Hard Case Crime has a near stranglehold on my paperback budgeted dollars. One reason is that they’ve got so many great titles that never get audiobooked. Another is their choice of cover art. A Hard Case Crime cover never fails to please. This is probably why I’m doubly excited to see they’re doing one book that is already an audiobook! Their choice for a December 2009 release, a classic reprint, surprised me and made me laugh.
Check out this accurate (but very misleading) description from HCC editor Charles Ardai’s email:
“It’s the very hard-boiled story of a man murdered by a blast from a sawed-off shotgun to the face at point-blank range; of a criminal on the run from Chicago who comes to a dirty Pennsylvania coal-mining town and winds up locking horns with the corrupt Masonic lodge that runs the town; of a Pinkerton detective who sets out to clean up the town; and of the doom that pursues a man across an ocean and leaves him at the mercy of the world’s most ruthless criminal mastermind. It’s a story narrated by a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, whose partner in investigating the twisted plot is a drug addicted private investigator with a brain like a steel trap.
And wait till you see the cover — Glen Orbik has really outdone himself here, with his portrait of a gorgeous, bosomy dame in a transparent negligee watching with horror as a man with a brand on his arm appears in her doorway.
And the author — it’s one of the best-selling authors in the world. His books have been made into movies, computer games, comic books; they’ve sold tens of millions of copies. He’s not someone you’d think of as a Hard Case Crime author in a million years!
Now, I can hear you out there, saying, ‘Come on, Ardai — if you’re gonna spill, spill already. What’s the name of the damn book?'”
Did you guess it?
The Valley Of Fear
By A.C. Doyle (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
Publisher: Hard Case Crime
Published: December 2009
-The legendary classic re-presented, Hard Case Crime style
-Edgar Award winner Leslie Klinger on The Valley Of Fear: “The first real hardboiled detective story.”
-By the best-selling author of The Lost World
-Inspired by a true story!
Here’s my own review of this book (from a now unavailable podcast version):
The Valley Of Fear is one of the least adapted of the original Sherlock Holmes novels, it has only appeared on screen three times, as opposed to the eighteen adaptations of The Hound Of The Baskervilles. Likely much of the reason for the disparity lies in the structure of The Valley Of Fear, which breaks the traditional narrative mystery to go into a massive backstory that preceded the crime in question, this backstory includes neither Watson nor Holmes and so when adapted it would have the primary characters off-screen for more than half the film!
Looked at as a novel and a mystery on its own The Valley Of Fear works very well. There are in fact two mysteries in it. The first mystery I was able to ratiocinationalize quite satisfactorily but the second which took me by surprise, it was by means of a clever misdirection. The story itself is set in 1888 London and in the USA a few years prior to the extended flashback sequence. In the first half of the novel Holmes and Watson employ their typical inductive detection strategy, then after solving the primary crime we are treated to a lengthy explanation as to how the murder they have solved came to happen in the first place. The second half, was inspired by true events and is quite enjoyable once you get into the change of pace.
Here are just a few of the audio versions currently available:
Posted by Jesse Willis
- LibriVox: The Valley Of Fear by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- The SFFaudio Podcast #090
- The SFFaudio Podcast #308 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: A Double Barrelled Detective Story by Mark Twain
- Jeremy Brett NPR Interview
- Review: Death Cloud by Andrew Lane
- Review of Tales from the Hood: The Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley