on May 5, 2004
Hard-Boiled American crime fiction is Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, Raymond Chandler, John D. MacDonald, Ross Macdonald, Mickey Spillane, and many less familiar authors. The hard-boiled American crime fiction never really took root in Great Britain. Sam Spade was popular on the screen, but less so in the London bookstore. I was surprised to discover that the prestigious Oxford University Press had published this anthology of American crime fiction.
What is hard-boiled crime fiction? According to the editors Bill Pronzini and Jack Adrian, hard-boiled crime stories deal with disorder, disaffection, and dissatisfaction. The reader encounters a jaundiced view of government, power, and the law. The protagonist, sometimes a woman, is a social misfit, a loner. Most stories are reflective of their times, windows into history that offer the perspective of individuals that inhabited a particular, often unsavory locale.
Some of the stories in this remarkable collection appear in other anthologies, but others are rarely encountered. Pronzini and Adrian have arranged these short stories chronologically, beginning with Hammett's The Scorched Face (1926).
Each story is introduced by a thoughtful preface. I gradually developed an understanding and appreciation for this uniquely American genre. Many of these entries qualify as pulp fiction; most are without any literary pedigree. And yet, this collection makes good reading. Entertainment, suspense, riveting characters, and a little cultural history are blended together. I highly recommend this anthology.
on January 11, 2002
"Hard Boiled" is an absolutely first rate collection of short stories by some of the best AND least known writers of the genre. One of its two editors, Bill Pronzini, is an avid collector of the old Pulp magazines as well as being one of the best hard-boiled writers working today (he's the author of the excellent "Nameless" detective series). He and co-editor Jack Adrian really know their stuff, as they show with an extensive introduction that explains in detail the history of the genre. They also provide good introductions for each individual writer, both the famous and the not-so famous, to give the reader a good perspective of where each author was coming from.
The stories themselves are grouped by the decade in which they were published. The 1930s and 1950s are the most heavily represented because, the editors explain, they were the peak decades for hard-boiled fiction in terms of both poularity and quality. The book covers the 1920s to the 1990s.
Overall, this is an excellent book for anyone who enjoys good crime stories.
on February 14, 2001
Hard Boiled is the greatest crime anthology that I have read. It's full to the brim with great stories and has writers from every decade some well kown some not. Some great stories are Dashiell Hammet's The Scorched Face, Roul Whitfield's Misteral, James M Cain's Brush Fire, Chester Himes Marijuana and a Pistol and Jim Thompson's Forever After. It also has a great introduction. I seriously suggest you buy this book
on July 24, 2000
In an era of widespread cynicism it's good to know that there are still idealists out there. They may not be saints, but they're usually on the good side. And in this fantastic collection of crime stories you won't be bored. Many of these authors have appeared elsewhere, such as Ellery Queen or Hitchcock. But Pronzini & Adrian selected stories that have an edge to them. Like San Francisco in the early days...Worth it to own, because you'll read it again!
on June 9, 1997
If you love the fiction of the Hard Boiled Genre then Hard Boiled is a must for your collection. If you are just interested theres no better place to start. Taunt stories by authors great and small will provide hours of entertainment and the editors notes a tremendous resource in locating more material.
A personal favorite is
So cold , So pale, So Fair,
Please read and enjoy
on July 24, 1998
Pronzini and Adrian have chosen the best Crime Fiction short stories around. And even better, they provide historical perspectives and summaries of the works of the authors. I purchased the book not just to reread, but to have as a reference for which books of each author to read, and in what order. The best crime fiction anthology ever.