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by Dan Simmons

St. Martin's Press, 2001
263 pages, $23.95.
ISBN: 0312274971

Reviewed by Rick McMahan

Dan Simmons is a very versatile author who's writing crosses many genre lines, having written such horror classics as CARRION COMFORT and THE SONG OF KALI as well as the historical mystery about Ernst Hemingway, THE CROOK FACTORY. In his latest novel, HARDCASE, Simmons delves into the dark noir with a novel reminiscent of the Richard Stark Parker novels.

Joe Kurtz is a former Private Detective who just was released from the pen after he killed a couple of men, and it was purely personal for the reasons he killed them. While in prison he made contacts with some nefarious people, including the son of the head of the Buffalo (NY) mafia. Once out, the semi-retired Mafioso hires Kurtz to find the mob's missing accountant, but someone doesn't want the accountant found. It seems that there are factions within the mobster's own crime-family who want him to fall, and Kurtz is caught in the crossfire, and he's not even sure who the real players are in the little ordeal he's been drawn into.

Kurtz is a hard man, very much the man needed for this hard case. There is plenty of action and plenty of twists and betrayals in this novel. Reminiscent of Stark's Parker novels, Simmons creates a very hardboiled noir story that is a very enjoyable read set in the cold wintery decay of Buffalo.

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