We’re unabashed fans of Hard Case Crime, but when the monthly “care package” from the pulp fiction specialists showed up in our mailbox recently, it seemed a bit thicker than usual. A cover letter from editor Charles Ardai explained that while the house’s usual “sweet spot” for its novels is 50,000 to 60,000 words, Peter Blauner‘s Casino Moon is more than twice that size. The boxing novel is also a departure for Hard Case in that it was first published in the mid-1990s, nearly a half-century ahead of its usual reprint strategy. But “I love this book,” Ardai explained, “and I don’t think it got the readership or the attention it deserved the first time out, in part because the original paperback edition had one of the least appealing covers I can remember.”
Surely that old cover couldn’t be that bad, we thought, firing up the Google. Well, in fact, it wasn’t as bad as Ardai made it out to be—it was significantly worse.
The Hard Case cover, which we think everyone can agree is a substantial improvement, features an original painting by Ricky Mujica, who made his Hard Case cover debut late last year on burlesque perfomer Jonny Porkpie‘s The Corpse Wore Pasties… (CORRECTION: We had a calendar brain fart looking at the Hard Case website, as Porkpie’s novel is a December 2009 title.) The former Golden Gloves competitor and Broadway performer has also worked on children’s adventure tales like Armstrong Perry‘s Call It Courage and Steven Kroll‘s Breaking Camp.