"A hardcore full-tilt rocket ride."
"The toughest dark 'hero' in crime fiction since Parker."
"HARDCASE is very tough, with a high body count...Simmons writes better than most, and his ex-PI. Joe Kurtz, who tries to hold onto a semblance of ethics while working for a semi-retired Mafia don, is an interesting character. ..there are some nifty Chandleresque twists and some nicely done upstate New York scene layering."
"A cinematic story."Chicago Tribune
"A hardcore full-tilt rocket ride."Rocky Mountain News
"The toughest dark 'hero' in crime fiction since Parker."Denver Post
"HARDCASE is very tough, with a high body count...Simmons writes better than most, and his ex-PI. Joe Kurtz, who tries to hold onto a semblance of ethics while working for a semi-retired Mafia don, is an interesting character. ..there are some nifty Chandleresque twists and some nicely done upstate New York scene layering."Boston Globe
"An exceptional tale...there's no letdown from the explosive start to hell-for-leather finish in this hard-as-nails detective story. Watch out, bad guys! Kurtz is here!Enthusiastically recommended."Library Journal
[Simmons'] narrative is all sinewy blood and gristle...hard to beat for a pulp-fiction beach read."Publishers Weekly
"[Simmons] handles the carnage here as confidently as if he'd teethed on a .45."Kirkus Reviews
The Barnes & Noble Review
Dan Simmons is a supremely versatile novelist who is equally at home
writing horror (Carrion Comfort), suspense (Darwin's Blade), and far-future
science fiction (Hyperion). His latest novel, Hardcase, is a thriller in the hard-edged tradition of Donald E. Westlake's alter ego, Richard Stark, and it's as lean, mean, and tightly constructed as anything I've encountered in a very long time.
The hardcase of the title is Buffalo-based PI Joe Kurtz. (And yes, the echo of Conrad's Heart of Darkness is deliberate.) Simmons sets the tone in the opening chapter when Kurtz, in response to an as yet unspecified provocation, tortures a hoodlum named Eddie Falco, then throws his mutilated body from a sixth-story window. Kurtz, who makes Richard Stark's Parker look like a good-natured seminarian, spends the next 11 years in Attica, where he hones his survival skills to a preternatural degree.
Hardcase tells the story of Kurtz'z reemergence into the Darwinian society of the Buffalo underworld, where a clandestine power struggle between criminal rivals is in full swing. What follows is an over-the-top tale of greed, corruption, vengeance, and betrayal, told in a spare, deceptively simple style. As the newly paroled Kurtz attempts to reconstruct his life, he finds himself embroiled in a multi-layered web of violence and deceit that involves a vivid gallery of Buffalo lowlifes, including: an aging Mafioso and
his Machiavellian daughter, a comically inept family of Southern white supremacists, a crooked Mafia lawyer, an array of local gangbangers, and a sadistic albino hit man named, appropriately, Cutter.
The result is a high adrenaline narrative that ends in a spectacularly bloody climax -- a climax which, as Kurtz himself notes, leaves the stage as littered with bodies as the final act of Hamlet. Hardcase isn't by any means Simmons's best or most ambitious novel, but it's a witty, hard-boiled jeu d'esprit by a first-rate storyteller and a master of the unexpected. It might
turn out to be the beach book of the year. (Bill Sheehan)
Bill Sheehan reviews horror, suspense, and science fiction for Cemetery Dance, The New York Review of Science Fiction, and other publications. His book-length critical study of the fiction of Peter Straub, At the Foot of the Story Tree, has been published by Subterranean Press (www.subterraneanpress.com).
Ex-P.I. Joe Kurtz has just finished a jail term for throwing a bad guy out of a window onto the top of a police car. After his release, he accepts an assignment from a semi-retired Don to search for a missing Mafia accountant. In the course of the quest, Kurtz faces mafiosi, a sadistic druglord, hired killers, gangbangers, a family of retarded Aryan Brotherhood rejects, and a crooked cop, who come with names like Doorag, Cutter, Malcolm Kibunte, and the Dane. Before it's over, the tainted hero has maimed two thugs and killed nine others and committed three acts of arson. There's no letdown from explosive start to hell-for-leather finish in this hard-as-nails detective story. Comparison with Richard Stark's amoral badguy Parker or Andrew Vachss's Burke are inevitable, but Kurtz is more Parker than Burke: there is no sentimentality or excess prose here, just unceasing action with a ragged edge. Simmons (Darwin's Blade, The Crook Factory) has crafted an exceptional tale of nonstop violence and double cross. Watch out, bad guys! Kurtz is here! Enthusiastically recommended. David Keymer, California State Univ., Stanislaus Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Joe Kurtz emerges from Attica, after doing his 11 years for killing the man who killed his partner/lover Samantha Fielding, as stoic and focused as he went in. True, he'll never hold a private eye's license again. But that setback doesn't prevent him from telling Arlene Demarco, his former secretary, to quit her job, find a new office, and start looking around for computers and phone equipment. Even before he's settled into his new storefront, the windowless basement beneath an X-rated video place, Kurtz has already landed a job investigating the disappearance of Buell Richardson, missing accountant to Buffalo's once-powerful Farino crime familyexcept that isn't exactly what the job really involves. Kurtz's actual terms of employment will take him into the bed of wheelchair-bound Don Byron Farino's ambitious daughter Sophia, up against a Farino bodyguard who's perhaps a tad too sensitive about the harmless names he's called, and onto a collision course with nine different killersex-Crip Malcolm Kibunte, his wild-eyed sidekick Cutter, his associate Doo-Rap, Kurtz's mortal enemy Manny Levine, a professional assassin called the Dane, and the four Alabama Beagle Boyswho'd love nothing better than to empty their weapons into him, and get repeated chances to try. Old hands at this genre will know better than to form foolishly sentimental attachments to any of them. Genre-hopping Simmons, who made his bones in SF before switching to thrillers like The Crook Factory (1999) and Darwin's Blade (2000), handles the carnage here as confidently as if he'd teethed on a .45.