Despite the seemingly endless popularity of Pulp Fiction, not too many people are publishing those cartoonishly graphic, sexy hardboilers these days. But a brash new outfit called Hard Case Crime is trying to change that.
And they may have just released the dirtiest book in America.
But first, some back story. Hard Case founders Charles Ardai and Max Phillips loved the pulps of the ’40s and ’50s so much, they got into the racket themselves. “We hated that we’d been born too late to write books like these ourselves,” Ardai explains, adding that they loved the aesthetic of the old pulps. “That’s what sealed the deal: The prospect of getting to see our names on one of those gorgeous, sexy, painted pulp covers.”
Forget flowery prose and drawn-out storylines. Hard Case prides itself on tightly written, gritty thrillers, including one by Stephen King. Their reissues and brand-new offerings “grab you by the throat on page one and drag you bodily through the story until it deposits you, gasping and spent, on the last page,” says Phillips, who wants reading a book to be as fun as watching a movie. “Show me another publisher with covers like ours,” adds Ardai, referring to the masterfully retro renditions by Glen Orbik and Robert McGinnis.
Perhaps the most controversial example is Getting Off, the latest novel from Lawrence Block. Available beginning today, it sets a new standard for sex and violence.
The average man doesn’t have a woman inside him. Lawrence Block is far from the average man, however. The Mystery Writers of America named him a Grand Master in 1993 and in 2005 he received the prestigious Gumshoe Lifetime Achievement Award. He also shares a body with Jill Emerson, a pseudonym-cum-alter-ego he hasn’t used in over 40 years.
Fortunately, for those of us who like our literature dark, dirty and way over the top, Lawrence unleashed the beastess for this gripping tale, which follows the ruthless and sexy Kit on her mission to become a psychic virgin by sleeping with, then killing off, all extant ex-lovers. This is the type of book that will have you sporting wood one moment and freaking out about who you take home from a dive bar the next.