Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Read: "Atlanta Deathwatch" by Ralph Dennis

Read: Atlanta Deathwatch by Ralph Dennis, 2019 reprint of 1974 novel, 978-1732065666.

Lee Goldberg has a big long story on how this Ralph Dennis series of novels were so fantastic that Goldberg created Brash Books for the sole purpose of republishing the novels. There is more detail about Goldberg's love for the series, his tracking down all the entries, contacting Dennis's family for the rights, so on, so forth. With a story like that you gotta the think the series is pretty damn good. Well... it pretty much is.

I enjoyed the novel quite a bit but,  unlike Goldberg and quite a few other fellas, I will not obsessively hunt each novel down. Hell, I don't have to because Mr. Goldberg already did that for us. What's more, if Goldberg's stalker love for Hardman and Evans brought us Brash Books that is pretty damn cool. I recommend you check out other Brash Books pubs like Soak by Patrick McLean or the two Bill Crider westerns,

Anyhoo, let's skip my own obsessive love for Goldberg and get to the story. Jim Hardman was canned from the cops (who were cannily clued to a corruption cloud by creepy crooks) a couple years ago. Hardman also lost his Smoochy-Smoochy Lovey-Dovey Girlfriend who worked for the crooks. She declared under oath that she pursued Hardman because her bosses told her to.

Well, losing his job and future wife was a big double blow to Hardman and he has been barely sliding by since. He works some off-the-books and unlicensed PI jobs and occasionally couriers NYC dope down to Atlanta. He has about two pals left: Hump Evans a former NFL player and local hero and Hardman's former police partner, Cop Friend.

The plot involves Hardman getting hired to follow the co-ed daughter of a wealthy Georgian. He tails her for a bit and she visits a rough bar in a black neighborhood. When Hardman goes into the bar to snoop the locals get suspicious, Hardman gets ambushed, Hardman gets beat up, Hardman is told to not come back. Hardman says, "Ouch! My ribs! My face! Screw this job!"

Shortly after Hardman quits the job the co-ed is murdered. Hardman is forcibly taken to visit The Man...

-- Yeah, this is the 1970s and the character is known by everyone as The Man. This surprises hardman a little because the street crooks he dealt with always spoke of The Man and Hardman figured that was generic. I found this humorous. --

... The co-ed was secretly dating The Man. The Man is a black guy in his 30s with control over a good part of organized crime in Atlanta. The Man wants to hire Hardman to figure out who killed Co-Ed.

Things happen. Hardman uses Cop Friend to gain information. Hump helps out. Co-Ed's family wants her killer found as well and talks to Hardman. Hardman's Cop Friend and Cop Friend's Wife are trying to get Hardman and his former Smoochy-Smoochy back together. There are attempts to assassinate Hardman. So on. So forth.

There is also plenty of other 1970s lingo and social and political attitudes. Hump hits the singles bars. Hardman and Hump drink a lot (well, this is a PI novel). Black guys are called 'studs' and [other lingo I cannot recall and do not have the book handy]. There is a secret bordello hidden in the woods.

1. I enjoyed the book.
2. Speaking of obsessive love: Goldman's love for barbeque and drone footage.
3. Goldberg published his first novel when he was about 19-years-old. Someone - an agent or publisher - told LAPD cop Paul Bishop that he should meet Goldberg because they wrote similar novels which were hard boiled crime fiction. Bishop - as I understand it - was freaking Super Cop. For 35 years he pursued and arrested all sorts of bad dudes. Goldberg's story is that he and Bishop were going to meet for lunch. Super Cop Bishop walks in and sees uber-geek Goldberg (who wrote for Fangoria) instead of a grizzled, wrinkled, tobacco stained guy in his 60s.
3.A. Goldberg tells the story better. Look it up yourself.

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