Sunday, July 31, 2011

Top Suspense Group: Dave Zeltserman Dying Memories

Today's Sizzling Summer Read: Dying Memories

by Dave Zeltserman

Dying Memories opens with a woman shooting a man to death on a crowded street in Boston, claiming that this man raped and murdered her eleven-year old daughter. Except he didn't, because this woman never had a daughter. Another man stabs an MIT professor to death in front of a crowd in Harvard Square, insisting that he witnessed the professor running down his wife in the street. Except the MIT professor was three thousand miles away when the man's wife was killed.

Reporter Bill Conway discovers that these victims are connected to ViGen Corporation, a shadowy pharmaceutical company. When he tries to investigate ViGen Corporation and their role in these deaths, things quickly turn dangerous for him. The following short excerpt has Bill being questioned after being grabbed from the street and thrown into a van, with his interrogators insisting that his real name is Jeffrey Vozzmer.

“Yes you do, Jeffrey. We’re not idiots here. Tell me what I want to know and this will all be over.”

“Check my wallet,” Bill pleaded. He was nauseous, his left ear throbbing. “My driver’s license will show you that I’m not this Jeffrey Vozzmer.”

“And what would that prove?” Simon asked. “That you took the precautions to be carrying a fake ID? Please, Jeffrey, we’re not amateurs. You should know that.”

“This is all fucked up,” Bill insisted weakly. “I’m not Jeffrey Vozzmer. I never heard that name before.”

Simon ignored Bill, said patiently, “Tell me what I want to know.”

“I don’t know what you want to know.”

The same behemoth who had punched him before raised an eyebrow, asking an unspoken question. Simon, sitting opposite Bill, took his time before shaking his head.

“No, I don’t believe that will be necessary,” he said. “I’m sure we can facilitate Jeffrey to talk without having to resort to any further violence, even if it won’t be of his own volition.” Then to Bill, “One last time, tell me what I want to know.”

Numbly, Bill shook his head. “I swear, I don’t know what that is,” he said.

Simon sighed and picked up a small leather case that was on the seat next to him. He opened the case carefully, almost lovingly, and took from it a hypodermic needle, which he held up for Bill to look at.

“Relax,” Simon lied. “It’s only sodium pentothal. More than enough to loosen your lips but not enough to cause any serious damage. At least not usually.”

Simon then leaned forward. Bill tried to struggle, but the two thugs held him steady.

“If there was a chance that you would cooperate and remove your jacket I wouldn’t need to inject this inside your gum,” Simon cooed softly. “But one must do what one must do. Now, please open your mouth or I’ll have my associates force it open.”

Then it was as if a bomb had been detonated.

Bill escapes this ordeal, but soon finds that it’s not just these mysterious forces after him as he’s framed for a brutal murder. Or at least Bill’s pretty sure he’s been framed. The thing is, as with the reader, Bill’s never quite sure what’s real or not. All he knows is his peril, as well as the stakes involved, keep escalating by the minute.

Dying Memories has some similarities with my crime novels. It’s bullet paced with whiplash-inducing twists and turns throughout which will keep both Bill and the reader off balance. Where it’s very different than my crime novels, like Small Crimes, Pariah, Killer and Fast Lane, is that while they’re pitch black descents into the abyss, Dying Memories is more of a rollercoaster ride colored a murky gray that’s brightened by constant flashes of red. And where my crime novel protagonists, Joe Denton, Kyle Nevin, Leonard March and Johnny Lane, are, putting it as delicately as I can, pretty much bastards who readers root for (at least at some level) to find the hell they deserve, the hero of Dying Memories, Bill Conway, is very different. He’s someone the reader is going to be able to care about.

I hope you enjoy Dying Memories.

Ed here: I think we can all agree that Dave Zeltserman's body of body is one of the most original and powerful in modern crime fiction. What makes it even more remarkable is its range of voices and styles.

For instance the Julius Katz novels and stories. First of all they're fair clue mysteries and damned good ones. Second of all even though they're homages to Nero Wolfe they're cutting-edge clever and ultra-modern. I mean Julius Katz as a stand-in for Nero ok but a two-inch square computer chip standing in for Archie? This is mystery fiction as fresh as it comes. And it appeals to readers of every kind. No wonder the Katz stories have won not only the Shamus but the Ellery Queen Reader's Award (first place in a very heavy competition.)

For a copletely different instance how about this starred review from Publisher's Weekly for The Caretaker of Lorne Field."
rom Publishers Weekly

Starred Review." Zeltserman's superb mix of humor and horror focuses on Jack Durkin, the ninth generation of firstborn sons in his family who have daily weeded Lorne Field to purge it of Aukowies, bloodthirsty plants that could overrun the world in weeks if not attended to. Though Jack takes his job seriously, no one else does: his oldest son doesn't want to follow in his footsteps; his wife is tired of living poorly on his caretaker's salary; and the townspeople who subsidize him are increasingly skeptical of purported menaces that no one has ever seen because Jack diligently nips them in the bud. With his support dwindling, Jack finds himself driven to desperate measures to prove that he's truly saving the world. Zeltserman (Pariah) orchestrates events perfectly, making it impossible to tell if Jack is genuinely humankind's unsung hero or merely the latest descendant of a family of superstitious loonies. Readers will keep turning the pages to see how the ambiguous plot resolves"

See what I mean about a body of work with so many different styles and voices. And the books are so damned good.

You can find Dave's books on Kindle and Nook.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Top Suspense Group:Bill Crider Blood Dreams; Val McDermid

Today's Sizzling Summer Read: Blood Dreams by Jack MacLane
I'm Bill Crider. Jack MacLane is my evil twin. He's usually chained up down in the basement, but back in the late 1980s he somehow got loose, got hold of a computer, and wrote some horror novels for Zebra Books. The family never thought much of Jack, even when he became a writer, but the funny thing is, he coulda been a contender.

At least his editor at Zebra Books thought so. After Jack's first couple of novels, she was going to give Blood Dreams a big push. It's the story of a man named Hubert, who runs a used-book store in a small town. His hobby is killing people. He's very clever, so he's never been caught or even suspected. Not until a boy who has strange dreams, nightmares, really, and all of them about Hubert, comes along. Bad things ensue. And there are alligators!

But I digress. I was going to tell you about how Jack almost became a contender. The editor at Zebra really liked his work, and she had big plans for Blood Dreams. A die-cut foldout cover. A dump full of the books to put at the front of the big chain bookstores. Stuff like that. Jack still has a couple of proof copies of that cover among his little treasures.

But that's all he has because the editor left before the book was published. It became an orphan, and while it did have a cool cover, it didn't get the big push. The new editor shoved Jack's next two books way to the back of the catalog, and Jack, in a black depression went out and, . . . Never mind. We still don't talk about that. He's been down in the basement since then, fondling the tattered paperback editions of his work, talking to spiders, and staring at those cover proofs, now growing moldy with age.

Not even the news that his books are now available in e-book format seems to cheer Jack up, but I have a feeling you could help. Here's how. Buy Jack's books! Especially Blood Dreams. Help him remember the glory days, when he was an up-and-comer. If he cheers up, maybe we'll even let him out of the basement for a while.

--------------------------------------by Val McDermid
Agatha Christie's neat plots emerged from chaos – just like mine
It turns out that I have more in common with Miss Marple's creator than I thought

I hold Agatha Christie entirely responsible for how I've ended up. The Murder at the Vicarage was the only book my grandparents possessed (apart from the Bible) so it was the only port of call for me after I'd finished whatever library books I'd brought with me when I came to stay. I got hooked on the detective novel thanks to Christie but I never considered myself to have much in common with her as a writer.

It turns out we're more alike than I thought. Thanks to the revelations in John Curran's new book, Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making, I've discovered some quite worrying congruences.

Seventy-three of Christie's notebooks survive. They're not a collection of identical, leather-bound, hand-tooled books with Florentine endpapers and heavyweight paper. They're a miscellaneous jumble of school jotters, pocket-sized pads and shorthand notebooks. A bit like my own diverse selection, currently comprising: spiral bound, plastic covered with a snap fastener from Dynamic Earth; a small black pocket-sized pad with an elastic band to keep it closed; an A4 Pukka Pad; a leather-bound notebook bought in a tiny shop in Siena. One lives on my desk, one by my bed, one in my backpack and the other floats around, turning up where and when I least expect it.

for the rest go here:

Friday, July 29, 2011

Today's Sizzling Summer Read: Blood Moon Top Suspense Group

FRIDAY, JULY 29, 2011

Today's Sizzling Summer Read: Blood Moon

by Ed Gorman

Judging by reader mail over the years Blood Moon is the most sinister of all my suspense novels.

"Blood Moon has everything--prison drama, horror story, whodunit, psycho-thriller--all skillfully combined to lead you to a shock ending." Scotland on Sunday.

I started working on the story after reading two unrelated news stories. One had to do with a strange series of murders in a rural community. The other was about a very rich young man who'd been found guilty of second degree murder for the death of his girl friend and was serving time in particularly violent prison. I wondered both about the nature of the murderer in the boonies and also how the young men, accustomed to a rather cushy life from all accounts, would survive behind bars. A story began to emerge.

"As much a superb thriller as it is a well-plotted detective story." Mystery News

The novel was first published in England where the reviews were generally excellent. The major book club in the UK picked it up and it did well for them. Over here the reviews were also good. I'd written a fair share of horror in the eighties and I was glad to see that mystery readers appreciated how I'd combined the mood of my earlier stories with the whodunit form.

"An expertly wrought atmospheric mystery featuring modern psychological crime fighting by a winning detective." Publisher's Weekly

So I'm happy to see it here on our Top Suspense Group's summer reading list. Happy reading!

"An unusually grueling and suspenseful climax...and uncompromising and unprettified account of violence and human evil..." Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine

BLOOD MOON is ON SALE now for a limited time for $0.99. To buy for the Kindle click here.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

David Thomson on Robert Altman's "The Long Goodbye"

Ed here: The following is an excerpt from a piece critic David Thomson wrote about Robert Altman in 2000. You'll have to scroll down to get to the piece on The Long Goodbye. Even if you disagree with Thomson this is bracing piece on Chandler and Altman alike.

David Thomson:

"The Long Goodbye" was mauled to bits by Raymond Chandler connoisseurs and critics alike. The film opened once, took a beating, and tried again. But no large body of people could stomach its drastic, tender transcendence of Raymond Chandler and Philip Marlowe. After all, it was in the late 60's and 70's that the world really caught up with Bogart doing Marlowe in Howard Hawks's "The Big Sleep." Film buffs rejoiced in and repeated the nearly screwball dialogue from that classic, and they cherished Bogart's insouciant, insolent mastery of the impossible plot, verbal rallies at the net with Bacall, teaching her how to kiss (that lifelong study in the Hawks world) and being so damn cool no one noticed the clouds of fantasy. You could read elegies to Hawks and his empiricism, as well as tributes to Chandler's noir gaze on Los Angeles. In that romantic moment of Bogeyism, many people felt that Altman's satiric treatment was nearly indecent.

Is it possible, Mr. Altman asks demurely, that that black-and-white Marlowe was a touch far-fetched? Instead, he gives us a 70's man, a hipster in a black suit, Elliott Gould, cooler than Bogart ever dreamed of, muttering to himself, bemused by the naked girls across the way, unable to outwit a cat who wants curry-flavored cat food -- a sleepy, languid ramrod of inconsequence who sidles or side-steps through a life he has no hopes of being superior to.

LA DIES and gentlemen, here is something new in the world -- a sweet, decent chump for a movie hero. With nothing but Mr. Altman's fondness to keep him standing up. You almost hear Mr. Altman rhapsodizing over Gould -- look at him move, look at those bowed legs, the face scrunched up in the sun, logic turned crooked by L. A., and all that "It's all right with me" stuff. Is he beautiful, or what?

for the rest go here:

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

New Books: The Hanging Wood by Martin Edwards

The Hanging Wood by Martin Edwards

What is it like to have a brother or sister disappear forever? This is a question at the heart of my latest book, THE HANGING WOOD, fifth in the series of Lake District Mysteries. As a matter of fact, a question that has long intrigued me is apparently much simpler – what is it like to have a brother or sister? For I am an only child, and it’s not easy to imagine the very different lives and upbringing of siblings.

But the joy of writing fiction is that you have the licence to set your imagination free, and I took the chance to invent a string of brother/sister relationships which form the core of THE HANGING WOOD’s story-line. In the book, Orla Payne has never been able to come to terms with the idea that her older brother Callum was murdered by their uncle, who then committed suicide. The body was never found. Orla meets Daniel Kind, the historian, and when she confides in him, he urges her to talk to DCI Hannah Scarlett.

But when Orla finally talks to Hannah, she doesn’t make much sense, and the end result is a shocking tragedy. Stunned by what has happened, Hannah is driven to dig deep into the past, and – with Daniel’s help – uncovers a murderous web of familial deceit spanning decades.

The book is set in the Keswick area of the Lake District, one of the most beautiful places in Europe. Much of the action takes place in a tightly-knit community surrounding old Mockbeggar Hall – there is a farm, owned by Orla’s father, a caravan park where her mother used to live and now run by two brothers, a residential library, where she has been working, and the Hanging Wood of the title. The library, by the way, was inspired by a real-life library in North Wales – Gladstone’s Library, a magical place built by a Victorian Prime Minister and full of atmosphere.

This novel develops the slow-burning relationship between Hannah Scarlett and Daniel Kind, and as well as exploring family relationships, it also tackles the nature of justice. ‘Don’t you care about justice?’ Orla asks Hannah. Of course, Hannah does, but she finds that few things are harder in life than making sure that justice is truly done. And for me, writing THE HANGING WOOD has helped me gain a better understanding of what it is like to have a brother or sister.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Wise words about Any Winehouse and media

Ed here: This is one of the few pieces about Amy Winehouse's death that made sense to me. As a recovering alcoholic and reformed druggie I can tell you from personal experience that there are people who can't be "cured." In my time I've taken six or seven people to rehab, done everything I could for them--and had only one stay clean. I used to get pissed when this happened. I bought into all the AA stuff that everybody can kick. But after nearly thirty-seven years of being sober and watching various friends and acquaintances crack up, go to prison, die I can tell you that some just can't kick.

I was a big fan of Amy Winehouse's music and for selfish reasons. When she was on the air that meant all cRAP music couldn't be. Yes she was stupid to get into drugs in the first place but clearly she was a a way troubled girl before she ever started doping and the drugs presumably bought her some relief.

She was a rhythm and blues singer and a brilliant one (or hadn't you noticed that soul music is no longer heard on corporate pop stations?). I had some sense of what she was going through, all addicts will have. So spare me the self-rieghteousness. Yes she was fucked up but she didn't deserve to die because of it. If all the fucked up people in the world passed on there wouldn't be enough bodies left to populate Gilligan's Island.

Does grieving for Amy Winehouse distract from bigger tragedies?
The singer's death prompts a familiar Internet backlash. Here's why the critics are wrong
From Salon

Poor Amy Winehouse. Not only did the 27-year-old singer, who had a troubled history of drug and alcohol abuse, have the misfortune to die this weekend in London of yet undisclosed causes, she did so in the midst of an already jampacked cycle of terrible news. And everybody knows that a) people can only feel bad about one thing at a time, and that b) in what the U.K. Guardian helpfully refers to as the "hierarchy of death," it's wrong to care about a single individual when there are higher body counts elsewhere in the world. Let the sanctimony begin!

It seemed within minutes of the news of Winehouse's untimely demise, the Internet was abuzz with outpourings of grief and chastisements of said grief. "Amy Winehouse: Sad but not nearly as sad as 4M starving Somalis who can still be helped" went a typical, much forwarded tweet that cropped up in my feed, along with phrases like "real problems," "dead junkie," and "What did anybody expect?" God forbid a young woman's death not turn into an opportunity to announce to the world your cleverness in predicting it all, the unworthiness of someone who had the disease of addiction to merit sympathy, or your outrage because apparently you've been too engrossed in Somalia to give a toss.

It's fair to say that the popular media -- and those of us who follow it -- are often guilty of disproportionate attention to sensational stories. And when that happens, there is the risk of giving less care to tougher, more nuanced but important events. Believe me, if Nancy Grace and Dr. Drew never say another goddamn word about anything or anyone, that will be just great in my book. It's a fine line between newsworthiness and exploitation. And Winehouse's long-standing battles with her demons were a matter of public record; her debacle last month in Belgrade, when she was booed offstage, certainly appears to have been an ominous sign of what was to come.

for the rest go here:

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a staff writer for Salon and the author of "Gimme Shelter: My Three Years Searching for the American Dream." Follow her on Twitter: More: Mary Elizabeth Williams

Monday, July 25, 2011

Larry David; Mariah Carey; Stephen King

CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM-Let me say up front that anybody who co-created and wrote for Seinfeld is a genius to me. Truly. It's my favorite show of any kind of all time. That said I often find Curb Your Enthusiasm tiresome because it always relies on the same formula. Larry insults or otherwise pisses off somebody (sometimes inadvertently, sometimes not) and we're off to the races. Now there are at least twenty episodes I consider masterpieces. But sometimes--again because of the formula--the writers have to push too hard to get the ironies out of their situation. Until last night I thought the new season was pretty poor. The episode with the young girl who has her first period in Larry's house--way way over the top and not funny. Not offensive just not funny. The best moments are when Larry's confronts believable situations. And last night delivered big time. This was Larry at his best--Jews eating at the Palestinian chicken place; Susie Essman's teenage daughter turning out to be a real cunning bitch; and Larry as the "social assassin" having to tell people what other people were afraid to tell them. What a great episode.

Ed here: I've liked a few of Carey's songs over the years but mostly I've found her unwittingly hilarious. In many of her videos she tries to be sexy and thus provides a lot of laughs. I're either sexy or you ain't and she ain't. All her mugging is like soft-core run amuck. Plus her diva stuff would intimidate Napoleon. I saw a ten minute video of her with her posse and man she comes off like a plantation boss having a bad day with the slaves. PLUS SHE'S NUTS. This is only four minutes long but I believe could be used in a sanity hearing to put her away for good. :) YOU GOTTA SEE THIS!!!!!!

THE DARK TOWER-Universal Nixes Stephen King's 'Dark Tower' - No Ambitious Film Trilogy Or TV Series

Ed here: I love this saga and I was hoping this would be one of the few summer blockbusters that would be worth seeing. Here's luck to them finding another home.

By MIKE FLEMING | Monday July 18, 2011 @ 7:09pm EDT
Tags: Akiva Goldsman, Brian Grazer, Javier Bardem, Ron Howard, Stephen King, The Dark Tower, Universal Pictures

EXCLUSIVE: The moment has come for Universal Pictures to fish or cut bait on The Dark Tower, the ultra-ambitious adaptation of the Stephen King 7-novel series that was going to encompass a trilogy of feature films and two limited run TV series. The studio has said, No Thanks. Universal has passed on going forward with the project, dealing a huge blow in the plan for Ron Howard to direct Akiva Goldsman's script, with Brian Grazer, Goldsman and the author producing and Javier Bardem starring as gunslinger Roland Deschain. Now, the filmmakers will have to find a new backer of what might well be the most ambitious movie project since Bob Shaye allowed Peter Jackson to shoot three installments of The Lord of the Rings back to back.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Top Suspense Group: Paul Levine; Gold Medal's John McPartland


Windsurfing Injury Led to "Riptide"

But for an injury, I might never have become a novelist.

This is the backstory of “Riptide,” a Jake Lassiter novel, now available on Kindle and Nook for $2.99.

In 1986, I rented a condo on Maui for the summer, intent on polishing my skills as a competitive windsurfer. My second day at Hookipa Beach, bouncing over the lip of a roller, the board exploded out of the water and smashed my femur. The E.R. physician told me nothing was broken and recommended smoking a little Maui Wowie for the pain. (No, not Dr. House).

So I sat on the beach with a yellow pad and started handwriting a novel featuring a character that popped into my mind: linebacker-turned-lawyer Jake Lassiter. Here’s the first sentence of fiction I ever wrote, (not counting certain statements in my appellate briefs). “The old man loved gadgets, money, and large-breasted women, and at the moment, he had all three.”

When I returned home to Miami to resume practicing law, I put the novel aside and wrote “To Speak for the Dead,” which became my first published book. I kept re-writing “Riptide,” which appeared as a William Morrow hardcover under the title “Slashback.” And that line about gadgets, money, and breasts? It’s now the first sentence of chapter two. Here’s what the Tampa Tribune had to say:

“A thriller as fast as the wind...a bracing rush, as breathtaking as hitting the Gulf waters on a chill December morning.”

There’s more about the Jake Lassiter series on my website, including info about “Riptide,” in which Jake Lassiter chases two dangerous professional windsurfers from Miami to Maui in pursuit of the old man’s stolen bonds. You can buy the e-book from Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, and Smashwords for $2.99.

Paul Levine


----------------------GOLD MEDAL'S JOHN MCPARTLAND by JOHN FRASER (from 2007)

Ed here: I re-read John McPartland's fine Big Red's Woman last night and then remembered John Fraser's excellent piece on McPartland which he was kind enough to let me reprint here.

John Fraser has a very readable and wise website devited to books of various kinds.

John McPartland by John Fraser

John McPartland

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.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Top Suspense Group-Max Allan Collins and Matthew Clemens NO ONE WILL HEAR YOU; MAX COLLINS NEWS!


Today's Sizzling Summer Read: No One Will Hear You

NOW HEAR THIS! by Max Allan Collins

Two serial killers vie for the attention of the public in NO ONE WILL HEAR YOU, the second J.C. Harrow thriller by Matt Clemens and me. You needn’t have read YOU CAN’T STOP ME to jump in here, however, and as much as we like the first book – recently a nominee for the Best Paperback Thriller of the Year – Matt and I feel we’ve upped the ante and improved our game second-time around.

We listened to reviewers and readers and sought to make NO ONE WILL HEAR YOU a state-of-the-art thrill ride. We made the chapters shorter, increased the plot twists, even while trying to delve deeper in the characters...not just Harrow and his superstar forensics team, but the killers themselves. And we introduced a secondary protagonist, LAPD sex crimes detective, Lt. Anna Amari, who more than holds her own with Harrow.

J.C. Harrow is a tragic hero, a former Midwestern sheriff who once saved the President’s life at the Iowa State Fair but – on the same day – lost his family to a homicidal maniac. The national attention this brought him inspired Harrow to become the host of “Crime Seen!” – a sort of reality TV version of CSI, providing Harrow with the platform...and track down his family’s murderer.

This he did in YOU CAN’T STOP ME, and now in NO ONE WILL HEAR YOU he is questioning whether he should continue on as host of this popular show, contemplating returning to law enforcement in some other small Midwestern town. That’s when a video shows up at Crime Seen HQ from “Don Juan” – a serial killer who murderers a woman on camera by way of “trying out” to be the show’s next villain. When a second killer makes a similar demand, Harrow and his team wonder if they are breeding killers as much as tracking them down....

In addition to being a thriller that has been called “riveting,” NO ONE WILL HEAR YOU takes a sharply critical and satirical look at the reality TV craze and its downside.

True-crime writer Matt Clemens and I collaborated on the first eight CSI novels, and the first two CSI MIAMI novels, selling millions of copies. We later wrote the only BONES novel and three CRIMINAL MINDS novels, becoming along the way a team well-versed in serial killer-fueled suspense and forensics sleuthing. We feel NO ONE WILL HEAR YOU is the best – and certainly most exciting and frightening – of the thrillers we’ve written together.

Will Harrow return? Well, that’s up to you....


MAX ALLAN COLLINS is the author of ROAD TO PERDITION, the graphic novel basis for the Tom Hanks Academy Award-winning film.

No One Will Hear You is available now for both the Kindle and Nook.
----------------------------------------------------- MAX ALLAN COLLINS AT COMIC-CON

San Diego Comic-Con 2011 Day Two
July 22nd, 2011 by Max Allan Collins
I promised two announcements today, both of considerable import:

First, I will be completing three more of Mickey Spillane’s unfinished Mike Hammer novel manuscripts, for a new publisher…Titan of the UK (distributed by Random House in the USA). Titan is one of my favorite publishers — they have a real feel for pop culture — and while I am sorry to leave Harcourt, I am very excited about our new home. I met with Titan honcho Nick Landua today at the con, and he showed me first passes on covers that are innovative and striking for three new Hammer novels. I will be sharing them with you soon.

The books are:


I am working on LADY, GO DIE! right now — a manuscript dating to 1948, making it the second Mike Hammer story (after I, THE JURY).

The other news — announced on the reboot of FIRST COMICS panel is that we will be doing Ms. Tree for publisher Ken Levin. The entire run will be collected in new volumes, and Terry Beatty and I be doing a new MS. TREE project, likely a comics mini-series that serializes a graphic novel.

There are number of book publishers here and I spoke to several editors about possible book projects, both tie-in and original.

Nate took a lot of pictures today and we’ll share them with you on Sunday morning. Tomorrow (Friday) are the Scribe Awards with a panel focusing on tie-in grand master, Peter David. Also, Barb and I will be appearing in a mystery/crime panel (details above).


Tags: Comic-Con 2011, Complex 90, King of the Weeds, Lady Go Die, Mike Hammer, Ms. Tree, Spillane
Posted in Message from M.A.C. | 3 Comments »

Friday, July 22, 2011

Science Fiction movie posters; Carolyn Hart new e books

Ed here: Yes these were B and B- minus movies we saw in our yute. The site Where Danger Lives has a lot of them on display, the good, the bad and the ugly. Some of them were so terrible even at twelve I knew it'd be better to skip them. But some, for the time, were pretty darn good.


Dear Reader,

ESCAPE FROM PARIS -The story of two American sisters in Paris in 1940 and their race to save downed airmen from the Gestapo . . .

BRAVE HEARTS - A woman caught between duty and love after the fall of the Phillipines to the Japanese . . . .

A SETTLING OF ACCOUNTS - A woman's determination to unmask the man who betrayed her lover to the Nazis . . .

Out of print for many years, my early books are now available as ebooks from Kindlle. .

The books include my first published juvenile mystery, The Secret of the Cellars, and my first adult suspense novel, Flee from the Past.

Newly released juvenile titles:
The Secret of the Cellars
Dangerous Summer

Newly released YA suspense novels:
No Easy Answers
Danger, High Explosives!

Newly released WWII suspense novels:
Flee from the Past
A Settling of Accounts
Escape from Partis
Brave Hearts.

The ebook of Escape from Paris features the never before seen complete uncut ORIGINAL novel. The first publication was cut from 94,000 to 55,000 words.

Standalone mystery novels:
The Rich Die Young
Death by Surprise
Castle Rock
The Devereaux Legacy.

Newly released short story collections:
Crime on her Mind
Secrets and Other Novels of Suspense which includes A Settling of Accounts

If you are a Kindle reader, I hope you will enjoy one or more of the early books. Please check my website for easy ordering.

Thank you - Carolyn Hart

"The First Detective": A swashbuckling cop

The First Detective": A swashbuckling cop

A new book explores the life of the thief-turned-cop who paved the way for today's investigators


This article appears courtesy of The Barnes & Noble Review.

The daring costumed escapes and bedsheet-rope prison breaks of the old romances weren't merely creaky plot devices; they were also the objective correlatives of the lost politics of early modern Europe. Not yet susceptible to legislative amelioration, rules and customs that seemed both indefensible and unassailable had to be vaulted over like collapsing bridges or tunneled under like manor walls. Not only fictional musketeers but such illustrious figures as the young Casanova and the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau spent their early years making narrow escapes from overlapping orthodoxies, swimming moats to marriages of convenience and digging their way out of prisons of privilege by dressing in drag or posing as noblemen's sons. If one ran afoul of the local clergy or some aristocratic cuckold, there were always new bishops and magistrates to charm in the next diocese or département.

In 1775 -- roughly a generation after the exploits of Rousseau and Casanova -- a prosperous baker's son named Eugène-François Vidocq was born in Arras, in northern France. Indolent and adventuresome, he embarked upon a career that in its early phase looked even more hapless and disastrous than those of his illustrious forebears.

for the rest go here:

Thursday, July 21, 2011



Sizzling Summer Read RUNNING COLD (A Mick Callahan Novel)

Harry Shannon, here. I created media psychologist Mick Callahan as the protagonist of my debut hardcover mystery. Mick was born and raised near the small town of Wells, Nevada. He's an alcoholic, a loyal friend, a hot tempered genius. After a failed stint in the Navy Seals, Mick studied Psychology and ended up hosting a television show. Booze, sex and ego brought him down. Over the course of the four novels in the series, he's gone from humiliated and sober and on the comeback trail (Memorial Day), working in radio again (Eye of the Burning Man), back on track but in trouble with the mob (One of the Wicked) and now, in RUNNING COLD, your Top Suspense Sizzling Summer Read of the day, Mick is on the edge of collapse, fighting a return to the bottle and mourning the loss of his girlfriend.

And then one of Callahan's clients is murdered. The client's son Wes McCann is a soldier recently returned from Afghanistan. Wes blames Callahan. These two dangerous men are set on a collision course, one crazed with grief and the other tortured by guilt. I've been told that Running Cold is the darkest of the four Callahan novels, and I suppose that's true, though for me Callahan's deep concern for others and his sense of integrity always shine. He's flawed and troubled, but he's a good man. If character is destiny, Mick will likely end up okay when this series ends. Hell, he deserves that much after all I've put him through!

"A flawed and edgy hero. Dark wit, excellent writing and action-packed pace."
—The Rap Sheet, January Magazine

"Mick Callahan is a man with a past, a mean right hook, and a radio talk show. He's pretty good at giving people advice - just not necessarily good at taking it. The strength of this series is in its central characters, flawed, human, often funny, sometimes tragic, and the relationships among them."
—Mystery Scene

"Mick Callahan is not only likeable (as deemed by Library Journal) but he manages to endear himself as a very realistic hero, with a strong sense of purpose and an equal dash of vulnerability."
—Cemetery Dance

"Mick's road to redemption is wry, bittersweet and altogether touching."
—New Mystery Reader

Buy the book here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Top Suspense Group-Set The Night On Fire Libby Hellmann

Today's Sizzling Summer Read -- SET THE NIGHT ON FIRE by Libby Hellmann

"A tremendous book - sweeping but intimate, elegiac but urgent, subtle but intense. This story really does set the night on fire." --Lee Child

"A brilliantly-paced thriller, transitioning seamlessly from modern-day Chicago to the late '60s. First-rate characterization...Best to start early in the day, as it is easy to stay up all night reading it." --Foreword Magazine

"RT Top Pick for December: "Electric... a marvelous novel."
--RT Book Reviews

"Set the Night on Fire is a compelling story of love, truth and redemption. This will be a break-out novel for this talented writer. Highly recommended." --Sheldon Siegel, NYTImes bestselling author of Perfect Alibi

"A top-rate thriller that taps into the antiwar protests of the 1960s... A jazzy fusion of past and present, Hellman's insightful, politically charged whodunit explores a fascinating period in American history."
--Publishers Weekly

That's what reviewers are saying. Here's what I say:


I do remember the Sixties.

Especially 1968. That was the turning point in my political "coming of age." I was in college in Philadelphia on April 4th when Martin Luther King was assassinated. I watched as riots consumed the inner cities. I was saddened and disappointed -- as a teenager growing up in Washington DC, I'd gone to plenty of concerts at the Howard theater where blacks and whites grooved to Motown artists together. I actually thought we were moving towards a color-blind society -- I was young and idealistic then). So the frustration and rage expressed through the riots was - in a way- confusing.

Two months later I understood. My college boyfriend had been tapped to head up the national "Youth for Bobby Kennedy" program. I was really excited; I planned on dropping out for a semester to work with him. For some reason I couldn't sleep the night of June 5th and turned on my radio. Bobby had been shot just after winning the California Democratic primary. He died the next day. So much for the Youth for Kennedy campaign.

Sadness soon gave way to bitterness. The country was falling apart. Over the years some of our brightest lights had been snuffed out. Internationally our government seemed to be supporting the "bad guys." And underlying it all was an unwinnable war that - perversely -- was escalating and risking the lives of my peers. I began to question why I should work through the system, especially when the system wasn't working for us.

I wasn't alone. Plenty of others yearned for change. Fundamental change that would rebuild our society and culture. The next few years were tumultuous and volatile, but in the final analysis, we failed. Maybe the task was impossible -- how many Utopias exist? Sure, there were cultural shifts. But political change, in the sense of what to expect from our leaders and our government? Not so much. The era left me with unresolved feelings. What should we have done differently? Are all progressive movements doomed to fail?

At this point you're probably wondering what this has to do with writing a thriller. And you'd be right. It's never been my intention to write a political screed. I am a storyteller whose stories, hopefully, you can't put down. I realized that if I was going to write about the Sixties, I needed a premise that would hook readers in the present, regardless of how much they know or remembered about the Sixties.

I found that premise in a film. Do you remember SIGNS, starring Mel Gibson? It came out in 2002, and I thought the first half was the most riveting film I'd ever seen. Gibson's family is being stalked, but they don't know who and they don't know why. The second half of the film, when we discover it's just your garden variety aliens, was an enormous let down. Putting a face, an identity, on fear reduces its power. But NOT knowing who's targeting you -- or why -- is the most frightening thing I can imagine.

So that's what happens to Lila Hilliard, a thirty-something professional who's come home to Chicago for the holidays. Someone has killed her family, and now they're after her. She has no idea who or why. As she desperately tries to figure it out, she finds wisps of clues that lead back to her parents' activities forty years ago. In the process she discovers that her parents were not the people she thought.

The relationship between the past and present, the consequences of events that occurred years ago fascinate me. I also love stories that plunge characters into danger and make them draw on resources they didn't know they had. SET THE NIGHT ON FIRE was the way to combine all those themes. Writing the book was an exorcism of sorts, a way to make peace with the past. And while I enjoyed reliving the past, I loved putting it behind me even more. I'm finally ready to move on.

I hope you enjoy the read. To buy the book from Amazon click here. From Nook, here. And for more about the book, and me, and everything else, just click here.

Posted by Libby Hellmann at 12:01 AM 1 comments
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Monday, July 18, 2011

New Books: The Dead Genius by Axel Brand (Richard S. Wheeler)


My Joe Sonntag mysteries grew from a fond memory of the old Dragnet TV series, with Jack Webb. I wanted to create a gumshoe detective who gets to the heart of things with interrogation and a keen grasp of human nature. So a lunchbucket cop, Detective lieutenant Sonntag, was born. He's operating in late 1940s Milwaukee, and takes the streetcar to work each day.

In the next Sonntag mystery, The Dead Genius ( Tekno Books, Five Star, publication August 10) the detective pays his respects to a little genius who pioneered forensic document examination, and put all sorts of forgers, bank robbers, and sharpers in jail. It was an ordinary death: a heart failure of a diabetic. But something about it troubles Sonntag's superior, Captain Ackerman, who insists that Sonntag take a close look at the death, and also find out why the document examiner had no known past. Gradually, what seemed a routine death from disease begins to look like something far more sinister.

I've just self-published another Sonntag mystery, Night Medicine, which is available on Kindle and from CreateSpace. Here is another mysterious death. It's summer, 1948 in Milwaukee. A lovely young woman is found dead at the Washington Park zoo, her body lying in a bed of ferns, her arms folded in repose, as if she were lying in state. Nearby, a lioness prowls her cage. Sonntag and his detectives soon are plunged into the world of illegal medicine, where compassion runs contrary to the law, and a cop with any sensitivity wishes he didn't have to call some things a crime, or pursue people whose purpose was kindness.

I'm writing a fourth Sonntag mystery, built around the violent labor crises that tore Milwaukee apart in the 1940s, a time when the mob was infiltrating labor unions (the Kefauver hearings came a couple years later), and Reds were manipulating the unions for their own purposes. The ones who got hurt were the working men who depended on a strong union for a good wage and a few benefits. And then a scab was shot; and later, the head of the machinists union. Look for it in the fall.

Axel Brand/Richard S. Wheeler

Marty Greenberg

I remember phone calls with my friend Marty Greenberg in which we discussed Tekno Books business, the Three Stooges, the Chicago Cubs, Marty’s daughters, an old sf magazine I’d talked about previously, the latest Seinfeld episode rerun, wholesale prices for the books we were publishing and the newest jokes about George W. Bush. All in one call. And this went on virtually every day for twenty-seven years.

Marty and Isaac Asimov had been best friends for years and called each other just about every day, including a few days when Isaac was overseas. When Isaac passed Marty and I started talking every day.

I met Martin Harry Greenberg (not to be confused with that other Martin Greenberg of ill repute) when I began selling him stories around 1983 or so. I sold him quite a few and got to know him in the process. We had the same pathetically deranged sense of humor as well as the same ambitious plans to create interesting literary projects.

There was a time early on when I didn’t know him all that well it turned out. He made frequent trips to New York for many years and called me from there to tell me how it was going with agents and editors. One night when he called and I asked him what he was doing and he asked me if I could keep a secret. Naturally I said yes (I’m like George Costanza—I put it in the vault). Well, he said, he had a couple of hookers in his room and couldn’t talk very long. But please keep this to myself.

Of course I mentioned this to my wife Carol and said you know people always surprise you She was surprised, too. Marty always talked about how much he loved his wife Roz and depended on her. Hookers just didn’t fit.

When he called the next night we talked for awhile before I asked him if he had hookers tonight. At first he didn’t know what I was talking about and then he laughed that great Marty laugh. He’d forgotten. “Jesus Christ,” he said. “that was a joke.”

Marty bought out fifty per cent of Mystery Scene magazine (from our friend Bob Randisi) which made us business partners because I owned the other half. Only Marty’s generosity kept the magazine going. We never did make any money with it but as Marty always insisted owning the magazine brought us to the attention of people in the publishing business. It gave us a brand. We also co-edited many books with the help of Roz, Larry Segriff, Denise Little and John Helfers, the killer Tekno team. We even had a small publishing house called G&G books which he insisted stood for “Greenberg and Greenberg.” He was laughing as he said it of course.

I’ve had three other business partners in my lifetime. I ended amiably with none of them. Marty was the model business partner. I say this without exaggeration. He had more good ideas in one morning than I had in a month. And in the publishing world of the eighties and nineties and on into the new century he knew who to take those ideas to and what to do with them. One other important element in our business partnership was that Marty genuinely liked people, liked conventions and sitting around getting to know people. I'm not anti-social but I've always been pretty insular. In all the years we knew each other I only met Marty face-to-face on three occasions. Obviously it was his warmth and savvy that made the sales.

Tekno Books prospered. His anthologies became proving grounds for an innumerable number of writers who went on to notable careers. In addition to business acumen he was a generous supporter of writers in financial trouble. I know of one writer he supported for the last years of his life. I know of another writer whose house he helped save from foreclosure. There are a lot of stories like that.

But mostly he was just Marty, the best friend I’ve ever had. Until he got sick with pancreatitis, just about every conversation had at least one bit of lore about show business, a subject we both loved.

Marty’s great obsession was the history of Jews in show business, everything from the New York vaudeville to the Catskills to the history of the William Morris Agency to the alleged mob ties of Lew Wasserman. This extended to a poor soul named “Strauss the Mouse” a club fighter who set a record by having as many as four fights in a single night. The Mouse, God knows how, kept this up for nearly a decade. Marty also loved the all the stories about Columbia Pictures head Harry Cohen (as did the Coen Brothers in their under-appreciated film “Barton Fink”)who had once supposedly remarked that “the world would be a better place without the Jews or the Irish.” As one of his writers said that was because all of Harry’s writers were Jewish or Irish. Like all Hollywood moguls, Harry despised writers.

He had other interests as well, of course. The only one I had no interest in was sports. I’m not a sports fan so I always joked that I was setting the phone down when he started doing a sports rap up. He took the Green Bay Packers so seriously that he’d get depressed for a day if they lost. When I first met him I was still a boxing fan but after seeing a boxer die I gave even that up.

My goal in most of our conversations was to make him laugh. Carol always said that hearing him laugh made her happy. It had the same effect on me. And luckily I got to hear it for more than a quarter century.

In January of this year Roz called and told me that the doctors had found a massive tumor on Marty’s brain. They felt certain that it was malignant and so it was, even more than their worst fears in fact. Roz nursed and nurtured him for longer than a year, having little life of her own. If there’s such a thing as secular sainthood, she should receive the honor.

Marty was never the same after the operation. We talked four times a week or so, no longer every day, and some days he had difficulty focusing. A few times he was incoherent. A month or so before he died he said to me “I’m not the same anymore am I?” I lied and said that of course he was. But we both knew better.

Roz and his three wonderful daughters and I had known that he was going to die. We prepared ourselves for it. Or thought we had, anyway, until the day he passed. He taught me more, influenced me more than any other person in my life.

In addition to the melancholy I feel there’s the practical matter of wanting to tell him about all the things that I liked in a given day and all the things that made me mad. He had to put up with a lot of my Irish rants. Five times a day I want to pick up the phone and make him laugh and then make him sit still for one of my angry political bursts. That’s the hardest part of all. Glancing at the phone three or four times a night knowing it’ll never be him calling.

So long old friend. I hope heaven turns out to be the Hollywood of the Thirties and Forties. When you come right down to it, who’d want to spend eternity any other way?

-Ed Gorman

Sunday, July 17, 2011

America's Drunkest Writer

America's Drunkest Writer (from The Daily Beast)

F. Scott Fitzgerald was kept in champagne in the '20s, already a crumbling alcoholic in the '30s, and dead by the end of '40. The great American novelist's boozy writings are compiled in a new collection reviewed by Jimmy So. Plus, other famous writings on drink.

by Jimmy So | July 16, 2011 10:30 PM EDT

“My vision of the world at its brightest is such that life without the use of its amenities is impossible,” F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in 1930 in a letter to Oscar Forel, the Swiss psychiatrist who was treating Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda, who had suffered a breakdown. “I have lived hard and ruined the essential innocence [sic] in myself that could make it that possible [sic], and the fact that I have abused liquor is something to be paid for with suffering and death perhaps but not renunciation.” By some accounts Fitzgerald did renounce, not even touching a drop—at least so long as his lover, the gossip columnist Sheila Graham, was with him—during the last year of his life, although it was too late by that time. There is a spate of such letters and other evidence. Fitzgerald, to put it simply, felt that it was man’s duty to enjoy drink, as well as his right as a writer to dramatize and self-dramatize the power of drink.

F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in 1896, famous by 1920, forgotten by 1936, and dead by the end of 1940. In the '20s, he introduced himself to party guests as “one of the most notorious drinkers of the younger generation,” or as “F. Scott Fitzgerald, the well-known alcoholic.” His friend Ernest Hemingway experienced such stagecraft firsthand when, during a trip with “Poor Scott,” Fitzgerald was convincing himself that he was dying of “consumption of the lungs” and demanded that Hemingway find a thermometer to ascertain whether a fever boiled in his blood. “He did have a point, though, and I knew it very well,” Hemingway wrote in A Moveable Feast. “Most drunkards in those days died of pneumonia, a disease which has now been almost eliminated. But it was hard to accept him as a drunkard, since he was affected by such small quantities of alcohol.”

As Thomas Gilmore asserts in Equivocal Spirits: Alcoholism and Drinking in Twentieth-Century Literature and John Crowley corroborates in The White Logic: Alcoholism and Gender in American Modernist Fiction, the fable of Fitzgerald’s Edgar Allan Poe–like low tolerance was likely just that—a fable, helped by an alcoholic’s tendency to sometimes conceal consumption and sometimes boast about overconsumption. But whatever the legend of his drinking capacity (Hemingway himself witnessed another time when Fitzgerald drank far more than he ever saw and was completely fine, even telling articulately the story of his and Zelda’s life), by the '30s Fitzgerald was not so much as capitalizing but clutching onto the persona of a washed-up alcoholic. He was obsessed with his great literary promise and the even greater subsequent disappointment, knowing that alcoholism was behind it but had not been the sole cause of a tragedy so immense (to him). At his lowest point, in 1935, he claimed to have “not tasted so much as a glass of beer for six months,” which was likely untrue.

for the rest go here:

Top Suspense Group: Valley of Lights by Stephen Gallagher

Sizzling Summer Read: VALLEY OF LIGHTS by Stephen Gallagher (Ed here: one of my all-time favorite novels and also much imitated)

I was within two blocks' drive of Paradise when the call came over the air. It was a 927, a general code meaning to investigate unknown trouble. The dispatch girl was offering it to Travis and Leonard, both of whom were checking IDs for warrants in the scrubby little park around the Adult Center on Jefferson; knowing that I could have them as backup in three minutes or less if the 'unknown trouble' turned out to be something bigger than anticipated, I cut in and took the call. Squad Sergeant responding, one minute or less.

Valley of Lights is a fusion of crime and horror, a dance between predator and prey in which the story twists, the stakes increase, and the tables are repeatedly turned.

It grew out of time that I spent in Phoenix, Arizona, researching the city and the desert and going on ride-alongs with the Phoenix PD. I was working on a novel that I never actually got to write. That novel idea was ambitious and sprawling. It was everything I ever wanted to say. It was art. It would have been as boring as hell. Instead, I wrote this.

It began as a simple idea for a short story and grew as I wrote it, in the way that no book had ever grown in my hands before. The story flew. All those days in the squad car with Lieutenant Dave Michels, the late shifts with Sergeants Tom Kosen and Jesse James, the flophouses and the trailer parks and the stakeouts in gaudy motels and the millionaires' houses in the Camelback Mountains - everything came together to feed the tale.

This is the book of which Dean Koontz wrote, "If thriller reading were a sin, Stephen Gallagher would be responsible for my ultimate damnation. His work is fast-paced, well-written, infused with a sense of dark wonder, and altogether fresh."

When I selected the title to present as my Sizzling Summer Read, fellow Top-Suspenser Ed Gorman kindly wrote, "I still think that Valley of Lights is one of the coolest - and most imitated - novels I've ever read."

Here's what Phoenix PD Sergeant Alex Volchak finds on his arrival at the Paradise Motel:
We came to the last of the units. Beyond this was some empty parking space and then a high cinderblock wall topped with wire. Not a place, on the whole, that I'd have cared to spend any time in. The desk clerk stood out front and gestured me towards the window as if to say take it, I don't want it, the responsibility's all yours. I was aware that, some distance behind me, one or two people had emerged and were watching to see if anything interesting was going to happen. I stepped up to the window and looked inside.

The sash was open an inch at the top, and some faint stirring of the air had caused the drapes to part down the middle. The bug screen and the darkness inside made it difficult to see anything at all, but as my eyes adjusted I began to make out shapes. Something that had at first looked like a bean bag resolved itself into a human form, slumped, halfway out of a low chair as if he'd fainted while sitting. The details weren't clear, but also in my line of sight across the room was the end of the bed with somebody lying on it. I could see a pair of soiled tennis shoes for this one, not much more.

Just drunks sleeping off a party, I thought, remembering the heavy breathing that was being picked up by the dislodged phone, and I turned to the clerk and said, 'Who's the room registered to?'

'A little s...' he began, but then he caught himself. 'A Hispanic guy. I don't think he's even one of them.'

'Well... all I see is people sleeping. I don't know what's so unusual in that.'

'For four straight days? It could have been longer. He registered weeks ago, he closed the drapes on day one and he musta sneaked the others in when no-one was watching.'

'What about the maid?'

'We're residential, maid service comes extra. She just leaves the towels and sheets outside, doesn't go in. What do you think?'

I felt a definite stirring of interest. I said, 'I think you should get your pass key so we can go inside and find out what the problem is.'

'And that's legal? I mean, I'm all square with the owner if I do what you say?'

'Get the key, all right?'

We went inside; or rather, I went inside and the little monkey in the technicolor shirt hovered in the doorway behind me. My first expectation, which was of the smell of opium smoke, turned out to be wrong; what hit me instead was a rank odor like bad breath and drains. I crossed the room and opened the window as wide as it would go, and then I turned to look at the place in the harsh angles of daylight.

Nobody had moved. There were three of them. Slumped in the low chair opposite the window was a man in a grey business suit, an expensive-looking summer lightweight with the pants stained dark where his bladder had let go. He was the one who'd fallen against the phone and dislodged the receiver, as if he'd been propped awkwardly and hadn't stayed that way. The soiled tennis shoes on the bed belonged to a short, muscular-looking man in his late thirties, while over in the other chair by the key-operated TV sprawled a black teenager in a leather jacket.

All three of them were inert, like corpses; but I checked for a pulse on each one, and they were all alive and steady. The arms of the man on the bed, who was wearing a T-shirt, showed no fresh needle marks or even old scars.

I said to the clerk, 'Did you move anything when you came in before?'

His face was that of an animal that had just been stunned prior to slaughtering. Perhaps he thought I'd read his mind; he probably didn't realise that he'd already given himself away.

'No,' he finally managed. 'I didn't move a thing.'
You can find Valley of Lights for the Kindle right here.
Posted by Stephen Gallagher at 5:18 AM 0 comments
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Labels: amazon, kindle, Stephen Gallagher, suspense

Friday, July 15, 2011

Robert J. Randisi; Naomi Hirahara/TOP SUSPENSE GROUP

(Bob Randisi's latest)

Now available as both a "real" book and an ebook is the 4th book in the Soap opera series by Eileen Davidson, SWINGIN' IN THE RAIN. Alex Peterson once again becomes involved in murder, this one even more personal as it's her ex-husband who has been killed. Against a backdrop of El Ninos (pl.?)and the Swingin' scene, Alex and her boyfriend, L.A.P.D. detective Frank Jakes, try to solve the case while keeping themselves alive. Ain't that always the way?

The ebook is available on Kindle, and the "real" book is currenlty available at and Createspace

--------------------TOP SUSPENSE GROUP


Today's Sizzling Summer Read -- Summer of the Big Bachi

by Naomi Hirahara

My first mystery novel, SUMMER OF THE BIG BACHI, is probably the most challenging one in my mystery series featuring cranky gardener Mas Arai. From start to publication, it probably took me fifteen years. It’s a flawed book yet a very ambitious one. For all these reasons, it still remains my favorite.

Mas Arai (pronounced “awry,” as in things go “awry”) is an atomic-bomb survivor who has lived in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains in Southern California for more than half a century. He lost his wife years ago. He is estranged from his daughter. Other than a beat-up Ford truck and a couple of good friends, he doesn’t have a lot going for him. But, of course, there’s more to Mas than meets the eye. He has a secret from his days in Hiroshima during World War II and, of course, that secret is now ready to unravel in Los Angeles 1999.

Why do I describe my first novel as flawed? This is not a finely tuned mystery novel, as sits probably in the middle of being a traditional mystery and literary fiction. Mas is very broken in this novel and not that likable at times. And I use a lot of dialect. BACHI, for instance, means “what goes around, comes around.”

I feel that SUMMER OF THE BIG BACHI captures a community of people that you probably never knew existed. They have survived and thrived through experiences you couldn’t imagine. This summer, spend a few days in Mas Arai’s world. It will be a fresh, and unique experience and probably one you won’t forget.

You can read reviews and a sample right here. Or if you're on Nook, here.


Creepiest moments in Doug Hutchison's TV debut with teen wife

Creepiest moments in Doug Hutchison's TV debut with teen wife FROM SALON

ED here: Somehow this was one scandal I'd missed. But wow. This fits into Bill Maher's map of the states where you can marry your first cousin. Or your sister. :)

The 51-year-old actor and his child bride go on "Good Morning America" to show how in love they are. It backfires VIDEO

There is an awkward moment (just one?) during today's "Good Morning America" profile with Doug Hutchison and his wife, Courtney Stodden, when Lara Spencer just puts it out there. "There is that joke: 16 will get you 20 [years in jail]," say the interviewer. Hutchison, who starred in "The Green Mile" and played Hector on "Lost," seemed to mull this over before replying "16 will get you 20 ... if you're doing something illegally."

Doug married the aspiring country singer last month, and when Us Weekly picked up the story, it became an overnight media scandal. You'd almost feel bad for these two -- who really did do everything by the book to make sure their marriage was legit and had the blessing of her parents -- until they started using this uncomfortable nuptial announcement to get more media attention. It would be one thing if they were looking for privacy, out from under the public eye. But Courtney's got a singing career that she evidently thinks her 51-year-old husband can help her with, and there's a reality show they're trying to pitch. Besides, how else can they show the world how sacred their love is unless they go on TV and talk about it?

Below, the video from today's interview, along with the five most cringe-worthy moments from the whole affair.

1. Doug saying he was unaware of Courtney's age when she first hit on him. On the Internet. Which is where they fell in love.
2. Courtney telling the world that she's an old soul. And hasn't had any plastic surgery. And was a virgin until her wedding. She's just, like, the perfect Christian.
3. Courtney's mom's response to Doug: "I can feel my daughter's love for you. I can feel it inside of my heart." Doug is older that Courtney's father.
4. The part where they jokingly talk about how he's a pedophile and her parents are pimps and she's a whore. Ha ... ha?
5. The part where 39 states allow 16-year-old teens to get married to people who would otherwise be convicted of statutory rape for touching them. And the part where only six states allow gay people to marry.
Drew Grant is a staff writer for Salon. Follow her on Twitter at @videodrew. More: Drew Grant

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Why Sam Fuller

Ed here: I ran across this in Senses of Cinema and thought it was an interesting take on Sam Fuller.

Why Samuel Fuller?
by Tag Gallagher

Tag Gallagher is the author of John Ford and The Adventures of Roberto Rossellini and has appeared in Cinéma 0, Trafic, Cinémathèque and Cahiers du Cinéma. More of his work can be found on his website.

Why Samuel Fuller?

Many people will associate Samuel Fuller less for any of his films than for his “guest appearance” in Jean-Luc Godard’s Pierrot le fou in 1965. Ferdinand Griffon (Jean-Paul Belmondo) runs into him at a Paris party and asks, “I’ve always wanted to know, what is cinema, exactly?”, and is told, in English, that, “A film is like a battleground. It’s love, hate, action, violence, death. In one word: emotion.”

The reply was quadrupally appropriate. First, because Fuller was a warrior. Fuller had fought World War II as a private in the US Army, in a division known as The Big Red One, in Algeria, Sicily, Omaha Beach, the battle of the Bulge and the Falkenau death camp.

Second, because Fuller was famous for talking in headlines. He had started selling newspapers in New York when he was 11 and, by 17, was a full-fledged crime reporter and cartoonist. And his films have the feel of tabloid journalism: a bizarre story; violence; and a terse, hard-hitting approach that emphasizes action and conflict.

Third, because no one better than Fuller epitomized the sort of unsung filmmaker that critics like Godard and François Truffaut had been championing in the 1950s, at the moment that the ‘heresies’ of the politique des auteurs and Hollywood-as-art were making their biggest impact. Fuller’s films were cheap. They exploited commercial genres. They made money and were despised – when they were noticed at all. But Fuller’s success gave him independence. He not only directed, he wrote and produced. He was the complete auteur. And his movies shouted out powerful emotions of pain and despair, of the absurdity of a world without God, of looking into the heart of darkness of the wreck of post-war civilization. Fuller was thus in many ways an inspiration behind the first films of the Nouvelle Vague.

for the rest go here:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


READ THE FIRST CHAPTER FREE- at end of article



Sizzling Summer Reads - WATCH ME DIE

Lee Goldberg's Watch Me Die, one of the most acclaimed PI novels in years and a finalist for best novel by the Private Eye Writers of America, is now available as an ebook and in a new paperback edition.
"As dark and twisted as anything Hammett or Chandler ever dreamed up...." Kirkus, Starred Review

"Approaching the level of Lawrence Block is no mean feat, but Goldberg succeeds with this engaging PI novel." Publishers Weekly

Harvey Mapes is a 26-year-old security guard who spends his nights in a guard shack outside a gated community in Southern California, reading detective novels, watching reruns, and waiting for his life to finally start... which happens when Cyril Parkus, one of the wealthy residents, asks Harvey to follow his beautiful wife Lauren.
The lowly security guard jumps at the opportunity to fulfill his private eye fantasies and use everything he's learned from Spenser, Magnum, and Mannix. But things don't exactly go according to the books...or the reruns. As Harvey fumbles and stumbles through his first investigation, he discovers that the differences between fiction and reality can be deadly.

(This book was previously released under the title The Man With the Iron-On Badge)


"A wonderfully fresh voice in the mystery genre, Goldberg will delight fans of Janet Evanovich and Robert Crais," - Rick Riordan, author of "The Throne of Fire."

"Great concept and great's funny, thrilling, and quirky, with a completely satisfying ending you won't see coming. --Barry Eisler, New York Times bestselling author of "The Last Assassin"

"Lee Goldberg is known for his cleverness and sense of humor. He shows how a masterful plotter can take a character in a comic situation and lead him into unexpected danger in an eye-blink," --Thomas Perry, New York Times bestselling author of "The Informant."

"Lee Goldberg bravely marches into territory already staked out by some fierce competition--Donald Westlake, Lawrence Block, the early Harlan Coben--and comes out virtually unscathed." The Chicago Tribune

"Goldberg has a knack for combining just the right amount of humor and realism with his obvious love for the PI genre and his own smart ass sensibilities. [...]A terrific read. Goldberg is the real deal and should be on everyone's must read list." Crimespree Magazine

"Likeable loser Harvey Mapes is my new favorite private eye," —Victor Gischler, Edgar-nominated author of "Gun Monkeys"

"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," Ed Gorman, founder of Mystery Scene Magazine and author of "Blood Money."

"A quick, fun read with a satisfying and unexpected ending. Harvey Mapes is a hero I hope we see in a sequel." -- Phillip M


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bob Levinson; Book Show


A Rhumba in Waltz Time
Robert S. Levinson. Five Star, $25.95 (350p) ISBN 978-1-4328-2497-6
Depression-era Hollywood forms the backdrop for this sharp-edged noir from Levinson (The Traitor in Us All). In 1933, Chris Blanchard's career as an LAPD detective comes to an abrupt end after he refuses to look the other way when his colleagues victimize a prostitute. Five years later, Blanchard undertakes "special problems" for the MGM studio. One such problem involves actress Marie MacDaniels, who comes to his apartment drunk late one night, distraught over having shot her actor husband, Day Covington, and hands over the murder weapon. When Blanchard visits the scene of the crime, he quickly finds evidence clearing MacDaniels and sends her into hiding while he looks into the matter. That crime proves to be but the tip of a very violent iceberg. Photographer to the stars Otto Rothman also ends up dead, and mobster Bugsy Siegel and some American Nazi sympathizers appear to be behind some of the untimely deaths. Blanchard, a character Chandler would recognize, deserves a series of his own. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/27/2011

The 23rd annual
New York City Collectible Paperback &
Pulp Fiction Expo,
our big 2011 book show will be held
Sunday, October 16, 2011,
at the Holiday Inn on 57th Street in NYC in the BIG ROOM.

A limited number of 6’ and 8’ tables available but email for tables asap, as they go fast.

Admission: Preview (8am) $10; General (9am - 3pm) $5; After 3pm FREE

Guest authors and artists so far include:
CHARLES ARDAI, award-winning crime author and editor of the Hard Case Crime series.

LAWRENCE BLOCK, legendry mystery and crime author, creator of the Matt Scudder series & more!

ED BALCOURT, renown artist rep who was a key player in paperback cover art and pb publishing.

LINTON BALDWIN, Lion Books crime author, who wrote Lion classic noir, Sinner's Game.

MARCUS BOAS, fabulous fantasy artist who will display some of his wonderful paintings!

CAROL BUGGE, author of many fine mystery novels and some fine Sherlockian pastiches!

ELAINE DUILLO, famous cover artist and the “Queen of the Romance Paperback!”

RON GOULART, master storyteller, SF writer, pulp and comic book scholar.

JACK FARAGASSO: Famous vintage paperback cover artists and master illustrator!

C.J. HENDERSON, hard-boiled crime, fantasy and horror author.

MORRIS HERSHMAN, original Manhunt author and also Midwood Books author as Arnold English.

MARVIN KAYE, famous fantasy author and renown Sherlockian anthologist and editor of SHMM.

SANDY KOSSIN, vintage paperback cover artist and classic master illustrator!

RON LESSER: Classic paperback book cover artist and master illustrator.

ANNETTE & MARTIN MEYERS, mystery author couple, who also write as Maan Meyers.

S.J. ROZAN, crime author and creator of the famous Lydia Chin series and much more.

NORMAN SPINRAD, legendry science fiction author.

JASON STARR, author of many excellent crime and noir thrillers.

STAN TRYBULSKI, hard-boiled crime author with many fine books to his credit.

KEN WISHNIA, hard crime as well as historical mystery author.

Guest signing times will be posted on our website, and also on the Program given out at the day of the show.


Monday, July 11, 2011

New Vonnegut collection


Apocalypse Now and Forever
A new collection of Kurt Vonnegut’s early work shows him to be the world’s sweetest man of war.

By Jacob Rubin Published Jul 10, 2011

(Photo: Israel Shenker/New York Times Co./Getty Images)
A cranky ostrich in a rumpled suit, Kurt Vonnegut might seem an odd fit for the staid Library of America. (His advice to young writers? “Literature should not disappear up its own asshole, so to speak.”) But Vonnegut, like his hero Mark Twain, has always been something of a paradox—a beloved grouch, a man who has a bad thing to say about almost everybody but for whom no one has a cross word.

Scratch many a satirist and you find a wounded optimist still hoping to chip away at the world with the pick of his derision. In Vonnegut, though, one rarely senses the reformer’s zeal that energizes so much satire, from Swift to South Park. Doom, in his novels, is a given. The foreshadowing is all but lacquered on, so that early in Cat’s Cradle the end of the world is guaranteed. In Slaughterhouse-Five, characters’ fates are often meted out the moment we meet them. “There are almost no characters in this story,” Vonnegut writes in the novel, “and almost no dramatic confrontations, because most of the people in it are so sick and so much the listless playthings of enormous forces.”

Slaughterhouse was an unlikely book—an earnest war novel tricked out with pomo special effects and framed with a loopy sci-fi conceit. And it transformed Vonnegut, a genre-fiction workhorse and WWII vet, into an even unlikelier hero of the counterculture. Almost instantly, the novel joined Catch-22 (1961) and V (1963) in the rabidly dog-eared, passed-from-friend-to-friend canon of literary cult objects. Like “Catch-22,” its immortal refrain “so it goes” seeped into the national parlance, even rising to the level of protest mantra. (To appreciate how weird this is, compare it with “Yes, we can.”) Today, his influence is so ubiquitous as to be invisible, though carbon traces can be detected in the work of any writer who deploys earnestness under cover of irony. And as far as I can tell, Vonnegut remains one of the very few socially mandatory reading experiences of high school.

for the rest go here:

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Marty Greenberg, R.I. P.

As many of you know my best friend Marty Greenberg died two weeks ago. I've been trying to write about him ever since but II'm not satisfied with anything we've done. When John D. MacDonald died (Marty had done a few books with him) we published a trade paperback (The Mystery Scene Reader) dedicated to him. Everybody from Donald Westlake to Charles Willeford wrote short pieces about what JDM's work had meant to them. Marty and I were big fans of his novel A Deadly SShade of Gold and in particular a moving passage he wrote about death. That passage seems appropriate here:

“It is so damn strange about the dead. Life is like a big ship, all lights and action and turmoil, chugging across a dark sea. You have to drop the dead ones over the side. An insignificant little splash, and the ship goes on. For them the ship stops at that instant. For me Sam was back there somewhere, further behind the ship every day. I could look back and think of all the others I knew, dropped all the way back to the horizon and beyond, and so much had changed since they were gone and they wouldn’t know the people aboard, know the rules of the deck games. The voyage saddens as you lose them. You wish they could see how things are. You know that inevitably they’ll drop you over the side, you and everyone you have loved and known, little consecutive splashes in the silent sea, while the ship maintains its unknown course. ”

Saturday, July 09, 2011


Ed here: I know I'm a cranky old bastard who gets too easily annoyed but for what it's worth:


1. Nancy Grace - as ugly outside as in
2. Jennifer Aniston - cute but dull. Lisa Kudrow's Showtime show was infinitely braver and wittier anything Aniston will ever do.
3. Lawrence O'Donnell - I liked him till he turned drama queen. Enough already.
4. Gwyneth Paltrow - started out strong but devolved into this spoiled whining heiress married to one of the biggest assholes in rock and role. Her mother Blythe Danner is far more talented and sexy.
5. The cast of Modern Family. I keep being told how good it is but I can't get through a single episode.
6. Any political talk show host who puts Mike Allen on his/her program. He is the single dumbest (and I'm including Fox) talking head of all time, the plutocrat's lap dog.
7. Zach Galifianakis--I know, right now he's St. Zach. But he's basically a one-trick pony and the pony is getting real tired.
8. All overpaid sports stars who break the law.
9. Diane Sawyer. Maybe just because she worked for Henry Kissinger but also maybe because she comes off like The Seven Sisters Do The News.
10. Lady Ga-Ga--yes she can really sing but all the artsy -craftsy stagecraft is getting tedious. She may be able to stretch her fifteen minutes to seventeen but not eighteen.

Friday, July 08, 2011

John D. Macdonald rejects his rejecters

Ed here: JDM always told the story that he had enough rejection slips to paper his walls. But he decided at one point to let the editors know that he too had the power of rejection. This is from Galleycat.

John D. MacDonald Wrote Form Rejection Letter To Magazines

By Jason Boog on July 6, 2011 11:58 AM

The Letters of Note blog has published a letter from the late hardboiled writer John D. MacDonald.

Later in his career, the novelist referenced his past as an aspiring author and wrote a satirical rejection letter to magazine editors who wanted to publish his work. This one is for all the GalleyCat readers who have a stack of rejection letters at home (just like this editor). Don’t give up hope–someday you could be forced to reject an editor!

Here’s an excerpt from the letter: “We would like to write a personal letter to each and every one of you, but the great mass of stories submitted from this office makes such a procedure impractical. Surely you can understand that! If by any chance we have been unable to use your magazine, don’t be discouraged. It may not be due to any particular deficiency in the magazine, but instead to the fact that we haven’t recently been writing the type of THING that you use. Try again, won’t you?” (Via Reddit)

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Mystery Scene Summer Issue #120

July Greetings
Summer Issue #120, Colin Cotterill on Puckoon and Spike Milligan, More Summer Recommendations, Sony Reader Giveaway.

Hi everyone,

Our jumbo Summer Issue #120 is in the mail and it's a corker!

First we talk to Karin Slaughter, whose gripping, graphic Georgia police procedurals take as their theme violence, particularly violence against women, and its repercussions. Then Jeff Abbott tells us about his new international thriller series featuring a young CIA agent.

Mickey Spillane would often proclaim: "I'm not an author. I'm a writer." In "The Murders in Memory Lane," Lawrence Block ponders the subtleties of that statement - with a little help from the French author Colette.

When the nine-year-old Megan Abbott first saw the classic Rita Hayworth film Gilda, she distinctly remembers thinking "This is what life is." Some years and a literary career of her own later, she reconsiders in her essay "Bar Nothing."

Decades after the Golden Age of Mystery ended, James Anderson's lighthearted puzzles both parodied and paid homage to classic tropes of yesteryear. The Affair of the Bloodstained Egg Cosy, The Affair of the Thirty-Nine Cufflinks and The Affair of the Mutilated Mink are just as delightful as their titles suggest - and they have no bigger fan than Jon L. Breen who discusses them in this issue.

Figuring out if a book is a true first edition is often surprisingly complicated - but vital. As Nate Pederson notes in his column, "Properly identifying a subtle variant in a printing of an edition can turn a $5 thrift store find into a $150 collectable book."

Also in this issue, Katherine Hall Page discusses the enduring appeal of Mary Stewart's novels of romantic suspense, and Kevin Burton Smith looks at William Ard, whose untimely death in 1960 robbed the genre of a potential hardboiled master. We also chat with Juliet Blackwell, whose Lily Ivory mysteries about a young witch in San Francisco offer spells, demons, romance...and some interesting thoughts on a gifted woman finding her place in the world.

Over the summer, we will be publishing more original articles, book reviews, and commentary at the MS Website. We'll also be active on Twitter and Facebook,
so do come join us.

Kate Stine