Dan Simmons’s Hard as Nails is the third Joe Kurtz novel and follows along the same path trodden by Hard Freeze (review here) and Hardcase. Our antihero Joe Kurtz continues to get dragged in by Buffalo, New York mobsters and this time has to solve the problem of who keeps murdering small-time drug pushers and button men for both the warring Farina and Gonzaga families or face execution himself. To add to his problems, he has been shot in the head in an ambush that may have been directed at himself or his parole officer and thus goes through most of the story in somewhat less than stellar shape.
Like its two predecessors, Hard as Nails is unrelentingly hardboiled, tightly written and executed, but suffers a bit from an overloaded plot. There’s enough material for several novels in here, which makes the pace too fast and forces Simmons to gloss over a lot of potentially interesting moments. The main problem, though, which the novel shares with its two predecessors, is that Simmons tends to hide things from the reader, so that Kurtz finds himself in impossible predicaments, but then is saved by some scheme he has set up outside the reader’s knowledge, which feels a bit too much Deus Ex Machina for comfort.
Nevertheless, Hard as Nails delivers a gut-wrenching roller coaster ride and is hard (snort) to put down.
**Listening To: ** Stream from Groove Salad
Posted Monday, 22 November, 2004 by Nic Lindh
Another book roundup, including some stellar athletes and soldiers, what might be the most jaded, soul-weary protagonist ever, and some grimdark fantasy.
The Internet is getting creepy, and Nic is breaking out his tinfoil hat after newspaper paywalls push him over the edge.
Nic is tired of tech sites obsessing over Apple’s financials and business strategy. So very tired.
Nic reads a book about the processed food industry and is incensed.
Computers are complicated. This brings out the irrational in people.
Nic proposes the loan word Rechthaberei be incorporated into American English.
The Core Dump is back! Books were read during the hiatus. Includes The Coldest Winter, Oh, Myyy!, Tough Sh*t, The Revolution Was Televised, The Rook, Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, Gun Machine, Fortress Frontier, Standing in Another Man’s Grave, and The Memory of Light.
This site will return in February.
From a true patriot to a world-weary detective, a dead god, and a civilization about to sublime from the galaxy, this book roundup spans the gamut. Includes Where Men Win Glory, Wild, Inside the Box, The Black Box, Three Parts Dead, Red Country, and The Hydrogen Sonata.
Springsteen gives a concert in Phoenix. It’s fantastic.