Long out of print works by Robert Silverberg and Lawrence Block resurrected by Hard Case Crime for April and May
David KnightView all articles by David Knight
Two more books are forthcoming from the Hard Case Crime imprint through Titan Books. While neither of these books are new works they are sufficiently crucial reading for the genre and have been out of print for so many decades it is to be looked forward to as much as any release of a new work. It may also serve as a due reminder that Robert Silverberg wrote in more than one genre.
Blood On The Mink by Robert Silverberg is scheduled for an April release. The book hasn't been in print for five decades, and this is to be the first time under his real name. It details an undercover agent's infiltration of a forgery ring run by American organized crime, and what happens when his cover as a West Coast crime lord's right-hand man is jeopardized.
Silverberg is most often thought of as a much lauded writer of Grand Master of science fiction, having won the Nebula Award five times, and the Hugo Award five times as well for his writing. The author will contribute an afterword for the release that explains how he came to write the story and the circumstances of its original publication. Two other stories will be included.
The cover for Blood On The Mink will be by Michael Koelsch. Koelsch is a relatively young artist compared to most utilized by Hard Case Crime, but he has an obvious apprecition and understanding of the noir/pulp style we expect to see on covers for these books. Had he been around back in the day his style could have fit on a Mike Shayne or Shell Scott novel quite well.
The two novels by Lawrence Block that are scheduled for release in May, are 69 Barrow Street and Strange Embrace. They won`t be released seperately however, but in one volume. This two-in-one release will be different than previous two-in-one releases by hard Case Crime, such as Two For The Money by Max Allan Collins which reprinted the Nolan books Bait Money and Blood Money under one cover and title.
69 Barrow Street is set in Greenwhich Village and has a painter fall for a woman who becomes his muse, only for both of them to be manipulated by another woman's temptations. Lawrence Block by any other (pen) name is still Lawrence Block so the psychological suspense should offer wicked turns.
Strange Embrace, appearing for the first time under his own name is one of Lawrence Block's earliest detective fictions. It is a case of murder set around the production of a Broadway play called A Touch Of Squalor. The play's producer Johnny Lane isn't waiting on the NYPD to solve the mystery of who is targeting his cast so he casts himself in the role of sleuth.
Fans of cover artist Robert McGinnis get a double-shot out of this deal as he painted both covers. The cover for Strange Embrace features a topless cherry-blonde woman in a g-string, while the cover of 69 Barrow Street is more tame with a boa just barely keeping everything covered. While it is a provactive illustration of the kind of woman that has usually graced the covers of these books for decades it is just tame enough that retailers can face 69 Barrow Street for display. Nudity or no, I think McGinnis' cover for Strange Embrace is among his best renderings of the female form. McGinnis has been at this a long time, his work gracing covers of original printings of books by Brett Halliday, Earl Stanley Gardner, and Richard S. Prather.
When Hard Case Crime isn't putting out new novels, putting out seldom read, often out of print novels is certainly the next best thing for genre fans. It certainly helps to cultivate an historical appreciation for this genre of fiction.