The Return of Hardman

I’m excited to announce that I’ve acquired the rights to all of Ralph Dennis’s work — his published and unpublished novels. Brash Books will be re-releasing his 12 Hardman novels, starting with the first four in December, and the rest through 2019. The Hardman books include a terrific introduction by Joe R. Lansdale. The first two titles in the series, Atlantla Deathwatch  and The Charleston Knife is Back in Town are already available for preorder in paperback and ebook on Amazon, iBook, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.
 
We’ll also be re-releasing in 2019 a substantially revised version Ralph’s WWII thriller MacTaggart’s War, which we’ve retitled The War Heist. It was his last published title and didn’t do as well as he, or the publisher hoped. I believe i know why… I’ve gone back to his original manuscript, rearranged chapters, deleted chapters, and made other revisions to heighten suspense, sharpen characters, etc… cutting the book by about 35,000 words along the way (it still clocks in at 100K words).
 
And we’re also going to be releasing many of Ralph’s unpublished novels…which, if they need revision, I will be doing myself. One of the manuscripts is going to be slightly reworked as a sequel to his previous published novel Atlanta (which we are likely to retitle before re-publishing)
 
Boucheron 2013: Joel Goldman, Lee Goldberg and Jeffrey Deaver
Joel Goldman, Lee Goldberg and Jeffery Deaver at Bouchercon Albany where “Brash Books” was born

This has been a passion project for me ever since Bill Crider and Paul Bishop introduced me to the Hardman novels five years ago. I immediately decided I had to get them back into print, so I sought out the advice of my good friend Joel Goldman…and as a result of those discussions, a partnership and a publishing company were born. Now, after the publishing nearly 100 titles together, we are finally putting out the novels that we’d hoped would be our first releases.

Ralph Dennis isn’t a household name… but I believe that he should be. He is widely considered among crime writers as a master of the genre, denied the recognition he deserved because his series of twelve Hardman books, which are beloved and highly sought-after collectables now, were poorly packaged in the 1970s by Popular Library as cheap men’s action-adventure paperbacks with numbered titles.

Even so, some top critics saw past the cheesy covers and noticed that he was producing work as good as John D. MacDonald, Raymond Chandler, Chester Himes, Dashiell Hammett, and Ross MacDonald.

The New York Times praised the Hardman novels for “expert writing, plotting, and an unusual degree of sensitivity. Dennis has mastered the genre and supplied top entertainment.” The Philadelphia Daily News proclaimed Hardman “the best series around…”

Unfortunately, Popular Library didn’t take the hint and continued to present the series like hack work, dooming the novels to a short shelf-life and obscurity…except among generations of crime writers, like novelist Joe R. Lansdale (the Hap & Leonard series) and screenwriter Shane Black (the Lethal Weapon movies), who’ve kept Dennis’ legacy alive through word-of-mouth and by acknowledging his influence on their stellar work.  

I can’t wait to hear what you think of the books as they roll out… and I hope you will spread the word. We want Ralph Dennis to get the recognition and readership he’s long deserved.

3 thoughts on “The Return of Hardman

  1. I’m very excited to check out Hardman, and definitely will. I was also interested in what you said about the changes you made to Ralph Dennis’ final book. I’d love to know more about the specifics of what you did to improve it — cutting copy, rearranging chapters, etc. I think it could make a fascinating future blog post (or how-to book) with information that more novice authors could use for sharpening their own suspense titles. Take care.

  2. I almost always read authors/books recommended by my best loved authors.
    With such a high recommendation I have to read it!
    I can’t wait to get started.
    Thanks.

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