Friday, July 09, 2004

Kent Harrington - One of the great unknowns.

Last week I finished reading Kent's manuscript for yet to be published Red Jungle. This is by far his best work to date and its hard to believe that it doesn't have a home yet. Earlier this year Plots With Guns ran a sampler of this fantastic work under the title of Strangeways. If you dig this little teaser, the rest is an absolute treat!

Many of you may know Kent from his earlier dark noir novels such as Dia de los Muertos, which has been finally published in paperback by Capra Press. Check out what I think is one of the best covers (the foreign covers are cool too) of the year with the original first chapter placed back in and one of the most kick-ass forwards that I have ever read by James Crumley. Thanks to Rich Barre (author and associate publisher/editor at Capra for the great job!)

Each one of Kent's books are different. He is one of the few authors who can write outstanding standalone books and keep you wanting for more. He started with Dark Ride published by St. Martins in 1996. In this book, Jimmy Rogers, the all-American boy falls prey to his boss's wife and well, you just have to read this ampped-up psychosexual hard-boil novel to find out the rest.

Next up was Dia de los Muertos published by Dennis McMillan in 1997. Here we meet Vincent Calhoun, a DEA agent in Mexico, who does things his way. This novel explores Vincent's unraveling in Mexico on the Day of the Dead. Once you start this book, you will not be able to put it down. Many consider this one of the best noir novel ever. You can now add Harrington to the list of Thompson, Cain and Goodis. Good company, ha?

The American Boys in 2001, is a thriller and we get to meet CIA man Alex Law. Law is old-time CIA, not at all like the younger guys who do their work via computers, he relies on the old tried and true methods of first hand knowledge. This thriller involves following Alex tring to save his dignity and to uncover the consiracy to kill the president.

Next Kent switches gear with his fourth book The Tattooed Muse in 2001. This is an homage to Alfred Hitchcock in a complex story with many twists and turns involving a writing group in which one of it's members attempts to kill someone and ends up committing suicide. This is not only a look at the world of writing, but more about what runs deep inside the soul of people.

Its been now 3 years since Kent has any new material, but he gave us a small treat in Dennis McMillan's anniversary opus Measures of Poison in 2002. This is a short story collection editted by Dennis featuring all the authors he has published in over 20 years.

The question to be asked is how long before we see Red Jungle in print? In talking to Kent he has several other projects in the works and it would be great to see how else he will entertain us in the future. Kent is one of the best working authors around today but it seems unfortunately the fate of too many talented authors lies in the hands of the large publishing houses who seem to looking for the next block buster rather than be interested in nuturing talent authors and getting their work out their for a wider audience to read. Kent has something important to say with his powerful style of writing and I for one don't want to miss any of his thoughts.

Kent has graciously let me upload the prologue from Red Jungle for you to read. Enjoy!


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