The Big Clock

George Stroud is a hard-drinking, tough-talking, none-too-scrupulous writer for a New York media conglomerate that bears a striking resemblance to Time, Inc. in the heyday of Henry Luce. One day, before heading home to his wife in the suburbs, Stroud has a drink with Pauline, the beautiful girlfriend of his boss, Earl Janoth. Things happen. The next day Stroud escorts Pauline home, leaving her off at the corner just as Janoth returns from a trip. The day after that, Pauline is found murdered in her apartment.

Janoth knows there was one witness to his entry into Pauline’s apartment on the night of the murder; he knows that man must have been the man Pauline was with before he got back; but he doesn’t know who he was. Janoth badly wants to get his hands on that man, and he picks one of his most trusted employees to track him down: George Stroud, who else?

How does a man escape from himself? No book has ever dramatized that question to more perfect effect than The Big Clock, a masterpiece of American noir.

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By Glenn (Philadelphia, PA) · ★★★★★ · November 22, 2014

Oh, yes, how the clock still goes on humming. Kenneth Fearing heard its mechanical heartbeat, saw its two giant claws scrapping around and around the numerals – twelve on top, six on bottom, nine on the right and three on the left, back in the 1940s as he wrote his novel, The Big Clock – a story... ...more
By Richard Vialet (North Hollywood, CA) · ★★★☆☆ · April 03, 2015
Due to it's awesome concept, I had great expectations for this short novel. The plot is tailor-made for a great noir. After George Shroud, a crime magazine editor, has a night-long fling with the bosses girlfriend, she ends up with her skull bashed in. His boss is determined to find the man she w... ...more
By Josh (Birmingham, AL) · ★★★★☆ · February 27, 2015
"I told myself it was just a tool, a vast machine, and the machine was blind. But I had not fully realized its crushing weight and power. That was insane. The machine cannot be challenged. It both creates and blots out, doing each with glacial impersonality. It measures people in the same life-sp... ...more
By Maureen (Toronto, ON, Canada) · ★★★★☆ · February 27, 2013
i have admired the john farrow film adaptation of this book for a long time, and i have to say it probably clouded my enjoyment of the novel though i love the conceit of george stroud's dilemma his story, above all. the big clock is an extended metaphor throughout the novel, of business and socie... ...more
By Adam (Chicago, IL) · ★★★★☆ · May 14, 2012
It took me about 40 or 50 pages to warm up to Kenneth Fearing's suspense classic The Big Clock, which is a fair amount of time considering the edition I read was less than 150 pages.

It's written in a breezy, faux-sophisticated style that really rubbed me the wrong way, but once the main conceit o... ...more
By Matthew (Portland, OR) · ★★★☆☆ · March 08, 2008
What, exactly, is a mystery novel? From a distance the genre seems like an obvious one: it's about Sam Spade tracking down a murderer, or Phillip Marlowe lurking in the foggy shadows with a pistol in hand.

Examined more closely though, most of the obvious elements that seem to define a mystery fal... ...more
By Jim (Los Angeles, CA) · ★★★★☆ · October 07, 2013
Sometimes, it is possible for an excellent novel to be overshadowed by an excellent film based on it. Kenneth Fearing's The Big Clock is probably better known as the original source for John Farrow's film of the same name, with Ray Milland and Charles Laughton. In many ways, the film was slightly... ...more
By Caitlin (Silver Spring, MD) · ★★★☆☆ · January 27, 2008
I didn't dislike this book the way most of my fellow classmates seemed to. I think I have an easier time reading books and appreciating them for what they are, rather than what I want them to be. The ending was a bit rushed, but I think that was on purpose. The book was written to make a point ab... ...more
By Eden (The United Kingdom) · ★★★★☆ · April 01, 2015
The big clock of the title is our seemingly inevitable fate; time marching on relentlessly towards our end, and this also sums up the predicament the protagonist feels in this story of a man investigating himself for a murder he didn’t commit.

The lovely Pauline Delos has been murdered by her boyf... ...more
By Adam (Vancouver, BC, Canada) · ★★★☆☆ · January 11, 2014
Short, solid little crime thriller with Something to Say. Fearing was supposedly a worthy poet but the prose style here is only occasionally very interesting, mostly staying in the category of hardboiled stuff that's worth reading for the content more than the style. Some really interesting ideas... ...more