The tormented man at the center of W.R. Burnetts High Sierra is a notorious criminal whom the newspapers call ",Mad Dog", Roy Earle. Earle is every bit the criminal the newspapers depict, but he is also a complicated soul. Earle, the tragic hero of the novel, is a horribly flawed man, a violent criminal who still retains a conscience. Earle is been moved by the plight of the physically impaired woman named Velma Goodhue, whom he resolves to help, imagining, somehow, that she will be his. After a holdup he plans with Red, Babe, and Marie (who has now fallen in love with him), Earle takes his share of the money to Velma for an operation to repair her clubfoot. But the holdup has disastrous results. Red and Babe are killed, and Roy goes on the lam with Marie. The runaway outlaws have nowhere to turn. Eventually, Velma leaves. Earle sends Marie away to meet him ultimately in a mountain pass in the High Sierras, a rendezvous in the sky in which all that occurs will not take place as envisioned. The plot of High Sierra is remorselessly fast and multithreaded, but Roy Earle trumps our interest. Burnett manage to pain a rich and deeply compelling man without sentimentalizing him. Here is a plot with a tough, bleak, and unforgiving narrative that works a dark magic.
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