Sand: The man nobody walks on!

In Gun in Cheek, Bill Pronzini’s “affectionate guide to the ‘worst’ in mystery fiction” (which I looked at here), he writes the following:

One of the more interesting Parker imitations is a man also known only by his last name–Sand, the protagonist of a number of novels by Ennis Willie. An ex-Organization man, Sand spends most of his time traveling around the country murdering hoods and avenging past wrongs–an odyssey Don Pendleton and others would make highly fashionable a decade later. Sand’s escapades are short, tersely written, full of sex and graphic violence, and would probably have won him a legion of fans if Willie had not chosen to publish his books with a Chicago-based soft-core-porn outfit called Camerarts, whose chief claim to fame was an erratic distribution network. For the most part, Willie’s prose has a certain rough lyric quality (“He had been many places many times, and he had never been a tourist”). Plots, however, were not Willie’s long suit. It may even be said that plots were not his short suit.

To make his case that the Sand novels are “alternative classics,” Pronzini highlights The Case of the Loaded Garter Holster (1964), which features a resolution that is indeed ridiculous. Maybe that one was the exception, though. Anyone who writes twenty-one novels in a five year span (according to this recent article) is bound to put out a dud or two, and my rooting around on the Internet seems to indicate that while not many people have read Ennis Willie, those who have are pretty enthusiastic about him.

Are the “Sand Shockers” (as their covers call them) indeed Parker imitations? I don’t know–until I read the above passage, I had heard of neither Sand nor Ennis Willie.

But it looks like I’ll be finding out pretty soon, because it turns out that just a few months ago a Sandthology was released by Ramble House.

Sand’s Game is an embarrassment of riches, containing two Sand novels (Death in a Dead Place and Too Late to Pray), three Sand short stories (all of them), an interview with Ennis Willie, a complete Willie bibliography, and two introductions to the volume. In addition, each individual Sand tale gets its own introduction, one of which is by…Bill Pronzini.

I’ve ordered my copy. While I wait to receive it (and find time to read it), has anyone out there read the Sand novels, and is “Parker imitations” a fair characterization?

And what about the first sentence of that Pronzini paragraph I quoted at the top?: “One of the more interesting Parker imitations…” Gun in Cheek was published in 1982, and the only Parker imitation I’m aware of from before then is the Nolan series by Max Allan Collins. What are the others?

(If you’re interested in buying Sand’s Game, I encourage you to do it directly from Ramble House. It’s the same price as at Amazon, postage is free, and this small publisher will make more money off of it. For these reasons, I’m omitting my usual Amazon link.)

Related Posts:

Review: Death in a Dead Place by Ennis Willie