Hardcase is a detective fiction novel by Dan Simmons.
Dan Simmons certainly gets around. He has written straight horror, epic SF, thrilling espionage and with this book he has opened a door the the hard-boiled Private Investigator genre. Hardcase is the first book in a series of books, about the former PI Joe Kurtz. I can's speak for the next two books, but this one works and Simmons does seem to be a master of all trades.
Joe has been to prison for eight years for murder. Of cause that means that he can't get his PI license renewed with he gets out, so he has to come up with something different to please his parole officer. He partners up with he's former secretary and starts an on-line dating service – This was probably written before the dot-com crash, and it is kind of unimportant, but it's also highly unrealistic. Anyway, it doesn't matter much, it's all a front for Joe's real plan, with is to offer himself as a investigator for the Mob. He gets the job, but of cause things are not what they seem, and there are a lot more players then you would think possible in something that takes just a few hours to read (three hundred pages). So Joe gets to cheat, kick, punch, shoot and kill his way through an endless stream of lawyers, mobsters, gang bangers, bad cops and red-necks.
Joe is not a very nice guy and he always shoot first and then goes through peoples pockets later. He's the kind of anti-hero that it's hard to see anything redeeming about, except that just about everybody around him seems to been even worse s*****, so it's doesn't seem as bad when he kills them or breaks their knees just because they didn't get out of his way fast enough. Funny to read about, but I really hope that nobody like walks free in the real world...
Simmons has created a character that, is excessively violent and put him in an even uglier world. And it works – it was a bit to violent at times, but it was also very, very intense and I'm looking forward to Hard Freeze which is the second Joe Kurtz novel. If you like Simmons and hard-boild PI stories this is a winner.
Written on 26th April 2004 by TC.
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