(Reviewed by Hagen Baye FEB 17, 2005)
Hard Case Crime™ Books are a new series of books consisting of the re-issue of “lost pulp classics” as well as the publication of new “hard-boiled” crime fiction. The paperback series, with truly pocket size books, is also distinguished by its emphasis on vintage book cover art, reminiscent of the classic crime fiction covers of the past. This series will delight those enamored with that distinctive style of writing, those who have yet to discover it, and those who just plain enjoy a good read. And if the first four books of the series are representative, this is a series not to be ignored. (See review of Little Lost Girl by Richard Aleas, Grifter's Game by Lawrence Block and Fade to Blonde by Max Phillips)
Domenic Stansberry's The Confession is the fourth work in the Hard Case Crime™ series. It is told in the first person by Jake Danser, a forensic psychologist who examines criminal defendants and testifies in court about their sanity. Jake also happens to be a womanizer whose first wife was killed in what was deemed to be a boating accident and whose path has crossed those of other women who were murdered.
Stansberry use of first person narrative by the principal character is masterful, as the story revolves around Jake’s retelling of the events surrounding his arrest and eventual acquittal of the murder of his girlfriend, with whom he was engaged in an extramarital affair. The technique permits narrator Jake to slant his account of the critical events in his favor, by—for example--withholding contradictory facts, only revealing them later on in the narrative or through the quoting of statements made by third parties. This device permits the author to keep his readers wondering, as stated on the book’s cover, "Was [Jake] an innocent man…or a depraved killer?" Deciding the answer to that mystery is well worth the enjoyment of reading this engaging book.
The Confession is nominated for the 2005 Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original.
Hard Case Crimes’ website site, readers can see what other offerings are currently available and can subscribe to Hard Case Crime’s monthly email newsletter to keep up to date on its offerings. If the four books reviewed here are any indication of the quality of the series’ publications, the reading public has much to look forward to.
- Amazon readers rating: from 9 reviews
Read a chapter excerpt from The Confession at Hard Case Crimes
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
- The Spoiler: A Novel of Baseball and Murder (1987)
- Exit Paradise: Stories (1991)
- The Last Days of Il Duce (1999)
- Manifesto for the Dead (2000)
North Beach Mystery Series:
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- Official website for Domenic Stansberry
- Trashotron review of Chasing the Dragon
- Complete Review of The Confession
- January Magazine review of The Big Boom
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About the Author:
Domenic Stansberry has been nominated three times for the Edgar Allan Poe Award, first for The Spoiler, then for The Last Days of Il Duce (which was also nominated for the Hammett Prize), and most recently for his Hard Case Crime novel, The Confession. His other novels include Manifesto For the Dead, an evocative look at the latter days of pulp writer Jim Thompson.
He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, the poet Gillian Conoley, and their daughter Gillis.