Hard Light

Elizabeth Hand  - published October 2021

trade paper · 320 pages · $17 · 9781618731920 | ebook · 9781618731937

Third in the Cass Neary series: Generation Loss · Available Dark · Hard Light

Punk photographer Cass Neary, “one of noir’s great anti-heroes” (Katherine Dunn, author of Geek Love), rages back in the series that began with Generation Loss and Available Dark. Fleeing Reykjavik and a cluster of cult murders, Cass lands in London to rendezvous with her longtime lover Quinn, a person of interest to both Interpol and the Russian mob.

Only Quinn doesn’t show up. Alone in London and fearing the worst, Cass hooks up with a singer-songwriter with her own dark past, who brings her to the wrong party. Cass becomes entangled with the party’s host, Mallo Tierney, an eccentric gangster with a penchant for cigar cutters and neatly-wrapped packages, and a trio of dissolute groupies connected to a notorious underground filmmaker.

Forced to run Mallo’s contraband, Cass is suddenly enmeshed in a web of murder, betrayal, and artistic and sexual obsession that extends from London to the stark beauty of England’s Land’s End Peninsula, where she uncovers an archeological enigma that could change our view of human history―if she survives.

Strobe-lit against an apocalyptic background of rock and roll, rave culture, fast drugs and transgressive photography, Hard Light continues the breathless, breathtaking saga of Cassandra Neary, “an anti-hero for the ages. We’d follow Cass anywhere, into any glittery abyss, and do.” [Megan Abbot, author of The Fever]

Watch: Elizabeth Hand & Hannah Pittard & Library of Congress Book Festival
Elizabeth Hand presents Hard Light and Hannah Pittard presents Listen to Me in a panel discussion on suspense thrillers with Maureen Corrigan from NPR at the 2016 Library of Congress Book Festival in Washington, D.C.


“Hand’s supernaturally inflected Cass Neary crime novels make mincemeat out of the assumption—still held by many an unwary reader—that mysteries are mere diversions, designed to pass an empty hour and then be forgotten. No way that’s true of Hard Light: This third novel in the Cass Neary series fades away as stubbornly as a bloodstain.” — Maureen Corrigan, The Washington Post

“Nerve-jangling and addictive, Elizabeth Hand’s Hard Light offers up a signature Cass Neary tale of moral ambivalence, keen betrayal and a dark lushness that leaps off the page. And with Cass―relentless in her dangerous curiosity, her ruthless art of survival―Hand has created an anti-hero for the ages. We’d follow her anywhere, into any glittery abyss, and do.” —Megan Abbott

“Elizabeth Hand’s Cass Neary novels, rightly praised for their icy tension and remarkable darkness, are threaded, like the best of punk in any medium, on a bloodied yet admirably stubborn humanism.” —William Gibson

“As a huge mystery and noir buff, I love Elizabeth Hand’s Cass Neary novels―they’re tough-minded, beautifully written, and unique. One of the best series out there. In Hard Light, Hand has created another fascinating puzzle―and another instant classic. If you’re a fan of intelligent page-turners, this one’s for you.” —Jeff Vandermeer

“Brutal, elegant, rich and strange, Hard Light is noir at it’s very best. This fast paced marvel of a book beats with the exultant energy of Punk rock and hums with the mysterious beauty of a Delphic hymn. Elizabeth Hand is not only one of the great American novelists, her influence on a generation has changed the face of Literature. This novel will haunt your dreams.” —Cara Hoffman, author of So Much Pretty and Be Safe I Love You

“Brilliant! A punk-scene runaway train. Welcome to Liz Hand. Buy this book.” —Sarah Langan, author of The Missing and The Keeper

“Elizabeth Hand is quite simply one of our best living writers. Her Cass Neary books are the ne plus ultra of modern noir, and Hard Light is the best one far: A riveting story that gets going at nosebleed pace and never slows down, anchored by the voice of the iconic Cass Neary, the greatest main character in modern detective fiction. I never knew I had a thing for Scandinavian punk rock noir until Liz Hand showed me what’s up. Now I want more.” —Nick Antosca, author of The Girlfriend Game and Midnight Picnic

“Elizabeth Hand’s Hard Light is a pitch-perfect punk noir that makes a speed-fueled, mad-dash tour through an avant garde underbelly London and the lost landscape of rural England. It’s about the lost, the heartbreakingly ephemeral, and the melancholy timelessness of art and love and murder. It’s a tour de force. It’s a great goddamn book. If you haven’t met Cass Neary yet, do so before you get a well-deserved steel-toe to the knee.” —Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and The Little Sleep

“Beloved scrapper, fight-picker, and trouble-finder Cass Neary returns for another installment in Elizabeth Hand’s gorgeous, searing, speed-fueled bender of a series. Both fearless and vulnerable, heroic and haunted, Neary is a heroine like no other: a punk-rock valkyrie whose fierce intelligence and harrowing quests, rendered in Hand’s flawless, ice-clear prose, have redefined a genre. Hard Light is Hand at her best, and I cannot think of any higher praise.” —Sarah McCarry, author of The Metamorphoses Trilogy

About the Author

Elizabeth Hand is the bestselling author of fourteen genre-spanning novels and five collections of short fiction and essays. Her work has received multiple Shirley Jackson, World Fantasy and Nebula Awards, among other honors, and several of her books have been New York Times and Washington Post Notable Books.