To Have and Have Not

To Have and Have Not is a title that perhaps refers to the left arm of the main character of the story, as he starts the tale with it and ends it without. Well he ends the tale without a lot of things, which was a bit like me as I seemed to lose my resolve over the last 50 pages.

The first 150 pages are excellent, telling three different events of Harry Morgan's life, with seemingly never a dull moment. But once the book gets into the final chapters, after a rather exciting occurrence, it loses its way, going from a fast interesting pace to a rather dull quagmire, with whole chapters spent on totally inane topics like the thoughts of several hither-to unmentioned persons in the book whilst they are lying in their yachts, all to provide the backdrop of two or three lines at the end as the boat with Morgan goes by. You could easily skip the majority of these pages and not be any worse off for the conclusion.

Talking of which, it was rather a damp squib; after putting up with the triviality of the preceding chapters, I was hoping for something momentous. Instead it just fizzles out, which is a great pity as the majority of the book is story telling at its finest, with scenes that just come alive in your head. I almost felt a little cheated after wading through the closing moments to find out what happened, but despite that, the book as a whole was a pleasurable experience. Harry Morgan is a believable character, and the story has the air that you could be sitting in a bar somewhere and being told this by an old acquaintance of Morgan's. This is the selling point of the tale, and despite the ending chapters and being 71 years old, is why it is worth a read today.


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