My Review (5 stars out of 5)
Atlanta, 1974. Private investigator and former cop Jim Hardman takes what he can get in a world where getting beaten up and shot at are par for the course. Along with his pal Hump Evans, Hardman agrees to look into the disappearance of a young woman – girlfriend of mysterious underworld figure, ‘The Man’. But the plot soon gets complicated with an awful lot of people seeming to want Hardman out of the way.
This new edition of the author’s first book in the Hardman series includes an introduction by Joe R. Lansdale, which declares Ralph Dennis to be close on the heels of the likes of Chandler and Hammett. I first heard of the author via a Facebook pal and bought Atlanta Deathwish after reading the first page of the novel on Amazon. The writing is gritty and sharp, and while occasionally sliding into less politically correct language, the author’s skill in creating fully-rounded characters and a knack for realistic dialogue, keeps the plot moving along swiftly. There’s a nice line of humour, too, that gives Hardman a layer of likeability, and though he’s clearly nothing special, his ordinariness makes him all the more believable.
A stonking good read by an author I wish I’d discovered years ago.