Hardcase and Hard Freeze, by Dan Simmons

Amazon links for Hardcase and Hard Freeze

I picked these up at the same time as Dim Sum Dead, in my failure of self restraint at the used bookstore. I like a lot of the work by Dan Simmons, and am thoroughly impressed by his exploration of so many different literary genres. These two books are apparently his attempts at hard-boiled fiction. They were decent, but not nearly as compelling as, say, Andrew Vachss. The writing wasn’t nearly as distinctive, and the protagonist wasn’t very well developed; he had an appallingly brutal streak, with little explanation as to the contrast between his cold-bloodedness with his enemies as opposed to his warmth with his friends. Vachss developed the character of Burke, explaining his absolute loyalty to his family, but Simmons’s character of Joe Kurtz is a cypher. One of the problems I had with the book was the same problem I had with another book of Simmons that I read recently, Darwin’s Blade, where the protagonist, Darwin, was actually too skilled; the book became just a shooting gallery of bad guys getting annihilated by Darwin. Kurtz did much the same thing in these books; it was mildly interesting to see the different methods used by Kurtz, but it never really felt like he was in any danger. I’m not sure I’ll pick up the next book, Hard as Nails. Maybe if I see it used.