Cassidy’s Girl is the first of several books by David Goodis that I’ll be reviewing this year.
David Goodis is the lost master of the noir fiction genre and many people consider him second only to Raymond Chandler as a writer. While I have always personally prefered Dashielle Hammett to Chandler, I definitely agree that Goodis deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the two recognized masters.
Cassidy’s Girl is not really a crime novel, which is what Goodis is primarily known for, but all of Goodis’s traditional themes are nonetheless present. The protagonist is a once great man brought low by circumstances beyond his control. Despite being pushed to the margins of society by his misfortunes, he remains noble. As is generally the case in Goodis’s novels, the protagonist is incapable of escaping his fate and must settle instead for a moral victory.
In the case of Cassidy’s Girl the protagonist is a former pilot who finds himself on skid row following a fatal crash for which he was scapegoated. Utterly despondent and drowning his sorrows in alcohol, he falls into an abusive marriage but finds hope when he meets a good woman similarly brought low by circumstance. The inevitability of the events that follow is a bit of a drag.
Of the four books I’ve now read by David Goodis, this one is my least favorite but still a very good book. For anyone looking to discover Goodis, I might recommend starting elsewhere (see Nightfall, which I’ll be reviewing here shortly) but, if you’re a Goodis fan you should enjoy this book.