Hard Case Crime

Hard Case Crime is a small publisher with a focus on the hardboiled classics of yore as well as current renditions in the genre’s distinctive blend of mayhem and social commentary. Noir fans can rejoice.

In addition to classic writers such as Earl Stanley Garner, David Dodge and Day Keene, HARD CASE presents contemporary writers such as Allen Guthrie, Max Phillips, Richard Aleas and Donald Westlake, a treasure trove of talent for fans of hardboiled fiction.

The brainchild of Juno founder Charles Ardai and novelist Max Phillips, HARD CASE CRIME offers the ‘vigor and excitement of the golden age of paperback crime novels,’ to paraphrase the company’s website.
“Max Phillips and I are like Rogers and Hart. I do the words and Max does the music or in this case, the art,” says publisher Charles Ardai.

Hard Case is launching its line this month with the release of Lawrence Block’s Grifter’s Game. Published in 1961, it was the first title written under his own name. FADE TO BLONDE by Max Phillips, TOP OF THE HEAP by Earle Stanley Garner and LITTLE GIRL LOST by Richard Aleas complete the initial quartet of offerings.

Ardai observes, “I sometimes have to do some detective work to track down rights to a particular title; in the case of new books, I sometimes have to work with the author to whip the book into shape.”

This makes him a busy man. In addition to his roles as publisher and editor, Charles is the author of LITTLE GIRL LOST.

Also involved is Scottish author Allan Guthrie. His novel TWO-WAY SPLIT garnered kudos as the one of the best crime debuts in recent memory. His novel KSS HER GOODBYE will be released next July.

Reprints on the schedule include work by Donald Westlake, David Dodge, and Max Allan Collins, author of THE ROAD TO PERDITION.

Hard Case has a production and distribution arrangement with Dorchester; titles are available at the major chains such as B&N and Borders as well as online via Amazon. Fans can order directly from the company’s website, www.hardcasecrime.com. Outside North America, you can order online.

It’s hard to ignore the cover art of these paperbacks. Certainly vivid, the covers reflect the pulp fiction origins of the stories Hard Case wants to tell. You can call it retro; these stories are the direct descendants of the dime novels of the Depression and post-war era.

The company plans to release a dozen titles through July of 2005. If demand takes off, they’re prepared to increase that number. Charles Ardai’s take is “a new book every few weeks is about right.”

That sounds good to hardboiled buffs. This isn’t Miss Marple territory; you won’t see her on these pages unless she trades in her cardigan for a .38 and a dry martini and fades to blonde.