Exciting news from Hard Case Crime. I’ll let them tell you about it:
Why haven’t you heard from me in so long? Because I’ve had a piece of news to share that I couldn’t share until now.
As you probably know, the great Donald E. Westlake, one of the finest crime writers ever to pound an Underwood (and one of the finest men any of us in the business had the privilege to know), died on New Year’s Eve this year. At the time, we all thought that the last novel he’d turned in to his hardcover publisher was the last novel of his we’d ever get to read. I certainly thought so — until I heard from Don’s friend of 50 years, Lawrence Block, saying that he had a manuscript in his hands of an unpublished Westlake novel that no editor had ever seen.
The book is called MEMORY, and it’s outstanding. Don wrote it in the early 1960s but set it aside when his literary agent advised him that it was too literary and encouraged him to concentrate on more commercial sorts of crime fiction. And despite Larry’s urging him to publish it over the decades that followed, Don never did.
He should have. It’s a beautifully written, heartbreaking story about a man who suffers an assault (after being caught in bed with another man’s wife) and wakes up in a hospital bed suffering from a peculiar sort of brain damage that doesn’t make him unable to function but does make it hard for him to form new memories or retain old ones. Stuck far from home (and struggling even to remember where home used to be), paranoid about the attentions of the police, and desperate to reconstruct his lost life, Paul Cole sets out on an extraordinary private investigation: a missing persons case in which he himself is the missing person.
As I mentioned in the last e-mail I sent out, Hard Case Crime will be taking a hiatus after publishing two novels (rather than just one) this December. We won’t publish any books in January, February or March. But when we come back in April 2010, it’ll be a big, big comeback, since that’s when we’ll be celebrating Donald Westlake’s MEMORY.
April’s a long way off, of course — but if you’d like to get a taste of MEMORY now, you can find a sample chapter (along with a first look at Glen Orbik’s cover for the book) on our Web site: www.HardCaseCrime.com.
I’m really looking forward to this one. The back cover blurb and sample chapter can be found here.