Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Books: Hard Case Crime Round-Up

For months, I’ve been snapping up any book that bears the Hard Case Crime logo. I just haven’t been reading them. In the past few weeks, though, I plowed through three in a row.

The Colorado Kid. Stephen King’s book netted the line a ton of publicity and vaulted them onto bestseller lists. It’s an atypical offering in that it’s not at all hard-boiled, in spite of the dedication to The Name Of The Game Is Death author Dan J. Marlowe. I found the first quarter of the book rough going, in that it was folksier than a lemonade stand at an ice cream social, don’t ya know. But the tale eventually took hold. The ending has generated its share of controversy, but it worked for me. You can’t say he didn’t set it up.

The Girl With The Long Green Heart. It’s Lawrence Block, so of course I liked it. This 1965 novel lays out its complex con game so meticulously that I’m now ready to pull it on the right mark. The book teaches a valuable lesson: sometimes the most shocking twist is the one that doesn’t come.

Branded Woman. The rare hard-boiled novel with a woman as protagonist. And what a woman! The Orson Welles film Touch of Evil was based on a book by the Wade Miller team, and I can’t help wishing that Orson had gotten a crack at this 1952 title as well. Tremendous south of the border atmosphere and a great gallery of rogues. This might be my favorite Hard Case book to date.

Conversational Tidbits Gleaned From This Week’s New Yorker

1. The only member of ZZ Top without a beard is named Beard.

2. The New York Times recently hired Matthew Carter, the world’s foremost typeface designer, to complete the alphabet of the face it uses to print its name. The newspaper only had the letters that spell “The New York Times.”