Thursday, June 30, 2011

Kris Rusch: You Are Not Alone - the writing business

The Business Rusch: You Are Not Alone
Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Maybe the stars have aligned poorly. Maybe the various impending international debt crises have us on edge. Or maybe it’s this season’s abundant natural disasters. Or maybe it’s as simple as this: I’ve been blogging so people are writing to me.
But what I’ve seen this past month from established writers is an abundance of despair. I got a sad phone call from a friend, had a lot of sit-down conversations with writers who were ready to give up their dreams, and a nine-page single-spaced e-mail from a hell of a writer of dozens of published books, wondering whether or not to quit altogether.

Books that would have sold five years ago don’t sell now. Series that are growing are getting bounced from their publishers for not growing enough. Agents, unable to sell product, are telling their mystery clients to write romance novels and their romance clients to write thrillers. Other agents are starting backlist e-pub companies and robbing their clients blind. Still other agents are blaming the writers for the fact that nothing is selling well and encouraging them to sign terrible book contracts.

Bookstores don’t carry paper books any longer. New York Times bestsellers can’t find their backlists in stores. American authors with bestselling novels overseas are being told that foreign countries never pay the promised royalties, only advances.
Traditionally published bestselling writers look at their royalty statements, see that their e-books sell only 30 or 100 or 200 copies in six months, and wonder how the hell upstart self-published writers whose books have ugly covers and whose interiors need copy editing manage to sell tens of thousands of e-books each month.

Editors who once had to tiptoe around their biggest authors are telling those writers to change what they write because their sales have decreased, and clearly, their writing has gotten worse over the years. Writers whose rabid fan base numbers 10 or 20 or 50K get told that their books no longer sell to that fan base even though the writer is constantly getting e-mails from that base and is signing brand new books for that base.

for the rest go here:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dave Zeltserman & Julius Katz

Dave Zeltserman:

Are my Julius Katz stories and novel a tribute to the Rex Stout’s terrific Nero Wolfe books, or are they a pastiche? To be honest, I’m not sure myself. I love the Nero Wolfe books, and have read all of them, some of them two or more times. When I set off to write ‘Julius Katz’ for the Black Orchid contest run by Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and the Wolfe Pack, I did so with reverence, first rereading several Nero Wolfe books to make sure I’d get all the elements right that made Nero Wolfe so much fun to read—namely the humor, the relationship between Nero and Archie, the pacing and the structure. With the names that I’ve given my characters I’m also clearly tipping my cap to Rex Stout. Outside of Julius and Archie, my combative homicide detective is named Mark Cramer, Julius’s love interest is named Lily Rosten, the freelance detectives Julius hires are named Tom Durkin, Saul Penzer and Willie Cather, and even a newspaper man named Len Cohen. But just as Julius Katz is clearly a play on Nero Wolfe’s name, it’s also very different just as cats are different than dogs. Yes, Julius and Nero are both brilliant, eccentric and ultimately, lazy detectives who prefer their own pursuits to working, but there the similarities end. There are the superficial difference, such as Nero preferring beer while Julius collects wine, but Julius really shares a lot more DNA with my Pete Mitchel con man (Money Run) than he does with Nero. He’s handsome, athletic, a womanizer (or at least he was before he fell heads over heels for Lily Rosten), and his true passion is gambling. There’s also a bit of larceny in Julius’s makeup. And while my Archie narrates these stories and has every bit the heart and soul of a hardboiled PI as Archie Goodwin does, he’s very different than Goodwin. First off, he’s not human.

While ‘Julius Katz’ didn’t win the Black Orchid contest, it was later picked up by Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and ended up winning the Shamus award. Not bad compensation. Readers’ reaction to ‘Julius Katz’ and ‘Archie’s Been Framed’ (Ellery Queen’s Readers Choice Winner), as well as my first full-length Julius Katz mystery, Julius Katz and Archie, is that they find these stories and the novel entertaining and a lot of fun. Here’s why I think Julius Katz borders more as a tribute than a pastiche—readers unfamiliar with Nero Wolfe enjoy them just as much. Those familiar with Sherlock Holmes find them a fun modernization on those stories, and those unfamiliar with Holmes likewise enjoy them.

I like letting my work speak for itself, so here’s a short excerpt from Julius Katz and Archie:

“I thought your dignity and reputation weren’t for sale?” I asked.
A wry smile pulled up the edges of Julius’s lips. “I don’t believe I ever said anything about my reputation being priceless,” he said.

“Okay, your dignity then.”

More of his wry smile. “Technically, Archie, I don’t believe I as much sold my dignity as bartered it away.”

It was a clever joke, but I wasn’t much up to joking then. More of that excess heat began to burn again in me. “For a lousy bottle of wine! That’s what you did it for!”

“I hardly think you can call a ’78 Montrachet a lousy bottle of wine.” Julius’s smile faded as he sat straighter in his chair and rubbed his thumb along the knuckles of his right hand. With others, Julius kept his emotions and thoughts impenetrable, with me he didn’t bother. Right now he was showing his annoyance, but I didn’t care. “The man is a philistine,” Julius continued. “He was going to mix soda water with a ’78 Montrachet to make a wine spritzer. It would’ve been a crime to let that happen.”

“So you were just saving humanity from an outrage?”


“Okay,” I said. “I understand. For a bottle of wine, you’ve agreed to play a stooge.”

Julius stopped rubbing his knuckles. He took in a slow breath and with a forced attempt at humor, said, “And of course, twenty-five thousand dollars.”

“Of course, we can’t forget the twenty-five thousand dollars. So for that money and the Montrachet, you’ll be looking like a dunce to the world.”

“Again, Archie, things are not always what they appear.”

“Yeah, well, as far as the TV and newspaper reporters are going to be concerned, Kenneth J. Kingston will be trumping you at your own game. Should I be ordering you a dunce cap now for the occasion? I might be able to find a good deal.”

Julius slowly began rubbing his knuckles again. “Enough of this, Archie.”

I should’ve taken the hint, but I couldn’t help myself. “Sure, of course,” I said. “I understand. But Boss, should I get a jump on updating your biography to reference that you’re no longer Boston’s most brilliant detective, but have slipped to the second-most? Or should I wait until after Kingston plays you for a chump? Now that I think of it, after that happens I’m not even sure you could legitimately claim that title since probably every other working private investigator in Boston would be able to prove themselves intellectually superior to Kingston, so by the transitive property that would in effect make you Boston’s least brilliant detective. Not as compelling a title for you to hold, but I guess we’ll have to deal with it. If you want I can order stationary now to that effect, or I can wait until—”

I pushed him too far. Julius cut me off, saying, “Goodnight, Archie.” And blast it! My world went black as he turned me off!

Lee Goldberg's funny & wily REMAINDERED story & film

Ed here: REMAINDERED is one of the wiliest short stories I've read in many years. Really laughed my ass off when I read it. The short film based on it is equally excellent. Lee Goldberg at his very best.


REMAINDERED is about Kevin Dangler, a once-famous author desperate to regain
his lost glory while traveling the back-roads of middle America, selling
remaindered, fifth-editions of his first book out of the trunk of his car.
Along the way, he meets his biggest fan...who could be his salvation...or a
novel way to die.

The story was an *Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine* Readers Choice Award
finalist and has previously appeared in the anthologies "Three Ways to Die"
and "Top Suspense."

The Kindle and
contains a link to a free, private, streaming video of the
*Remaindered *short film, written & directed by me, and shot late last year
on location in Kentucky, using entirely local talent. The film is currently
playing the festival circuit and has already been screened as an official
selection of the Beaufort International Film Festival, the Big Island Film
Festival, the Myrtle Beach International Film Festival, The Beverly Hills
Shorts Festival, and the Derby City Film Festival, where one of our stars,
Sebrina Siegel was a finalist for Best Actress.

Loving your dog a little too much-yeach

Ed here: Rick Santorum was right. Folliowng Gay Marrriage in NYC....this was bound to happen.

Eugene Hickman, Florida Grandpa, Accused Of Having Sex With Family Dog
Eugene Hickman was alleged found naked on a bed with a dog by his grandson. Cops arrested him for animal cruelty.

A Florida grandfather was charged with animal cruelty after his grandson allegedly found him naked and trying to have sex with a dog.

Walton County Sheriffs arrested Eugene Hickman, 54, of DeFuniak Springs after his family alerted authorities that Hickman's grandson saw him in the buff on top of a pet three-year-old family bulldog, according to the Northwest Florida Daily News.

The crime report, obtained by AOL Weird News, said that Hickman "by his own admission said he was trying to have sex with the dog, however was unable to insert his penis."

Hickman also allegedly told officers he wouldn't do it again, according to the Daily News.

The pooch was turned over to animal control and was scheduled to be examined by a veterinarian.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Marty Greenberg: Nancy Pickard, Official Obituary

From Nancy Pickard:

Ed, I'm so sad to hear about Marty's passing. I just loved him to pieces. Not that I got to be around him very often or talk to him very much, but I loved him anyway. He was SO GOOD to so many writers, including me. God, the opportunities he gave us! The way he--arm in arm with you--opened up the floodgates to short story publication! It was like a miracle for so many writers.
He just seemed to be the sweetest guy. So kind and courteous, enthusiastic, and full of great ideas. I remember when his little girl was born, and how thrilled he was and we all were for him.

I've thought of you ever since I heard this sad news. What a great team you guys were, and always will be considering how many books you have in print together.


-------------------------------------Marty's official obituary

This comes via Marty's long-time assistant and friend, Larry Segriff.

Dr. Martin H. Greenberg, known throughout the publishing industry for the
scope and scale of the anthologies he produced, passed away on June 25,
Dr. Greenberg, whose background and training was in political science, and
who worked for many years as a professor at the University of Wisconsin
Green Bay, was a longtime fan of science fiction. He got his start in
publishing when, in the early 1970s, he realized that many great SF stories
demonstrated or dealt with themes, ideas, and issues that correlated to what
he was teaching. In partnership with Pat Warrick, Marty reached out to a
number of authors‹having at the time absolutely no idea how to clear a
permission or what went into the production of an anthology‹and ended up
co-editing his first reprint anthology, Political Science Fiction: An
Introductory Reader (1974).
That anthology became the first of many, and spawned a great career and also
a terrific friendship with Isaac Asimov. As Marty told the story, when
Isaac received his request to reprint ³Evidence² and ³Franchise,² Isaac
responded with a very polite letter saying that he would be happy to allow
the reprint provided that Marty could prove that he was not a certain
individual with a similar name who had a less than savory reputation at the
time. Marty did so, writing back with a letter that began by listing his
genealogy, went through his academic background and how he ended up in Green
Bay, and he signed it, ³Marty the Other.² Isaac responded with a letter
addressed to ³Marty the Other,² and so began both a friendship and a career
that lasted a very long time. Isaac introduced Marty to many aspects of
publishing, and Marty was Isaac¹s best friend for the last twelve years of
Isaac¹s life.
Marty eventually branched out and started creating original anthologies, and
went on to a career that spanned almost four decades and produced over 2,500
books (including nearly a thousand anthologies, many non-fiction works, and
many hundreds of novels in multiple genres). Along the way, he helped
co-found the Sci-Fi Channel and befriended many authors and editors.
It was always a point of personal pride with Marty that, though he never
considered himself a writer, he was always perceived as very author friendly
and he worked hard to give writers the absolute best market he could.
During his career, Marty was awarded lifetime achievement honors in science
fiction, mystery, and horror‹the only person in history to win such awards
in all three genres. Marty won numerous other awards as well, in
essentially every major genre, and was particularly proud of his Guest of
Honor appearances at a number of science fiction, fantasy, and mystery
An interviewer once remarked to Marty that he was known in the business as
the ³king of anthologies² and asked Marty how he felt about that. Marty,
true to form, borrowed a line from Mel Brooks and replied, ³It¹s good to be
the king.²
Marty cast a long shadow across the industry, and devoted himself to
establishing and maintaining top quality markets for writers. In the wake
of his departure, his company, Tekno Books, will continue his good work
under the guidance of his wife Rosalind, but there is no doubt that he will
be missed.
Marty was preceded in death by his first wife, Sally. He is survived by his
wife Rosalind, their daughter Madeline, of Seattle, WA, two stepdaughters
from his first wife; Kari Walsh, wife of John Kerkhof, and their daughter
Delenn Kerkhof, of Appleton, WI, and Kate Walsh, wife of Matt Hall, of
Bakersfield, CA.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Martin H. Greenberg has passed

Ed here: Marty died peacefully this afternoon in his sleep at home in Green Bay, Wisconsin. His family was with him.We'll be heading to Green Bay tomorrow for the funeral Monday morning. Here are two e mails I received shortly after I sent out the notice.

-----------------------FROM MAX ALLAN COLLINS

Marty was a fine guy and a great editor, but more than that a real friend.

As Ed knows, I had a disastrous week some years ago -- on the same day, I lost both the DICK TRACY comic strip and had my then-current Nate Heller contract cancelled.

I went to Marty and Ed, and said I needed help. They gave me enough short story assignments to keep me afloat financially for six months, and to just keep me feeling half-way decent about myself as a professional.

That was possibly the nicest thing anybody ever did for me in this business. I owe them both.

Beyond that, Marty was warm, funny and smart. It's always great to work with somebody enthuastic, and Marty always was. I know that Ed has lost a brother, and my condolences go out to him as well as Marty's family.

This business...this suddenly a smaller, shabbier place.

----------------------FROM RUSSELL DAVIS

There are many people who help us on our journey. Without Marty (and Ed),
I'm not sure mine would have ever gotten started at all. Marty gave so many
people a hand up, a chance, an opportunity. I'm confident that I'm not alone
when I say that he was a genuine prince of a man - and one of the last
remaining princes in the business. I had the honor of giving him one of the
inaugural SFWA Solstice Awards, and he was a dear friend in an industry that
often specializes in grinding people under for a buck.

I know that his passing will impact many people, and his absence will be
felt for many years to come. I miss him already.


Friday, June 24, 2011

So long Peter Falk

Ed here: Peter Falk was one of those actors who improved everything he was in. Columbo was almost always a hoot. He also did dozens of other tv and film roles I'll always remember. So long.

From Galleycat:

Peter Falk, actor, author and star of Columbo, has passed away. His cigar-smoking TV detective was immortalized in a series of books.

In 2007, the actor published the memoir, Just One More Thing: Stories from my Life. Follow this link to read a free sample of the book. This GalleyCat editor recommends watching Wings of Desire tonight–this gorgeous movie about fallen angels was one of Falk’s most literary films.

Here’s more about his memoir: “Starting in Hartford, where he worked as a management analyst for the Connecticut State Budget Bureau, Falk was no more successful than at an earlier attempt to work with the CIA. He then turned to an old college interest: acting. Falk came to prominence in 1956 in the successful Off-Broadway revival of The Iceman Cometh. Although he worked continuously for the next three years, a theatrical agent advised him not to expect much work in motion pictures because of his glass eye. Surgeons had removed his right eye, along with a malignant tumor, when he was three years old. But in 1958, Falk landed his first movie, Murder Incorporated, and was nominated for an Oscar.”

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Die, Lover, Die! Now Available on Kindle and The Nook

Die, Lover, Die! Now Available on Kindle and The Nook

BARNES & NOBLE | Die, Lover, Die! by Dave Zeltserman | NOOK Book (eBook): "Lauren Blaine is on the run...fleeing across the country, pursued by a pack of ruthless, skilled, and psychopathic killers.

That's she's dumped her husband and he hasn't taken it well.

Of course, he might have taken it better if he wasn't a major drug dealer with a gale-force temper... and if she hadn't run off with all of his cash.

Now she's marked-for-death, a moving target for every mercenary, hitman, and sadist in the midwest.

What they don't know is that Lauren is nobody's victim... she's a resourceful, brave, and cunning woman who won't go down without a fight.

This is 10,000 words of non-stop action, violence and sex...a wild ride like nothing else you've read before...from twelve masters of suspense, who teamed up to write this rollicking story 250 rapid-fire words at a time, tag-team style, without an outline, without knowing what was coming next. The result is a pure, literary adrenaline rush."

Forgotten Books: Champagne for One by Rex Stout

"I'll try to be fair to him, and I know there is no law against a man having plucked eyebrows and a thin mustache and long polished nails, and my suspicion that he wore a girdle was merely a suspicion, and if he had married Mrs. Albert Grantham for her money I freely admit that no man married without a reason and with her it would have been next to impossible to think up another one, and I concede that he may have had hidden virtues which I had missed. One thing for sure, if my name were Robert and I had married a woman fifteen years older than me for a certain reason and she was composed entirely of angles, I would not let her call me Robbie."

Part of the reason you read Stout, Rex Stout, is for sentences like that one. Yes the people, especially N. Wolfe are spellblnding and the plots often dazzling but the it's the writing itself that shines through in even the lesser books.

Champagne For One comes later in the Wolfeian series. It is a classic Archie Goodwin set-up. An especially annoying rich woman (the aforementioned Mrs. Albert Grantham) needs a fifth man for a splashy dinner she's having in her mansion. The original man got sick and called Archie to substitute for him. The occasion is a feast for the unwed mothers who graduated from the school the late Mr. Grantham established for such young women. The idea is to keep track of them and see how they're faring in the world and celebrate their worth.

Mind you this is 1958. Unwed mothers were still the province of tabloid headlines and exploitation drive-in films and hammy bestsellers. But Stout, ever Stout, presents us with five young attractive, bright and decent young women. One of them he hopes to see again. The mystery is established after the dinner when the drinks flow freely. One of the young women drinks a glass of champagne and immediately goes into convulsions, poisoned. Archie of course pursues the killer despite the fact that four different parties try to stop him.

Pure pleasure and enjoyment.

Not even Bill Crider has this :) Good Morning C***s

This should be a Bill Crider post but I thought I'd beat him for once with earth shattering news!

Virgin Atlantic Passengers Get a Foul Mouthed Awakening
by AOL Travel Staff Subscribe to AOL Travel Staff's posts
Looks like somebody's going to be in trouble after Virgin Atlantic passengers were greeted with a four-letter wakeup call Sunday.

"Get up, you c***s," read the message, sent by airplane crew and likely intended for two sleeping stewards, reports The Sun.

The crew members thought they were sending a private message to the TV screens of empty seats where the stewards were having a nap. Instead, the message was sent to all passengers in premium economy on the flight from Orlando to Glasgow.

According to the paper, passengers "complained the whole way home and some are seeking refunds and compensation."

A spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic spokesman said the incident was being investigated and that appropriate action will be taken as necessary.

It seems that obscenities are not taken lightly in the friendly skies. Just last week a Delta passenger was booted from his flight for using the f-word.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Live At The Heartbreak Lounge-Peter Rabe-Richard Stark

Ed here: I'm not only a fan of Wallace Stroby's fiction I'm a fan of his blog writing as well--Live At The Heartbreak Lounge. Here he notes some similarities between a Richard Stark and a Peter Rabe. But make this blog a regular stop because he reviews not only other Rabes but many other noirs as well.

BTW This is my favorite Daniel Port novel. I told Peter that it had several elements of a western in it. He seemed to like that.

Wallace Stroby:

In THE OUT IS DEATH, Port tries to rescue an old and infirm safecracker named Dalton from the clutches of a brutal young thug named Corday, who wants Dalton to go on one last job for him. It's a generational thing, as it turns out, with old school gangster Port going up against the '50s-style juvenile delinquents of Corday's gang. Doesn't take much to figure out who comes out on top. Suffice it to say that there were five Port novels in all, the last being 1959's TIME ENOUGH TO DIE. Black Lizard reprinted three and most have remained out of print since, though some are now showing up on Kindle.

TOID does bear similarities to Westlake's 1965 Stark novel THE JUGGER, the sixth book in the series, in which Parker travels to Omaha to find out what happened to his contact and go-between, an aging safecracker named Joe Sheer, who's fallen prey to corrupt small-town cops (in that sense, THE JUGGER also owes a debt to Marlowe's THE NAME OF THE GAME IS DEATH). In THE JUGGER, though, Sheer is dead before Parker arrives (and Parker was prepared to kill him as a security measure anyway). In TOID, Port comes to Dalton's aid in time to save him from that fate, though he also has selfish reasons for getting involved, including Corday's va-va-voom girlfriend.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The thirty harshet author insults

Ed here: Carol sent me the link to thirty author insults. Here are some samples as well as the link.

10. Henry James on Edgar Allan Poe (1876)

“An enthusiasm for Poe is the mark of a decidedly primitive stage of reflection.”

9. Truman Capote on Jack Kerouac

“That’s not writing, that’s typing.”

8. Elizabeth Bishop on J.D. Salinger

“I HATED [Catcher in the Rye]. It took me days to go through it, gingerly, a page at a time, and blushing with embarrassment for him every ridiculous sentence of the way. How can they let him do it?”

7. D.H. Lawrence on Herman Melville (1923)

“Nobody can be more clownish, more clumsy and sententiously in bad taste, than Herman Melville, even in a great book like ‘Moby Dick’….One wearies of the grand serieux. There’s something false about it. And that’s Melville. Oh dear, when the solemn ass brays! brays! brays!”

6. W. H. Auden on Robert Browning

“I don’t think Robert Browning was very good in bed. His wife probably didn’t care for him very much. He snored and had fantasies about twelve-year-old girls.”

Sunday, June 19, 2011

It's here-the new issue of Cinema Retro

The latest issue of Cinema Retro (#20) is now shipping to subscribers all around the world. As we publish in the UK, those subscribers always get their copies first. However, the latest issue just arrived from the other side of the pond and has now been shipped out to all other regions. Readers will have it in their hot little hands very soon.

*Cover story on Candy starring Ewa Aulin as the sexy teen nymph in an all-star fiasco that involved Marlon Brando, Ringo Starr, James Coburn and Walter Matthau. Dean Brierly examines how such a sure-fire project turned into one of the worst movies ever made.

This issue's Film in Focus is Earthquake, the 1974 blockbuster starring Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner and many other familiar faces in one of the most successful films of the genre. Ross Warner reminds why the film remains a guilty pleasure and Thomas Hauerslav of the web site presents a fascinating look at the history of Sensurround, the Oscar-winning sound system that had more than its share of mishaps.

Nick Anez provides analysis of two Fox Westerns from the 1960s: The Comancheros starring John Wayne and Stuart Whitman and Rio Conchos starring Whitman and Richard Boone. Anez examines the startling similarities between the two films and debates if Conchos can truly be regarded as a remake of The Comancheros.

Lee Pfeiffer has a sit-down interview with jazz great Kyle Eastwood and discusses his scoring of films with his father, Clint Eastwood. Kyle also recalls starring with his dad in Honkytonk Man and making a cameo in The Outlaw Josey Wales.
Gary McMahon looks at memorable films that have coped with the restrictions of shooting key sequences in confined places, from the legendary fight aboard the Orient Express in the James Bond classic From Russia With Love to Hitchcock's Lifeboat and Huston's Key Largo.

Cinema Retro music critic Darren Allison provides an in-depth tribute to the recently departed legendary composer John Barry.
Matthew Field concludes his three-part interview with director Lewis Gilbert with discussions of Friends and Educating Rita.
Herbie J. Pilato examines the good, the bad and the ugly among major films based on legendary TV series.
Raymond Benson looks back on his top films of 1979 including Alien and Apocalypse Now.

Cinema Retro honors famed film critic and documentary maker Richard Schickel at a special event held at the Players club in New York City.

Gareth Owen pays tribute to Michael Powell's long-neglected classic Peeping Tom.

Coverage and photos from the new book MGM: Hollywood's Greatest Backlot

plus the usual extensive coverage of the latest movie books, DVDs and soundtracks

Don't delay- if you're not already a subscriber, click here for information about joining the ranks of our supporters from around the globe. Click here to subscribe directly through our Ebay affiliate.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

ANGEL BABY – Elmer Gantry’s Little Sister

Ed here: I've seen this movie probably three times since 1961 when it first appeared. Caught it originally at a drive-in where I was sober enough (for some reason) to appreciate how loopy it was. This is my kind of guilty pleasure. I know he's tan but I still don't know how George Hamilton ever got work. TCM Movie Morlocks is a site you need to follow.

ANGEL BABY – Elmer Gantry’s Little Sister
Posted by morlockjeff on June 15, 2011

After the critical and boxoffice success of ELMER GANTRY in 1960, another film, much smaller in scale and budget, came along that mirrored the latter film both thematically and in some of the plot details. It might have been merely a coincidence that ANGEL BABY appeared shortly after ELMER GANTRY in 1961 but it certainly beats the Burt Lancaster Oscar winner when it comes to curiosity value. Take, for example, George Hamilton and Mercedes McCambridge as married evangelists, traveling down the backroads and byways of the Deep South. (You heard right – Hamilton and McCambridge are married!!; this odd arrangement is revealed by the screenwriter through an expositional mid-point revelation.) Or consider Salome Jens in her first major screen role as a young mute who miraculously finds her voice at a revivalist tent show and becomes a faith healer herself! Then, there’s the hardcore roadshow veterans, Joan Blondell and Henry Jones, sinners who became believers and occasionally fall off the faith wagon if the temptation to booze overcomes them. And in a small but pivotal role is Burt Reynolds in his movie debut playing a lustful redneck named Hoke Adams. Last but not least, Haskell Wexler is one of the cinematographers. It may not be Academy Award material but it’s a fascinating brew that comes off like an Erskine Caldwell literary adaptation crossed with a sordid B-movie melodrama aimed at the drive-in crowd. Plus it’s got six revival-style musical numbers written by songwriter Wayne Shanklin whose composition “Chanson d’Amour” ended up in Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut [1999]. None of these numbers are exactly rave-up toe-tappers but, for the record, they include “Little by Little,” “Rise Up Singing,” “Beulah Land”, “Our Love’s No Ordinary Thing,” “He’s My God, Yet”, and “Jenny Angel.” READ

for the rest go here:

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Watch Me Die by Lee Goldberg

AVAILABLE FOR $2.99 on e e books

A Re-Review

Ed here:The Man With The Iron-On Badge is now called Watch Me Die. Lee Goldberg has not only re-titled his novel but also given is a striking new cover.

Watch Me Die is a book that will keep you laughing and smiling for a long time until it takes a memorably violent turn. If you have any affection for the private eye novel, this book should be required reading because in addition to gently spoofing the form it is a story so rich in character and story twists it's truly masterful.

Say you were a lonely and somewhat overweight security guard who works the night shift at an exclusive gated community. Say that your idea of dining out was Denny's. Say that the only girl who'll have sex with you--and then only occasionally--always makes it clear that she's looking for somebody a whole lot better than you. Say that your fantasy life springs from all the private novels and TV shows you spend time with in your apartment. And say that suddenly Cyril Parkus who lives in the gated community gives you a chance to perform one of the classic jobs of a real private eye--following his beautiful wife.

This is the life of Harvey Mapes, one of my all-time favorite characters in private eye fiction. Of course Harvey takes the job and the money. Of course Harvey enjoys following a woman as beautiful and worldly as Lauren. Of course Harvey has thoughts of finally getting his life in order. This is noir at its finest as I said the first two times I reviewed it.
But fate--or somebody--has different ideas for Harvey.

The novel is seeded with references to private eye shows and novels. In addition it gives us a realistic look at the trapped lives of millions of working Americans who live just above the poverty line. And it also goes the standard Los Angeles crime novel one better by taking us places and showing us people we don't usually see in the LA novel.

But more than the comedy, the beautifully designed plot and the snapshots of La La Land--more than any other element in the book, it's Harvey's voice you'll remember. There's a workaday universality to it that gives the novel its wit and insight and truth.

The Business Rusch: Bookstore Observations

Ed here: An excellent post from one of my favorite writers and favorite people.

The Business Rusch: Bookstore Observations
Kristine Kathryn Rusch

I live in a town that has no completely new bookstore. We have two marvelous bookstores that feature new and used. One specializes in mysteries, and the other gets as much of everything as it can. But it only has a tiny storefront, and so “everything” is geared toward Times bestsellers and books on Oregon.

So it’s a treat for me to go to a chain bookstore. It’s rare and unusual, and I usually spend hours in the store, walking the aisles, looking at trends. I also spend hundreds of dollars, because I generally only get there once every six weeks or so. I have a habit of buying books that I won’t remember when I got home rather than making a list.

Or I used to.

I’m not one of those obnoxious people who stands in the aisle of a brick-and-mortar store and downloads the book on my Kindle or iPhone app. I’m not that crass.

However, I escaped this latest bookstore adventure down only $66, and that included a cupcake, a coffeecake, and a to-go cup of tea. Dean bought his standard two books. And the rest—maybe $35—was me.

That’s it. And it wasn’t because I didn’t want to spend the money. I had my standard $150 to $200 budgeted for this bookstore adventure. I simply couldn’t find what I wanted.

for the rest go here:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New Books: Hard Magic: Book I of the Grimnoir Chronicles

Ed here: I read this in two sittings and had a ball. This is crossover fiction at its best. If you're looking for a good time, this is it. Larry Correia really keeps you turning the pages.

Hard Magic: Book I of the Grimnoir Chronicles

Jake Sullivan is a war hero, a private eye-and an ex-con. He's free because he has a magical talent, being able to alter the force of gravity in himself and objects in his vicinity, and the Bureau of Investigation calls on him when they need his help in apprehending criminals with their own magical talents. But the last operation he was sent along to help with went completely wrong, and Delilah Jones, the woman the G-men were after, who just happened to be an old friend of Jake's in happier times, had a lot of magical muscle with her, too much muscle for the cops to handle, even with Jake's help.

It got worse. Jake found out that the Feds had lied to him about Delilah being a murderer as well as a bank robber, and they had lied about this being his last job for them-he was too valuable for them to let him go. And things were even worse than Jake imagined. There was a secret war being waged by opposing forces of magic-users, and Jake had no idea that he had just attracted the attention of one side, whose ruthless leaders were of the opinion that Jake was far too dangerous to be permitted to live...

From Larry Correia:

The Grimnoir Chronicles started out of spite. I know that sounds like an odd
motivator to write a book, but I was a panelist at Life, The Universe, &
Everything. Which is a speculative fiction convention at BYU. I was on a panel
with three other authors that are well known names in fantasy. At the time I
was having a lot of success with my first novel, Monster Hunter International,
which is a sort of urban fantasy, X-Files meets the Expendables, homage to all
B-movies. At one point a student had a writing question. I thought I had a good
answer, but when I started to respond he cut me off. “You’re just a contemporary
fantasy author. I want to hear what the epic fantasy authors have to say.” And
he said it like contemporary was a slur. So I got kind of indignant, and said to
myself, Nobody tells Larry Correia what genre he’s in!”

So on a lark, I set out to write something that fit the tropes of epic fantasy.
Big world, lots of complex world building, complicated magic system, tons of
characters, that kind of thing. But I didn’t want to do just another elves and
orcs, swords and magic dragons, type thing. I wanted to do something different…
During a brain storming session I noticed that my son was reading an issue of
Noir Spiderman, and that got me remembering all of the pulp novels I grew up on
(I read a lot of Raymond Chandler as a kid). There’s just something neat about
that whole, gritty, hard-boiled, type world that is fun to read about. So I
decided to write an epic fantasy, set in a world based on the 1920s-30s.

So the epic fantasy turned into an alternative history. Sort of. Then I made a
list of all of the things that I thought would be fun to write about in that
setting. (I’ve got a reputation as an action writer, so there was going to be
plenty of that) I brushed up on my history of 1900-1940 and had fun with the
What Ifs. (I am a huge history geek) I came up with a magic system that was
detailed, complex, and had some pretty firm rules. Which worked out to feeling a
bit like super heroes upon execution, so now it was a hard boiled/epic
fantasy/adventure/alternative history/super hero novel. Yeah, try pitching that
to your editor.

The Grimnoir world diverged from ours in the 1850s,when magical abilities began
to randomly appear amongst the populace. Fast forward to the 1930s, and about
one in a hundred people have some sort of ability, with one in a thousand having
access to some pretty impressive powers. The story of Hard Magic is about the
members of a secret society of magic users (led by Blackjack Pershing) trying to
keep a Tesla super weapon from falling into the hands of Imperial Japan.
It came out really good. I’ll be honest, I’m very proud of this one.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Great Jack Davis

Ed here: I likely became a fan of Jack Davis when I started reading Mad magazine in the early fifties. Davis went on to an enormous career in virtually every kind of commercial art. Drew Freidman has posted many of Davis pieces for TV Guide over the years. The site is well worth linking to.

Monday, June 13, 2011

New e Books: The Final Countdown by Joel Goldman

Michael Connelly recommends Motion To Kill!

When two of his partners are killed, corruption, sex and murder fill trial lawyer Lou Mason’s docket as he tracks the killer. Will Lou be the next victim? Find out in Motion to Kill.

From Joel Goldman:

The final countdown is on for the launch of the ebook edition of Motion To Kill!! In only 48 hours - absent any last second techno-glitches, my first self-published ebook will go live on Amazon and I can't wait!

Help make the launch rocket through the roof by going to my Amazon page and "Like" Motion To Kill and read the reviews (all 5 and 4 stars!) and click "Yes" on each one as a helpful review. Amazon loves these kinds of statistics and the more "Likes" and the more "Yes" clicks, the more Amazon will promote the book and the happier my wife will be!

And, if you prefer another format besides Kindle, you can order it right now on Smashwords!

Stay tuned! It's going to be a great week!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The William Conrad story

Ed here: I was always a big fan of William Conrad. My first introduction to gritty westerns was his radio version of Gunsmoke back in the fifties. I have twenty of those episodes and have listened to all of them over the past two weeks. They were as grim as radio got and far grittier than the tv version, which he was too hefty to star in. And on Rocky and Bullwinkle he was as much fun in the narratation as the moose and squirrel were in the adventures. His series Cannon was a typically bland Quinn Martin production but his size if nothing else made it a bit different. TCM Movie Morlocks (great site) has a piece about his almost-ascent as a director of horror films. He'd directed a memorable western The Ride Back among other films and he proved to be good in this niche as well.

Movie Morlocks:

William Conrad: The Lost Master of Horror?

Posted by rhsmith on June 3, 2011

Short answer: no. But dig… in 1965, the hard-working Hollywood character actor (THE KILLERS, SORRY WRONG NUMBER, -30-), TV director-for hire (HAVE GUN – WILL TRAVEL, BAT MASTERSON, 77 SUNSET STRIP), producer (AN AMERICAN DREAM, THE COOL ONES, COUNTDOWN), radio voice of Marshal Matt Dillon before GUNSMOKE came to television, narrator of THE FUGITIVE (“Name: Richard Kimball, doctor of medicine. Destination: Death Row…”), commercial voiceover artist and indefatigable BULLWINKLE pitchman released three feature films, rat-a-tat-tat, between January and May. Well-remembered less by those who saw these first run than by the generation that caught up with them on TV, TWO ON A GUILLOTINE, MY BLOOD RUNS COLD and BRAINSTORM have been lauded by genre archivists and cult film aficionados for their individual merits but never, to my knowledge, have the three been considered as a body of work bearing the signature of a back lot auteur. All three have been brought to DVD under the aegis of the Warner Archive Collection, making a reappraisal not only long overdue but deucedly easy. And yet that’s not my goal today. Today I want to discuss how Warners seemed primed to push William Conrad to the world as a fright-maker nonpareil, putting him on par with William Castle, the “King of the Gimmick.” Press releases hawking BRAINSTORM said as much, putting wheels in motion to build for Conrad a new reputation. And then… nothing. He never directed another movie.

for the rest go here:

Friday, June 10, 2011

Paul Levine to Donate Proceeds from Sale of Legal Thriller to Children's Cancer Fund


Paul Levine to Donate Proceeds from Sale of Legal Thriller to Children's Cancer Fund

We were delighted to receive an e-mail from crime novelist Paul Levine letting us know that he is once again providing the royalties from the sale one of his legal thrillers to the Four Diamonds Fund, which supports cancer treatment for kids at the Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital.

For a limited time, the 7th book in his Jake Lassiter series, Flesh & Bones, is available for just 99 cents. And by purchasing and downloading it, you're helping fund pediatric cancer research and treatment.

You can use these links to purchase the book: Kindle edition from, Nook Book edition from Barnes & Noble, or multiple ebook formats from Smashwords.

Last year, according to Paul, thousands of dollars were raised for the fund from the sale of To Speak for the Dead, the first book in the Jake Lassiter series. We were happy to support that effort as well, and are so pleased to know that it was such a success.

About Flesh & Bones: "I was sitting at the end of the bar sipping single-malt Scotch when I spotted the tall blond woman with the large green eyes and the small gray gun."

The next thing Jake Lassiter knows, the woman pumps three bullets into the man on the next barstool.

And Jake, the linebacker-turned-lawyer, has a new client.

She's stunning model Chrissy Bernhardt, and the dead man is her wealthy father. The defense? Chrissy claims that she's recently recovered repressed memories of having been sexually abused by her father. Jake wants to believe her but suspects that the memories were either implanted by a shady psychiatrist or fabricated by Chrissy herself. Complicating the situation, Jake falls for his client, clouding his judgment.

Is she an anguished victim or a cold-blooded killer? And what about her brother, who stands to inherit a fortune if Chrissy goes to prison? Jake wades into a quagmire of dirty water deals, big money, and family corruption, all leading to an explosive finale.

Black River Falls by Ed Gorman

AVAILABLE NOW on Kindle $2.99

Who would want to kill a beautiful young woman like Alison...and why? But whatever happened, nineteen-year-old Ben swore that he would protect her. It hadn't been easy for Ben--the boy the other kids always picked on. But then Ben found Alison and at last things were going his way...

Until one day he learned a secret so ugly that his entire life was changed forever. A secret that threatened to destroy everyone he loved. A secret as dark and dangerous as the tumbling waters of Black River Falls.

"A horrorific suspense novel that Alfred Hitchcock would have loved!" - Mystery Books

"The strongest suspense novel I've read all year!" -Gauntlet

"Gorman has the ability to hold the reader in the palm of his hand. In Black River Falls he demonstrates that he's a master storyteller." -A Shot in The Dark

Thursday, June 09, 2011



Dictionary: The word “picaresque” is taken from a form of satirical prose originating in Spain, depicting realistically and often humorously the adventures of a low-born, roguish hero living by his/her wits in a corrupt society.

This is the only word I can find to adequately describe THE LAST MATCH by David Dodge. In a winningly cynical voice, a young swindler tells us all about working scams in places as far flung as Cannes, Tangiers and Lima, among others. He is particularly deft with women.

Good to remember that Dodge was also a travel writer of considerable note, so the backdrops here are almost as vivid as the characters, who are mostly low-borns working their way downward reeking of sweat, booze and occasionally blood.
Dodge hangs a good deal of his tale on the romance between Curly and a fetching young woman of British royalty named Regina. She, unlike most other humans who trod the earth, seems to feel that Curly’s soul is worth saving and she attacks this task with almost saintly (and sexy) determination.

I didn’t care much about the story, but was won over completely by the high style of the prose, the incorrigible personality of the narrator and the unending list of badasses who appear along the various map points. This has the feel of a memoir rather than a novel, and that makes it all the more realistic.

I think you’d have to say that Dodge – who wrote this novel sometime in the early ’70s even though this is its first publication – didn’t have much interest in the usual tropes of genre thriller fiction. Graceful and sardonic writing seem his biggest fascination, a true world view with some gunfights, fist fights and bad ladies thrown in every once in a while to honor pulp expectations. I should note here that early in the first chapter, Dodge struts his stuff, introducing us to an attractive and appealing middle-aged woman who is using him as her current boy-toy. You know you’re in the hands of a real writer when Dodge makes us like and even respect the woman. Not a cliché in sight. I knew right off I’d like book just because of its opening chapter.

His daughter Kendal Dodge Butler provides a loving, even endearing afterword about her father. He seems to be about what I expected: a man who had his darkest adventures early on and then settled into a respectable middle-aged family life that allowed him the leisure and luxury to pursue his writing where he got to polish up some of those old adventures and display his wide knowledge of cons and scams.
Buy it at Amazon.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011



Penzler Launches to Acquire Classic and Original Mystery and Crime Titles, Which Open Road Will Digitally Publish and Market

Launch Ebooks Include Titles from James Ellroy, Charles McCarry, Ross Thomas, Joseph Wambaugh, Thomas H. Cook, Colin Dexter, Donald E. Westlake and Others

(New York, NY June 6, 2011) Open Road Integrated Media Inc. (, a digital publisher and multimedia content company, and Otto Penzler, the founder of the Mysterious Press and the Mysterious Bookshop, announced today a new digital publishing partnership to bring classic mystery and crime books to E. Penzler is launching to acquire a diverse range of mystery and crime titles which Open Road will digitally publish and market. The announcement was made by Open Road Cofounder and CEO Jane Friedman and Otto Penzler.

Penzler is one of the most respected experts, editors, booksellers, and publishers in the crime and mystery genre and will utilize his experience and relationships to build a catalog of backlist and original titles from renowned writers.

Friedman said: “Otto Penzler’s incredible reputation, vision, and experience and Open Road’s powerful marketing platform are the perfect combination to bring a wide range of classic and original crime and mystery titles to E. Otto has already acquired an exciting launch list which complements our crime and mystery catalog and we are eager to digitally publish these and future books.”

“Having created the Mysterious Press, a traditional print publisher, in 1975,” Penzler said, “it is thrilling to begin this new venture with Jane Friedman, one of the most successful and brilliant publishers I’ve ever known. She and her team are already acknowledged as the most creative and innovative publisher in this vibrant field. I am confident that the strengths of Open Road and will mesh perfectly.”

Open Road will work with Penzler to digitally market the ebooks. Open Road will produce marketing videos about the authors, books, and the themes that they explore. These videos, along with other curated and originally produced marketing materials, will be distributed though Open Road’s online platform and syndicated to online content partners.
A number of titles will be available early in the summer and numerous others are in the pipeline. In addition to the authors mentioned above, such iconic titles as James Grady’s Six Days of the Condor, Mark McShane’s Séance on a Wet Afternoon, and Ellery Queen’s The Roman Hat Mystery will soon be made available, as will original, never-before-published titles by Charles McCarry, Nelson DeMille, Lorenzo Carcaterra, and C.J. Box.
This announcement builds on Open Road’s growing mystery and crime list, which already includes renowned authors such as Lawrence Block, Ruth Rendell, and Jonathan King.
About Open Road Integrated Media
Open Road Integrated Media is a digital publisher and multimedia content company. Open Road creates connections between authors and their audiences by marketing its ebooks through a new proprietary online platform, which uses premium video content and social media. Open Road has published ebooks from legendary authors including William Styron, Pat Conroy, Jack Higgins, and Virginia Hamilton, and has launched new e-stars like Mary Glickman. As part of Open Road’s commitment to bring books to all screens, several book-to-film adaptations, including William Styron’s Lie Down in Darkness and Mary Glickman’s Home in the Morning, are in development.
Dedicated to providing the greatest mystery, crime, suspense, and espionage fiction of the past as well as new works just being created, has the goal to accomplish in electronic format what the Mysterious Press is noted for in traditional print publishing—providing through a recognizable and highly regarded brand name assurance to book buyers of carefully selected and high-quality titles. The Mysterious Press, now an imprint at Grove/Atlantic for traditional print books, publishes such authors as Thomas H. Cook, Joyce Carol Oates, Ken Bruen, Thomas Perry, and Andrew Klavan.

Monday, June 06, 2011

New Books: The Bastard Hand by Heath Lowrance

Heath Lowrance:

Three or four years ago, I wrote this book, the one that’s now called The Bastard Hand. I wrote it without any thought about a market or an audience or a future. It was just something that kept eating away at me, wouldn’t get off my back until it was done. It took a long time. I mean, a real long time. But one day I was shocked to discover that I’d actually finished the damn thing. I’d finished it, and I had no idea what to do with it.

If you haven’t read it, I’ll tell you this much: The Bastard Hand is a violent, profane, black comedy-noir-southern gothic. There are no good guys in it, and no bad guys either, not really. There’s just some messed-up people, doing messed-up things. All my personal obsessions got poured into it along the way, and it wound up being a bizarre hodge-podge of genres and influences.

But you know what? I thought it was a pretty good book. I still think so.

For a while, though, it seemed as if I was the only one who felt that way. After the usual editing and polishing up, I did my research and started sending that sucker out to literary agents, one or two at a time. I’d send it off, and sit back to wait for the fame and fortune due me as the creator of this weird literary mess.

I didn’t wait long. The rejections flooded in like a tsunami. There were a lot of the usual “not right for us” sort of things, but also the occasional “no clear market” or “difficult to categorize”. I even got a few “too offensive” and “too depressing” comments.

After about a year of this, I gave up. Just shelved it. This book I’d poured every bit of myself into seemed destined to die alone on some street corner, bumming change from every passing James Patterson or Michael Connelly. But so what? It happens every day, doesn’t it? Some wanna-be strips himself bare on the page, bleeding out his guts, only to be ignored. Sad, but true. I resolved to start working on something new and forget all about The Bastard Hand.

Some time later, I started my blog, Psycho-Noir, more or less just to spout off about books, movies, etc. Maybe even to promote myself a little. On a whim, I posted the first chapter of The Bastard Hand there, along with some short stories and essays I’d written.

And one day… one fine day… I get this e-mail from a guy calling himself Bassoff. Jon Bassoff, from New Pulp Press. Said he liked that first chapter, wanted to know if I’d be interested in showing him the rest. I checked his bone fides and found he’d published 10 or 12 very highly regarded books—and had even done a reprint of an old Gil Brewer!

I sent The Bastard Hand off to him, not expecting anything, to be honest. He’d read it, and write back saying, “Ah, sorry, my mistake. Not quite right for NPP” or, even worse, he’d just “lose” my e-mail.

But that’s not what happened. He loved it.

Weird, huh?

So flash-forward a little over a year, and The Bastard Hand comes out and holy shit, everyone seems to like it a lot. Not just readers of nasty crime fiction, but some of my own literary heroes—Allan Guthrie, Megan Abbott, Dave Zeltserman, Vincent Zandri…

Reviews at genre websites are uniformly positive. People are saying REALLY NICE THINGS.

And I take it all very personally, you know? Because this book was very personal to me, just like most first novels, I’ve been told.

As a bonus, I’ve made some great new friends, people who share a common interest in this thing we call noir. They’ve enriched my life, above and beyond the success of the novel. And many of them have gone to great lengths to promote my work, and to help me ease my way through the professional stuff (of which I was absolutely clueless).

I’ve finished a second novel in the meantime, and am working on a third. But I know that this moment, this weird, invigorating time in my life in which my first novel has come out and struck a chord with readers and writers alike, is something I’ll never get to experience again.

It’s been a strange, wonderful time.

New Books: Cold Shot to the Heart by Wallace Stroby

"This guy can write ... The beauty of this tightly plotted little book is that nothing is as it appears. COLD SHOT TO THE HEART is a riveting page turner." - The New York Times News Service

"Just when you think that you can't be surprised anymore, a writer like Wallace Stroby ups the ante."
- Laura Lippman

"Stroby evokes memories of the best of Richard Stark's (aka Donald Westlake) Parker series ... The characterizations are strong and convincing, and the pace is swift and assured... Stroby has shot right to the top of dark-tinged crime authors worth noting and following." - Bookgasm

New Books: Cold Shot to the Heart by Wallace Stroby

It’s tough to make it simple.

When I began my fourth novel, COLD SHOT TO THE HEART, I consciously strove for a specific tone and voice: lean and mean, no wasted words, direct, and to the point. In a way, it was my homage to some of the writers I’d read and admired most in my formative years, skilled craftsmen such as Donald E. Westlake, Lawrence Block, Brian Garfield and Dan J. Marlowe, among others.

The plot itself was a bit of a throwback – professional thief pursued by psychotic mob hitman after robbery goes awry. But in my case, the thief was a woman – Crissa Stone – and the hitman had his own agenda beyond that of his gangster bosses. Still, I realized it was a story that needed that voice I’d long admired in others. I wanted it to be terse, precise, economical, and mindful of the reader’s time commitment and attention span.

At the same time, it needed something new. My previous novel, GONE ‘TIL NOVEMBER, was about a female sheriff’s deputy and single mom in a rural Florida town, the only woman on an otherwise all-male force. I was still intrigued by the idea of a smart, self-sufficient woman making her way in a man’s world. The irony, of course, was that, just to be treated as an equal, she had to be twice as smart, twice as tough and twice as efficient as the men around her.

There’s a Buddhist saying that advises, “Don’t follow the masters. Follow what the masters followed.” I wanted COLD SHOT to have echoes of those novels I’d loved so much, but at the same time I needed to steer clear of pastiche. It had to be something that felt true, even as it aspired to those qualities I most admired – straightforward narrative drive, emotional realism and a seamless blend of character and action. I owe a lot to Block, Westlake and those others, for both the content of their stories and the clarity of their prose. By listening to their voices, I found my own.

So, in no particular order – of either era or level of influence – here are some of the books I went back to while writing COLD SHOT.

1.) EVERYBODY DIES by Lawrence Block. A Matt Scudder novel from 1999. A simple story, but absolutely perfect in terms of tone and style. Every telling detail in place, and not a one more than necessary. Actually, that can be said of most of his Scudder books, including the new one, A DROP OF THE HARD STUFF. Reading Block is like a master class in crime fiction. The frustrating thing is he makes it all seem effortless.

2.) THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE by George V. Higgins. Straightforward street dialogue, a blue-collar workaday environment and a creeping anxiety as the dominoes start to fall. *This* is the real underworld. And about as glamorous as having your hand slammed shut in a desk drawer.

3.) THE NAME OF THE GAME IS DEATH by Dan J. Marlowe. A wolf howl in the night. This Gold Medal paperback original, about a nameless career criminal, is disguised as a standard early-’60s, first-person, tough-guy crime thriller. It’s really a molotov cocktail of alienation and rage. Marlowe’s anti-hero goes undercover in small-town America and finds it rotten to the core.

4.) THE SOUR LEMON SCORE by Donald E. Westlake (writing as “Richard Stark”). Another simple story. A heπist goes wrong and Parker, Westlake’s professional thief, tries to pick up the pieces, recover some of the money and stay alive in the process. No extravagant plot, no over-the-top villains. Just a deadly game being played out by professionals (with some collateral damage to civilians), and all the action taking place in nondescript suburban tract homes, garages, farmhouses and cars. Like Block, Westlake made it all look easy.

5.) THE HUNTERS by James Salter. Not a crime novel, but a fictionalized memoir of the author’s days as a fighter pilot during the Korean War. Terse-yet-eloquent prose, with the repressed emotions all the stronger as they emerge in the narrative. A powerful and beautifully crafted book.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Pre-Publication Review: Bye, Bye Bay by Max Allan Collins

This title will be released on August 16, 2011.

I was especially interested Bye, Bye Baby, the new Nathan Heller novel by Max Allan Collins, because so much of the history here (Collins is the master of the historical private eye novel) was such a vivid part of American life as I was entering college. The novel is so rich it not only offers takes on some of the most famous (and infamous) people of the time, it also does nothing less than recreate the era. At several points I was back in the early Sixties; the writing was that evocative.

Marilyn Monroe hires Nathan Heller, her friend, to electronically bug her bedroom. She's at war with her movie studio and wants a record of all the calls she gets on the matter. Her version, as she says, of a paper trail. Heller proceeds but is troubled by his sense that Marilyn hasn't told him everything behind her urgent need to have her bedroom phone calls recorded.

Heller's instincts were right. Soon Marilyn is found dead in her bedroom of an overdose. Or so goes the official judgement, one that Heller rejects. And so his own investigation begins.

Collins is always good at bringing historical figures alive. He gives them motives and quirks we believe, not the awkward posturing of so many historical dramas. Thus Jack Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy come of as complicated if sometimes reckless
(Jack with his women and Bobby with his understandable vendetta against Jimmy Hoffa). Collins' take on The Rat Pack is particularly bracing. From the toadying of Peter Lawford to the racism Sammy Davis, Jr. has to endure nightly from other Pack members, we see Sinatra and company in the light they deserve--without the protection of the myth.

In the end, Heller finds the real killer and what was behind her murder. The finale is properly cynical. This is La-La Land after all.The only happy endings are on the screen.

A great read and a fascinating look at a world that was quickly coming to an end. Just a few years away were the hippies and the anti-war protests that changed America forever.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Career overview: Harry Landers

Ed here: I'm a big fan of career over views, especially of writers, actors, directors. You may not know the name Harry Landers but unless you've never watched TV you've seen him. From Hitchcock to DeMille from a major role in Ben Casey to dozens of hours of TV dramas of all kinds, Landers talks about his acting days with candor and edge. Thanks to Cinema Retro for the link.

This appeared on The Classic TV History Blog:

Harry Landers:

"So I grabbed a t-shirt and put it on, and got into the limo. Now I was fear-ridden. On the ship, I wasn’t. How old was I? I was in my early twenties, I guess. I remembered Bette Davis as a kid, watching her movies. To this day, I think she’s still the motion picture actress in American cinema. She’s incredible.

"So they asked me onto the stage, to Bette Davis’s dressing room. They were shooting. There was a camera and all the sets. The man went up and said, “Miss Davis, I have the young man.” So she said, “Come in, come in.” I walked in and there she was, seated in front of the mirror. She looked at me and shook my hand. She asked me a few questions. She said, “What can I do for you?”

"Maybe when I was a kid in New York City, in Brooklyn, I always realized I’d wind up in Hollywood someday. I never knew why or what, but it was a magnet. Motion pictures is better than sex! And she said, “What can I do for you?”

"I used to watch the extras. Beautiful little girls walking around, and they were always rather well-dressed and doing nothing, and I’m sweating and pounding nails. And they were making more money. I think I was making like nine or ten dollars a day. I said, “I’d like to do what they’re doing.”

"She said, “You want to be an extra?”

I said, “Yes, ma’am.”

"Then she picked up the phone and she spoke to Pat Somerset at the Screen Actors Guild. Put the phone down. A few seconds later the phone rang. She said, “Yes, Pat. Bette here. I have a young man here, and I will pay his initiation.” That was the end of it. She told me where to go. She wrote it down: The Screen Actors Guild union on Hollywood and La Brea. We talked for maybe three more sentences, said goodbye and shook hands.

"The next time I ran across Bette Davis was at a party at Greer Garson’s house. By that time many years had passed; in fact, I was in Ben Casey. I was with Sam Jaffe and Bettye Ackerman. They knew Greer – Miss Garson – very well. There was Bette Davis, and she didn’t remember me. I [reminded her and] a little thing flicked in her mind. It was just a very brief kind of a [memory]. That was the last time I ever saw her."

for the rest go here:

Friday, June 03, 2011

Joel Rosenberg, R.I. P.

Joel Rosenberg – husband, father, mensch (From Joel's website) from his wife Felicia

On Wednesday afternoon, June 1, 2011, Joel had a respiratory depression that caused a heart attack, anoxic brain damage and major organ failure. Despite the very best efforts of the paramedics and the team at Hennepin County Medical Center, Joel was pronounced brain dead at around 5:37pm Thursday June 2nd, In accordance with his wishes, he shared the gift of life through organ and tissue donation.

He is survived by his daughters, Judith Eleanor and Rachel Hannah, and his wife, Felicia Herman. Today, June 3rd would have been his 32nd wedding anniversary.

Ed here: I've always been a fan of Joel's fiction. In the eighties I had the pleasure of meeting him at an sf convention. We had a long talk and a lot of laughs. A good and very decent man and a fine fine writer. My condolences to his family.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Forgotten Books: The Wrath of God

The Wrath of God

I'm rereading The Wrath of God by Jack Higgins (originally published as by James Graham and some of those editions are still around) one of my favorite adventure novels by one of my favorite adventure writers.

The early Higgins novels hold up extremely well mixing, as they do, protagonists bitter over the Irish troubles, ready to fight even kill if necessary and and always aware of how corrupt political systems are.

Wrath is set in Mexico during the time of the Revolution at the start of the last century. It is a frightening book in its take on humanity and political beliefs. The murderous priest who is not a priest, the obscene mobster-type, the devious officers of the regular Army...and of course the slaughter of innocents. If the book wasn't so page-turning exciting and filled with numrous switch-backs in the plotting you'd realize how despairing it really is.

A fine harsh believable novel about political systems then and--alas--now.

I found an interesting Australian interview with Higgins, a part of which I'm quoting here:

Which writers have inspired you?

"There are writers I've read, at a literary level, who write different kinds of books than me. I suppose that when I was trying to hone my skills, I very much admired Graham Greene. I admired classic writers, like F. Scott Fitzgerald. I was never a Hemingway fan. But, in terms of thriller writers I always admired Alistair Maclean at his best – HMS Ulysses, The Guns of Navarone, Where Eagles Dare. Years later when his health wasn't good, a few of the novels became shorter and thinner, but that was because at that stage he found it more convenient to write them as film scripts.

"He was very good to me because once I was coming out of the Collins offices and my name was shouted; I turned around and it was Maclean, and he'd been in the building and he'd asked the receptionist who I was. So he came out and called to me and insisted that we had a drink, and we sat in the pub. He simply said, "I've read your book and you've really got big potential. I think you're going to make it in a big way". Then we had a general chat about life and publishing, where he made a few points that I'll always remember: that he'd given up reading reviews, that people will put you down because you're not writing a Booker Prize book, you're writing a thriller.

And he said, "after all I have an MA in English Literature from Glasgow University." So he said, "I'm hardly a fool." He said to me, "What about you?" "Well yes, in fact, I'm a Senior Lecturer at a university." I saw him again quite a long time later, and he liked The Eagle Has Landed so much he gave us a great puff, which stayed on the cover for years. Nice man. His work at his best was definitely an inspiration."

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

New Books: Camouflage by Bill Pronzini

Grand Master Bill Pronzini has never been better than in his new Nameless novel Camoutflage. Several novels ago Pronzini changed the format of his Nameless books, not only alternating between first and third person but also letting Nameless' detective agency two other folks share the spotlight as well.

Pronzini opens the book with an introduction to client David Virden, a smarmy much-married man who needs Nameless to locate his first wife so that he can have the marriage annulled. Huh? Yes, Virden is now in the arms of a rich woman who wants to be married in the Catholic Church, hence the need for an annulment. (I'll spare you my Church bashing here.) Nameless proceeds on the case only to find himself entangled in a nasty spiderweb of deceit and terror. Along with the page-turning mystery, Pronzini give us indelible portraits of the people around the suddenly-missing Virden. Pronzini has a perfect ear and eye for the modern fears and foibles of average folks. He records what he sees and hears with pity, anger, humor and the honorable melancholy that marks so much of his work.

His partner Jake Runyon's case is personal. His girlfriend Bryn has reason to believe that her ex-husband is abusing their son physically but the boy is unwilling to discuss it. Like the Virden matter, a series of twists and turns takes Runyon and the reader into a dark and deadly place. Pronzini deals with these modern dilemmas without any of the TV shrink cliches we've come to expect, freeing himself to deal with the real horrors of how some children suffer in our society.

As for Tamara, the agency's black computer wizard and backbone, she really shines here backgrounding the Virden case with information that proves vital to Nameless finally realizing what's really going on.

The writing itself is pure pleasure. Over the years Pronzini has whittled his style to the bone without losing any of its punch or power. But as always with Pronzini, style serves story. What a style. What a story. Grab this book fast.