First things first: We've added a new book to our Web site, STOP THIS MAN! by Peter Rabe. (Yes, the exclamation point is part of the title.) It's the story of a thief trying to unload a bar of gold that happens to be radioactive and it's one of the most memorable and moving books I've read in ages. You can see the exciting cover painting by Robert McGinnis and read the first chapter at www.HardCaseCrime.com. Just click on the word "BOOKS" on the left side of the screen -- STOP THIS MAN! will be the first one listed.
Second, we have reached an important milestone: as we speak, our 50th book is hitting stores. It's called FIFTY-TO-ONE, it was written by yours truly, and it's a hardboiled comedy that imagines what it might have been like if Hard Case Crime had been founded 50 years ago rather than 50 books ago. The year is 1958, saucy paperback crime fiction is reigning at newsstands and bookstores everywhere as America's reading matter of choice, and a not-entirely-honest young man sets out to cash in on the phenomenon. Everything's going well until he conscripts an 18-year-old showgirl to pen the life story of the mobster she works for and instead of telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, she starts making things up out of whole cloth. Except that somehow everything she writes turns out to be the truth after all. And now both the Mob and the police want to get their hands on her...
It's a mad romp, told in 50 chapters, with each chapter bearing the title of one of our 50 books. (Our first book was GRIFTER'S GAME by Lawrence Block, so the first chapter is called "Grifter's Game." Our second book was Max Phillips' FADE TO BLONDE, so Chapter 2 is called "Fade to Blonde." And so on, all the way up to Chapter 49, which is called "Gun Work," and Chapter 50, which is called "Fifty-to-One.") Crafting a story to fit these 50 titles wasn't easy -- but it was lots of fun, and long-time readers of our series will particularly get a kick out of it. Adding to the fun, Hard Case Crime co-founder Max Phillips wrote one of the book's chapters (I'm not telling which!), authors Donald Westlake, Lawrence Block, and Mickey Spillane make cameo appearances, and there's a full-color section in the middle featuring miniature reproductions of all 50 of our covers.
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY wrote "Breathless action and entertaining characters make this a page-turner from start to finish...With good girls, bad girls, mob kings and grifters, suspense is guaranteed." THE SEATTLE TIMES had this to say: "A wild chase through the New York underworld...it's a doozy." And just today Mel Odom, writing for BLOGCRITICS MAGAZINE, wrote, "FIFTY-TO-ONE is simply the best kind of potboiler...a great read." I hope you'll treat yourself to a copy of this book -- and I hope you enjoy it if you do.
Meanwhile, in other news, I'd like to congratulate the winners of our recent drawing for free advance copies of Lawrence Block's KILLING CASTRO (David, Rozalynne, Valerie, Chuck, Kevin, Rosemarie, Steve, Robin, Luke, and Clint) and Roger Zelazny's THE DEAD MAN'S BROTHER (James, Matt, Shelton, Bridget, Ellen, Ray, Brian, Isaac, Elektra, and Polly).
I am also excited to announce that after the success of THE LAST QUARRY and its recent prequel THE FIRST QUARRY, Max Allan Collins has decided to write a third Quarry novel for us, QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE. That one will hit stores for Christmas next year. If you're hungry for more Quarry in the meantime, director Jeffrey Goodman has turned THE LAST QUARRY into a feature film called "The Last Lullaby," starring Tom Sizemore, and the movie has already won a number of film festival awards, including both Best Actress and the Audience Award at the San Diego Film Festival. The film hasn't yet been released in theaters, but you can find out more about it at www.thelastlullaby.com.
We've got more interesting stuff cooking, too -- including a surprise 13th book at the end of 2009 -- but that'll have to wait till a future message (none of it's quite ready to talk about yet). For now, let me just wish you a very happy start to the holiday season and remind you that nothing says "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Channukah" quite like a festively wrapped package of murder, larceny, lust, greed, and double crosses. You can find our books at a store near you, or you can always order them online or by phone (toll-free) at 1-800-481-9191.
Want a particularly special gift? How about a set of all 50 of our titles? Or maybe a subscription to the Hard Case Crime book club, which delivers each month's new title automatically by mail? Call the good folks at Dorchester Publishing during East Coast business hours and they'll be glad to help you. Again, it's 1-800-481-9191, and operators are, as they say, standing by.