One of the smartest reading decisions I’ve made in a long time is my commitment to reading at least one Hard Case Crime novel per month. I’ve collected them for the last 7-8 years or so but typically, I only read one or two a year. It makes no sense given that I love the imprint, love crime fiction, and am usually entertained by the stories. I think I take for granted that these books will always be there or that I’ll be around to read them. Morbid, I know.
Anyway, this one was low on my priority list but as it’s the Christmas season and being as I couldn’t find any other one I desperately wanted to read, I picked it up. And oh, am I glad I did.
This might fall just shy of the top notch Hard Case Crime novels but it’s definitely one of the best I’ve read. A Rashomon-style tale of a heist happening in a small midwest city in the middle of a snowstorm five days before Christmas in 1951. I don’t often like those types of stories because it’s tough to keep track of what’s going on but I had a good sense here. It’s clever but not too cute for its own good.
What I appreciated about this one was the characters. Daniel Boyd is the pseudonym for a former police officer and he understands his (their?) characters with a deep sense of empathy. None feel stereotypical; they’re all just working class regulars who get caught in this wild moment in time. Nothing about this feels cliched (well, unless you’re a bigger fan of heist stories than I, maybe it would to you). My investment felt complete up through the unexpectedly moving, profound epilogue.
If you like heist tales, crime tales, or collecting HCC novels, you should put this near the top of your list. Would make a great stocking stuffer for the crime fiction fan in your life.