RARA-AVIS: Re: Ralph Dennis: Hardman series

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@thrillingdetective.com)
Date: 21 Jan 2003

Bill wrote that some guy wrote:

>"he knew the alley life and it helped him make his story backgrounds
>absolutely authentic."

While the Hardman books do have plenty of moments of true grit, and he writes the hell out of the Atlanta setting, there's also an element of "gee whiz over-the-topness" about them that actually makes them great fun to read, a sort of down-and-dirty version of Spenser and Hawk. I don't think you have to necessarily live in the gutter to know what you're talking about, though occasionally it helps. And maybe if Dennis hadn't known the alley life so well, his books would have been a bit better written (some of them seem pretty cranked out), and he'd still be with us, still writing kickass books. I think the only thing "absolute" in that statement is that the guy who wrote it wants to sell those books.

I mean, are the Stark books any less authentic to the average reader because Westlake has never killed a man or robbed a bank?

Give me a writer with an imagination and the ability to understand people and do research over one with mere experience anytime. fortunately, Dennis had both. Thanks for sharing your memories, Richard.


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