bookrev: Hardcase by Dan Simmons

From the chameleon writer of many genres, a good detective novel

Dan Simmons writes Science Fiction (he won the Hugo award for Hyperion in 1989). Dan Simmons writes Horror (Bram Stoker Award, Carrion Comfort). Dan Simmons writes Fantast (World Fantasy Award, Song of Kali). And Mr. Simmons writes detective fiction.

These different genres mostly have different writing styles. Instead of trying to force one type of writing into another genre, Mr. Simmons changes his colors, adjusts his pacing, wording and style for the hard-core nasty world of private investigation.

Hardcase is the first of three (and we hope more) Joe Kurtz novels. Hard Freeze and Hard as Nails are the other two. Joe Kurtz isn’t mean and nasty, but he also has no compunction about sticking a man’s hand in a disposal or running over an unconscious man’s legs. Kurtz has his own code. Getting out of jail after following that code, Kurtz throws himself in the middle of a Mafia mess that he learned about in prison, and starts churning up the mob and old acquaintances.

The pacing of this novel is well done, the dialogue believable. The plot integrates several subplots well, although some of the plot twists are tipped off early (ain’t this called foreshadowing?).

I also liked how Mr. Simmons slides in a reference to one of his other books, The Crook Factory, about a spyring in Cuba run by Hemingway (see page 221 in the paperback for the reference).

Language and graphic violence make this an unsuitable read for kids. Everyone else will enjoy it.

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1 Response

  1. February 9, 2009

    […] obviously his short story collections, and the ‘pot-boiler detective novels’ (such as Hardcase); yet the pacing is such that, especially in novels such as the Illium/Olympos duology, they read […]

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