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Straight Cut (Hard Case Crime #21)

3.18  ·  Rating Details ·  220 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews

A freelance film editor, Tracy Bateman goes where the work is. So when his old partner calls with an assignment, Tracy finds himself on a plane to Rome. But there are surprises waiting for himâdeadly surprises that will lead him on a desperate chase across Europe, into the hands of a pair of brutal drug smugglers, and back to New York C
Mass Market Paperback, 253 pages
Published June 1st 2006 by Hard Case Crime (first published 1986)
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Feb 02, 2012 Greg rated it did not like it
I almost clicked one star for this one. I did it! I clicked one star! Maybe I should go back and give the Max Allan Collins books one star, too, but they at least succeed in being an entertaining enough piece of genre fiction. This book doesn't succeed there at all.

And it wasn't because I think I remember reading once that Bell thought DFW was floundering for not producing at the rate that Vollmann was. But I could be wrong about this.

This book is remarkably bad. Not bad in the way remarkably b
Dan Schwent
Jul 11, 2011 Dan Schwent rated it it was ok
Shelves: hardcase, cool-covers
Tracy Bateman, a former film editor, goes to Italy to cut a film for a friend. Throw in his ex-ish-wife Lauren and a mysterious briefcase and the ensuing chaos, and you have Straight Cut.

First of all, there were things I liked about this book. The writing was good and I liked some of the ideas, like how Tracy figured out how to smuggle the briefcase back to the states. I felt sad when Tracy had to put down his dog at the beginning. Poor dog.

The things I didn't like? Not a lot happened that I car
Mar 11, 2008 David rated it did not like it
Shelves: noirboiled
Straight Cut is narrated by Terry, a freelance film editor with a fondness for Kierkegaard. Intellectualism is not uncommon in noir fiction, and when it is done well, it can enhance a narrative with an added vein of dark poetry. In the case of Straight Cut, however, the narrator's philosophizing serves only to make a tedious narrative even more tedious. Terry, who is at least not UN-likeable, is invovled in a love triangle (and other things) with his self-absorbed ex-wife Lauren and his creepy s ...more
Sep 24, 2015 Steven rated it it was ok
Have read and liked a lot of Madison Smart Bell's short stories and really liked his craft book Narrative Design: Working with Imagination, Craft, and Form, but this crime book didn't do much for me.
Jun 13, 2016 Sarah rated it really liked it
I had never heard of this author before but I thought I'd take a chance on the book anyway. It was very well written. The pacing was a little slow, but it was interesting enough overall to hold my attention. Hard Case crime books are usually hit or miss for me – while this is the best one I've ever read, I consider it a hit.
Andy Nieradko
Oct 29, 2011 Andy Nieradko rated it it was amazing
Awesome. A great read, tough to put down.
Nov 28, 2016 Chris rated it it was amazing
Well written, with great characters, a sensible plot, and a strange relationship to the philosophy of Kierkegaard. I was pretty sold on this from the novel's beginning section, "The Day I Shot My Dog". None of the interpersonal relationships were cartoonish, the ending wasn't exactly a "happy ending", overall really well done.
Mar 31, 2012 Chris rated it it was ok
Tracy Bateman is a freelance film editor with a less than ideal personal life. He’s divorced, and his ex-wife, Lauren, is off with his best friend and occasional employer Kevin, an inept and untrustworthy executive. Bateman’s in the middle of an alcoholic depression when Kevin gives him a call for a film editing job in Italy… with the hint that the job will entail more than simple editing. While working on the documentary film, Bateman finds out what that “more” is: Lauren’s been sent to Europe ...more
Apr 17, 2016 Jay added it
From the beginning of the novel when Tracy has to walk his sick dog up a mountain to put him down and bury him, we know that this guy is both courageous and compassionate. He doesn't shoot the dog. He doesn't hit him over the head with a shovel. He sits down with him on the hilltop, and while he rubs him behind the ears, he injects a syringe into the muscle in the back of his neck

Tracy is a thinking man who reads Kierkegard to help him straighten out his crooked world. He needs to put order to t
Jan 19, 2015 Tim rated it liked it
Bell seems to be pretty well-known, and I have seen his books getting good reviews. This looked interesting - perhaps a cool, hip drama about filmmakers and filmmaking? It starts out like it might be that, but then turns out to be something else: a fairly conventional mystery.

Spoiler alert: Tracy is the narrator and main character. He is a somewhat morose, alcoholic film editor in a difficult marriage with Lauren, a flighty ex-model. To complicate things, she is having an on again off again affa
Claudette Gabbs
Did not finish. Boring.
Derek Schneider
Feb 22, 2010 Derek Schneider rated it it was ok
The first 100 pages of this book read like a how-to on film editing. Which would be great if I had any interest at all in the field. Once the story kicked in I found it a little dull.

One thing that could be said for the author; he knows his way around New York City as well as the many locations throughout Europe were the character travels.

Other than that, this book didn't seem like a great fit in the Hard Case Crime series and to me, the tag line on the cover of the book seemed a little misleadi
Larry Webber
Oct 12, 2008 Larry Webber rated it liked it
I enjoyed a lot of things about this book: locations both familiar and not, very accurate descriptions of various technical aspects of film work which weren't boring, and a well-constructed plot that kept me turning the pages with interest, never guessing how things were going to turn out.
The characters weren't particularly warm or likeable, but they were believable.

Overall, I thought this was a well-written and enjoyable novel with some interestingly atypical aspects for the genre.

Oct 18, 2014 Laura added it
Shelves: hard-case-crime
The Hard Case Crime series offers pulp noir at its finest. They re-publish classics; give a voice to new talent; and wrangle bug names to stretch a little (Stephen King has penned two books for them). They're not high-minded, life-changing literature. But if you're looking for fun quick reads, I recommend them. At one point, I was getting 2 paperbacks a month direct from the publisher for $8/month. Great deal! Don't know if it's still out there. But seek them out regardless. You'll be happy you ...more
Dec 12, 2009 Eric rated it really liked it
The cover, and the inclusion in the Hard Case Crime pulp series, is a bit misleading.

MSB is a distinguished literary author (National Book Award nominee, Iowa workshop faculty member, etc.). Straight Cut is closer to literary crime fiction (Richard Price, Scott Turow) than to blood-and-guts pulp. This is a nifty, elegant mystery; highly recommended.
Jul 25, 2010 Jessica rated it liked it
Shelves: italy, noir, new-york-city
Very different from the usual selections in this line, being that it's built much more strongly around philosophical musings and introspection than the straightforward plot-driven stories. Can't decide if I quite like it or not, but leaning towards it being a bit too vague and loose for my noir taste.
Jan 17, 2012 Nathan rated it it was ok
Film editor gets involved in smuggling operation in Europe with his wife and her boyfriend (his best friend). A clear miss for the Hard Case Crime series, this is more a character drama than a crime story. A lot of internal existential monologue and not enough criminals and cops. Rated PG for adult themes. 2/5
Jul 31, 2016 Barry rated it it was ok
Surprisingly boring and basic crime novel. Didn't care about the characters, the plot took a few seemingly needless diversions.

I had high hopes for this "hard case" crime series. I will check out at least one other before completely avoiding the series, but was not impressed by novel.
Craig Childs
Dec 19, 2011 Craig Childs rated it did not like it
One of the few Hard Case Crime novels that I wouldn't recommend to friends. I like the idea--a sort of existential philosophy novel centered around a drug deal gone bad--but it was boring, and I never bought into the central love triangle that was essential to the storyline.
Aug 07, 2009 Aras rated it did not like it
Shelves: mystery
The description of this novel promised two elements of interest for me, Kierkegaard and film editing. Unfortunately it was kind of light on both. As for the rest of the book, to be brief, this is an uninteresting story poorly told, and with pretensions towards ethics that it does not uphold.
Sep 23, 2008 Ladiibbug rated it liked it
An OK mystery. A complex triangle between two guys, friends in the film & editing business, and the wife of one guy. Lots of info on film editing, documentary-type films.

Fairly interesting tale of a very mysterious scheme ...
Nov 11, 2009 Greg rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This volume of the Hard Case Crime series is unlike other volumes in that it lacks the violence typical of the series. It is much more literary than other volumes (the main character reads philosophy). I really enjoyed it, however, I could see some readers of the series being bored by the book.
Joel Roberts
Apr 13, 2012 Joel Roberts rated it it was ok
this was OK. the writer lost me a third of the way into the novel, and i needed a good 10 or 20 pages before i figured out what was going on. overall, it was a fair read for what felt like a piece of crime/action fiction. that said, the characters were mostly boring and underdeveloped.
Aug 26, 2016 Glenn rated it it was ok
Nicely written but meandering and plotless. Hardly the hard boiled adventure that Hard Case Crime usually delivers.

Jan 11, 2010 James rated it did not like it
This book sucked. Worst Hard Case Crime book I've read so far. Incredibly disappointing. No character development. No conflict. Outright boring.
Jun 08, 2013 Damon rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandonded
I want to like it, but it's kinda boring, actually. The grumpy film editor and the ex wife. Not enough gun play. This is noir-trying to be literary-noir. No, thanks.
Rene rated it really liked it
Jan 01, 2014
Chas Andrews
Chas Andrews rated it liked it
Mar 14, 2008
Ed rated it really liked it
May 24, 2016
Don rated it it was ok
Mar 06, 2008
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Madison Smartt Bell is a critically acclaimed writer of more than a dozen novels and story collections, as well as numerous essays and reviews for publications such as Harper’s and the New York Times Book Review. His books have been finalists for both the National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award, among other honors. Bell has also taught at distinguished creative writing programs including ...more
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