I guess I'll climb on my soapbox once again and denounce the disregard that noir fiction gets from the literary establishment. There seems to be an idea that James M. Cain was an important writer but that everyone else who wrote in the same mode (sometimes excepting Jim Thompson) was just turning out mindless entertainment for the benighted masses. It follows automatically that (for example) H. Vernor Dixon's portrayals of class and corruption aren't worth bothering about. Which is just wrong.
Deep Is the Pit by H. Vernor Dixon. Fawcett Gold Medal (1952), 280 pp.
Marty Lee's final bank job, meticulously planned and precisely executed, comes off without a hitch. He then sends his girlfriend, Dotty, off to New York, dramatically alters his appearance, and begins a new life in the hotel business. He has his eye on the old and unprofitable Stannard Hotel, namesake of one of San Francisco's wealthiest and best connected families. He makes a favorable impression on the Stannards: Frank, the fair but tough-minded head of the clan; his son George, weak and insecure; and his gorgeous niece Karen, proud but naive. When Marty convinces them to sell him the property, he believes everything is going to work out as planned. He doesn't yet realize how profoundly his association with the Stannards could change his life. Nor does he know whether Dotty, who stayed in town, will pose a threat to his new identity.
This might be considered the third of Dixon's "Gatsby trilogy" --the others are Something for Nothing and To Hell Together -- in which a questionable character breaks into the upper crust. Here the protagonist is clearly a bad guy, a bank robber with murder in his background. He's also someone with plans and aspirations, not only for enjoying a better life also for joining a better class. The Stannards, however, seem at first to be out of his league. They are the sort he always resented -- the permanently and sublimely rich. So he's startled when they see him not as an interloper but as a tough and masterful entrepreneur who will bring them energy and excitement. By dialing up the contrast between the unscrupulous protagonist and his wealthy target group, Dixon has produced a novel that has greater tension than his two earlier works. It would provide an illuminating introduction to noir fiction of the 1950s.