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July 03, 1994|CHARLES SOLOMON

FAST ONE by Paul Cain (Vintage: $9; 171 pp., paperback original). Long out of print, "Fast One" is the only novel by George Carroll Syms, an enigmatic author/screen writer who worked under a variety of pseudonyms. He takes the reader on a journey down the mean streets of Depression-era Los Angeles as he recounts the rise and fall of the amoral, murderous Gerard Kells, a small-time operator so crooked he'd double cross an intersection if he got the chance. Kells tries to oust the biggest racketeers in the city, but his eagerness to play all the ends against the middle leads to his undoing in one of the darkest stories in the noir crime genre.

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