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The K.C. Constantine Novels

          K.C. Constantine, like Georges Simenon, writes in a normally uninteresting subgenre called police procedurals. As with M. Simenon, though, Mr. Constantine’s real subjects are not cops and robbers but rather the constant subjects of a serious novelist: husbands and wives, parents and children, class, religion, race, politics, death, sickness, hope and disappointment, love and its absence.

       His attitudes are acceptably bad: in Bottom Line Blues he spent an entire chapter attacking public libraries and in another of his books, Upon Some Midnights Clear, the villain is Christmas. This book, long out of print, is made available in its entirety further down on this page.

        If you haven’t read Mr. Constantine’s books, you should do something about your problem immediately. Here are a few reasons why:

“K.C. Constantine is a marvelous writer. May Mario Balzic thrive. . . The most poignant studies of post-Industrial Age depression in modern crime literature. His fictional setting has the idiosyncratic distinctiveness of your own thumb.”

“For a quarter century in fifteen mostly brilliant novels, Constantine has been illuminating a Rust Belt city’s economic collapse and the parabolic curve of the career and life of its chief of police, Mario Balzic. . . One of the best mystery series ever published.”

“A superb writer and social chronicler. . . No one since John O’Hara has dissected class distinctions with such sensitivity and pinpoint accuracy.”

“K.C. Constantine writes like an angel: sharply and funnily, with an ear for dialogue that matches George V. Higgins.”

“Balzic is one of the great characters in contemporary fiction. . . We read the Balzic novels for K.C. Constantine’s ear, for the way people give themselves away when they talk, for his insider’s knowledge of the way small towns work, for his understanding of people, his joy in the human comedy, and his compassion.”

“Under the guise of mysteries, Constantine writes some of the best American regional fiction appearing today.”

     Mr. Constantine--a pseudonym--lives in the small Rust Belt city called Rocksburg in his books. He does not make himself available for interviews or photographs. However he once wrote a brief self-interview for Amazon.com, and last year did the same sort of thing for the British magazine, Crime Time. These provide a few biographical facts; of more interest, they offer a look at his cast of mind and his personality. You know how to read these interviews, don’t you? You just pucker up your lips and click.

     The recent Constantine novels are available through any book store, as well as on the internet from Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, and so on. The earlier ones are harder to find, and very valuable to collectors. One of these is set in the Rocksburg police station on a very unmerry Christmas Eve. The first chapter of Upon Some Midnights Clear may be read on screen here or printed out free.

     The complete book is $5 shareware, sent as a Portable Document Format (PDF) file which will probably take three or four minutes to download. It prints in horizontal format on standard paper, giving the effect of an open book with facing pages. Email us at remnant@badattitudes.com to order. Please include your name, mailing address and phone number. The full book will then be emailed to you, along with payment instructions.

Copyright © 2004 by Jerome Doolittle