Thursday, October 13, 2011

Soft-footing into hardboiled fiction

© Jove Books
© No Exit Press
There are two ways a new book comes into your bibliophilic life—either you discover it on your own, usually by reading about it in the papers or online or picking it up blindfolded in a bookstore; or someone who has read the book and liked it immensely, gushes about it to you—“God, what a book! I read it in one-go. I couldn’t put it down, you know. How can anyone write like this? You must read it! What? You want me to lend it to you? No, I can't do that…mum, dad and sis want to read it too. You know what? You should buy this book. Gasket’s* is selling it at 20% discount. I’ll come with you if you like. What a book!”

There’s a third way—literary blogs written by true book lovers. It’s through this route that I first heard of three crime-noir writers whose books soon found their way on to my bookshelf. Until then I hadn’t even heard of the authors who wrote them. You’ll find the referred blogs in the right-hand margin of this blog and I assure you, you won’t be disappointed. Blogs have a personal touch which websites lack. 

I bought the three hardboiled-noir books from a secondhand bookstore in a northwest suburb of Bombay. They are: The Imposter, #296 of ‘The Gunsmith’ series, by J.R. Roberts, a pseudonym for pulp writer Robert J. Randisi who writes detective and Western fiction; Burglars Can’t Be Choosers by Lawrence Block, a crime writer popular for his long-running series based on P.I. Matthew Scudder, an alcoholic on the mend, and Bernie Rhodenbarr, a gentleman burglar; and Downtown by Ed McBain, a pseudonym for the late Evan Hunter, a noted crime and script writer.

The popularity of these American authors is evident from the number of times they and their works have been written about by fellow-bloggers on the right, many of whom are accomplished writers. They know what they are blogging about.

© Avon Books
Robert J. Randisi, whom Booklist magazine describes as “may be the last of the pulp writers”; Lawrence Block, whose fan mail would be the envy of most writers; and Evan Hunter, whom award-winning American author Ed Gorman described as “one of the two or three best and most influential crime writers of his generation” are masters of their craft—be it crime, mystery, detective or Western. They must be read and savoured.

I am a newcomer to hardboiled-noir fiction. Nonetheless, the objective of this post is to introduce this genre to Indian readers who, like me, are not familiar with it. Between them, Randisi, Block and Hunter have written nearly a thousand books. I already have three books, one by each author. Well, it’s a beginning…

* Gasket’s is not a bookstore anywhere. A gasket is a seal consisting of a ring for packing pistons or sealing a pipe joint.


  1. awesome blog, do you have twitter or facebook? i will bookmark this page thanks.

    My blog:
    DSL Vergleich

  2. DSL Vergleich: Hey thanks! I'm not on Twitter or Facebook. I enjoy blogging, though.