Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Between a Rock and a Hard Case

We all knew that Charles Ardai, the man who invented Hard Case Crime, was a helluva writer: His books written as Richard Aleas (SONGS OF INNOCENCE, LITTLE GIRL LOST) proved that. Now come two more examples of Ardai's talent and taste.

In a new series written by such Hard Case vets as Christa Faust and David J. Schow, Ardai introduces a new pulp adventurer named Gabriel Hunt. And at the end of this first outing, HUNT THROUGH THE CRADLE OF FEAR, Ardai adds a chapter written by himself, kicking off the second book in the series.

Another first from Hard Case, CASINO MOON by Peter Blauner, shows off Ardai's delight in bending the rules. It's 100,000 words, longer than HC's usual 50-60,000; it was originally published in 1994, not the HC sweet spot of the 1940's and 1950s; and it gives Ardai the chance to commission a new cover, by former boxer Ricky Mujica, which captures the spirit and sex of the story with as much zest as the ones by Glen Orbik do in the Hunt series.

And the book inside? I'd say it's one of the best boxing novels I've ever read -- a cross between The Sopranos and The Set Up, with two perfect parts for James Gandolfini in the movie version...

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