Authors: Ken Bruen
“Two of the crime fiction world’s brightest talents, Ken Bruen and Jason Starr, join forces for one of the year’s most darkly satisfying and electric
novels…This is one of the top guilty pleasures of the year.”
“This tense, witty, cold-blooded noir…reads seamlessly—and mercilessly…Funny [and] vividly fresh.”
“Adventurous crime-fiction fans who like their literary escapism totally unrestrained will find this brazenly violent and downright vulgar novel…as filthy as it is fun.”
“A full-tilt, rocking homage to noir novels of the 1950s… Hard Case’s latest release is smart, trashy fun.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Fasten your seat belts, and enjoy the bumpy ride of double- and triple-crosses, blackmail, and murder. If Quentin Tarantino is looking for another movie project, this novel with its mix of shocking violence and black comedy would be the perfect candidate. Highly recommended as a terrific summer read.”
—Library Journal, starred review
“Two of the century’s best thriller writers have joined forces to bring a postmodern twist to the black heart of noir fiction. Grade: A.”
—Rocky Mountain News
“A really black comedy…I pretty much laughed my ass off.”
“Really good…very violent and very funny.”
“Crosses and double-crosses, miscalculations and blunders, and plenty of dead bodies…For those who like the bungling-criminal genre, this is good fun.”
“A fearsome and wondrous mix of vile characters [in] a caper novel worthy of Westlake or Leonard…exquisitely conceived and flawlessly written.”
“The prose reads like a dream. Fast paced and bursting with energy… Hard Case Crime have released some of the best new novels of the past few years. They’ve given us some amazing reprints of classic crime. But this book…has just upped the ante once more.”
Leonard drove an old Crown Vic that he seemed to think was some souped-up shit and drove accordingly, siren playing, said, “Man, I never tire of this shit.”
The crime scene was a blitzkrieg of cops, civilians, CSI, more cops.
Joe was brought up to speed by the on-site guy who said, “We’re hearing PIMP.”
Joe looked over a heap of bodies, asked, “A pimp took out all these guys?”
The guy shook his head, explained. “It’s a drug. The new kid on the block—well, all over. PIMP is the new drug of choice for the five boroughs.”
Joe watched as Leonard ambled over to a basketball court and shot the breeze with the kids gathered there, then walked quickly back, said, “Joe, how you feel about hitting Williamsburg?”
“Why, you run out of wool caps and funny glasses?”
“Got a whisper a dealer is on the corner there, with all the PIMP you can handle.”
They blasted over there, scooped up the dealer who was indeed on the corner as reported. Leonard, no frills, picked the kid up, threw him in the back, the kid going, “The fuck, yo?”
Drove to a quiet alley and shook out the kid’s cargo pants, packets of dope spilling on the ground, the kid shouting, “Not mine, ain’t never seen this shit before.”
Leonard made sure no iPhones were around, then gave a slap to the side of the kid’s head, not hard but sufficient.
Joe grabbed the kid, shoved him against the Vic, said, “If you want to walk from this, tell us who the main guy is.”
The kid, already street legal, said, “Might need that in writing, mothafucka.”
Leonard said, “Of course.” Kneed him in the balls, said, “Can you read the small print…?”
by Jason Starr
by Stephen King
THE SECRET LIVES OF MARRIED WOMEN
by Elissa Wald
by Michael Crichton writing as John Lange
THE WRONG QUARRY
by Max Allan Collins
by Lawrence Block
by Samuel Fuller
by Daniel Boyd
by Max Allan Collins
THIEVES FALL OUT
by Gore Vidal
SO NUDE, SO DEAD
by Ed McBain
THE GIRL WITH THE DEEP BLUE EYES
by Lawrence Block
CUT ME IN
by Ed McBain
A HARD CASE CRIME BOOK
First Hard Case Crime edition: March 2016
A division of Titan Publishing Group Ltd
144 Southwark Street
in collaboration with Winterfall LLC
Copyright © 2016 by Ken Bruen and Jason Starr
Cover painting copyright © 2016 by Michael Koelsch
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the publisher, except where permitted by law.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Print edition ISBN 978-1-78329-569-2
E-book ISBN 978-1-78329-570-8
Design direction by Max Phillips
The name “Hard Case Crime” and the Hard Case Crime logo are trademarks of Winterfall LLC. Hard Case Crime books are selected and edited by Charles Ardai.
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For all those who did fuck all to help us or give us a review.
Any resemblance to persons living or dead
is not only intentional but damn necessary.
a hustler, the guy’s a pimp. But that’s not what I’m talking about.
Max, Maximus, Maximum.
In the bathroom of a tenement apartment in Harlem, Max Fisher stared at his reflection. The plastic surgery had hurt like a son of a bitch and only now was the bruising beginning to fade. What looked back at Max was like Philip Seymour Hoffman after the autopsy. Max, a master of self-delusion, saw a youngish Jack Nicholson, and gave the thumbs-up to the face, went, “Ya still got it, kid.”
He was dressed in what used to be called a
but hadn’t done any lounging since Sinatra had hit town. It was bright yellow and Max’s latest babe muttered, “Looks like a canary’s abortion, mon.”
Her name was Precious and the fact that she was neither young nor precious was not apparent to Max. She must have been fifty, had ratty gray dreads, was missing a few teeth. She was Jamaican slash West Indian, emphasis on the slash—she’d recently done a sixteen-year stretch at Coxsackie for stabbing her sister in the face.
This was what Max had liked most about her, though—that she had “a past.” It was nice to have something in common with a babe. Though Max, of course, had only been in prison at Attica for a few months before he escaped, it was the highlight of his life. He looked back on it the way soldiers looked at war. He’d risen up against the enemy—goddamn Aryans—and defeated all of them. Fuck, where was his parade?
Precious went on, “You’re not seriously wearing that, are you? You’re going to be chased by a swarm of bees, mon.”
Max had been in a daze lately, trying to get his shit together, and he wasn’t sure exactly how long he’d known Precious. Three days, a week? She was so annoying he wouldn’t have kept her around at all if he didn’t need her now for her contacts.
She was going, “Come on, Maxie, I can’t be goin’ around the city with you, lookin’ the way you be lookin’, embarrassin’ me. And how old is that jacket you wearin’ anyway, mon? It looks like something you found in the Salvation Army. I think I seen my uncle Cuvis be wearin’ that jacket one time…in nineteen seventy-two. And that color, mon, is so hideous it makes my eyes water from the pain. Nobody be wearin’ bright yellow jackets anymore, mon. You’re gettin’ dressed for a drug deal, not
Let’s Make a Deal
Precious was laughing now, on a roll, enjoying her own dumb jokes. Great, so now he was dating the Jamaican Don Rickles. How’d that happen?
Max, sick of her lip, went, “I’m sick of your lip. If you knew who you were talking to, you’d realize how stupid you sound. The Max isn’t some schmo from buttfuck. The Max knows style. I’m what we Americans call a
. And I don’t have to watch Netflix to know that yellow is the new black.”
Precious, still laughing, went, “Pa-leeze, mon. You are the most unfashionable man I ever seen. You look like you get dressed in the dark, and go shopping in the dark too.”
She continued, clapping, giving herself a round of applause. Meanwhile, Max looked at her stone-faced. He liked that they were both homicidal and that she was big-busted—had to be thirty-eights, E’s or F’s—and he thought she had a sultry, jazzy look, kinda like a homicidal Whoopi Goldberg. But the cons were starting to outweigh the pros. Her biggest con? She talked too much. Didn’t women know that if you want to keep a man around you gotta learn how to—as they say in Ireland—shit the fook up?
What was he doing with this dreadlocked bitch anyway? He had enough problems, he didn’t need another one. He wished he could remember how he’d met her.
Shit, his memory was turning into a serious issue. Max had never had great short-term memory—hell, his long-term memory hadn’t been so great either—but lately he couldn’t remember shit, probably because he’d been coasting on his own latest pharmaceutical high, a new product named PIMP.
and a liberal sprinkle of Psychosis.
PIMP had been introduced to him in Portland by a young, long-haired hipster named Sage, who looked like he was right out of
, and maybe he was. After Max’s big prison break from Attica—yeah, just thinking about those days gave Max some serious wood—he lived in Portland under his pseudonym, Sean Mullin. Figured some tree-hugging city in the Northwest was the last place they’d come looking for him and he got a job working at—where else?—an Irish bar. An out-of-work Irish guy in the U.S., who else would hire him? It was work at an Irish bar or fuck off. As Max often lamented,
we can’t all be Liam Neeson