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By Dan Simmons

St. Martinís Press, 2003 ($24.95)
ISBN: 0312305281

Reviewed by Rick McMahan

It is plain hard to do hard-boiled in the 21st century. Itís hard to write a hard-boiled, gritty character and not come across as anything other than cardboard and predictable. Having said that, Dan Simmons writes a damn good hard-boiled series of books about Joe Kurtz.

Kurtz was a PI who went to prison for murdering the man who killed his partner. Now back out on the street, the felon and unlicensed investigator works the cold streets of Buffalo, New York. HARD AS NAILS starts off with someone shooting Kurtz and his parole officer. The parole officer is in a coma. Now, unsure if he was the target or just someone who got caught in the crossfire, Kurtz starts trying to track down the shooter. Quickly, he finds himself caught between factions of a warring mob family as well as crossing the path of a serial killer with sick plan.

Joe Kurtz is as hardboiled as they come without being cardboard and one dimensional. Hopefully, weíll see more Kurtz stories from Dan Simmons.

HARD AS NAILS is also available in paperback.

Other titles in this series include HARDCASE and HARD FREEZE.

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