Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Guns by Ed McBain Random House, Copyright 1976

Guns by Ed McBain
Random House, Copyright 1976
This is a reprint post

Someone reminded me that it's been over three years since Evan Hunter/Ed McBain passed away, I was all set to argue with him that "no he died last year," but I guess time does fly. "Guns" is a novel that I always was planning to read, but never did. I just finished it. McBain slams you in the face with this one.

"The side of Colley's face is throbbing where the shotgun stock collided with his cheekbone. The Smith & Wesson has been taken from his side pocket, he is aware at once of the absence of its bulk. He feels suddenly naked."

It's a 24 hour story of small-time robber Colley Donato. He and a couple of his pals rob a NYC liquor store and two cops are waiting. Colley blows the back of the head off of one of them and he's on the run from then on. As he is moving between apartments and meeting past acquaintances, we get an insight into Colley's mindset and how he became what he is. Brought up on the mean-streets of NYC, at twenty-nine he developed into an unstable, fearful (almost superstitiously) punk. The cops quickly get an ID on him and a massive city manhunt takes place. Colley allies himself with his partner's wife, but that goes sour. Escaping from NYC, he is left wandering in New Jersey with a constant hunger for a gun and trying to make another score.

This is a street-dirty novel and for 1976 it may have turned a few heads. But I'm sure Ed McBain had to present it that way to capture the vile nature of men like Colley Donato and the filthy streets they rise from. There are no decent guys (or girls) in the novel, just crooks, hookers, pushers, rapists and all of them cop-haters. The title has relevance throughout the novel and McBain latently reminds us of that. "Guns" is damn good, I read it in one setting and never looked at what page I was on. But beware, McBain's going to hit you with a fist.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

cool KIller Covers post on Henry Kane

Coast to Coast: From Sea to Shining Sea Kindle Edition

Coast to Coast: From Sea to Shining Sea Kindle Edition

ONLY  $4.99 on Kindle

With a Killer Cast Including: 
Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Bill Pronzini 
4 Time Edgar Winner William Link 
Shamus Winner Paul D. Marks 
Sherlock Holmes Bowl Winner Andrew McAleer 
Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Readers Award Winner Robert S. Levinson 
Scribner Crime Novel Winner William G. Tapply 
Al Blanchard Award winner James T. Shannon 
...and other poisoned pen professionals. 

“Envelope-pushers! A truly WOW collection by the best mystery writers out there—full of surprises only they can pull off.” 
—Thomas B. Sawyer, best-selling author of Cross Purposes and No Place to Run, and head-writer of Murder, She Wrote 

Coast to Coast: From Sea to Shining Sea Kindle Edition

“Envelope-pushers! A truly WOW collection by the best mystery writers out there—full of surprises only they can pull off.” 
—Thomas B. Sawyer, best-selling author of Cross Purposes and No Place to Run, 
and head-writer of Murder, She Wrote 

Coast to Coast: Murder from Sea to Shining Sea 

Crime in high places. Crime in low places. Crime from Coast to Coast. 

Crime in the Faneuil Hall Marketplace of Boston to the Vincent Thomas Bridge in the Port of Los Angeles. From the wind-swept sails of the New England shoreline to the transitioning Italian-American neighborhood of North Beach in San Francisco and the Disney Concert Hall in L.A. 

Crime is everywhere, from the murky depths of Echo Park Lake and the body dump of the Angeles National Forest, to the clear waters of Oyster Bay and the beaches of Cape Cod—even Mexico City—in this collection of stories that range from hardboiled to suspense-thrillers. And while these stories differ in locale, climate, mood and the tone and voices of the various writers, they all resonate with the dark underbelly of crime. 

Continuing in the tradition of the great pulp magazines, stories and writers, we offer you Coast to Coast: Murder from Sea to Shining Sea. 

Coast to Coast: Murder from Sea to Shining Sea 

With a Killer Cast Including: 
Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Bill Pronzini 
4 Time Edgar Winner William Link 
Shamus Winner Paul D. Marks 
Sherlock Holmes Bowl Winner Andrew McAleer 
Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Readers Award Winner Robert S. Levinson 
Scribner Crime Novel Winner William G. Tapply 
Al Blanchard Award winner James T. Shannon 
...and other poisoned pen professionals. 

Crime in high places. Crime in low places. Crime from Coast to Coast. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

ON ELLIOTT CHAZE by Bill Pronzini

Ed here: Bill Pronzini's contributions to the genre of crime fiction have been enormous. First he created the groundbreaking Nameless series (stronger than ever) second he wrote numerous stand-alones and stories that have won praise and awards world-wide and third he has compiled a body of excellent literary biography and criticism that needs to be collected and published. Here is an example from Mystery*File.

by Bill Pronzini

Elliott Chaze (1915-1990) was an old-school newspaperman who began his journalism career with the New Orleans Bureau of the Associated Press shortly before Pearl Harbor, worked for a time for AP’s Denver office after paratrooper service in WW II, and then migrated south to Mississippi where he spent twenty years as reporter and award-winning columnist and ten years as city editor with the Hattiesburg American.

In his spare time he wrote articles and short stories for The New Yorker, Redbook, Collier’s, Cosmopolitan, and other magazines, and all too infrequently, a novel. In an interview he once stated that his motivation in writing fiction, “if there is any discernible, is probably ego and fear of mathematics, with overtones of money. Primarily I have a simple desire to shine my ass — to show off a bit in print.”

His first two novels were literary mainstream. The Stainless Steel Kimono (Simon & Schuster, 1947), a post-war tale about a group of American paratroopers in Japan, was a modest bestseller and an avowed favorite of Ernest Hemingway.

The Golden Tag (Simon & Schuster, 1950), like most of his long works, has a newspaper background, contains a good deal of autobiography, and is both funny and poignant; it concerns a young wire service reporter and would-be novelist in New Orleans who becomes involved with two women, one of them married, while reporting on a sensational murder case.

His third novel was the one for which he is best remembered today, Black Wings Has My Angel (Gold Medal, 1953; also published as One for My Money, Berkley, 1962 and as One for the Money, Robert Hale, 1985).

for the rest go here:

Sunday, September 27, 2015


$2.99 On Kindle

Ed Gorman’s writing is strong, fast and sleek as a bullet. He is one of the best. —Dean Koontz
Purchase a copy of The Marilyn Tapes
Ed Gorman’s The Marilyn Tapes was released as a hardcover in 1995 by Tor / Forge. 
Marilyn Monroe is dead but she left behind tape recordings that reveal every moment of her rendezvous with President John F. Kennedy and with his brother Robert. Now the tapes are missing and everyone from the Mafia to J. Edgar Hoover to the Kennedy family wants them.
The Marilyn Tapes is a crime novel saturated with period detail, and haunted by Marilyn Monroe. A Marilyn that never appears on page, and a Marilyn who no one really knew. It is thoroughly researched, beautifully written, and wonderfully readable.  
The Marilyn Tapes has been favorably compared with the writing of Elmore Leonard and James Ellroy’s American Tabloid. It should have been a bestseller when it was first released and, now, its second chance, and yours, has arrived—
The Marilyn Tapes is back as a low cost ebook exclusively available for Kindle.
Buy it. Read it. And Rate it (on Amazon).
Praise for The Marilyn Tapes:
“The flip side of James Ellroy's justly acclaimed American Tabloid and equally as powerful.” —London's Sunday Time Out
“A fast paced tale of treachery and murder...the story ricochets off sociopathic games in high places.” —Publisher's Weekly
“A fascinating and suspenseful novel on a grand scale.” The Drood Review
“A striking combination of Tom Clancy''s political thrillers and Elmore Leonard's hypnotically sassy novels of America's mean streets.” —Interzone (London)
A powerful and indelible portrait of Marilyn Monroe even though Gorman never brings her on stage.” —Baker and Taylor
Purchase a copy of The Marilyn Tapes known Kindle for $2.99

Saturday, September 26, 2015

unsung directors john flynn

Peter Dragovich writes an interesting article about the late director John Flynn in the new Crimespot. He cites The Outfit and Rolling Thunder as Flynn's best pictures (there's a third with Steven Segal).

I believe that Don Westlake said that The Outfit's characterization of Parker (here called Macklin) is the closest to the novel Parker. Robert Duvall is excellent. You buy him as a tough amoral guy because he doesn't play him as a tough amoral guy. He's just going about his business. I dubbed this off on tape years ago and I still watch it two or three times a year. Karen Black is sexy and sad; Robert Ryan lends his usual melancholy to the action film; Joe Don Baker is in his prime here and particularly strong--and as if he he wants to salute the crime film in general Flynn uses many familiar actors for some of the smaller roles, among them Jane Greer, Richard Jaeckel, Sheree North, Marie Windsor and even Elisha Cook, Jr. Duvall's intelligence and mystery carries the film. Flynn' direction is absolutely on the money. This should have been on tape and/or DVD years ago.

The second picture is Rolling Thunder which I've always considered one of Paul Schrader's finest scripts. This is one of those films you don't watch--you inhabit it, sometimes against your will. The star is William Devane . He plays a returning Viet Nam vet with only one thing on his mind, revenge. This and most of Karl Reisiz's Who'll Stop The Rain are the two best films I've ever seen about the era of Viet Nam played out on the American streets. The rage, the dislocation, the sucker's game fate of so many of the characters, Schrader and Flynn really give us the bleeding wound of that time. An amazing, disturbing movie.

My choice for Flynn's third best would be Best Seller, a starring vehicle for both James Woods and Brian Dennehy. Woods plays a hit man who wants to get back at an old enemy. To do it he needs the help of widower Dennehy who wrote a bestselling book about a murder investigation he was involved in as a detective. Unfortunately he's stalled on a second book and running out of the funds he needs to support his teenaged daughter and himself. Dennehy loathes Wood and doesn't trust him when he says that he knows who killed Dennehy's old police partner. He also claims that this will give Dennehy the biggest best seller he can imagine--killer and scandal are one and the same. There is a particularly moving and very strange scene where Woods takes Dennehy back go the small town where he grew up. Larry Cohen's script is excellent and Flynn's direction is flawless.

Rolling Thunder and Best Seller are easy and inexpensive to come by. Just light a lot of votive candles and pray that someday somebody will put The Outfit on DVD,

Friday, September 25, 2015

Forgotten Books: A Hidden Place by Robert Charles Wilson

Forgotten Books: A Hidden Place by Robert Charles Wilson

In the course of a year I usually read twenty or twenty five novels that impress me. Some for characterization, some for story, some for milieu. But I rarely read a novel that astonishes me.

When Robert Charles Wilson's first novel A Hidden Place appeared as a Bantam paperback original in 1986, I wasn't sure what to make of it. I received it along with three or four other science fiction Bantams. I think I put it on the bottom of the stack. The other novels were by writers I knew. Whatever reluctance I felt vanished when I read the first page.

The story here concerns a young man named Travis Fisher who is sent to live with his aunt because his mother, a troubled woman, has died. What he finds in his aunt's house is an intolerable uncle who demands that Travis lives by steely rules he himself frequently breaks. He also finds Anna, the strange beautiful woman who boards upstairs. Travis is so stunned by her he can barely form sentences. He also takes up Nancy Wilcox, a smart, witty girl who is bursting to escape the brutal social order of this small town.

Parallel to this story line is the one of the odd hobo Bone. Because the novel is set in the worst years of the Depression, Bone becomes our tour guide, showing us exactly how people of various kinds behaved during this time. Bone is a transfixing figure, as mysterious as Anna and perhaps linked to her in some way.

I don't want to start listing plot twists here. All I'll say is that each is cleverly set up and magnificently sprung on the reader. What I'd rather talk about is the writing. In the course of reading A Hidden Place, I heard many voices--among them Sherwood Anderson, William Faulkner and the Theodore Dreiser who wrote An American Tragedy. The irony is that Wilson is a Canadian. He may or may not have read any of these writers. But except for John Steinbeck, I've never read place description to equal the power and poetry of Wilson's shantytowns or railroad goons; nor have I encountered a better picture of the small towns of that era.

But most of all the book is about people. Wilson's characters will take up permanent residence in your memory. So many of them ache for things they can't have, for things they don't even understand. Wilson writes with a razor.

Twenty years later we find that Robert Charles Wilson is a highly regarded science fiction writer, winner of many awards and several lengthy studies. I believe I've read every novel he's published. But much as I love them I always go back to this one. In its sorrows and its griefs and the beauties of its writing, we find a rare kind of truth, a statement about what it means to be human.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Forgotten Books: The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway

If you grew up in the Forties or Fifties it was impossible to imagine that the literary luster of Ernest Hemingway would ever dim. I've never known of a writer as imitated (usually badly) as ole Papa.

He loved it. He carefully crafted the public persona of adventurer and man's man the press and the people admired and foolishly tried to emulate. Novels such as A Farewell To Arms and For Whom The Bell Tolls outsold the books of his contemporaries.

But time and taste caught up with him and we now see that Hemingway's novels weren't quite as good as we once thought. He certainly had no Gatsby to brag of nor even a Grapes of Wrath by the  Steinbeck he despised; Papa believed he was a terrible writer. For me the only Hemingway novel  worth reading now is The Sun Also Rises. It's not a great novel but it's fascinating one and much truer to the real Hemingway than the novels he wrote afterward.

But then there are the short stories. Back in the day his collected stories were referred to with great reverence as The First Forty-Nine. Many of them were reprinted dozens if not hundreds of times around the world, textbooks included. They still deserve the reverence paid them back then.

From his story of death and dying ("A Clean, Well-Lighted Place") to his sad and ironic tale of a soldier who came back from the First World War too late for the parades ("Soldier's Home:) to the stories set in Upper Michigan this is American literature at its finest. This was Hemingway before he became Papa--the confused boy-man who went to war and then set himself up in Paris to write.

In numerous stories here he proves himself the equal of Faulkner (whom he saw as his main competition--he'd already arrogantly written off his old friend (and the guy who got him his Scribner contract) Fitzgerald) in experimenting with point of view. The line, as several critics mentioned at the time, went from Stephen Crane to Mark Twain to Hemingway, that pure American voice. If you read Crane's The Blue Hotel before you reading Hemingway's Collected Stories you'll hear the echoes throughout the book.

For readers and writers alike, this is one book that should be in every serious collection. There was no more vital and powerful voice than Hemingway's in his early stories (and I don't include The Old Man And The Sea which I never much liked; way too self-consciously Important). Today they're just as pure and perfect as they were when first published. All hail Hemingway.

I'd pick this up as soon as possible.

Thrift Shop Book Covers: "Point Blank" and "Killtown"

Posted: 23 Sep 2015 06:00 AM PDT
In the early-1970s Berkley Medallion published several of Richard Stark’s Parker novels dressed up as a men’s adventure series. The series was called: The Violent World of Parker. Each novel was numbered; the numbering had no relationship to the original publication order. The first in the series was Slayground, which was the fourteenth printed, and the second in the series was Point Black, which, under the title The Hunter, was the first to feature professional thief Parker. The covers are very much like the men’s adventure series published in the 1970s—explosions, shootings, guns and knives. Two of my favorites, as far as cover art, are Point Blank, and Killtown (originally published as The Score). The artist: unknown.    

The opening paragraph of Point Blank:

“When a fresh-faced guy in a Chevy offered him a lift, Parker told him to go to hell. The guy said, ‘Screw you, buddy,’ yanked his Chevy back into the stream of traffic, and roared on down the tollbooths. Parker spat in the right-hand lane, lit hislast cigarette, and walked across the George Washington Bridge.”

The opening paragraph of Killtown:

“When the bellboy left, Parker went over to the house phone and made his call. He gave the operator downstairs the number he wanted, and waited while the phone clicked and ticked and snicked in his ear. He was feeling impatient, and he was about to go downstairs and put in the call from a pay phone when all the clicking finally quit and a ringing sound started instead.”

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

reviews THE MARILYN TAPES now on Kindle

$2.99 on Kindle now

"The flip side of James Elroy's justly acclaimed American Tabloid and equally as powerful."
London's Sunday Time Out

"A fast paced tale of treachery and murder...the story ricochets off sociopathic games
in high places."
Publisher's Weekly

"A fascinating and suspenseful novel on a grand scale."
The Drood Review

"A striking combination of Tom Clancy''s political thrillers and Elmore Leonard's  hypnotically sassy novels of America's mean streets."
Interzone (London)

"A powerful and indelible portrait of Marilyn Monroe even though Gorman never brings her on stage."
Baker and Taylor

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The good ones: John McPartland by John Fraser

Ed here: I've reprinted my own piece on John McPartland two or three times in the past five years. Thought I'd let you see what a real critic has to say about him. This is John Fraser's take on McPartland, one of the Gold Medal boys who never got his due. What made him interesting to me was that he had a great Fitzgeraldian social eye for every strata of society, from blue collar all the way up to the gated communitiy folks.
McPartland was no genius but he came to writing with a voice and social take all his own and neither had anything to do with the hardboiled material then flooding the market. As John Fraser said to me in a recent letter, "McPartland deserves the attention. He seems rather to have slipped through the critical net, maybe because he didn't deal in the to my mind rather cliched noir depressiveness, with the inevitable failure of love."

John McPartland by John Fraser copyright 1998

The Face of Evil (1954)

She was the kind of woman a man noticed, mostly because of her eyes. Dark, almost black pools, they had a warmth that I felt could turn to fire. She had turned her head, looking over the shoulder of the man she was with, and we looked at each other. The third or fourth time it happened he noticed it and I paid some attention to what he was like.

He was a type. You find guys like him driving ten-wheeler transport trucks, or flying, or sometimes as chief petty officers in the Navy, on a sub or a destroyer. Square-built, tough tanned skin, big hands with knuckles that are chunks of stone.The type—what makes him recognizable as a wanderer, a fighter, sometimes a killer—shows in his face.

Big white teeth, yellow a little from cigarettes like his fingers, and he smiles with his teeth closed, talking through them when he’s angry. A thin line of short black hairs for a mustache, sideburns of curling hair, hair black and curly, a face that is rough and yet young, and it won’t change much if he lives to be fifty. The eyes are fierce, amused, hard.

It’s a special breed of man, and the breed are men. Maybe a mixture of German, Irish, French-Canadian, with a streak of Comanche, Ute, or Cheyenne in there about three generations back. You meet men like this one in the truck-stop cafés along U.S. 40, with the diesels drumming outside; or you meet them walking toward the plane on the airstrip; or in jail, still smiling, still ready for a fight.

This guy was laughing as he swung off the bar stool. He was still laughing as he walked over to me.

The Face of Evil (1954)

McPartland is that rarity, a writer of tough novels who feels tough himself. (Was Spillane a barroom brawler? If so, did he win?)

McPartland was one of the Gold Medal blue-collar writers; had served in Korea; obviously knew the black-market milieu of that war; came back and wrote raw, rugged, at times very powerful novels; obviously drank, lived with a mistress and illegitimate kids before it was OK to do so; and died young of a heart attack. He was the kind of person who knew what it meant to be in trouble with the law, doing dumb impetuous things, getting into fights.

What comes across again and again in his novels is his understanding of power, the hard masculine will to dominate others, break them, destroy them. His bad guys are some of the most frightening in thriller fiction: Southern rednecks, syndicate “troopers,” the Mob. His fights are fights in which the loser can get hurt very badly.

When a black-marketing non-com says he’s going to scramble someone’s eggs with his combat boots (crush his testicles), or the middle-echelon syndicate enforcer Whitey Darcy tells the fixer Bill Oxford, “We’re going to make you cry, feller,” or when Buddy Brown, the twenty-year-old petty crook in Big Red’s Daughter (1955) tells Jim Work that he’s going to make him crawl, we know that’s just what they intend to do.

They are hard men.

King McCarthy in The Face of Evil (1955) is a natural fighter. Buddy Brown wins his first two fights with the hero—knocks him down with a sucker punch; gets a painful lock on his knuckles and punches him in the throat while they’re sitting drinking beer in a barroom booth. And the Syndicate, the Mafia, punish offenders ruthlessly. Oxford knows what it will be like to go to prison and have your kidneys smashed by an inmate, crippled with pain for the rest of your life every time you pee. Johnny Cool’s end in The Kingdom of Johnny Cool is dreadful.

However, in most of the novels there isn’t just violence, there’s also love, and things work out all right in the end for the hero and heroine. They very easily couldn’t, though. A strong, focussed counter-energy on the part of the heroes is necessary.

McPartland’s best book is The Face of Evil, about the fixer Bill Oxford, who’s been on the long downward slide of compromise, complicity, corruption, and has been sent to Long Beach by the PR agency to which he’s attached to ruin a genuinely decent reform candidate, upon pain of being stripped of all his high-living perks and slammed into prison. It is tense and well-made throughout.

The Kingdom of Johnny Cool is his other best novel. When it appeared, I wrote to Ross Macdonald (a total stranger, but he’d done a Ph.D. in English himself) to ask him to review it for a student journal I was co-editing. He declined, saying that it seemed to be simply Spillane-type melodrama. He was wrong.

The novel is a powerful account of a Sicilian criminal’s rise and fall in America—a more interesting one than W.R. Burnett’s Little Caesar (1929)—and it takes us into dark cold waters full of predators. McPartland was on to the Mafia as a subject twelve years before The Godfather, and his attitude towards it is far healthier than Puzo’s sentimental power worship. There’s nothing cute or admirable about McPartland’s Italianos.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Gravetapping OVERHEAD by Jack M. Bickham

Posted: 20 Sep 2015 05:31 PM PDT
Overhead is the third novel featuring Brad Smith. It was published in 1991 by Tor, and it is something of a transitional novel in the series. It is longer than the first two—as are the three that follow—and it permanently moves Brad from Richardson, Texas to the fictional Elk City, Montana. 

Brad’s old tennis pal, Ted Treacher—who helped Danisa escape Yugoslavia in Tiebreaker—purchased a tennis and golf resort outside of Elk City. There is local opposition, and he is leveraged to the eyeballs. Ted wants Brad’s help to set up a small professional tournament. He has $60,000 purse money and the tournament would bring welcome publicity. Collie wants Brad to do some snooping while he is there. A civilian employee of a nearby Air Force research facility was caught removing classified data, but murdered before she could talk. The FBI thinks the Soviets are behind both spying and murder. It also thinks the killer is Brad’s old nemesis Sylvester. A little loyalty—to Ted, mostly—and a quarrel with the new head tennis pro at the resort Brad works, persuades him to load his Bronco and go to Montana.

Overhead is the weakest of the Brad Smith novels. It is longer than the first two, and several subplots run through its length; specifically, a corporate corruption scandal and an unexplained high rate of child death in Elk City. It is busy, and all of the intrigue distracts from the main focus of the novel—Brad’s and Sylvester’s ever growing annoyance with each other. It isn’t a bad novel at all, but it isn’t quite as good as the other novels in the series. 

The good stuff is the setting, characters, and suspense. Mr. Bickham develops the cloying small town atmosphere of Elk City nicely, and does an even better job with the resort. The characters are never without believable motivation. There is the bully-psychopath Elk City cop, Ted who is falling apart under the financial pressure of the resort, Ardis Allen, a cutthroat businesswoman, Sylvester, and Brad. It is also structured to achieve a high level of suspense. It is written in first—Brad’s perspective—and third person, and the alternating perspective allows the author to prolong suspenseful scenes across more than one chapter (and it works very well).

There is also a nice touch of social commentary, and something about the human experience. My favorite—

“Hemingway liked to talk about how life sometimes bent people, sometimes in such a way that they healed and went on, stronger because of the hurt. He said life sometimes broke people, too. But he never really came to terms with that. Maybe he couldn’t. Maybe at the very end Hemingway understood being truly broken, beyond healing, and that was why he went down to the hallway that fine sunny morning outside of Ketchum and put both barrels of the shotgun to his forehead, just above the eyes, and pulled both triggers.”

Overhead may not be the best of Jack Bickham’s Brad Smith novels, but it is still an exciting, entertaining, and very worthwhile read. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The new issue of Clues


Clues 33.2: Patricia Highsmith, Per Wahlöö.

In honor of the 20th anniversary of Patricia Highsmith's death and the 40th anniversary of Per Wahlöö's death, Clues 33.2 (2015) has been published. It is a theme issue on the work of Highsmith, plus reveals Wahlöö's plans for another Martin Beck novel near the end of his life. Abstracts follow below. Contact McFarland to order the issue or to subscribe to the journal.

Introduction: Re-Evaluating Patricia Highsmith
FIONA PETERS (Bath Spa Univ, UK)

Conformity and Singularity in Patricia Highsmith’s Early Novels 
This essay explores Highsmith’s critique of the American suburbs in the novels of the 1950s and early 1960s. It focuses on This Sweet Sickness, highlighting not only Highsmith’s critique of conformity but also her recognition of the threat of psychic breakdown for those who resisted cultural norms.

“Sooner or later most of us get hooked”:
The Question of Insanity in Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley 

This article considers constructions of insanity in Strangers on a Trainand The Talented Mr. Ripley in the context of historical understandings of psychopathy and sociopathic personality disturbance. It examines Patricia Highsmith’s psychological influences and assesses how her novels have been read in relation to changing notions of criminal insanity in psychiatry, law, and culture.

Under an Atomic Sky: Patricia Highsmith, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and the Apocalyptic Imagination 
ILSE SCHRYNEMAKERS (Queensboro Community College, NY)
This essay contextualizes Patricia Highsmith’s crime fiction within the ethos of a world with the atomic bomb, examining how her characters fit the prototype of Americans striving for and achieving a comfortable life. It also explores the significance of characters in such a world committing seemingly irrational actions.

Living “As If”: Ripley’s Imaginary and the Problem of Other People in The Talented Mr. Ripley
BRUCE WYSE (Wilfrid Laurier Univ, Canada)
In Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley, Tom Ripley finds reading people a challenge but copes through a form of everyday detection. The author argues that Ripley is an “as-if” character who passes for “normal” until his fantasized rapport with Dickie collapses. Through Dickie’s murder, he recaptures this imaginary bond.

The Tremors of Forgery: The Palimpsest of Tom Ripley’s Identity

JACQUI MILLER (Liverpool Hope Univ, UK)
Forgery is a recurrent theme in Patricia Highsmith’s work, both as a transgressive act and a metaphor for transformation. Positioning the films within their socio-historical context, the essay will examine the ways in which Tom Ripley is reconstructed or “forged” in the adaptations of Highsmith.

Frenching Mr. Ripley
K. A. LAITY (College of Saint Rose, NY)
The Criterion edition of René Clément’s Plein Soleil/Purple Noon (1960) gives vivid life to the French adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley (1955). The script by Clément and Paul Gégauff retains the author’s moral ambiguity but eschews the character’s abjection and its related sexual ambiguity for a vigorous and untroubled heteronormativity.

Patricia Highsmith and the Dark Carnival

CRAIG A. WARREN (Penn State Behrend)
A study of the amusement-park sequence in Strangers on a Train(1950) reveals that Patricia Highsmith should be recognized as a founder of “dark carnival” writing, a subgenre of suspense and horror fiction that emerged during the second half of the twentieth century.

Strangers in Tunisia: Edgar Allan Poe’s Confessional Imp and Patricia Highsmith’s The Tremor of Forgery
A. B. EMRYS (emerita, Univ of Nebraska–Kearney)
This article discusses how Patricia Highsmith reworks dynamics from Strangers on a Train, including redirection of a scene from Edgar Allan Poe, to support Howard Ingham’s rejection of conventional judgment in The Tremor of Forgery. Ingham’s experiences, the author argues, anticipate Highsmith’s last novel, Small g.

Those Who Follow:
Homosocial Choreography in Highsmith’s Queer Gothic

BRAN NICOL (Univ of Surrey, UK)
Many of Patricia Highsmith’s plots are versions of what Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick calls the gothic “reversible male chase.” Focusing on The Two Faces of January and Those Who Walk Away, this essay explores how Highsmithian homosociality exposes the empty reflexivity of late–twentieth-century existence.

The Queer Death of Timothy Porter: Crime and Punishment in Patricia Highsmith’s “The Black House” 
ALEXIS M. EGAN (Univ of New Orleans)
This essay examines Timothy Porter’s death in Patricia Highsmith’s “The Black House” as a symptom of violated gender norms in the public and private spheres. The article also examines Tom Ripley’s murder of Dickie Greenleaf in The Talented Mr. Ripley, considering whether it is space itself or a violation of gender that influences this act of violence.

Last Words, 1975:
Per Wahlöö and the Book That Went Up in Smoke

PER HELLGREN (Strangnas, Sweden)
When Swedish crime writer Per Wahlöö died in 1975, he and his writing partner, Maj Sjöwall, had barely managed to finish their final novel, The Terrorists (1975). Following the recent discovery of Wahlöö’s last notes from his deathbed, previously unknown to the public, the author explores Wahlöö’s plans for an 11th Martin Beck novel.

True Detection. Ed. Edia Connole, Paul J. Ennis, and Nicola Masciandaro 

Paul Elliott. Studying the British Crime Film 

Peter Messent. The Crime Fiction Handbook

The GREAT Ken Levine at his killer best my fave the heidi klum

Emmy flashbacks

I’ll be reviewing tonight’s Emmy Awards. Check back tomorrow. But to get you in the mood, here are a few snarky inappropriate highlights from past Emmy reviews. Enjoy.

Note to Jeff Daniels and a lot of actors last night: ease up on the spray tan. There’s something wrong when Jeff Daniels is darker than Mindy Kaling.

Elton John, who has nothing to do with television, did a tribute to Liberace. I forget the title. “Candelabra in the Wind” I think.

The WHITNEY Emmy screener makes a really nifty coaster.

The Academy sent out a pretty clear message. Louis C.K. – not yet. Lena Dunham – not happening. Chuck Lorre – never.

What does it say when Bill Maher is now 0-32 and most Emmy voters are Democrats?

If Zosia Mamet’s dress was the result of another Kickstarter campaign she must’ve only raised eleven dollars.

GAME CHANGE won so Hollywood finally voted for Sarah Palin.

Kevin Costner won for playing a cowboy, which is what he should be playing. His days of portraying a baseball player are over unless they do a screen version of CHEERS and hire him as the Coach.

Christine Baranski, in a gold plated gown, looked like C-3PO caught cross-dressing.

Producer Mark Burnett has said that the “In Memoriam” segment doesn’t have to be such a downer. Really??? To that end, the song under the clips was “Where Dem Girls At”.

Six winners told their kids to go to bed. Five thanked Jesus. One told Jesus to go to bed.

Gray ribbons this year as Hollywood rallies to provide relief to the hurricane victims in the Hamptons whose guest homes and tennis courts sustained water damage.

Kate Winslet and Martin Scorsese won Emmys for having already won Oscars. When you win an Academy Award they should just throw an Emmy in the swag bag.

At least one Red Carpet interviewer asked Margo Martindale if she was coming back next year on JUSTIFIED (note: her character was killed)and another said how much she loved Margo's dad, Wink. Still another was hoping the "real" Mildred Pierce would be there for the ceremony.

What was that hideous song Jewel sang? I hate to say it but it really brought down the “In Memoriam” section.

For the first time ever the Emmys were shown live in Los Angeles. NBC recognized they were up against very stiff competition this year -- the Chabad Telethon.

Al Pacino’s won a million awards and his speech was like your uncle Lou’s just before the paramedics came.

Did you notice that not one winner all night, any category, thanked a network or studio for notes?

When Jessica Lange was thanking everyone in the world I was hoping for a promo crawl underneath her to say, “Jessica Lange speech over in 8 minutes.”

Letting Heidi Klum do comedy is like giving a squirrel a grenade.

Anyone who says Jewish girls don’t know how to dress didn’t see Sarah Silverman tonight in her Catholic Girl’s uniform.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

4 of the finest p.i. novels around--and inexpensive on kindle READ THEM NOW

Nominated for the Shamus Award for Best First Private Eye Novel 

One of Bill's finest books and an exemplary and very personal novel. The tenderness and melancholy
of a great "Rockford Files" script and proof positive that Bill has yet to get his due.

A masterpiece first published by a house so cheap and sleazy they may as well have printed it on a mimeograph. There is a great retro 70s fiction with a movie just waiting to be made of it.

Elmore Leonard: "If Eye in the Ring moved any faster you'd have to nail it down to read it." Not only a classic p.i. novel but one of the finest novels about the business of boxing I've ever read. This is the way p.i. fiction should be done.

This novel broke the mold. An original compelling take on just about every p.i.  trope you care to name. Every time I read it I want to find something wrong with it so I can call Fred and bray about it. But there's not one damned thing wrong with it anywhere.