Hard Case Crime to me, right now, is like Estrus Records in the early 90s, a dealer fast, furious genre entertainment. In the case of Estrus it was Garage Punk Rock'n'Roll, Hard Case on the other had has been reprinting lost Crime/Noir plot driven novels and publishing new books in the same vein. Like Punk Rock what these books have in common is their energy, their drive and a feeling that it could all end at any moment. I started reading Hard Case books a year ago and reviewed many of them here last summer. I had intended to review each book as I finished it, but got out of the habit somewhere along the way . I figure that now is a good a time as any to start again.
I just finished Hard Case entry HCC-018 Say it Will Bullets by Richard Powell
Story: Bill Wayne is a vet who flew the hump over the Himalayas during the war. Staying in China after the war ended he and a couple of buddies tried to make a go of it hauling freight, only things fell apart as the commies took China and Bill ended up with a slug in his back. Now four years later he is back in the States, and after someone took another shot at him, he is on a mission to track down his former buddies and figure out who shot him in China and who took a shot at him just now. Using a Western Bus tour as cover he travels the West dropping in on his former partners and looking for revenge. With a lady from his past in tow he finds himself in the middle of a set up he was ready for, and fighting for his life and his freedom while trying to figure out who put the pill in him.
That I liked: The fast and fun pace, the story never lingering too long on anything that distracts from that pace. I like the idea of the tour though the West, Wyoming to Utah, Nevada and then California. That is a part of the country that I have been thinking about a lot as of late, having just seen the films Bonneville and the Go Getter both of which feature road trips through those areas. I also liked the build of the reveal, with pieces falling into place step by step with out rushing, but with out dragging things out either. There is also a number of great quips, descriptions and quotes that jumped out at me Including:
"The Town of Winnemucca was about six gas stations long by Four tap rooms wide"
"Wait a minute, Wayne. Walk, do not run, to the nearest insane asylum"
"He nudged the accelerator and heard the kittens under the hood grow up into cats."
What I didn't like: I really don't have any major complaints, there are a few places where the book is a little slow, and I had a hard time at the start getting into the set up. I am more and more a believer in start with the action, let the back story unfold-- honestly this book is pretty good about getting going , but I did feel like it took a bit to get up and moving.
Do I recommend the book? Yes, I enjoyed it, and it has made me curious about the rest of Powell's output. Say it will bullets is another winner for Hard Case Crime.
Each Month I try to read at least one:
Book from Hard Case Crime
Book Written by Donald E Westlake (Richard Start or Tucker Coe also count)
Book from my list of books that I need to read in 2009
Book that isn't a crime/ mystery novel
I am going to try and write a review of each of the Hard Case books that I read from now on, the format for the review is going to be the same one that Mrs Olsen taught me back in the fourth grade, A synopsis of the book, tell what I liked, tell what I didn't like and say if I would recommend the book or not.
Comments and Feedback are always welcome.