What's curious about Nightfall is its bucking of genre conventions even as it stays firmly anchored in a noir world. Certainly the overall plotline aligns perfectly with genre expectations: Jim Vanning is living a life of concealment in New York City, on the run from something in his past. A suave but dangerous criminal is looking for him, and a police detective named Fraser already has Vanning under surveillance. Soon the reader learns of a three-man bank robbery a few months ago in Seattle and a missing suitcase filled with cash, and we start to see why Jim Vanning might be the reluctant center of attention.
With this archetypal noir situation in place, Goodis pushes his characters and prose to go beyond the predictable. One effective example is that the author spends just as much time crafting detective Fraser's personality and worldview as he does the hunted criminal's. This is an atypical and very successful choice, as it simultaneously humanizes the conventional cop character and raises the stakes for all involved: Fraser feels like something is not right with the picture, and wants to give Vanning the chance to acquit himself if somehow he is innocent. But doing so places pressure on the detective, whose superiors are expecting a swift arrest and tidy resolution.
"There were considerable things that made life worth living. Luxurious things, rich, colorful things… There was deep rose against a background of rich tan. There was shining gold. There was blue, a good, definite blue, not bright, not at all watery, but deeply blue. And then the tan again. Healthy tan. And all that added up, and it became Martha."
Nightfall was reprinted in 1953 as The Dark Chase and again in 1954 as Convicted.