Jim Hardman & Hump Evans

Created by Ralph Dennis (1931--88)

"...the most beloved obscure private eye writer who ever lived..."

-- Ed Gorman

JIM HARDMAN's not such a hardman, after all.

At least not physically. He's actually a little overweight and out of shape.

Still, he's tough enough to get the job done. He's a former Atlanta cop, kicked out for dating the wrong woman, currently working as an unlicensed private eye, assisted by his trusty (and far more formidable) black sidekick, HUMP EVANS, a former pro football player. Together, they roam the streets of Virginia-Highland, kicking ass and taking no names -- when they aren't having a drink.

A pretty decent series, well-written, with great use of the Atlanta setting, but more or less forgotten now, possibly due to the fact that the twelve novels in the series (each a taut, tight little gem) were packaged as "Men's Adventures" paperback originals by Popular Library, right down to numbers on the covers. You know--The Executioner, The Destroyer, Mack Bolan et al. Smarter people than me have theorized that this cost them sales to more traditional mystery readers. But whatever the reason, the series faded away, no doubt too hip for the room. But they're worth tracking down. One of the great lost eyes.

Dennis was a continuation of the Spillane school of hard-boiled writing (for example, the amount of drinking Jim and Hump do -- apparently without any effect on their sobriety or their livers -- is staggering), but he had more character development and more plot than Spillane. The comparison and parallels to Robert B. Parker's Spenser, a contemporary, are interesting as well, although there's little evidence either ripped off the other.

Dennis also started another series, based on a man named Kane, who finds himself working as a private eye in Atlanta.

NOVELS

  • Hardman 1: Atlanta Deathwatch (1974)
  • Hardman 2: The Charleston Knife's Back In Town (1974)
  • Hardman 3: The Golden Girl & All (1974)
  • Hardman 4: Pimp for the Dead (1974)
  • Hardman 5: Down Among the Jocks (1974)
  • Hardman 6: Murder's Not an Odd Job (1974)
  • Hardman 7: Working for the Man (1974)
  • Hardman 8: The Deadly Cotton Heart (1976)
  • Hardman 9: The One-Dollar Rip-Off (1977)
  • Hardman 10: Hump's First Case (1977)
  • Hardman 11: The Last of the Armageddon Wars (1977)
  • Hardman 12: The Buy Back Blues (1977)

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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