Although the Hardman paperback series from the 70s' remains obscure when compared to other brands like The Destroyer or The Executioner, it's reputation remains solid among genre enthusiasts. The crime fiction publisher Brash Books is currently re-releasing the series and we spoke with co-founder Lee Goldberg about.
Q: Could you describe the premise of the series in your own words?
A: Jim Hardman is in his 40s, a pudgy, balding ex-cop with a steady girlfriend…who does odd jobs with his drinking buddy Hump Evans, a black ex-NFL player who supports his playboy lifestyle by hiring himself out as muscle. They are functioning alcoholics, drinking booze morning, noon and night as if its mineral water, doing whatever they have to do, short of murder or bank robbery, to make a living in the seamy underworld of 1970s Atlanta, as equal partners and, although it remains unspoken, close friends. This is straight-up, hardboiled crime fiction, written in a tight, evocative voice. And it's wonderful. Spenser without the sanctimony.
Q: What in your estimation is the appeal of the series?
A: Anybody who loves private eye novels -- the work of Robert B. Parker, Robert Crais, Sue Grafton. Ross MacDonald and John D. MacDonald -- will devour these books.
Q: To what extent could it be considered influential?
A: Joe R. Lansdale has said repeatedly, and in detail in his introduction to ATLANTA DEATHWATCH, that the Hardman books were direct inspiration for his acclaimed and successful HAP & LEONARD series. Shane Black, the screenwriter of LETHAL WEAPON, has also said several times in interviews that he's tried to evoke HARDMAN in his work, specifically his film THE NICE GUYS about two private eyes.
Q: A blog entry at Brash Books mentions unpublished manuscripts. Are these Hardman books, strand-alone novels or a mix? Will Brash Books publish them?
A: Unfortunately, there are no HARDMAN novels among the unpublished manuscripts. There is a sequel to his novel DEAD MAN'S GAME and another manuscript that could be slightly reworked to be a sequel to his standalone novel ATLANTA. The others are standalone crime novels. Brash will be republishing most of them. I say most because there are a couple I haven't read and don't know if they are any good or not
Q: Has there been any interest in adapting the characters to other mediums?
A: Yes, I have received some queries from Hollywood in recent days and I hope they develop into something!