Before I get to my review of Hard Case’s debut originals, I wanted to mention the National Book Awards in advance of the dinner tonight. I’ll take a stab at choosing the winner, Lilly Tuck. Novels about Irish women in Paraguay are in short supply; and to the other finalists, congratulations, and I hope your lives feel enriched by this experience after all.
The publisher of HARD CASE CRIME, Charles Ardai, was interviewed here several weeks ago. He’s written LITTLE GIRL LOST under the nomme de plume of Richard Aleas, which is witty. The novel is done in the classic style of hardboiled crime. John Blake is a young PI looking for his high school sweetheart on the mean streets of NYC. Blake isn’t so much looking for Miranda, she’s been murdered, as trying to reconstruct her life. Miranda went off to college ten years earlier, yet wound up dead, a stripper in a sleazy joint in Lower Manhattan. The clues lead Blake to some rough customers, another missing girl and a stripper with a heart. Aleas blends these classic elements into a fast-paced noir thriller of the old school. The ending gives the story a nice twist, the writing is solid, the setting just as grim as you’d like. The format allows you to slip the novel into your pocketbook or your jacket just like your parents did back in the day.
FADE TO BLONDE by Max Phillips, takes root in 1940s Los Angeles. The war is over and the GIs are back including Ray Corson. Ray is a versatile guy; an ex-boxer, Ray can re-roof the house, write a screenplay, even help a dame like Rebecca La Fountaine get out of a jam with a local gangster. The trouble is Rebecca’s no angel and isn’t always telling Ray the whole truth. That’s part of the fun as Ray gets up close and personal with the local hoods. It’s fast, the Forties and the City of Angels are lovingly on display as fists fly, various bones are broken, and Rebecca weaves her femme fatale web with brisk assurance.
Please note my original post confused Max Phillips with another famous Max. Sorry for the error.