Allan Guthrie's Hard Man is actually a couple of books, both of them excellent. There's the storyline with Pearce, the Guthrie man we've met before, avenging the murder of his dog in a serio-comic (and occasionaly black comic) pursuit of a lunatic named Wallace. And then there's Edinburugh, the city where it's set, itself.
The violence of the story plays well against the violence of the city, which Guthrie manages to make seem much smaller than does Ian Rankin. This is because Guthrie and his multiple cast of characters all inhabit a very small psychological (if not physical) section of the city. If Rankin's cop is looking for something resembling truth, Guthrie's characters are looking for nothing more than satisfying the immediate needs of their rather amusingly diseased minds. Jim Thompson with the heebie-jeebies.
This is a quick, compelling novel that proves that Guthrie is as restless as his characters. I don't think he's a writer who'll settle for doing the same book over and over. This is a calculated and successful departure from his first two books. Interesting to speculate on what he'll do next. Harcourt/Otto Penzler
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Hard Man is a hell of a read. Excellent.
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