ATLANTA DEATHWATCH is the first of Ralph Dennis’ 12 book Hardman series, originally published in the 1970’s by Popular Library, and just reissued by Brash Books. Highly sought-after collectibles in the crime thriller field, Dennis’ work has been compared favorably to the work of John D. MacDonald, Raymond Chandler, and Dashiell Hammett.
A former cop and now an unlicensed private investigator, the aptly named Jim Hardman is a quintessential tough guy who doesn’t shy away from brawls or gun battles or other potentially lethal situations. To keep a roof over his head, he’s not averse to engaging in some shady dealings and does odd jobs as a fixer for a state senator and a courier for a drug dealer.
When a new client, Arch Campbell, offers Hardman an assignment to keep an eye on his 19-year-old daughter Emily and find out what’s distracting her from school and family, he quickly accepts, figuring it’s a good way to pick up a little easy cash. But he has no idea how complicated and dangerous the assignment will prove to be.
When sheltered whitebread Emily turns up murdered, her black crime boss boyfriend known as “The Man” recruits Hardman to look into her death, and soon he’s deep in the seedy underbelly of Atlanta, dodging knives and bullets.
Hardman’s friend Hump Evans, a former football star, ably assists with the case, and they keep each other’s backs from getting riddled with bullet holes or worse. While entertainingly wisecracking along the way.
Hardman, a richly layered hard-boiled guy with a wounded heart, is an appealing character, and his partner in the case and other exploits, Hump, has his own charm and charisma. Secondary characters such as The Man, sleazy senator Hugh Muffin, Emily’s ex-boyfriend Eddie Spence, and Hardman’s love interest Marcy King spring to vibrant life on the page.
The gritty city’s nightlife and daymares are portrayed so vividly they suck you right into their dark ambience. And there’s plenty of action, plenty of good-looking dames, a rip-roaring mystery, and a bitter-sweet romance.
Vastly entertaining and satisfying. And the best thing is, there are 11 more books in the series to look forward to!
Please feel free to leave your comments and questions below. I’m always happy to hear from you!
Hey, check out my suspenseful thriller novel…