There I was, my reading life languishing in the aftermath of the Dark Tower, when I saw Stephen King was releasing a book called The Colorado Kid, part of something called the Hard Case Crime Series. At that point in my life, the only crime books I'd read were The Maltese Falcon and Red Harvest, both by Dashielle Hammett. Entranced by the 50's style cover, I took the plunge. I haven't looked back since except to make sure someone wasn't standing behind me holding a gun.
The Colorado Kid isn't my favorite Hard Case novel by any means but it kicked the door open and sprayed the room with bullets. From there, I discovered a new world of crime novels, like the Quarry series by Max Allan Collins, and discovered two guys who'd wind up being two of my favorite writers, Lawrence Block and Donald Westlake. I've read books I never would have discovered on my own, like House Dick by E. Howard Hunt, the two books by Richard Aleas, and Losers Live Longer by Russell Atwood. I've read posthumous works by the masters, like Dead Street by Mickey Spillane, The Dead Man's Brother by Roger Zelazny, and Memory by Donald Westlake. I've visited seedy used bookstores to track down books by writers I've discovered through Hard Case. My odyssey to find old Matthew Scudder, Parker, and Dortmunder books would be enough for a couple blog entries apiece.
As of this writing, I'm very nearly caught up. The Hard Case line includes 66 titles until they resume publication in September and I'm 100 pages away from finishing Memory, the last of the books I have left to read. It's been a long road full of dames and double crosses but it's a road I'm glad I've traveled.
For more info on the Hard Case Crime series, click here.