A Hard Case Crime Novel
Making my way thought the Hard Case Crime entries so far has had one big lesson for me, and that is that I understand so much more clearly the underlying message of these stories, and their impetus, and that’s the level of distrust of others that really came to the fore in the post WWII era. Now I am sure that it was there before, what with the history of swindlers, shysters, thieves, and politicians who were on the con, but it feels to me like the major social fall out of the war was that you really didn’t know who to trust.
The story is pretty simple, a Navy Reserve Lieutenant is on his way to report for duty, he’s not looking forward to his having been called back, mostly because he is suffering from Post traumatic Stress Disorder, and when he is picked up hitch hiking to his duty station and kidnapped, he finds himself with what might be an out. He awakes to find himself weakened and playing a role in the plans of a groups of Reds who are under the watch of the feds. Now, this isn’t always the clearest, but that works, as our Lieutenant is in and out of it due to his injuries, and it takes him and the reader a while to figure out what has happened, who he can trust and how to get out of the situation.
The things that I liked most in this book were the little things, the fact that so many people had issues with the nick names they were given, as if they were saying to each other, don’t distill me to just this one little thing, this name that paints me as a child, a hair color, or a profession. I also enjoyed the fact that the book took place in a limited space, just like our hero, was trapped in his head, and in his body that wasn’t always respond ding the way he would have wanted.
Yes he book isn’t big on action, and it’s kind of a twisted puzzle of a story, but it never drags, and it’s a quick enough read. I am not really sure how this fits into the Hard Case Crime world, but hey they must have had a reason to republish it. I have to admit that I have never read any of Hamilton’s other books, he is most famous for writing the Matt Helm spy novels in the 60’s, and I do have a couple of his Westerns lurking around.
Over all this was a solid (and I need to find a new word to describe an acceptable, or slightly more than acceptable book) entry in the Hard Case Line.