a few slow parts in the narrative, but the chase scene in the Swamp is outstanding. I almost missed my stop, while returniong home from work, because I couldn't stop reading the book. Goodis has an uncanny ability to pull the reader into the stark psychological landscape of his characters. There are no cardboard cutout personalities in Goodis' stories. There are certain contemporary suspense writers, whose entertaining tales are forgotten almost as soon as you finish them. Not so with Goodis.His stories may be disturbing, but you will not soon forget them.Great, great reading!
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on April 26, 2010
I enjoyed this book and others by David Goodis. I was in the process of researching philadelphia local history and his books were good resources. He writes stories about Grassroot people. From a victim's point of view. The Majoity of the stories of his that I read center in Fishtown,Kensington, skidrow,Delaware Avenue area,South Philly before the redevelpment tore down those areas described in the book during the 1950s and 1960s to provide for the expressway, I-95 and modern Philadelphia. David P. Goodis' story is well written and characters real.
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The noir novelist David Goodis (1917 -- 1967) has received attention with the Library of America's publication of his novel "Down There" ("Shoot the Piano Player") Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1950s: The Killer Inside Me / The Talented Mr. Ripley / Pick-up / Down There / The Real Cool Killers (Library of America) (Vol 2) followed in 2012 by a volume of five additional Goodis novels. David Goodis: Five Noir Novels of the 1940s and 50s (Library of America) I had the need to read more of Goodis after these volumes. Published in 1961, "Night Squad" was the last novel published during Goodis' lifetime and the last of a series of pulp paperback originals that he wrote between 1951 -- 1961. The novel has been reissued several times, most recently in this April, 2013 edition following the success of the Library of America volume.

Like most of his writing, "Night Squad" is set in the Philadelphia slums of the mid-1950's. The neighborhood known as the "Swamp" has since disappeared due to freeway construction and urban renewal. The book tells the story of a lifelong resident of the Swamp, Corey Bradford, 34. A divorced former policeman, Bradford had been dismissed from the force as a corrupt cop for engaging in shakedowns and bribery. He wanders the streets and bars aimlessly and almost broke. After Bradford saves a sleazy businessman, Grogan, from thugs in a bar aptly named the Hangout, Grogan gives Bradford the chance to make big money by finding the organization that tried to to shake him down. But that evening, Bradford also gets the chance to redeem his life. The head of a rough undercover unit of the Philadelphia police known as the Night Squad offers to reinstate Bradford to the force with the mission of finding evidence of Grogan's extensive criminal activity. Besides putting him in serious risk of his life, Bradford's roles of serving the law and serving a hard criminal create a moral dilemma for his action and soul that Goodis' novel explores and resolves.

"Night Squad" is a novel of tormented, isolated, damaged people, beginning with Bradford and continuing through the many other characters in the book. Goodis develops his characters quickly and effectively showing their failed dreams. In the characters and residents of the Swamp include Bradford's ex-wife, Lillian, his only friend, Carp, Grogan's wife the blonde femme fatale Lita, the Night Squad seargeant McDermott and one of the other members of the squad, Ferguson, the bouncer at the Hangout-- an Amazonian woman named Nellie -- and more. Goodis shows these people from the inside. The focus of the book, however, remains on Bradford and on the choices he must make. Much of the book is recounted as Bradford talking to himself. Bradford also engages in monologues with his police badge, that he calls jim.

The book is also highly atmospheric as Goodis describes the Swamp and its bars, filthy tenenements, alleys, crooked streets, and cold nights. Some of the action also takes place in the section for which the Swamp was named, a fetid dangerous, disease-infested patch of water and mud located on the riverfront adjacent to the city streets.

This book offers Goodis' unique combination of introspection and violence, formulaic noir writing and creativity.
It offers insightful, lyrical portraits of people and places combined with a cluttered plot. Goodis' books tend to feature similar plot lines, places, and people, including the local bar, the femme fatale contrasted with the faithful woman, and the torn anti-hero. But each of his books is able to use the noir formulas to probe individually into the characters and places.

If not the best of Goodis' novels, "Night Squad" is effective in its portrayal of character, place, and moral choice. The conventions of noir, in Goodis' writings, become vehicles for the exploration of fragmented people and lonely places.

Robin Friedman
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VINE VOICEon May 10, 2016
David Goodis is known for authoring novels about the depressing, hopeless side of life. Night Squad, first published in 1961, is no exception.

Corey Bradford has lived his entire life in a rundown, rat infested neighborhood called The Swamp. This is a place devoid of hope. Alcoholism, poverty and crime are rampant. Law enforcement is riddled with corruption and a powerful crime boss named Grogan holds sway.

Bradford was once a cop. He was unceremoniously dismissed from the force for taking payoffs. Early on, he's given a chance to redeem his reputation and spends the remainder of the novel being drawn between good and evil.

Night Squad is a book about very bad things happening to its various characters. Unfortunately, the manner in which Goodis has the story unfold is rushed, disjointed and sorely lacking in credibility. A 3 star effort. Goodis has done much better.
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on February 5, 2016
I just finished reading my first David Goodis novel, and I have to say, it was a good pulp fiction/noir read. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes noir, and a protagonist that is flawed but ethical overall, which is after all, the prototype. After reading the first chapter, I almost closed the book for good, but went on and read the next chapter. After that, I quite enjoyed the book. I had to get used to the omniscient point of view, instead of the first person point of view, which I generally prefer in most detective novels, but the abundance of character dialogue made up for that for me. The story's setting and characters were throughly developed. One, more thing: I enjoyed his use of big city dialect by the characters, contrasted with the large vocabulary he uses when writing as the omniscient narrator of the story. David Goodis is one of the best at what he does, and I will read more of his works.
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on June 11, 2014
NIGHT SQUAD is not the book to read if you demand absolutely tight plots. It has a plot, all right, but it's largely a character-driven slice-of-life tale. Life in the raw slums, where depredations and corruptions are the norms. Although seen through the viewpoint of its protagonist, Corey Bradford, it fleshes out the backgrounds of other key players. I found it to be a thoroughly absorbing, fast-paced story, and can recommend it to fans of noir fiction.
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on April 10, 2016
Man, I wanted to like this book. It was my first attempt at reading Goodis. He is from my hometown and graduated from the same college and he's a legend in noir, but this book was too full of purple prose and a slow pace. I'll give him another shot, but this book had long chapters and not the usual speedy pace of pulp classics.
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on September 22, 2013
Night Squad is a fast-paced, noir novel by David Goodis re-published by in 2005. Blackmask's cover features the cover of the original edition first published in 1961: two sleek, tough-looking men in coats and ties and dress hats step from the light of a police precinct, venturing into the night, ready to take on the world of crime. We can see the price of the original edition in the upper right corner: 35 cents. Readers back then handed over their coins for a tale of intrigue, action, and danger in the slums of the big, bad city. With Night Squad, David Goodis delivered the goods in spades - plenty of fists, plenty of bullets, plenty of bodies for the morgue.

The action takes place in a section of the city called `The Swamp.' Most appropriate, since the dingy row-houses and narrow streets are surrounded on three sides by murky, stinking bogs and rats as big as cats infest every gutter and alleyway. In the first pages we are told how a huge rat made its way into the run-down home of the novel's main character, Corey Bradford, when Corey was a baby and sank its rat teeth in his thigh. Not only that, but Corey's mother tells Corry how, before Corey was born, a pack of starving rats, smelling blood, swarmed Corey's policeman father when he lain wounded in an alley, leaving the man in blue a pile of bones. Indeed, the stench of rats and bogs permeates the atmosphere of the entire novel.

Here is a bit of action taking place in the backroom of a bar where Corey joins some guys sitting around a table playing poker. We read: "It all happened very fast, the back door opening and two men coming in, showing guns. The men wore horror masks that covered their entire heads. One was a werewolf and the other was a stomach-turning combination of hyena and horned Satan." Moments later, thanks to Corey's quick reflexes and courage, the werewolf and hyena are lying in their own blood.

And what kind of police do we find patrolling The Swamp? For one, we have the Night Squad, a fringe police unit the newspapers call barbarians and a civic group calls butchers, headed up by Henry McDermott, a Detective-Sergeant with a reputation for brutality, torture and for being utterly merciless. Not exactly the kind of policemen families back in the 1950s where likely to see when they tuned into their favorite shows on black-and-white tv sets.

Back on Corey Bradford. Corey was a cop on a beat but had his badge taken away for taking bribes. However, for his courage in the bar, Corey is hired by Walter Grogan, head gangster in The Swamp. Later that same night, McDermott makes Corey a new member of the Night Squad. And so events move with Corey in the crossfire. Lots of events. The author uses words in the service of action, so much action Corey is lucky to catch a few hours of sleep at night.

One way to look at the novel is through the lens of the mythic archetypes as popularized by Joseph Campbell. We have:
* The outcast and hero - Corey Bradford
* The damsel in distress - Corey's ex-wife, Lillian
* The enchantress - Grogan's wife, Lita
* The forces of evil - a host of men Corey encounters
* The trickster and mentor - read the novel to find out; I wouldn't want to spoil a great story

Again, I don't want to spoil a great story by saying anything more. Place an order for the book and immerse yourself in David Goodis's tale of grit, grime, blood and redemption. You are sure to have an intense aesthetic experience.
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on March 4, 2014
This is crime noir of the darkest sort. Busted from the force for bribery, Corey Bradford is drafted into service by both a local gangster and the head of the Night Squad, an aggressive police unit as bad as the criminals they hunt and often kill. Caught between those two elements, he is pursued by a third force, a punk who wants to make a big score. The novel takes the reader into the dismal and poverty ridden slums of Philadelphia in the late 50s. Threading all those dangers, Bradford at times seems to be concerned with just staying alive until he drink himself to death. For fans of this gritty genre, this book is gold.
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