Friday, December 04, 2009

Block; Monk; Zeltserman; Piccirilli

I've just finished reading the spectacular new issue of Mystery Scene. Of particular note is Lawrence Block's new column which he devotes to his memories of the people and places of his literary past. He writes here of the late short story genius Stanley Ellin. A fascinating portrait of Ellin's working methods. Larry is the last of the giants (we lost Don Westlake, Mickey Spillane and Evan Hunter all too soon) and his Proustian take on the decades of his career will be the first thing I read when MS arrives.


I don't think I've ever seen a finer finale--and Mary Tyler Moore me no Mary Tyler Moores etc--than the two-part Monk that concluded last night. The writing and the acting were superb and both dug deep. I haven't seen Carol cry like that in front of the tube in a long time. I used to think that Rockford was my all-time favorite crime show. Now I'd have to have a two-way winner for first place. Monk was done with enormous talent and enormous love. It is a true classic and one I'd put up with any crime show that's ever been on television.

---------------VAMPIRE CRIMES

I'v just read the manuscript of Dave Zeltserman's new novel, Vampire Crimes. This is one of the few fresh takes on vampirism I've read in years. It's as if Charles Bukowski sat down and said, OK, Bram Stoker, how about this? Here's a piece from it:

"That day started off worse than most of the others. He had hooked up
the night before with another addict, a deathly thin blonde woman about
twenty years older than him. He didn't remember much about her other
than how damn hollow her eyes looked, how her lips were so unnaturally
pale with this hint of blue tingeing them and hard it was for her to
find a vein to tap. When he woke up the next morning she was gone along
with his roll of over three grand and his stash. There was nothing in
her apartment worth any money. She wasn't coming back. His cash and
junk were long gone. He was just lucky she didn't take his clothes, and
even luckier she didn't take his army-issued boots. He sat on the floor
for a long time holding his head, needing a fix as badly as he ever
did. Eventually the stench of garbage got to him and he staggered out
of the apartment.
Most of what happened that day was lost to him, but he remembered that
night ending up in a diner. He tried to palm a couple of bucks from the
counter and that was when a burly tattooed arm went around his
shoulder, corralling him."

----------------------Tom Piccirilli

Tom Piccirilli was generous enough to interview about my new Sam McCain novel TICKET TO RIDE
on his website The Big Adios. You can read it here:


Dave Zeltserman said...

Ed, it was a near perfect Monk finale, with the show ended exactly the way it should--Monk getting justice for Trudy, all the main characters finding some level of happiness, and Monk and Trudy left to forever solve murders together. I enjoyed this show a lot, but as immensely endearing as Tony Shalhoub and Traylor Howard were as Monk and Natalie, nothing tops Rockford for pure enjoyment. And Monk is still apples and oranges when compared to brilliantly written and performed crime shows like Homicide, Hill Street Blues and The Wire. But I will miss it, and the biggest beneficiary of this near perfect series finale is going to be Lee Goldberg, as many Monk fans are going to be hungry for new Monk adventures. I'm predicting a Mr. Monk and the Movie Critic sometime in the near future.

Thanks about Vampire Crimes. I still need to find a publisher for it, but I have some people in Hollywood working on a film deal for it, so I'm hopeful. Outsourced took a while also, but now the film's in development with Impact Pictures and the book's coming out next year through Serpent's Tail, so sometimes it just takes time.

Ed Gorman said...

Yeah I probably should have said that for me Rockford and Monk are the most ENJOYABLE crime shows of all time. I certainly enjoy and admire many other shows but for inhabiting their worlds, Rockford and Monk are where I most long to be. Hell Angel and Disher alone could carry episodes by themselves if need be.

Ricky Sprague said...

Ed, weren't you bothered at least a little bit, by the way the Monk finale basically did away with all of Trudy's continuity? In 2006 they did an episode in which we learn that Monk graduated from Berkeley in 1981-- and met and fell in love with Trudy while at Berkeley-- yet it turns out that Trudy had a daughter in 1983... before she and Monk met? Why was Trudy in law school anyway? What kind of investigative reporter couldn't figure out that her daughter was still alive-- when there was an article in the paper mentioning that her midwife had found an abandoned baby at the playground? And what happened to the six-fingered man who was supposedly in on the killing? And why would Craig T. Nelson kill himself like that?

I thought it was well-acted as usual, and I did like that Monk got to have a daughter, sort of, and changed his shirt, but it had a very deus-ex-machina-feel to it. Unless the last episode was just Monk having a complete psychotic break brought on by the poison that was killing him, and it all took place in his head?

Ed Gorman said...

The only thing that bothered me was that Trudy just accepted her daughter's death without questioning it. Carl figured it out the first time it was mentioned. I agree with all your points but none got in the way of my enjoyment. As for Nelson's suicide...that's not uncommon in arrest situations, especially the variation know as suicide by cop. Thanks for writing.

Dave Zeltserman said...

The six-fingered man was explained in a previous season. The man is dying in a hospital under police guard. He admits to Monk that he planted the bomb which killed Trudy, but he doesn't know who hired him. In one of the more memorable Monk moments, Monks turns off the man's morphine drip, telling him that he, Adrian Monk, was the one who turned it off, then as the man is gasping in pain, Monk turns the drip back on, telling him that it's Trudy turning it back on.

My only slight disappoint with the last episode and season was that the Whale wasn't somehow involved,
but I still enjoyed the episode/season immensely, and it's one of those rare series finales where you feel like they ended the show exactly as it needed to be ended.

Ricky Sprague said...

I forgot about the six-fingered man and the morphine drip. That was a good scene, too.

But the more I think about the last episode, the more irritated I get. Monk is a sad, isolated, obsessive character; all he's had to keep him really happy are his memories of Trudy, and for the writers to come in on the last episode and retcon Trudy's character like that just seemed like a big "F-you" to Monk. The guy supposedly has a photographic memory (which helps him solve crimes!), and throughout the series he's had these rather touching flashbacks of his and Trudy's first meeting, first time meeting her parents, etc, and it turns out none of that stuff really happened.

It feels like they cheated. But I'm going to try and let it go, and get on with my life now.

Paul D Brazill said...

We're about 4 years behind as far as Monk goes here in Poland so I should try to avoid spoilers but ...

Dave was kind enough to post the intro of Vampire Crimes at my blog when he was guest blogger and good stuff it is too. i