Tough Guys Don't Dance (novel)

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Tough Guys Don't Dance
Tough Guys Don't Dance (novel).jpg
AuthorNorman Mailer
CountryUnited States
PublisherRandom House
Publication date
Media typePrint (hardcover and paperback)
Preceded byAncient Evenings 
Followed byHarlot's Ghost 

Tough Guys Don't Dance (1984) is a noir thriller and murder mystery novel by American writer, Norman Mailer,[1] reminiscent of the works of Dashiell Hammett and Mickey Spillane. The book was filmed in 1987.


Set in Provincetown on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, the protagonist is Tim Madden, a former bartender and drug runner, currently struggling to make a living as a writer. Waking one morning with a hangover, a new tattoo, and no memory of the previous night, Madden soon discovers that the passenger seat of his car is covered in blood and the head of an attractive blonde woman has been deposited in the woods near his house, at the exact place he stashes his cannabis harvest.

With all the evidence for the murder pointing towards him, Madden elects to solve the mystery himself, which brings him into contact with one shady character after another, including corrupt police, criminals, and washed-up boxers. Even a dodgy medium enters the fray as the weary hero staggers through a succession of dangerous and unforeseen situations.[2][3]

Film adaptation[edit]

Mailer adapted his novel for film in 1987 and also chose to direct. The resulting film, starring Ryan O'Neal and Isabella Rossellini, was not a critical or commercial success.[4]


  1. ^ Tough Guys Don't Dance, OCLC WorldCat. Retrieved: 2014-05-20.
  2. ^ Lehmann, Christopher (1984-07-25). "Books Of The Times". Retrieved 2014-05-20.
  3. ^ Norman Mailer. "Tough Guys Don't Dance by Norman Mailer — Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists". Retrieved 2014-05-20.
  4. ^ Tough Guys Don't Dance(1987) Internet Movie Database. Retrieved: 2014-05-20.