Block/Emerson deliver this material in a suitably lean style not much different from Block’s usual Scudder work. In this, we can see “Emerson” as an heir to pulpish women pioneers as Leigh Brackett, who had her hands in the first movie adaptation of The Big Sleep and was herself adept at tough-as-nails narration. While you can understand the commercial reasons for doing so, in a way blowing Block's cover takes away some of the fun in this book: seeing his bearded visage on the back dust cover, you can't help wondering how it might've read if we still believed this wonderfully seedy exercise was written by a real "Jill."
Though portions of this episodic book originally appeared as short stories in a quartet of noir collections, the full novel is making its debut as part of the Hard Case Crime series. A line of new and reprint pulp crime novels that originally appeared in paperback form, Hard Case now appears to be affixed to British publisher Titan Books’ hard cover catalog. Got to admit that seeing Gregory Manchess’ suitably seedy cover (nekkid girl holding a knife suggestively down her backside while another femme — Rita, perhaps — undresses the duo’s impending victim) attached to a hardback dust cover was a little bit odd, but it’s great to see this sturdy line of crime fiction enduring in print form.
More Hard Cases, please.