Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Classics
Pages: 224
Publication Date: January 19, 2016

Black Wings Has My Angel

by Elliott Chaze, introduction by Barry Gifford

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During the 1950s, Gold Medal Books introduced authors like Jim Thompson, Chester Himes, and David Goodis to a mass readership eager for stories of lowlife and sordid crime. Today many of these writers are admired members of the literary canon, but one of the finest of them of all, Elliott Chaze, remains unjustly obscure. Now, for the first time in half a century, Chaze’s story of doomed love on the run returns to print in a trade paperback edition.

When Tim Sunblade escapes from prison, his sole possession is an infallible plan for the ultimate heist. Trouble is it’s a two-person job. So when he meets Virginia, a curiously well-spoken “ten-dollar tramp,” and discovers that the only thing she cares for is “drifts of money, lumps of it,” he knows he’s met his partner. What he doesn’t suspect is that this lavender-eyed angel might just prove to be his match. 

Black Wings Has My Angel careens through a landscape of desperate passion and wild reversals. It is a journey you will never forget.

by Elliott Chaze, introduction by Barry Gifford


[W]hat remains unforgettable is [Chaze’s] lovers’ cat-and-mouse relationship, as high-voltage as the one depicted in James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice. Everything — murder, betrayal, self-sacrifice, great physical and psychological suffering — ultimately comes to seem trivial compared with the visceral intensity connecting Tim and Virginia.
—Michael Dirda, The Washington Post

[An] underappreciated hard-boiled masterpiece...The novel features everything we've come to love about noir crime fiction. The dialogue is crackling, stylized and often funny….Chaze's characters are more memorable than you often find in hard-boiled fiction….What makes Black Wings Has My Angel truly great is Chaze's writing, which is simple but elegant...Chaze's gift with words, combined with a plot that moves quickly toward its brutal, startling conclusion, makes Black Wings Has My Angel a trip worth taking for anybody with a taste for the darker side of crime fiction.
—Michael Schaub, NPR Books

Black Wings Has My Angel is an indisputable noir classic, arguably the best of all the crime novels published by Gold Medal during its glory years...The details of the crime and its aftermath are vividly described, and the love-hate relationship between Sunblade and the woman and the demons in both that lead to their downfall are masterpieces of dark-side character development...Elliott Chaze was a fine prose stylist, witty, insightful, nostalgic, and irreverent, and a first-class storyteller.
—Bill Pronzini

Chaze was an electrifying hard-boiled prose stylist. There was clearly a humorous glint in his eye when he wrote, though he never allows the sleaze to get out of hand or undercut his story’s existential drift or its Cain-like fatalism.
—Graham Fuller

Chaze is known in pulp circles for his flawless novel Black Wings Has My Angel, which many people feel is the single best novel Gold Medal published during its heyday.
—Ed Gorman