Fallen Sparrow

The espionage thriller is the perfect setting for a bejeweled writer enamored of paranoia and suspicion. Dorothy B. Hughes was a master of the tangled tale laced with deception, fear, and mayhem. Fallen Sparrow takes place around 1940: the Spanish Civil War has ended and Kit McKittrick (John Garfield several years prior to The Postman Always Rings Twice) is out West recuperating from two years of torture in a Franco prison camp. The news of a friend's death forces his return to New York City and the high-flying social life he had previously endured. Kit rejects the determination of suicide as his pal's cause of death, which leads him into an intrigue freighted with Nazi sympathizers (Walter Slezak), a nightclub singer (Maureen O'Hara), a military battle flag, and a torturer named “Wobblyfoot” in the novel. But perhaps the essential foe in this beautifully shot thriller is post-traumatic stress disorder. Garfield's damaged vet is haunted by his imprisonment and the sound of his torturer's lame leg thumping towards his cell. "In a world at war many sparrows must fall," begins this tense adaptation-and then it takes flight.

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