Saturday, August 2, 2014

Noteworthy Reads: SOME DIE HARD by Stephen Mertz

What a delightful too-long-out-of-print gem this is.
A good old-fashioned hardboiled PI thriller with all the ingredients --- a tough loner private eye (Denver-based Rock Dugan, former Hollywood stunt man), crooked cops, surly hoods, shootouts and fist fights, and not just one, but two delectable dames thrown into the mix --- that have kept this enduring sub genre alive for a century and counting. And on top of all that there is what amounts to a locked room-type puzzle involving a flying corpse who manages to land (albeit somewhat roughly) a glider airplane.
Written with the energy of a young writer clearly in love with the genre and demonstrating the solid skill that would only be honed sharper and sharper in works over the coming years, this was the first novel by Stephen Mertz and it's a darn shame that more Rock Dugan mysteries didn't follow.
An entertaining Afterward by author Mertz, detailing the shenanigans of the novel's initial publisher, Manor Books, may explain part of why that didn't happen.
At any rate, SOME DIE HARD is a fine hardboiled read and I strongly recommend it.
(Oh, by the way --- the delicious-looking babe on the cover [reminiscent of the McGinnis-type covers on the old paperbacks of the '60s and '70s] doesn't hurt a darn bit, either.)


James Reasoner said...

Thanks, Wayne. Livia said the McGinnis look was exactly what she was going for with that cover.

wayne d. dundee said...

Doggone it, James, I should have mentioned that Rough Edges Press was behind the re-release of this book and credited Livia for the terrific cover --- which she does over and over again (create great covers, I mean) for a wide variety of books. Plus she's a fine writer, a carpenter, an inspirational "tractor girl" ... a real Renaissance lady.
I don't know about that character she's married to, though.