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The Bond That Never Was
Two decades ago, the producers of the James Bond movies hired legendary crime novelist Donald E. Westlake to come up with a story for the next Bond film. The plot Westlake dreamed up – about a Western businessman seeking revenge after being kicked out of Hong Kong when the island was returned to Chinese rule – had all the elements of a classic Bond adventure, but political concerns kept it from being made. Never one to let a good story go to waste, Westlake wrote an original novel based on the premise instead – a novel he never published while he was alive.
Now, nearly a decade after Westlake’s death, Hard Case Crime is proud to give that novel its first publication ever, together with a brand new afterword by one of the movie producers describing the project’s genesis, and to give fans their first taste of the Westlake-scripted Bond that might have been.
LAWRENCE BLOCK’S FIRST CRIME NOVEL — LOST FOR NEARLY 50 YEARS!
To escape punishment for a murder he didn’t mean to commit, insurance man Don Barshter has to take on a new identity: Nathaniel Crowley, ferocious up-and-comer in the New York mob. But can he find safety in the skin of another man…a worse man…a sinner man…?
He’d been a promising piano prodigy, once. Now he was just an addict, scraping to get by, letting his hunger for drugs consume him. But a man’s life can always get worse – as Ray Stone discovers when he wakes up beside a beautiful nightclub singer only to find her dead… and 16 ounces of pure heroin missing. On the run from the law
The latest from Hard Case Crime.
Joyland was a novel by Stephen King and was released back in June of 2013. The author buckled the trend of a simultaneous release in trade and digital formats. Instead, he only published it only in hardcover, citing “I have no plans for a digital version. Maybe at some point, but in the meantime, let people stir their sticks and go to an actual bookstore rather than a digital one.” Well, it looks like a full year later Joyland will finally be available as an eBook.
For 20 years, Stephen King has had an image stuck in his head: It’s a boy in a wheelchair flying a kite on a beach. “It wanted to be a story, but it wasn’t a story,” he tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. But little by little, the story took shape around the image — and focused on an amusement park called “Joyland” located just a little farther down the beach.
King’s new thriller is set in North Carolina in 1973. Joyland has a horror house and a torture chamber, but it’s not exactly a horror novel. The park’s fun house may be haunted by a ghost — which may explain the dead bodies — but the book isn’t exactly a supernatural thriller, either. Instead, the book combines elements of crime, horror and the supernatural. The main character is a college student who aspires to write for The New Yorker. After his heart is broken by his girlfriend, he wants to get away from New England and takes a job in North Carolina, at the Joyland amusement park, where he enters a different world.
As King — who is also the author of such horror, mystery and crime classics as Carrie, The Shining and It — began writing the book, the amusement park atmosphere he began with turned more lurid, more “carny,” more influenced by the state fairs and local carnivals of his youth in rural Maine.
“The more carny it got, the better I liked it, actually,” he says, “and I started to go to websites that had various carny language, some of which I remembered a little: pitchmen called ‘shy bosses’ and their concessions called ‘shies,’ and the little places where they sold tickets and sometimes sat down to rest called ‘doghouses,’ and other stuff I just made up, like calling pretty girls ‘points.’ “
Read the full article and listen to the interview @ NPR.org.
Originally, we were only going to publish Joyland in paperback.
Steve grew up buying paperbacks for fifty cents from the wire spinner racks at his local drugstore in Lisbon Falls, Maine, the sort with sexy cover paintings and lurid cover copy and breathless storytelling that kept you glued to the page well past your bedtime. I did, too, though in my case it was in New York City rather than Lisbon Falls, and by the time I came around the wire spinner racks had vanished and the era that produced them was gone, too. When I found these paperbacks it was at flea markets and library sales, at used book stores and on my father’s bookshelves. (My grandmother’s too – this proper old lady had been a big fan of Mickey Spillane back in the day.) Like Steve, I fell in love with them, discovered they scratched a powerful itch I hadn’t even known I had. And when, years later, I found myself reminiscing about them with a friend over drinks, we decided the world needed more books like that, damn it. That’s how Hard Case Crime was born.
Read the full essay on Boing Boing.