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Posted January 20, 2010
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This Book Is and Isn't What It Appears to Be!
It's difficult not to become addicted to the Hard Case Crime line of mystery paperbacks. They're all great reads, offering a smorgasbord of the greatest mystery writers and their work. Whether bringing back a long out-of-print classic or an all-new find, these books always deliver and "The Valley of Fear" is no exception.
Besides being the subtlest indirect movie tie-in ever published, "The Valley of Fear" was a very sly selection for a Hard Case Crime book. Like most Hard Case Crime books, the cover is homage to the classic 48-cent crime paperbacks of yesteryear, the Post-Pulp Magazine Age of Pulp Fiction, with its obligatory barely-clad cover babe. Note the placement of the "V" in the book's title-trust me, that was no accident! Cover lines, such as "Best-selling author of 'The Lost World'" and "Inspired by a true story" were also amusing and true. The cover, in a way was almost like an old National Lampoon cover parody, except it was real!
As far as the story is concerned, it should be noted that though it pretends to be one cohesive novel, there really are two stories here- one an extended flashback sequence, could stand on its own without the rest of the book. Both stories are good, but only one features the author's well-known detective character-but since he's not mentioned on the cover, no reader will feel cheated that he's not present throughout the book (Perhaps A.C. wrote the second story independently from the first, but with demand for more stories featuring his detective character decided to create a story with his detective to wrap around the existing story. Just a theory-- anyone have the real answer?) The other story, the one inspired by true events, is well done-an inside look at corruption that's as relevant today as it was when it was originally written.
"Valley of Fear" truly is a classic, and the Hard Case Crime edition is worth it for its witty presentation alone, but it's well worth reading too.
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Posted February 12, 2010
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