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Hardcase by Dan SimmonsThe Joe Kurtz series consists of three novels by Dan Simmons, who is likely better known for his award-winning science fiction.

Joe Kurtz is a tough-as-nails (or hard-as-nails, I guess) private eye and this violent series seems to be Simmons’ attempt to write the hardest-boiled crime fiction ever.

The first book, Hard Case, contains this dedication: “This book is for Richard Stark, who sometimes writes under the wussy pseudonym of Donald Westlake…”

The third book, Hard as Nails, contains the following exchange:

“I never knew my father, did you?” said Rigby.

“You know I didn’t,” said Kurtz.

“But you told me once that your mother told you that your father was a professional thief or something.”

Kurtz shrugged. “My mother was a whore. I didn’t see much of her even before the orphanage. Once when she was drunk, she told me that she thought my old man was a thief, some guy with just one name and that not even his own. Not a second-story guy, but a real hardcase who would set up serious jobs with a bunch of other pros and then blow town forever. She said he and she were together for just a week in the late sixties.”

“Must have been preparing for some heist,” said Rigby.

Kurtz smiled. “She said that he never wanted sex except right after a successful job.”

Unfortunately, Dan Simmons has announced that there will be no more Joe Kurtz novels.

The Joe Kurtz series

  • Hardcase (2001)
  • Hard Freeze (2002)
  • Hard as Nails (2003)

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