No Tomorrow by Jake Hinkson – A great polar

February 17, 2019 Leave a comment Go to comments

Not Tomorrow by Jake Hinkson (2015) French title: Sans lendemain. Translated by Sophie Aslanides.

I discovered Jake Hinkson at Quais du Polar and here’s the short biography he gave them for the festival’s website: I was raised by Christian fundamentalists in the mountains of Arkansas. I used to smuggle forbidden crime novels into Bible camp. If Jim Thompson had knocked up Flannery O’Connor in a cheap Ozark motel, I would be their offspring.

Now that you aware of this, you won’t be surprised that Hell on Church Street was a disturbing story set in a Christian fundamentalists’ community in Arkansas and that No Tomorrow is also (mostly) set in Arkansas and that a fundamentalist preacher plays an important part in the story. No Tomorrow starts like this:

The person being warned against going to Arkansas is Billie Dixon. We’re in the summer 1947 and she works for a B-movies studio in Hollywood. She’s in charge of selling or renting their films to local theatres in Missouri, Arkansas and Tennessee. She’s trying to sell films in a part of the Bible Belt.

As you can imagine, Billie Dixon doesn’t take this friendly advice and drives to Stock’s Settlement, Arkansas. The name of the town itself sounds like rural America. She discovers that the town is under the rule of a preacher, Henshaw. He is against cinema and Claude Jeter, the owner of the only movie theatre in Stock’s Settlement is out of business. There’s no way he can rent films to Billie’s employer.

She decides to go and meet Henshaw in a futile attempt to convince him that films are harmless entertainment and that he should allow them in Stock’s Settlement. This is how Billie Dixon meets her femme fatale, Amberly Henshaw. She’s the preacher’s wife and seems imprisoned in her religion-driven life. Bille and Amberly are attracted to each other and have one-afternoon stand.

It will be enough for Billie to come back to Stock’s Settlement to see Amberly again and get entangled in her predicament. Clearly, the preacher is in the way of their relationship and how convenient could it be if he died?

Imagine a lesbian affair in 1947 in Arkansas, a place where homosexuality was a criminal act at the time. (According to Wikipedia, homosexuality was a criminal act in Arkansas until 2002. In France, it was decriminalized in 1981.) Imagine the small town atmosphere and the contrast between Billie’s Hollywood life and Amberly’s life in Stock’s Settlement, a place where they’d rather have a mentally challenged elected sheriff flanked by his sister as a secretary than actually elect the sister as sheriff, something impossible because she’s a woman.

No Tomorrow is a great reading trip, taking you in the realm of classic Hollywood, neo-noir, with murders, road trips and femmes fatales. I think that the French cover reflects the atmosphere of the book, a polar that crime fiction aficionados will probably like. I don’t know if the designer of the American cover actually read the book. It totally lacks the vintage atmosphere that is at the core of Hinkson’s novel. If you saw the two covers in the bookstore, which one would draw your attention?

I read No Tomorrow in one sitting, like you watch a good movie. It won the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière in France in 2018 and Jake Hinkson is published by Gallmeister. As always, Sophie Aslanides’s translation is outstanding. She always manages to transfer the American language vibe into French.

Highly recommended.

  1. February 17, 2019 at 9:26 pm

    This sounds an entertaining read. I totally agree, the French cover is so much more appealing. The American one wouldn’t draw me to it at all.


    • February 17, 2019 at 9:40 pm

      It’s a good book, one you can’t put down and takes you for a ride.

      About the covers: Gallmeister has beautiful covers for books. It makes me want to buy more books.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. February 17, 2019 at 10:06 pm

    I haven’t been getting notifications again. I read Hell on Church Street and wasn’t crazy about it.


    • February 24, 2019 at 7:49 pm

      It’s weird that you keeps losing the notifications.

      No Tomorrow is different from Hell on Church Street. You’d probably like this one better.


  3. February 22, 2019 at 2:27 pm

    Do you mind that Jake Hinkson writes a lesbian relationship? It puts me off (that it’s written by a guy). The rest of the novel – noir, and the strangeness of isolated, rural America – I find appealing.


    • February 24, 2019 at 7:50 pm

      I didn’t mind about the lesbian relationship, it was a nice twist to this vintage crime fiction. It’s not very graphic and it’s describe as any fatal-attraction relationship.


  4. December 6, 2019 at 5:03 pm

    Quais du Polar really does sound great. This sounds very good. How do you think it compares to Hell on Church Street? This sounds more me than that did.


    • December 6, 2019 at 5:13 pm

      Next Quais du Polar: 3 to 5 of April 2020. There are cheap flights between London and Lyon.

      Hell on Church Street is a lot darker, and crazier.


  1. April 6, 2019 at 8:19 am
  2. June 4, 2020 at 6:24 pm

I love to hear your thoughts, thanks for commenting. Comments in French are welcome

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: