Sunday, July 19, 2009





Why haven't you heard from me in so long? Because I've had a piece of news to share that I couldn't share until now.

As you probably know, the great Donald E. Westlake, one of the finest crime writers ever to pound an Underwood (and one of the finest men any of us in the business had the privilege to know), died on New Year's Eve this year. At the time, we all thought that the last novel he'd turned in to his hardcover publisher was the last novel of his we'd ever get to read. I certainly thought so -- until I heard from Don's friend of 50 years, Lawrence Block, saying that he had a manuscript in his hands of an unpublished Westlake novel that no editor had ever seen.

The book is called MEMORY, and it's outstanding. Don wrote it in the early 1960s but set it aside when his literary agent advised him that it was too literary and encouraged him to concentrate on more commercial sorts of crime fiction. And despite Larry's urging him to publish it over the decades that followed, Don never did.

He should have. It's a beautifully written, heartbreaking story about a man who suffers an assault (after being caught in bed with another man's wife) and wakes up in a hospital bed suffering from a peculiar sort of brain damage that doesn't make him unable to function but does make it hard for him to form new memories or retain old ones. Stuck far from home (and struggling even to remember where home used to be), paranoid about the attentions of the police, and desperate to reconstruct his lost life, Paul Cole sets out on an extraordinary private investigation: a missing persons case in which he himself is the missing person.

As I mentioned in the last e-mail I sent out, Hard Case Crime will be taking a hiatus after publishing two novels (rather than just one) this December. We won't publish any books in January, February or March. But when we come back in April 2010, it'll be a big, big comeback, since that's when we'll be celebrating Donald Westlake's MEMORY.

April's a long way off, of course -- but if you'd like to get a taste of MEMORY now, you can find a sample chapter (along with a first look at Glen Orbik's cover for the book) on our Web site:

You'll also notice that we've finally put up a sample chapter for the first of our two December titles, burlesque performer Jonny Porkpie's THE CORPSE WORE PASTIES -- to find it, just click on the title of that book and then choose "Read a Sample Chapter." The sample will give you a peek into the seedy, wonderful world of burlesque. And if you're in New York when the book's publication date rolls around, you'll get to have more than just a peek, since Jonny's burlesque troupe will be mounting a live burlesque show to coincide with the novel's publication. I'll tell you more about this as we get closer, but at minimum you'll get a chance to see the author perform -- and the book's cover models, burlesque stars GiGi LaFemme and Nasty Canasta.

One other thing you'll notice if you visit our Web site: We've said we're publishing two books in December, but the site only shows one. Does this mean there's another December title we haven't put up on the site yet? Yes. That's precisely what it means. That one's a fun little treat and we'd like to keep it a surprise till we're closer to the publication date. It's got a Glen Orbik cover that will knock your socks off and might make you do a double take when you see it...but you'll have to wait till colder weather arrives to find out why.

After our December double feature and then the Westlake novel in April, we'll be switching to a bimonthly schedule for the rest of 2010, largely to give us a bit more time to work on and drum up attention for each novel, and to give readers more time to digest them all. (We've heard from some of you that the book-a-month schedule has left you with a pile of our books you haven't gotten to yet...and it can be hard to get each book the attention it deserves when there's always another coming just four weeks later.) For those of you who do like having a Hard Case Crime novel to read each month, I commend to your attention the 58 books we've already published (the 58th, Peter Rabe's STOP THIS MAN!, hits stores this week). Have you read them all? No? Well, you've got some great reading ahead of you, and a quick toll-free phone call to 1-800-481-9191 can get you as many of them as you want.

Finally, if you have a hankering for some high adventure to mix in with your mystery reading, I can't miss this opportunity to let you know that the second of our Gabriel Hunt novels -- HUNT THROUGH THE CRADLE OF FEAR, co-authored by Gabriel Hunt and yours truly -- is also hitting stores this week. In this episode, Gabriel's adventures take him from Hungary to New York, from Egypt to Greece, and from Istanbul to Sri Lanka, all in pursuit of the legendary Riddle of the Sphinx. It's a rip-roaring, two-fisted yarn that will leave your heart racing (if I do say so myself) -- a better summer movie, I think, than any of the ones I've seen playing at the local multiplex this year. If you have a soft spot in your heart for the music of John Williams and still thrill to the sight of a young Harrison Ford putting on his fedora and coiling his bullwhip, you should take a look at this one. You can get a sample at

I'll have more news for you just as soon as I can tell you about our December surprise -- and about the various live events we have coming up. In the meantime, enjoy the dog days of summer...and, please, a good book.


P.S. This being t-shirt season, how about showing everyone at the beach or on the streets how much you love pulp fiction?


1 comment:

David Cranmer said...

Simply awesome news. Thanks for passing it along.