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Hard Case Crime, Part 3

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Hard Case Crime, Part 3

Old 06-25-08, 11:24 AM
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Hard Case Crime, Part 3

Welcome to part 3 of the Hard Case Crime discussion. Before you go any further, you might want to read through all 9 pages of Part 1 and all 7 pages of Part 2.

Hard Case Crime is a terrific paperback imprint that's publishing throwback noir from new, established, and classic authors. At the Hard Case Crime Web site, you can check out the latest news about upcoming titles and get early glimpses of forthcoming cover art.

The latest title (July 2008) is Steve Fisher's No House Limit, hitting bookstores now! It's "a sizzling insiderís view of Las Vegas written by the Academy Award-nominated screenwriter of numerous classic noir films, including Raymond Chandlerís Lady in the Lake, Humphrey Bogartís Dead Reckoning and Tokyo Joe, and the atypically dark final film in the Thin Man series."

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Old 06-25-08, 11:48 AM
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To start things off, I want to see what we're all thinking of this year's titles so far. I've read a few of them, and I've heard reviews of the others from some of you, and I'm getting just the slightest feeling that overall quality might be suffering a bit. Is that a fair "read"? What was the last knock-out title? As a reminder, here are this year's titles...

Arguably Block's least effective in the line.
Very good original, but also lacking in some ways.
Less effective than Lange's (Crichton's) first title in the line, Grave Descend?
A great, fun experiment, but did the actual books live up to the packaging?
Read good reviews...
Not one of the great Westlake titles?

So, my question is, What's everyone thinking about Hard Case Crime titles lately? Is the reprint well drying up, as David suggested? Who are some authors you'd like to see contribute to the line, classic or original? Personally, I'm looking forward to the David Schow title...



and the next Westlake...



but I'd also like to see some more resurrected classics. How about Jonathan Latimer's Solomon's Vineyard (aka The Fifth Grave)?



Let's hear it!

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Old 06-25-08, 04:14 PM
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How about some John D. MacDonald? His Travis McGee novels are the only ones in print.
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Old 06-25-08, 04:14 PM
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I've really enjoyed 3 of this year's titles so far -- Money Shot, Zero Cool and the upcoming The Max -- so I'm not sure that the quality is diminishing. But I do wonder how deep the pool of quality reprints is. I would hate to see them start printing stuff just because it falls within the parameters of the line and they have a slot to fill. But we're certainly not to that point yet. (Nor do I think Charles is likely to let that happen.)
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Old 06-25-08, 06:59 PM
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I'd like to see a few of the early Dean Koontz(!) pulp crime novels published by HCC.

Written under pseudonym Brian Coffey -- 3 suspense novels featuring Mike Tucker, a professional thief.
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Old 06-25-08, 10:41 PM
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I'm new to the series - I have read four titles and have five more queued up on my bookshelf.

Grave Descend was a lucky entry point for me into HCC's line - I really liked the story. Zero Cool, by comparison, tried to be mysterious with its awkward conversations and annoyed me so much I almost gave up before getting to the halfway decent ending.

Grifter's Game's ending disturbed me, while Fade To Blonde's ending greatly improved my opinion of a rather slow-starting novel. So, four novels into the series, I enjoyed half of what I read - that's better than my semi-random picks at Chapters usually do.

Next up I will read some of the recent releases, probably Money Shot or the Ms. Tree entry - both look very good, and have good reviews.

I wonder if the quality is slipping, or if the perception of the quality of the stories is just changing as the novelty wears off. I am used to reading cookie cutter murder mysteries homing to find a rare gem among them (with little success), and the noir style is a breath of fresh air for me. However, with each subsequent book the patterns of the genre become more familiar (femme fatale, twist at the end etc) and the writing style less fresh. I wonder if other regular HCC readers find the same thing. Perhaps this is a case of familiarity breeding contempt?

In any event, thank you to everyone who has written in the HCC threads - you did a great job selling a series of books that I look forward to diving further into.
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Old 06-26-08, 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by outlander78
I wonder if the quality is slipping, or if the perception of the quality of the stories is just changing as the novelty wears off. I am used to reading cookie cutter murder mysteries homing to find a rare gem among them (with little success), and the noir style is a breath of fresh air for me. However, with each subsequent book the patterns of the genre become more familiar (femme fatale, twist at the end etc) and the writing style less fresh. I wonder if other regular HCC readers find the same thing. Perhaps this is a case of familiarity breeding contempt?
Welcome! Glad to have you!

You do bring up a good point about the freshness wearing off, and let me stress that in no way do I feel any kind of "contempt." I'm just perceiving a little drop in the enthusiasm for the line (here in Book Talk, and heck, even personally--I've read only two or three titles this year!), and I want HCC to have a long, brilliant life.

I also want to keep Mr. Ardai on his toes.
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Old 06-26-08, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by outlander78
I wonder if the quality is slipping, or if the perception of the quality of the stories is just changing as the novelty wears off. I am used to reading cookie cutter murder mysteries homing to find a rare gem among them (with little success), and the noir style is a breath of fresh air for me. However, with each subsequent book the patterns of the genre become more familiar (femme fatale, twist at the end etc) and the writing style less fresh. I wonder if other regular HCC readers find the same thing. Perhaps this is a case of familiarity breeding contempt?
I found that I can't read too many noir books in a row. A while back I felt they were too similar (femme, twist, etc.) and stopped for awhile because the stories felt old hat. That's one of the reasons I haven't read any of the latest releases.

I do love the covers, though, which is why I still buy 'em despite not reading them.
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Old 06-26-08, 11:12 AM
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I've realized that I can't read too many noir books in a short period either - after the first three I started reading at least one non-noir novel between each two HCC books.

Reading one a month as they come out sounds good, but there are about thirty already-released novels that I don't want to miss as they may go out of print (I have to order online as no major bookstore in my area has more than one or two HCC books in stock). On the other hand, buying thirty for future reading seems like a terrible idea in case I am turned off the series at some point.

Anyways, enough complaining - there are worse problems out there than having too much of a good thing.
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Old 06-26-08, 02:18 PM
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Out of this year's releases, I liked Money Shot the best. I thought Zero Cool was a bit silly. I enjoyed Spider Web/Shooting Star - the Murder Vine and Somebody Owes me Money are still on the 'To Read' pile.

I'd love to see HCC release more Richard S Prather (I loved The Peddler), Day Keene and Gil Brewer titles.

I'm looking forward to The Max, and hopefully another John Blake novel.
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Old 06-26-08, 03:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Insomniac72
I'd love to see HCC release more Richard S Prather (I loved The Peddler).
Yep, this book rocks.

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Old 06-26-08, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Geofferson
I'd like to see a few of the early Dean Koontz(!) pulp crime novels published by HCC. Written under pseudonym Brian Coffey -- 3 suspense novels featuring Mike Tucker, a professional thief.
I've been turned off of Koontz for years now, for many reasons, but what really capped it was finding an old paperback copy of an Owen West title (another Koontz pseudonym). Maybe it was Funhouse? Anyway, on the cover was a blurb from Brian Coffey. I thought, "Whore!"

But I guess I'd be willing to check out some early Koontz noir.
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Old 06-26-08, 07:33 PM
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So Koontz pimped one pseudonym with another? What a bitch.
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Old 06-27-08, 01:15 PM
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Donald Westlake did this, too. It's more an in-joke than anything else.
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Old 06-27-08, 02:00 PM
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Westlake is a whore!
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Old 06-27-08, 02:12 PM
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And didn't Stephen King blurb Richard Bachman?

Of course, we know he's a whore.

This shows you why ya shouldn't pay attention to blurbs.
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Old 06-27-08, 02:48 PM
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My Horatio Hornblower books have quotes from Churchill and Hemingway on the covers - that's pretty cool. Other than those two, I ignore all "you should read this" blurbs, so knowing that the author is promoting one pen name with another is just funny to me. Then again, I plan on buying every HCC novel regardless of who says I should or should not read it.
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Old 06-30-08, 01:31 PM
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Just finished 'Somebody Owes Me Money'. Not as good as '361', but still an entertaining, fast-moving story. If you're a Westlake fan you will like it.

Picked up 'No House Limit' today, looks interesting.
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Old 06-30-08, 02:10 PM
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I'd absolutely love to see Ted Lewis' Brit Crime classics be picked up for print here. I collected most of them while living in London a few years ago, and they are amongst the best crime novels I've read.

"Jack's Return Home" (The basis for the Michael Caine classic "Get Carter")
"Jack Carter's Law"
"Jack Carter and the Mafia Pigeon"
"Plender"
"Billy Rags"
"GBH"

All great reads!
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Old 06-30-08, 03:47 PM
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I took a small break from HCC to read other things, but so far this year I've read a couple and just started Somebody Owes Me Money.

Money Shot was really good. One of the better HCCs.
I thought Zero Cool was pretty average. Readable, but not as good as Grave Descend.
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Old 07-01-08, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by muttonhead
I'd absolutely love to see Ted Lewis' Brit Crime classics be picked up for print here. I collected most of them while living in London a few years ago, and they are amongst the best crime novels I've read.

"Jack's Return Home" (The basis for the Michael Caine classic "Get Carter")
"Jack Carter's Law"
"Jack Carter and the Mafia Pigeon"
"Plender"
"Billy Rags"
"GBH"

All great reads!
Good idea - it would be great to see these given the HCC treatment. 'Plender' was filmed as 'The Serpent' a couple of years ago. It's a french movie well worth watching. Not as good as 'Get Carter' though, but not many films are (edspecially the diabolical Stallone remake).
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Old 07-02-08, 01:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Insomniac72
Good idea - it would be great to see these given the HCC treatment. 'Plender' was filmed as 'The Serpent' a couple of years ago. It's a french movie well worth watching. Not as good as 'Get Carter' though, but not many films are (edspecially the diabolical Stallone remake).
"The Serpent"... just like with David Goodis, seems the French recognize great source material when they see it! Cool.

I can just imagine how very fantastic the covers would be for the Lewis books if HCC could ever pick them up.

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Old 07-02-08, 02:34 PM
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Just in the Inbox from Charles Ardai...

*******************************

Friends,

Sorry it's been so long (two months!) since you've heard from me -- I was busy wrapping up work on our big "50th anniversary" book, FIFTY-TO-ONE, which will be published at the end of the year. I'm pleased to report that the book is done, and I'm quite happy with how it came out. It's a comedy -- that seemed more properly celebratory, somehow, than the more bleak sort of book I've written in the past. And if you look closely you may spot a cameo or two from some friends of the Hard Case Crime family. (To begin with, one chapter of the book was written by Hard Case Crime co-founder -- and Shamus Award winner for FADE TO BLONDE -- Max Phillips. I'm not saying which chapter...that's for you to figure out.) The book will also feature an 8-page full-color insert section showing images of all of our first 50 covers, which will be a real treat. That insert section is the one piece of the book that's not ready yet.

Our November title, David J. Schow's GUN WORK, is a terrific, fierce, frightening read, as grim and troubled as FIFTY-TO-ONE is light and madcap. We're very excited to be ending the year with four big original novels -- but we hope you'll sample some of our great classic revivals in the meantime. In stores now are Donald E. Westlake's cabbie-versus-gangsters comedy SOMEBODY OWES ME MONEY and Steve Fisher's great Las Vegas novel NO HOUSE LIMIT (about a marathon crap game with the casino it's held in going to the winner). Coming in just a few weeks is BABY MOLL by best-selling author John Farris -- it's the book's first publication in more than 50 years, and its first ever under the author's real name. And if you haven't already read it you should still be able to find a copy of our May title, Shepard Rifkin's THE MURDERER VINE, which has been winning raves left and right (for example, the San Francisco Chronicle called it "stunning...one of the fastest, smartest, most entertaining and deeply affecting detective stories you'll ever read"). If you're heading off for a vacation any time soon, I can't think of better reading to bring with you than a selection of these terrific rediscovered gems from the past.

And looking ahead to the future, when you go to our Web site you'll see we've posted the cover of our next Westlake book, THE CUTIE. It's the first novel Don ever wrote, it was nominated for the Edgar Award (and very much deserved to be), and it's never appeared under the title he originally meant it to have. We'll be correcting that in 2009.

And later in 2009 we'll be bringing out the first American edition ever of Jason Starr's "lost" novel, FAKE I.D., about a bar bouncer who dreams of making it big in the horse racing game. Things don't work out as planned.

In other words, there's lots of good stuff coming -- so keep cool, and keep reading...

Best,
Charles
-----------
Charles Ardai
Editor, Hard Case Crime
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Old 07-07-08, 11:35 PM
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Originally Posted by djmont
And didn't Stephen King blurb Richard Bachman?

Of course, we know he's a whore.
King has a blurb (the only blurb, actually) on Nora Roberts' new book, for cryin' out loud.
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Old 07-08-08, 11:46 AM
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I read Steve Fisher's No House Limit. An entertaining Vegas story with an interesting look into some of the attitudes of the time (mid-50s).

Good, fast read.
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