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False Negative (Hard Case Crime #107)

3.36  ·  Rating Details  ·  129 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
Adam Jordan wrote the best and worst articles of his journalistic career on the same day. The worst was bad enough to get him fired - but the best landed him a new job, penning lurid articles for Real Detective magazine, one of the last of the true-crime pulps.

Only the case they've got him working on, involving a beauty pageant contestant found dead on an Atlantic City bea
Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 5th 2012 by Hard Case Crime (first published January 1st 2012)
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Drug of Choice by John LangeBorderline by Lawrence BlockThe Wrong Quarry by Max Allan CollinsThieves Fall Out by Gore VidalBranded Woman by Wade Miller
Hard Case Crime
99th out of 102 books — 3 voters
The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. CainThe Maltese Falcon by Dashiell HammettThe Killer Inside Me by Jim ThompsonSin City, Vol. 1 by Frank MillerDouble Indemnity by James M. Cain
crime pulps
72nd out of 113 books — 6 voters

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Community Reviews

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Dan Schwent
Jul 31, 2012 Dan Schwent rated it it was ok
Reporter Adam Jordan is fired for filing a false story but lands on his feet writing for Real Detective Magazine. When a beauty contestant is found murdered on the beach, Adam starts investigating. But will what he finds be worth dying for?

Like a few other reviewers have already mentioned, this book had all the winning ingredients. The writing was superb, the lead character a likeable scoundrel, and beauties turning up missing is a compelling tale. So why only a 2? I felt like something was miss
Jul 09, 2013 Kemper rated it liked it
Adam Jordan is a jazz loving newspaper reporter in Atlantic City during the 1950s who hopes to write the great American novel in his spare time. Unfortunately, Jordan must have gone to the same journalism school that Stephen Glass and Jayson Blair did. One shortcut leads to a humiliating mistake that gets him fired and guarantees he won’t be hired by any reputable paper.

Jordan’s crime reporting has gotten the attention of the editor of a pulp true crime magazine. Jordan finds himself chasing lur
Apr 04, 2013 Josh rated it really liked it
Adam Jordan is a newspaperman renowned for his ability to report the facts and pump out print in quick fashion. His job revolves around crime as a spectator after the event until a beauty queen is found murdered followed by a succession of others. Retiring the pen and pad for a slice of the detective life, Jordan soon learns that crime is everywhere and can be committed anyone – even those close to you.

FALSE NEGATIVE is a delicious pulp. It’s got the PI angle wrapped up without actually being ab
Hugh McBride
Jun 28, 2012 Hugh McBride rated it it was ok
Everything about this novel - from the writer/scandal mag editor/amateur detective lead to the supporting characters, the general plot direction, and the overall tone - should have left me panting for more & rushing to Goodreads to post a 5-star review.

Should have.

Haven't been able to put my finger on exactly why yet, but False Negative is a case of the whole being a bit less than the sum of its parts. I was interested in what happened to Adam Jordan, Cherise, & the other inhabitants of
Mar 31, 2014 Sarah rated it did not like it
Shelves: offensively-bad, noir
"False Negative" is what happens when you give 100 monkeys 100 bottles of whiskey and 100 half-working typewriters.

I mean, it is bad. It is so bad you could use it to teach a college-level course on how not to write a novel. It packs so much lousiness in 200-odd pages that I'm almost impressed. Almost.

I guess the first thing that should've tipped me off was the cover banner reading "Joseph Koenig's First New Book in 20 Years!" Clearly there was a reason the publishing world hadn't been beating d
Tim Niland
Aug 13, 2012 Tim Niland rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2012-reads
Adam Jordan is a type-A newspaper reporter working for an Atlantic City daily in the spring of 1953. When he gets called out by his newspaper for badly botching a story, he is fired, only to have an unlikely angel tome to his rescue. He is hired on to write for True Detective magazine, a pulp publication that takes lurid murder stories turns them into magazine copy. Adam has some pretty good stories building - beauty contestants are dying on the Jersey Shore at an alarming rate, and Jordan is ma ...more
Jul 21, 2012 Steve rated it it was ok
On the face of it (and not just counting the cover), this should have been a book that really worked for me. A journalist writes a story that gets him fired, and he turns to writing for the True Crime pulps. Naturally for a novel, this gets him involved in solving some murders, and he ends up editing the murder magazine. I liked the situation (and the cover) plenty, for for some reason the book never came together for me. The book lacks a narrative pull, there's very little tension in it, and th ...more
Oct 21, 2014 John rated it really liked it
Atlantic City newsman Adam Jordan, fired for filing stock copy about a politician's speech only to discover next morning the politician died of a heart attack before delivering it, takes a job writing for and eventually editing the true-crime pulp Real Detective Magazine. Before he moves to NYC and the editorial chair, however, he becomes intrigued by the case of a beauty queen found strangled on the beach. Investigating with the help of elfin photographer Pix Pixley, Jordan probes among shady a ...more
Aug 04, 2016 Lesley rated it really liked it
Hardcase are always a great read. Fast-paced, good noir tone.
Wayne Simmons
Sep 03, 2015 Wayne Simmons rated it it was amazing
If in doubt, reach for a HCC book. One of few mottos I live by but one that hasn't failed me yet. After a few false starts with some nordic noir titles, I plucked this little gem from the shelf and, man, what a corker it turned out to be.

Basic premise has Jordan, a down-on-his-luck reporter turn to writing true crime after being fired from the newspaper he writes for. Somewhere in the mix is the body of a beautiful woman on the beach, and the search for her killer, but the main thrust of this st
Jason Seaver
Jun 09, 2012 Jason Seaver rated it really liked it
A quick-reading but leisurely pulp, featuring a protagonist who goes from newspaper reporter to true-crime writer and doesn't so much get involved in murders as finds himself becoming addicted to the idea of crime. It's got more than a few moments when it seems to wallow in nostalgia - set in the 1950s, it loves the trashy magazines of that era and early jazz of a previous one almost aggressively, and while it doesn't sanitize the era, it makes darn sure that the reader understands that the writ ...more
May 29, 2012 John rated it really liked it
Adam Jordan is a disgraced police reporter for the Atlantic City Press. After coming across the corpse of an aspiring Miss America, he finds a new outlet for his writing talent: Real Detective, a true crime magazine in New York. The pulp format is on its last legs and it’s a far cry from the literary establishment that fills his dreams, but the pay is good and it’s the only rag that will publish him. While covering the murder and various other heinous crimes in the region for the magazine, more ...more
Dec 21, 2015 Ugh rated it it was ok
Bought it for the cover, regretted it for the content.

The noir dialogue was pretty snappy, but the main character was no Sam Spade, the other characters barely characters at all, the plot quarter-assed, and the whole as satisfying as a cold noodle. Spend your dime and your time on something else.
John Pringle
Jul 09, 2012 John Pringle rated it really liked it
False Negative is one of the best novels Hard Case Crime has published in recent years and much like his chief character Adam Jordan, author Joseph Koenig shows his talents as a literary stylist. Julie Elliott of Library Journal summed this book up very nicely when she commented: “The snappy, fast-paced story follows the traditional hard-boiled style one comes to expect from this publisher, and Koenig’s characters, sense of place, and turns of phrase make the novel stand out.” Koenig writes with ...more
Nov 30, 2014 Adam rated it liked it
Not bad. it inspired me to write my own short story. The ending was ok.
Mary Kay
Jan 30, 2014 Mary Kay rated it it was ok
The cover of this "true detective" mystery is pretty lurid.
Mar 09, 2013 Solitairerose rated it it was ok
As many folks have said, this was a novel I wanted to like. It is set in the world of "True Crime" pulp magazines of the 50's, and has a great start that sets up what should be a crackling plot. But, around the halfway point, it loses focus, and the last two chapters simply don't work.

Easily one of the lesser from Hard Case Crime, which is a shame.
Amanda Perry
Aug 11, 2016 Amanda Perry rated it liked it
Huh didn't really like it as much as I thought I would! All the facts did add up though. I think the thing that set me off was the time this was written in. Racism was still very prevalent and I had a hard time getting used to the jargon that was being used. Still a good read but I probably won't re read any time soon.
Mar 01, 2014 Jure rated it it was amazing
This guy Koenig must be some kind of genius to be able to picture such a vivid picture of the period before he was even born. I’m definitely putting all of his stuff on the top of my to-do list.

More here (warning, it includes spoilers):
DeAnna Knippling
Apr 22, 2016 DeAnna Knippling rated it really liked it
Shelves: hard-case-crime
Solid and readable. Journalist gets booted off his paper for getting caught out in a lazy trick that everyone uses, ends up writing for the real-detective pulps and trying to solve cases in order to make more dough. A series of murders across the Jersey shore. Satisfying ending.
Noah Budarf
Oct 21, 2013 Noah Budarf rated it really liked it
The main character of the book is a crime fiction writer. He talks a lot about what his readers want to see, which as it turns out is a lot of sex and violence. He then proceeds to put all that in the actual book. I suppose this is a critique on me (completely accurate of course).
Vermont Ferret
Feb 13, 2013 Vermont Ferret rated it really liked it
Nicely written in the hard-boiled style, but pretty predictable. In fact, there seemed to be little effort made to keep you guessing. Nice cover, but the pose was heavily borrowed from Dave Stevens' ROCKETEER panel of Bettie.
Jay Matthews
Jul 30, 2012 Jay Matthews rated it it was ok
I enjoy the Hard Case Crime series, but this one was a waste of time. The characters meander through it, treading water until the next murder. I did appreciate the setting - 1953 crime pulp magazine industry.
Henry Gutbub
Dec 03, 2012 Henry Gutbub rated it really liked it
This book was awesome. Not nearly as predictable as all the garbage on tv and in the movies of today. I went to the library, and picked up two more books. I highly recommend it.
Mar 27, 2015 Sara rated it liked it
This was an interesting read but at times jumped without warning. I've read better in the HCC books so wouldn't put this as a standout.
John McKenna
Aug 10, 2012 John McKenna rated it really liked it
This one has more twists and turns than a whole boxful of antique corkscrews !! Great fun reading!
Dec 30, 2012 Jnagle4 rated it liked it
An OK thriller. Probably my least favorite Hard Case novel.
Jeffrey Cavanaugh
Aug 12, 2012 Jeffrey Cavanaugh rated it liked it
A fun dive into hard-boiled crime fiction.
Phil Lancaster
May 29, 2016 Phil Lancaster rated it it was amazing
Another pulp gem from Hard Case Crime
Dave Millsaps
Dave Millsaps marked it as to-read
Aug 24, 2016
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Joseph Koenig is an author of hard-boiled fiction. A former crime reporter, he won critical acclaim and an Edgar nomination for his first novel, Floater (1986), a grimly violent story of con men, cops, and killers in the Florida Everglades. His next two novels were Little Odessa (1988), a darkly comic tale of life in New York’s Ukrainian underworld, and Smugglers Notch (1989), a story of brutal mu ...more
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