“For Canadian writers setting hard-boiled stories in Canada, the closest approximation yet to a US-style private eye is Montreal investigator Lee Harms in Harm’s Way by Alan Annand.” - David Skene-Melvin for Rara-Avis
My fifth novel, Harm’s Way, was published under pseudonym by St.Martin’s Press, one of New York’s venerable houses, in 1992. The book received some good reviews but never enough to make it a bestseller.
In the last few years, publishing has been through a paradigm-shifting upheaval. The mass paperback market is down, bookstores are closing and e-books are on the rise.
Having seen the writing on the wall, I’m now self-publishing. In 2012, I released three novels. Two were new mysteries – Scorpio Rising and Hide in Plain Sight – both available on Amazon.com and Smashwords.com.
The third novel was a re-release of Harm’s Way, whose copyright I had recovered years ago when it went officially out-of-print.
After refreshing my memory about what reviewers had said about the book back then, I gave it some ruthless editing and a total re-write. One criticism was that I hadn’t adequately captured the ambience of Montreal, one of North America’s most vibrant cities. So in my re-write, I worked very hard to bring this great city into focus.
Along the way, I tightened up every chapter, until the book moves at the pace of a runaway train. Once you get started, you won’t be able to put it down.
Here’s the jacket copy for Harm’s Way:
Lee Harms, free spirit and investigator-for-hire, is on the cusp of an on-again, off-again love affair with longtime confidante and astrologer Celeste when fate serves him a witch’s brew of trouble.
Start with a broth of sexual intrigue, toss in a kidnapped redhead, stir in two kilos of pure cocaine, dissolve a few pages from a psychiatrist’s notebook, and bring to a boil the fury of an underworld gang whose favorite son has died in an all-night bacchanal. Money ignites the fire under this cauldron, but the fuels that keep it bubbling are sex, violence and the darker forces of human nature.
Although Harms has the advantage of Celeste’s astrological insights to guide him, he must rely increasingly on his own wits to out-maneuver crack-crazed thugs, libidinous porn stars, and a deranged young woman with a dark secret. It’s dangerous enough for Harms, but when his own ten-year-old daughter is taken hostage by the underworld, he must pull out all the stops to rescue her from harm’s way.
Here are more reviews of the day:
“Harm’s Way is a solid P.I. thriller, a nastier-than-you’d-expect slab of pornography, cocaine, gangsters, incest, madness, torture and vengeance.” – Thrilling Detective
“Underneath the New Age trappings, divorced ex-cop Harms is plenty hard-boiled, using fists, guns and sheer wit to escape the many tight spots here.” – Publisher’s Weekly
“Energy, superior punch-‘em out sequences, and humor.” – Kirkus Reviews
“Harm’s Way is a fast-paced action drama featuring an unlikely variant of the private detective. The writing is above average, the plot convoluted, and the characters well-developed with a past, present and future, something often lacking in the detective field.” – The Westmount Examiner
“Annand has a gift for storytelling. There’s more than enough menace to keep a reader intrigued.” – The Montreal Gazette
“A well-written, quickly-paced story with colorful details of Montreal. And Harms is a likable character – the reader wants to know what happens to him.” – The Daily Gleaner
To purchase Harm’s Way (digital $0.99, paper $8.99)