This entire book is a cliche, but that doesn't stop it being entertaining from the first to the last page. The protagonist (he's not really a hero when one takes an objective view, yet he gains the reader's sympathy very quickly) is not hard-boiled, he's grilled on the forge Sauron used to make the One Ring. I'm surprised there hasn't been a film adaptation, since the book has the tone and plot of a crime-revenge-thriller-action movie. Looked at another way, it's Dashiell Hammett for the current day.
It seems like Simmons can do anything; he's got SF, supernatural, crime and historical fiction to his name, that I'm aware of - I've read from his contributions to the first three genres and the only things I can find in common are that they are all well worth my time and they all have references to Important Books (say in voice-over man portentous tones). It's been suggested that the protagonist of Hardcase is called Kurtz simply so that Simmons could use a literary in-joke and I could believe it. There are also two addicted down-and-out former college professors who argue with each other by quoting writers in Latin, Greek, Sanskrit, even English! Kurtz, himself, has read quite a bit - reminiscent of Marlowe's chess games.
There are another two Kurtz novels and I would happily read them.