When I was growing up, I had two literary genre loves. I cut my teeth on the hard-boiled private eye fiction produced by Gold Medal, pulled to those books by the evocative covers drawn by Robert McGinnis (who could pass up scantily-clad women holding pistols?). I still pick up novels published by Hard Case Crime because McGinnis is still out there drawing some of those covers.
I also loved the world of science fiction. But I was torn, as most of us were in those days, between two polarities. Robert A. Heinlein wrote hard-edged science fiction that mostly came true over the next sixty years. Andre Norton wrote a more fanciful type of science fiction that didn’t mire itself in emerging technology or social stratification that could come about because of it. She just imagined wild and fun places to plunk her heroes down in and give them villains to defeat.
There was nothing like a hard-fisted private eye on the trail of a strong villain when rendered in the muscular prose of someone like Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett. Also, there was nothing like sitting back envisioning future worlds built and peopled by gifted science fiction writers.
I would read books in one field, then switch over to books from the other field. During those days, it seemed like the two literary genres would never meet. At least not successfully.
After reading the description of KOP, Warren Hammond’s first novel, I knew I had to try it out. It had all the earmarks of the fiction I love to read in both fields.
The main character is Juno Mozambe, a corrupt cop that still has enough humanity about him to win over readers who are familiar with film noir. Juno could have stepped from one of those books or movies that came out when that top of tale was in its heyday. He’s a very complete character by those standards, and Hammond plays him fairly all the way down the line. In fact, that character could have been lifted from the book and thrown into Prohibition-era Chicago, Mafia-infested New York, or San Francisco’s Chinatown Tong stories and fit perfectly.