Dan Simmons is not an author who writes the same book twice. He doesn't even come close. Since switching from fantasy/horror to mystery, Simmons has written Crook Factory, set in Cuba and starring Ernest Hemingway, and Darwin's Blade, featuring a genius insurance claims investigator who only has to look at a demolished vehicle to be able to know exactly what led up to the crash.|
With Hardcase, Simmons both pays homage to over-the-top pulp fiction and writes a remarkably good example of it. Joe Kurtz has no intention of giving up his chosen profession of private investigator, even though he's just spent 12 years in jail. He believes it's only a matter of finding the right case. But that case will never come to him, so he pays a call on Byron Tatick Farino, mob boss, and suggests that for $400 a day plus expenses, he'll try to find the Family's missing accountant and also figure out who's hijacking the Family's trucks. Farino is inclined to let him do this since he has nothing to lose, and Joe did save his son from a fate worse than death in Cell Block D.
So Joe is off and running, and after picking up his ex-assistant, Arlene, he opens an office in the basement of a porn store and begins looking into the Mob's business. He no sooner interviews the accountant's wife than she is found dead and horribly mutilated.
The list of those who want Joe to butt out is long, and they are evidently very serious about preventing Joe from finding out too much. There's the person who is hijacking the trucks, and wants to continue. There's also a couple of sociopaths (if not psychopaths) named Malcolm and Cutter who work for the Mob's lawyer. Unsurprisingly, they are not exactly loyal and know that there's a $10,000 reward for the guy who wasted Ali, one of the Death Mosque brothers in Cell Block D. Finally, there are the Levine brothers, Manny and Sammy. Joe hasn't heard of either of them, but word is that Manny blames Joe for Sammy's death.
These numerous and varied storylines remain remarkably lucid as Simmons treats us to a fast-paced thriller with excitement on every page.