Wednesday, November 30, 2011

7 Hit TV Shows That Have Stayed Too Long at the Party

7 Hit TV Shows That Have Stayed Too Long at the Party
Published: November 29, 2011 @ 7:57 pm

By Kimberly Potts
This is not a story about ratings. This is a story about shows that have overstayed their welcome.

Shows like “Glee,” “House” and "Grey’s Anatomy” are still pulling in respectable ratings, but are a shadow of what they once were. For every show like "Freaks and Geeks," "Sports Night" and "Party Down" -- great shows that were canceled too soon -- there are series that risk their ultimate TV legacy by staying too late at the party.

Here's why "Dexter" and six other once-terrific shows are past their prime in primetime.

Also read: Mindy Kaling on 'The Office,' Chest Hair and Sexy Andy Rooney


That twist in Sunday night's episode -- which we won't spoil in case it's still sitting on your DVR -- gave us pause for a moment. Could this be the thing that turns season six around? Nope … the season's still a mess.

Writers have Dexter Morgan tackling religion and where, or if, it fits into his life.

A guest stint by Mos Def as reformed killer Brother Sam was the highlight of those efforts, but everything else about season six has fallen flat.

That includes the return, sorta, of Dexter's dead serial killer brother; the painfully cheesy therapy sessions for Deb; the embarrassing way the writers have completely decimated Maria LaGuerta; and the mind-boggling reason Dexter has all of a sudden embraced killers like Travis and Trinity's son, Jonah.

Also read: 'Dexter' Renewed for Another 2 Seasons

If "Dexter" had been a lesser show, around season two or three viewers might have started to question the fact that there seem to be an awful lot of serial killers who a) live in Miami and b) always seem to cross paths with Dexter, even outside his police duties.

"Darkly Dreaming Dexter," the novel in which the Dexter Morgan character was introduced, has become "Deeply Disappointing Dexter."

2. "HOUSE"

He's been in jail and rehab. That's fine if you're, say, playing Iron Man. But if you're a doctor, the go-to diagnostician, this is not the resume you want to present to your patients.

Add in the many, many cast changes, and the fact that the show has fallen into a formula of bringing Hugh Laurie's House to the brink of redemption, only to see him embrace his inner jerk once again, and the diagnosis is clear: After this, the show's eighth season, it is most definitely time for "House" to be surgically removed from the Fox lineup.

Also read: 'House' Season 8 Trailer: Watch Hugh Laurie Get Pummeled in Prison (Video)

3. "GLEE"

The first season of the show was something new and different and fun.

The second season … it was kind of like that kid you knew in junior high who came back from summer vacation for the first year of high school and had outgrown his awkward phase.

for the rest go here:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Patricia Cornwell: 'Powerful women are more likely to kill’

Patricia Cornwell: 'Powerful women are more likely to kill’
Patricia Cornwell, the doyenne of crime fiction, explains why her new book is filled with female psychopaths.

'Red Mist’ is Cornwell’s 19th book to feature Kay Scarpetta, who Angelina Jolie has signed up to portray in a forthcoming film Photo: ANDREW CROWLEY
By Bryony Gordon7:30AM GMT 29 Nov 2011 40 Comments

IIt isn’t giving too much away to reveal that all of the criminals in Patricia Cornwell’s new book – and there are several – are female. There is one who hammers nails into a child’s head, another who is a convicted sex offender, and a woman on death row for murdering a family as they slept. Then there is the mother who smothers her children and – my personal favourite – the woman who condemns her victims to long and painful deaths by Botox (she injects food with the botulinum toxin). Meanwhile, men are reduced to mere walk-on roles, emasculated, castrated – not literally, though this process does appear in other
Cornwell novels – and cast as helpless husbands and ineffectual police officers.

Red Mist is Cornwell’s 19th Scarpetta novel, the one that will nudge her over the magical 100 million copies mark. It is also the book that coincides with her work finally hitting the big screen. Angelina Jolie has signed up to play Cornwell’s protagonist, Dr Kay Scarpetta, a former chief medical examiner of the state of Virginia and forensic consultant.

In previous novels Scarpetta has dealt with sexual sadists and serial killers who leave limbless corpses, but none have featured quite so many female psychopaths. The main killer in Red Mist poisons her victims, which Cornwell tells me “is very female”. She says this in a cool, clinical manner, matter-of-factly, as if poisoning people was the most natural thing a woman could do after having periods and growing breasts (I suppose this detachment must be what happens when you have worked in a morgue, spent much of your time shadowing forensics experts and frequently attended autopsies, as Cornwell has.) “[Poisoning is] a long, drawn-out death, so it’s diabolical, sadistic, psychological, which is a female thing. It’s an inversion of the maternal instinct to nurture.”

for the rest go here:

Sunday, November 27, 2011

New Books: Cemetery Girl by David Bell

Cemetery Girl tells the story of Tom and Abby Stuart. They are a perfect couple with good jobs, a nice home, and a beautiful twelve-year-old daughter named Caitlin. Everything is great in their lives until the unthinkable happens—one day Caitlin goes out to walk the family dog, and she doesn’t come home. When the book begins, Caitlin has been gone for four years, and Tom and Abby are facing a dilemma that the loved ones of missing people face all the time: Do we move on and accept that our child isn’t coming back? Or do we keep hope alive against all odds and never give up or let go?

I started writing this book because I think one of the most terrifying things a person can encounter in life is the unknown, especially as it relates to those closest to us. What could be more frightening than having someone very close to you who harbors a secret they won’t share? What could be more frightening than having someone in your own house who may have been keeping secrets from you? What if someone in your own house suddenly turned into someone you can’t recognize and don't even know? These are some of the questions that sent me down the road to Cemetery Girl.

One of the questions I get asked a lot is: How can you write a book about a father when you don’t have children yourself? The novel is narrated by Tom Stuart, the father of the missing girl, and it’s his obsession with finding the truth that drives the book. The answer to that question about having children is simple: No, I don't have children, but I have been someone’s child my whole life. I understand the parent-child dynamic from that side, and I understand what it’s like to be part of a family, to be a husband, a son, a brother, a nephew. Cemetery Girl is very much a story about a family. It is about the ties that bind us to one another. It’s also about the way those ties change as our circumstances change. The ties bend, stretch and sometimes even break, but they are always there. We never stop being our parents’ children, even after they are gone and we are grown. We never stop being brothers and sisters. We never stop being family whether we want to admit it or not.

It’s not giving too much away about the book to say that Caitlin comes home after four years. (This is in the summary on the back of the book.) And her return only creates more problems for the family. Rather than having a tearful, heartfelt reunion, the family is faced with even more questions: Where was she for four years? Who was she with? Did she choose to be gone—or as she taken? These questions carry the book through to the end and seem to provide the suspense and emotion that thriller readers respond to. I’ve been fortunate to receive some good reviews and great blurbs from writers I admire so much: Lisa Unger, John Lescroart, Will Lavender, Jonathan Maberry, and Tom Monteleone. If you like a suspenseful tale about a family pushed to the limit, a tale full of twists and turns, then you’ll probably like Cemetery Girl. It makes a good choice for book clubs because of the many questions it raises about the characters’ behavior and motivations. Let me know what you think when you read it. I can be reached through my website:

The Night Editor-Orson Welles

Ed here: The last time I talked about Orson Welles I got into some trouble. A few readers of the blog felt that I was denigrating him when I said that he was not a martyr but frequently the cause of his own trouble. I cited a tape I'd heard of him from the 1970s in which he was reading copy for the wine company he then represented. The tape was of the recording session itself with Welles doing various takes on the copy. He didn't like the direction he was getting and became so abusive and angry it almost sounded like a gag. He went out of his way to insult the ad agency people. And he kept it up. He was being paid a lot of money. There wasn't a better way to handle it? Jake Hinson at The Night Editor speaks to this and other Wellesian issues in a fine piece he recently wrote.

Jake Hinson:

By then, however, the money had dried up in Europe. Welles may have been a great artist, but he was never box office gold. He was barely box office bronze. He returned to America and took roles in films that were beneath him. He channeled the money back into his projects like THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND, a drama featuring John Huston, Peter Bogdanovich, and his buddy from his RKO days, JOURNEY INTO FEAR director Norman Foster.

He still dabbled in pulp and noir, too. He shot an adaptation of Charles Williams’s DEAD CALM called THE DEEP with Laurence Harvey, working on it until Harvey died. He planned an adaptation of Jim Thompson’s A HELL OF A WOMAN with director Gary Graver, but like almost all of his projects in the seventies and eighties, it had to be shelved for lack of funds. Hollywood, which had never liked Welles, had now forgotten him. He was old and broke in a town where only youth and money mattered. In 1985, at the age of 70, he died at home working on a script.

There is a heartbreaking bargain you have to make with Orson Welles. Much of his work—more than that of any other major director—comes to us in damaged shape. When you consider that he was making difficult films to begin with, the full picture begins to emerge.

Orson Welles was either too much of an artist or too much of an egomaniac—perhaps both—to ever fully commit to genre, even for the duration of a single film. He liked genre but viewed it as a beginning, a jumping off place. This was no less true for a thriller than for a Shakespeare adaptation. His instinct was to be, as he once angrily wrote Harry Cohn, “original, or at the least somewhat oblique.” Win or lose—and he lost often—his films were stamped with the conviction that cinema was an instrument of experimentation and poetry, not formula.

for the rest go here:

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Forgotten Movies: Netflixing: Showtime’s Rebel Highway (1994)

Netflixing: Showtime’s Rebel Highway (1994)
Posted by R. Emmet Sweeney on November 8, 2011

In one of the stranger experiments in cable television history, Showtime’s 1994 Rebel Highway series commissioned ten filmmakers to remake a 1950s exploitation movie. It was the brainchild of Lou Arkoff (the son of American International Pictures founder Samuel Z. Arkoff) and Debra Hill (producer of Halloween). They gave directors $ 1.3 million and a 12 day shooting schedule, to roughly approximate the original shooting conditions (modified for inflation). Unlike the ’50s cheapies, though, they were given final cut, and could choose their own screenwriter, editor and director of photography. This proved irresistible to the (mostly) impressive list of talents who signed on: Robert Rodriguez (Machete), John McNaughton (Wild Things), Mary Lambert (Pet Sematary), Allan Arkush (Rock ‘N’ Roll High School), Joe Dante (Gremlins), Jonathan Kaplan (The Accused), John Milius (Conan the Barbarian), William Friedkin (The Exorcist), Ralph Bakshi (Fritz the Cat) and Uli Edel (The Baader Meinhof Complex).

All of the filmmakers, except for Rodriguez, were old enough to have lived through the era of the film they remade, engaging the aesthetics and politics of the originals in strikingly different ways, alternating between affection and parody often in the same film. Since its original airing, the series has completely disappeared from cultural memory, but Netflix Watch Instantly, that haphazard repository of moving image detritus, is now streaming every entry, and it’s well worth sampling the project’s eccentric film-historical time travel. Below, some thoughts on my favorites.

Joe Dante’s Runaway Daughters, an adaptation of Edward L. Cahn’s 1956 AIP production, is one of the few entries to completely stand on its own as a feature. It is a companion piece to Matinee, Dante’s loving evocation of a 1950s movie-huckster, modeled on William Castle, that he made the previous year. Both films were written by Charlie Haas, and share a tone of gentle satire, about the paranoia brought on by the threat of nuclear war and the space race, respectively. Runaway Daughters follows three high school girlfriends who chase down the no-good boy who loved and left. Working class Holly (Mary Nicholson) thinks she’s pregnant, and is convinced by rich girl Angie (Julie Bowen from Modern Family) and middle-class Laura (Jenny Lewis, who later formed indie-rock band Rilo Kiley) to track the dog down. So they steal a car and hit the road, intercepting the cad before he signs up for the Navy.

Dante opens the film with an irony-drenched found footage montage set to “Let the Good Times Roll”, from a jubilant Eisenhower and Nixon, to the NAACP hung in effigy, and closing with the repressed sexual longings of I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957), the title character getting hairy while watching a stretching gymnast. The longing on-screen enters the narrative, as the trio of not-so-repressed girls is watching Werewolf at a drive-in, necking with impunity and ignoring the metaphors on screen. One of the neckees is Paul Rudd in one of his earliest roles, playing Angie’s bad boy squeeze, Jimmy Rusoff (named after the original screenwriter, Lou Rusoff). Dante gifts Rudd with the catch phrase from Speed Crazy (1959, a major part of Dante’s mash-up Movie Orgy (’68)), “Don’t crowd me!”, which Rudd dishes with appropriate petulance to his greasy gearhead Dad (played against type by Fabian, a late ’50s teen idol).

for the rest go here:

Friday, November 25, 2011

New Books: ESCAPE FROM PARIS by Carolyn Hart, Oct. 2011 edition

There are edits and there are edits. This book was first published in England in 1982. It came out with a word count of 55,000 words. The problem was the manuscript was 93,000 words. Now THAT's an edit.

Fortunately Oconee Spirit Press has now published the full version in a very natty trade paperback. Since we all know most of my synopses are terrible let me as usual I'll let the press release do the heavy lifting.

"ESCAPE FROM PARIS is the story of a year of war, the year France fell to the Germans and England awaited invasion. It is the story of people around the world, touched by war. It is also the story of two American sisters (Linda and Eleanor) in Paris who help British fliers from Occupied France. The Gestapo has decreed death for all involved in saving RTF fliers."

I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading Escape but within four pages I was hooked. The book begins cleverly and powerfully with short sharp chapters focusing on various people in various places caught up in the war. Readers get a vital sense of a WORLD war right at the start.

Though the novel is rich with historical touches and insights the story is relentlessly told with numerous scenes of suspense perfectly set up and executed. From the psychotic German obsession with destroying Jews to the turncoat cooperation of the Vichy government to the underground movements (such as the one the sisters participate in) Escape is a non-stop thriller that a wide range of readers will not only enjoy but also remember.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Buy Bill Crider's Book A Werewolf Named Wayne eBook: Bill Crider: Kindle Store: Al's new next-door neighbors have just arrived in a smoke-belching DeSoto convertible. They may travel in style, but there's more to them than meets their strangely eerie eyes. Things are going to get hairy as Al gets to know these new additions to the neighborhood. He's ready to face any challenges they bring--secret construction projects and cravings for canned dog food included. But first Al may have to answer a tough question: is it harder being friends with a werewolf, or a girl?

Hermie, Al, and Carl from Bill Crider's first young adult novel A VAMPIRE NAMED FRED, are back in action for another adventure in A WEREWOLF NAMED WAYNE - published for the first time ever.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Collected Nathan Heller Short Stories $0.99

Ed here: The writer who gave us Road To Perdition, the Nathan Heller novels and so many other fine books
has put his Nathan Heller short stories into a great new collection. Classic hardboiled stories that readers of every kind will enjoy. One of my favorite books of the year.

Start reading Chicago Lightning: The Collected Nathan Heller Short Stories on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here.

Buy for $0.99

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

New eBooks: Kill Them All by Harry Shannon

Kill Them All (Dead Man #6) [Kindle Edition]
Harry Shannon (Author), Lee Goldberg (Author), William Rabkin (Author)

Digital List Price: $2.99 What's this?
Prime Members: $0.00 (read for free)
Kindle Purchase Price: $0.99
When Purchased, You Save: $2.00 (67%)

Q&A With Harry Shannon, author of Kill Them All

Q: How did you become a novelist?

HS: I adore books, always have. The itch to write one has always been there. Like a lot of authors, I've worked at a number of professions over the years, from music publisher and song lyricist to film executive and psychological counselor. I'd always intended to try my hand at a novel someday, perhaps after retirement, but when my daughter was born so was the necessary drive. I figured, why wait? So I began to outline my first Mick Callahan mystery Memorial Day. It was published two years later.

Q: How did you get involved in The Dead Man series?

HS: In 2010, several experienced authors joined me in forming a loose organization called Top Suspense Group. Among them was Lee Goldberg, who co-created The Dead Man series. Lee asked me if I'd be willing to contribute a novella. Since I grew up on Gold Medal novels, Lancer books and other men's pulp fiction, I loved the concept and jumped at the chance. It was a wonderful experience, and now I'm looking forward to seeing how readers react to my take on Matt's character.

Q: You've written a lot of horror books, including Clan, The Hungry and the Lionsgate movie and novel Dead and Gone. How is the horror in The Dead Man different from what you have done before?

HS: That's an interesting question. For me, horror is not a genre so much as an emotion, so it can be expressed in any number of ways. I generally gravitate towards dry humor coupled with a serious exploration of existential themes--literally the meaning of life, death and those fragile emotional attachments we form along the way. With my entry Kill Them All, I wanted to use the horror as a metaphor for moral corruption. I immediately saw Matt as the classic American hero, an archetypal loner wandering into and out of a troubled desert town, standing up to evil on behalf of the weak and downtrodden. I often set novels in Nevada, but to answer your question, this one has the feeling of a graphic novel, and though it's contemporary it is far more of a classic western than anything else I've ever done. It tempts me to try my hand at a period piece.

Q: This is the first time you've written in someone else's "universe." What was it like writing characters you didn't create?

HS: To be honest, it wasn't easy at first. I'm not used to having to discipline my muse to that degree. Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin were very patient with me, red-lining and sending back a couple of drafts, pointing out where I'd gotten something wrong about Matt's personality or background. The tone had to be just right, and my goofiness had to be reigned in a bit. Kill Them All ended up far, far better as result of their patience. I'll have to prepare and outline more carefully the next time I do a project like this. But once the boundaries were nailed down properly, it just started flowing out. I'm proud of i>Kill Them All. It has substance to it, and was lots of fun to write.

Q: What you've written in so many genres. What genre do you like best?

HS: Like most of the folks contributing to The Dead Man series, I'm very comfortable wandering the boundary between horror and crime fiction and occasionally blurring the line between the two. And I do love a good western. If forced to choose just one genre, I'd say my heart is in the mystery/thriller, where supernatural elements aren't present, but human evil certainly is. My character Mick Callahan is a troubled young psychologist with anger problems. I work a lot of my own issues out when writing Callahan books. There are plenty of horrific moments in his life, though none involving zombies or ghosts. I enjoy exploring Callahan's inner world.

Q: Is there a common strain that runs through your writing regardless of whatever genre you're writing in?

HS: Another interesting question. The short answer is yes. Doing the right thing. I am drawn to stories that use temptation and terror to force a protagonist to examine his or her own character. My favorite definition of the word integrity is "obedience to the unenforceable." Okay, you could get away with doing this, but could you live with it? I also believe the old saw "all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for a good man to do nothing." I'm always working to understand my own conflicting impulses and drives, and believe that very human struggle to be a noble endeavor. I'm sure all that comes out in my writing, book after book, and that it's also there in Kill Them All.

Q: What are you working on now?

HS: I'm hard at work on a new Mick Callahan thriller, tentatively entitled Rough Men. I'm also toying with a crime novella for Top Suspense Group, and a sequel to my zombie apocalypse novel The Hungry. So there you go, I'm writing a mystery, a thriller, and a horror novel!
Product Description
Matt Cahill was an ordinary man leading a simple life until a shocking accident changed everything. Now he can see a nightmarish netherworld that exists within our own. Now he's on a dangerous quest for the answers to who he is and what he has become...and engaged in an epic battle to save us, and his soul, from the clutches of pure evil.

When Matt wanders into a struggling Nevada tourist trap recreation of an "old west" town, he's unaware that he’s being trailed by a Special Ops team of professional mercenaries hired by a University desperate to unlock the secret behind his resurrection...and that he's put everyone around him in dire jeopardy. The mercenaries have no intention of letting Matt escape...or letting any witnesses survive. Matt finds himself in a deadly bind. Somehow he must rally the peaceful citizens into defending themselves against the sadistic, well-armed mercenaries… or sacrifice himself to save them from certain death.

The Dead Man Series:
Face of Evil by Lee Goldberg & William Rabkin
Ring of Knives by James Daniels
Hell in Heaven by Lee Goldberg & William Rabkin
The Dead Woman by David McAfee
The Blood Mesa by James Reasoner
Kill Them All by Harry Shannon
The Beast Within by James Daniels
See all Editorial Reviews

New from Haffner Press: Shannach – The Last: Farewell to Mars Leigh Brackett

Shannach – The Last:
Farewell to Mars
Leigh Brackett
Introduction by Anne McCaffrey
Illustrated by Ed Emshwiller and Frank Kelly Freas
ISBN 9781893887442
500+ pages Hardcover


Picking up where Lorelei of the Red Mist: Planetary Romances left off, this volume collects the final 17 stories of strange adventures on other worlds from the undisputed "Queen of Space Opera." Drawn from the last years of pulp magazines such as Planet Stories, Startling Stories, and Thrilling Wonder Stories, Shannach – The Last: Farewell to Mars sees Brackett at the peak of her talents. Oddly, it is at this point where she abandons the "planetary romance" sub-genre and embarks on a small string of stories tinged with social relevance. This departure didn't stop editors asking for some of "that old Brackett magic" and she offered up two latter day tales ("The Road to Sinharat" and "Purple Priestess of the Mad Moon") before returning to chronicle further adventures of Eric John Stark in her final "Skaith" novels. Closing out the collection is a trio of tales written on commission from the "king of anthologies," Roger Elwood.

The book is adorned with Frank Kelly Freas' and Ed Emshwiller's vintage illustrations from the original pulp magazines.

In a review of Lorelei of the Red Mist: Planetary Romances Paul di Filippo says "[Brackett's work] is replete with hard-bitten protagonists with wounded psyches, females both nurturing and malevolent, weird alien life forms, strange planetary environments, danger, treachery, camaraderie and even spiritual epiphanies. In short, this book holds the essence of SF—at least, the essence of one very important school of it."

Yeah, that's the stuff!

Table of Contents

Related Books
Martian Quest
Lorelei of the Red Mist
Stark and the Star Kings

Table of Contents
"Introduction" by Anne McCaffrey
The Truants (Startling Stories Jul ’50)
The Citadel of Lost Ages (Startling Stories Dec ’50)
The Woman from Altair (Startling Stories Jul ’51)
The Shadows (Startling Stories Feb ’52)
The Last Days of Shandakor (Startling Stories Apr ’52)
Shannach—the Last (Planet Stories Nov ’52)
Mars Minus Bisha (Planet Stories Jan ’54)
Runaway (Startling Stories Spr ’54)
The Tweener (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction Feb ’55)
Last Call from Sector 9G (Planet Stories Sum '55)
The Queer Ones (Venture Mar ’57)
All the Colors of the Rainbow (Venture Nov ’57)
The Road to Sinharat (Amazing Stories May ’63)
Purple Priestess of the Mad Moon (ss) F&SF Oct ’64)
Come Sing the Moons of Moravenn (The Other Side of Tomorrow, ed. Roger Elwood, 1973)
How Bright the Stars (Flame Tree Planet, ed. Roger Elwood, 1973)
Mommies and Daddies (Crisis, ed. Roger Elwood, 1974)
"Afterword" by Leigh Brackett

Monday, November 21, 2011


November 2011. Crossroad Press.

Digital List Price: $3.99

Ask the Dice is my new crime noir written in the brisk, lean tradition of the classic Fawcett/Gold Medal PBOs. Ask the Dice is my second stand-alone novel after Lake Charles.

Middle-aged Tommy Mack Zane, an ace hit man for organized crime, is looking forward to retiring from the grisly profession and going to live out his golden years. His crime boss catches wind of Tommy Mack’s plans and seemingly sets him up for the murder of the rebellious crime boss’s niece. No choice, Tommy Mack takes it on the lam and with the aid of a few solid friends battles his vengeful crime boss. And who couldn’t use a few solid friends in a jam like his?

When I decided to use the hit man trope from crime fiction, I wanted to create mine as distinctive but without going over the top with his character. Tommy Mack is a black kid adopted by a white family in the Washington, D.C. suburbs. His early childhood spent in rural Texas figures predominantly in determining his career. A lover of jazz and poetry, he pursues outside interests, and therefore he enjoys a life outside of his job. In other words, he feels ready to something else besides bumping off marked victims for his crime boss who insists, “It’s just business.”

The use of back-story in crime fiction has somewhat fallen out of vogue, but for me it remains essential. Tommy Mack’s past makes him the unsympathetic protagonist he is, but the back-story also fleshes out just why he takes up his assassin trade. By the climax, he unearths a few nasty surprises and deals with them in his way.

Ask the Dice has its own noirish roots. The title is derived from a Marilyn Monroe quote to the director John Huston at the Reno craps table in Spring 1960, during the filming of The Misfits, her final motion picture. She’s a film noir starlet from her incandescent presence in The Asphalt Jungle while Huston’s contributions to the genre are legendary.

Thanks for your interest in Ask the Dice, and to Ed for having me back again.

Kindle users:

Nook users:

-Ed Lynskey
Twitter: @edlynskey

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Still hanging in there on Baker & Taylor Top 15 at #9

From author Charlie Stella Temporary Knuckline

The Sam McCain mysteries are always fun for this reader; partly because they are always historical novels and partly because they’re always so well written. Bad Moon Rising is no exception. The Gorman-McCain formula touches on nostalgia and easily identifiable landmarks along a familiar timeline. The fact Gorman has been doing this longer than my married kids are alive is no fluke; he’s survived where many authors haven’t. Bad Moon Rising offers the usual cast of Black River Falls fun and interesting characters, plus a few new ones, and a plot that twists as good as any. A reader choosing any one of the series will be well invested in Sam McCain before they know it.

Having read a few of the McCain series, I was smiling and nodding as soon as I came across an early passage where Sam mentions the Sitar (and how mostly annoying it is to have to listen to one—music to torture one’s ears has always been my definition). It is that sense of timeline/nostalgia/Americana (so what Ravi Shankar was Indian? I remember being tortured by his sitar at the Concert for Bangladesh in Madison Square Garden).

And let’s face it ... people went to the bathroom in masses when two things happened back in the day ... Ravi Shanker took the stage or a twenty-minute drum solo began.

Gorman presents what many of us assume are the good old days while always reminding us there was some bad days as well; Vietnam, long awaited civil rights legislation waiting to take hold, etc.. In Bad Moon Rising, McCain is confronted with the death of the daughter of a wealthy libertarian of sorts. Paul Manwearing was recently widowed and quickly remarried but the stepmom to his two daughters is well versed in remarrying. Paul’s daughters were not happy with the new woman in their lives and each dealt with it in her own way; seeking attention from their father in self destructive ways—how kids in such situations often seek attention.

There’s also a high school football star with very dysfunctional parents forever fighting one another (at the top of their lungs) making their home a place not to be. A multitude of potential suspects to the murder of Manwearing’s daughter will keep you guessing throughout. There’s a hippie commune that drives many of the good folk of Black River Falls somewhat crazy and preacher Cartwright does his usual fire and brimstone routine (something that drives Sam crazy throughout the series), but if there’s anything missing (for this reader) from Bad Moon Rising, it is more of the back and forth between Sam and Judge Whitney (Sam’s Republican Alter ego) … and if I’m not mistaken, she didn’t even shoot a rubber band at him this go. A reformed Judge Whitney? Say it ain’t so, Mr. Gorman.

Sam is always fun to read about and Bad Moon Rising is no disappointment to this wonderful series.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

New Books: Saboteur-Richard S. Wheeler Writing as Axel Brand

The Saboteur (Lieutenant Joe Sonntag Mysteries) [Kindle Edition]

Digital List Price: $2.99

A violent strike; murder at the factory gates.

Milwaukee, 1949. There's labor turmoil in Beer City. Joe Sonntag gets called to the strike-bound West Allis tractor factory, where a temporary employee has been shot and killed in the middle of the night. The struggle between the Machinists Union and the company has boiled over into murder.

But it proves to be more complex than that. The police soon find that mobsters are attempting to take over the union. And also they discover a romantic radical, Anastasia Ryan, who seems to be all too present when more people suddenly die of gunshot wounds, including a respected union leader. She can recite the poetry of John Donne, and lay yellow roses on the grave of an unnamed "scab." Who is she, and why is she there?

This is all a strange world for Joe Sonntag. He's used to dealing with crooks and thugs, but here are people fighting a war to the death over ideals, and jobs, and pay, and maybe the future of the world.

Joe's finest young detective, Frank Silva, who comes from a socialist family, confesses that he once had a romance with Anastasia. She was an experienced older radical; he was a teenager blotting up her beliefs and her world. Suddenly young Frank Silva becomes the lead detective, his bitter insights leading Sonntag's detectives toward the tangled and tragic truth.


We just added a new book to the Hard Case Crime Web site (, a first novel by a young Baltimore-based writer named Ariel S. Winter that we’ll be publishing next summer. It’s not the sort of book that generally attracts a lot of coverage merely as a result of being announced – obviously no one knows the author’s name yet, since he hasn’t published any books before. The main thing it does have going for it is that it’s an amazing, amazing book – one that really knocked my socks off – but that’s something no one else will appreciate until they actually get to read it, which is months away.

However –

There is another story here, which is the book’s very unusual structure. The book is called THE TWENTY-YEAR DEATH, and it’s the story of a husband and wife whose lives collapse as violence intrudes – not an unusual premise for a noir novel. But the form Winter chose for it is very unusual: he decided to tell the story of these two doomed characters in the form of three separate old-fashioned crime novels, each set in a different decade and written in the style of one of the iconic mystery writers of that time. It feels a little like opening a Christmas package and finding new novels by three of your favorite pulp-era crime writers. The first is set in 1931 and features a French police inspector investigating the death of a convict in a rain gutter 20 miles away from the prison where he was supposed to be serving a 40-year jail sentence. The second is set in 1941 and features a hardboiled private eye in Hollywood who is hired by one of the big movie studios to watch over one of their leading ladies, who either is showing signs of paranoid dementia or is actually being stalked by a mysterious man on the set of her new picture. And the third is set in 1951 and puts us deep inside the dark and troubled mind of a desperate man, a drunken writer who has lost almost everything he had and is about to tip over the edge separating ‘troubled’ from ‘dangerous.’

What’s more, these aren’t just pastiches – what's wonderful is that each book works not only as a tribute to a great mystery writer of the past but also as a standalone novel with substance and emotional heft, and as part of the combined larger whole. It’s fascinating, for instance, to watch a background character in the first book become a more central figure in the second and then the first-person narrator in the third. I don’t know any other book that’s ever done anything like it.

In any event…I fell in love with the book, and bought it even though it’s three times the length of our usual books (by far the longest book we’ve ever published – 180,000 words), and even though you’re always told, as a publisher, that first novels don’t sell. I did it because it’s a stunning performance and just left me grinning the widest grin I’ve had on my face for a long, long time.

I don't know if you'll want to run anything about it this early, but if you do, let me know and I can get you a high-res image of the cover art. (Painted by Chuck Pyle, it features the Hollywood star from the 1941 novel…and actual Hollywood star Rose McGowan posed for the painting!) If not, I'm glad to at least plant a seed in the back of your mind now, which will hopefully ripen into full-blown curiosity when we get closer to the book's publication date...


Friday, November 18, 2011

Max Allan Collins makes one more 'Return to Perdition' USA TODAY

Max Allan Collins makes one more 'Return to Perdition'
By Brian Truitt, USA TODAY Updated 2d ago

After three graphic novels, two prose books and a Tom Hanks movie, Max Allan Collins' Road to Perdition saga is winding to a close — and a somewhat surprisingly peaceful ending.

The writer's 1998 graphic novel Road to Perdition introduced 1930s Mob enforcer Michael O'Sullivan, his young son, and their quest for revenge, and the new Return to Perdition, out now from DC Comics' Vertigo imprint, completes the tale with O'Sullivan's grandson, Michael Satariano Jr., who returns home from the Vietnam War in the 1970s to an equally violent life as a government assassin.

Collins' ambitious journey dates back to 1993. Working with his editor at DC's now-defunct Paradox Press, Collins initially envisioned three graphic novels of 300 pages each that would tell the adventures of O'Sullivan and his kid on the road, robbing banks and eluding gangsters a la The Fugitive.

He had started planning a sequel two-thirds of the way through Road when he heard that DC was cancelling the line, meaning he had to wrap his story up in the final 100 pages. In the meantime, he had been arguing with his editor about whether the series should simply be about the father and son, or a bigger generational saga like The Godfather.

"The more I thought about, the more I thought he had a good point," Collins recalls. "I mapped out the subsequent generations: The boy in Road to Perdition growing up, going to war, getting sucked into the Mob himself and ultimately having a son who similarly — primarily because of the role of vengeance in their lives — got drawn into thus life of crime."

for the rest go here:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Forgotten Books: Conan Doyle, Detective by Peter Costello

I always thought that Arthur Conan Doyle was a pretty cool guy. When I was young, I was all caught up in the almost otherworldly portrait he gave us of Victorian London and environs: the fog, the hansom cabs, the echoing footsteps down the dark alleys, the pitiful ones of Whitechapel, the self-indulgent ones of the aristocracy. And then when I got older and had more appreciation of what it was like for a father to lose a son, the way Doyle turned to mentalism of various sorts…

The one aspect of the Doyle story I’d never paid much attention to was his very real interest in true-crime cases. As Erle Stanley Gardner would do several decades later, Doyle helped clear innocents and thus helped them escape the gallows. And he worked with police from a variety of cities, towns and even other countries when they asked his opinion or advice on matters concerning open cases.

All this is documented in a fine new book CONAN DOYLE, DETECTIVE: THE TRUE CRIMES INVESTIGATED BY THE CREATOR OF SHERLOCK HOLMES by Peter Costello that moves as swiftly as a Doyle story while offering us a look at a Doyle most of us have ever encountered, even in some of the better Doyle biographies.

There are chapters on six of the UK’s most famous cases, including Crippen, Jack the Ripper and the Irish Crown Jewels. Even when Doyle was wrong in his conjectures, his process of deduction is fascinating to follow. Likewise, even in cases of lesser fame, Costello sets all the crimes in a context that helps give us a vivid sense of the era.

A real treat for several audiences: those who love Holmes, those fascinated with Doyle himself, those interested in the formation of modern crime-solving techniques and those (and there seem to be many) who wished they’d lived in the time of Queen Victoria.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fight Card #1 Felony Fists by Jack Tunney

(I apologize for not having the excellent cover at hand. My computer will not cooperate in getting the image to reproduce. I apologize to Paul especially.)

As someone who grew up in the Forties and Fifties boxing fiction was almost as familiar to me as detective stories and westerns. Hollywood especially loved boxing material. Some of the movies were extraordinary but most were lame and predictable.

When I read about Paul Bishop’s Felony Fists (under the name Jack Tunney) I wanted to read it because Paul is such a good writer and because he set his story in his hometown, Los Angeles in the historically interesting year of 1954 (Joe McCarthy, mob hearings in the Senate and Ike promising to end the Korean war one way or the other, including dropping the big bomb).

Felony Fists give us the era vividly and it also delivers a knock out story with the protagonist police officer (and amateur boxer) Patrick “Felony” Flynn.

Here’s the Amazon description (I do this because a number of you have complained about my lax attempts at summarizing stories—apparently forgetting all the sacrifices I’ve made for this country).

“Patrick “Felony” Flynn has been fighting all his life. Learning the “sweet science” from Father Tim the fighting priest at St. Vincent’s, the Chicago orphanage where Pat and his older brother Mickey were raised, Pat has battled his way around the world – first with the Navy and now with the Los Angeles Police Department.

“Legendary LAPD chief William Parker is on a rampage to clean up both the department and the city. His elite crew of detectives known as The Hat Squad is his blunt instrument – dedicated, honest, and fearless. Promotion from patrol to detective is Pat’s goal, but he also yearns to be one of the elite.

“And his fists are going to give him the chance.

“Gangster Mickey Cohen runs LA’s rackets, and murderous heavyweight Solomon King is Cohen’s key to taking over the fight game. Chief Parker wants Patrick “Felony” Flynn to stop him – a tall order for middleweight ship’s champion with no professional record.

“Leading with his chin, and with his partner, LA’s first black detective Tombstone Jones, covering his back, Patrick Flynn and his Felony Fists are about to fight for his future, the future of the department, and the future of Los Angeles.”

If I had to categorize Felony Fists I’d call it New Pulp. Yes it’s fast paced, honors many pulp tropes and delivers everything pulp readers require but it’s much more realistic than Old Pulp. For one thing Paul Bishop knows boxing and it shows. He also gives headline names like Mickey Cohen real life.

This is a story that just won’t quit. I read it in two sittings and enjoyed every page. And all it cost me was $2.99. Next in the series is Mel Odom’s Cut Man.

Frank Miller: Occupy Wall Street 'Louts, Thieves & Rapists,' Comic Writer Says

Frank Miller: Occupy Wall Street 'Louts, Thieves & Rapists,' Comic Writer Says

Huffington Post

Frank Miller has spent much of his famed comic book writing career creating dark, urban dystopias, but the groundbreaking scribe has little regard for the chaos he says reigns at Zuccotti Park.
The man behind such famed comic series as "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns," "Sin City" and "300," in fact, is entirely against the Occupy Wall Street movement.
"'Occupy' is nothing but a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, an unruly mob, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness," Miller wrote in a blog entry last week. "These clowns can do nothing but harm America."
Though, for the most part, the participants in the now-global Occupy moment have protested the imbalances of the economy, corporate fiscal abuses and government officials' close ties to Wall Street, Miller mentions the War on Terror in his slamming of the nascent movement.
"Wake up, pond scum. America is at war against a ruthless enemy," he later continues. "Maybe, between bouts of self-pity and all the other tasty tidbits of narcissism you've been served up in your sheltered, comfy little worlds, you've heard terms like al-Qaeda and Islamicism."
Miller then implores protestors to join the military, or otherwise, to go "back to your mommas' basements and play with your Lords Of Warcraft."
In his work, Miller's protagonists often face off against corrupt government officials. Batman, in both "The Dark Knight Returns" and "The Dark Knight Strikes Again" is faced with heavy governmental opposition, with the latter featuring an especially oppressive and corrupt government.
In 2006, Miller announced that he would have Batman take on Osama bin Laden in "Holy Terror, Batman!" but later dropped Batman from the book; it became "Holy Terror," and has been highly criticized for being hatefully anti-Islam.
In a blog entry on his own site posted in September, Miller calls the book "propaganda," a sort of throw-back to when Captain America punched Hitler, rips the news media as slanted propaganda in its own right, and says, "3000 of my neighbors were murdered. My country was, utterly unprovoked, savagely attacked. I wish all those responsible for the Atrocity of 9/11 to burn in hell."

Monday, November 14, 2011

Matthew R. Bradley: Donald Hamilton’s Serious Spy Becomes a Bond Parody

This link came from the always excellent Cinema Retro and is written by the always excellent Matthew Bradley. I saw the first Helm movie when it appeared and really hated it. If The Helm books obviously aren't the the equal of either Deighton or le Carre t they're first class American Cold War pulp and not without a good deal of wisdom about life in this vale of tears. To me Hamilton was a far better writer than Fleming or the many Fleming imitators. I wish JFK had picked up a Helm book instead of a Bond but then Bond flattered Kennedy's mystique--the handsome stud who cleverly defeated all the bad guys. Helm was cowboy boots and burgers by comparison. My kind of protagonist.


Donald Hamilton’s Serious Spy Becomes a Bond Parody
By Matthew R. Bradley

When JFK revealed his fondness for the James Bond books by Ian Fleming, and 007—ably embodied by Sean Connery—struck box-office gold with Dr. No (1962) and its sequels, the resultant “Bondmania” set off a spy craze manifested in everything from atmospheric adaptations of Len Deighton and John le Carré to tongue-in-cheek secret agents on screens small and large. Perhaps the most successful of the latter was Matt Helm, a singing and swinging spy played in four films for Columbia Pictures by Rat Pack member Dean Martin, who unlike Connery shared in the profits from the outset via his own company, Meadway-Claude Productions. The former partner of Bond producer Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli - Irving Allen - was playing catch-up after deeming Fleming’s work unworthy of filming, which speeded his breakup with Broccoli. But ironically, his quartet of quintessential spy spoofs was actually based on a series of gritty Gold Medal paperback originals by Donald Hamilton that had been launched by Fawcett before Kennedy was even in office, or Connery started shaking his martinis.

According to Jeff Banks in Twentieth Century Crime and Mystery Writers, Fawcett chose Swedish émigré Hamilton (1916-2006) to create a new series as a follow-up to the adventures of CIA agent Sam Durell, begun by Edward S. Aarons in 1955: “He had established a reputation with half a dozen non-series suspense novels and his popular westerns. Since assassination had been a frequent feature of Hamilton’s suspense fiction, and since Durell worked directly as a spy and usually in exotic foreign locations, the companion series was developed about a hero who was primarily a counterspy (and the ultimate way to counter a spy is to kill him), operating usually within the continental United States.” Hamilton’s work had already been filmed as The Violent Men (1955), Five Steps to Danger (1957), and The Big Country (1958), but beginning in 1960, he focused largely on the Helm series. Twenty-seven novels were published through The Damagers (1993), with the twenty-eighth, The Dominators, as yet unpublished.

When we meet him in Hamilton’s Death of a Citizen (1960), Helm is a happily married writer-photographer specializing in Westerns, living in Santa Fe with his wife, Beth, and their three children, until he is brought face to face with his wartime past as an assassin. Arriving unexpectedly at a party, Tina—with whom he was involved personally and professionally—claims that she still works for their old boss, Mac, and dupes Helm into helping her dispose of a rival agent before Mac reveals that she has gone over to the other side. After Tina kidnaps Helm’s baby daughter, Betsy, to force him to undertake a hit (or “touch”) for her, he cold-bloodedly kills her male accomplice, tortures Tina to elicit Betsy’s location, and fakes her suicide. Scarcely the stuff of spoofery, it would seem, yet Helm’s cinematic debut, The Silencers (1966), was officially based on both Hamilton’s 1962 novel and Death of a Citizen, although Oscar Saul, a veteran screenwriter with credits ranging from A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) to Major Dundee (1965), liberated Martin’s conspicuously single Helm from any pesky family ties.

for the rest go here:

Pamela Anderson to Play Virgin Mary in Apparently Ironic Christmas Special

From The Wrap:

Pamela Anderson to Play Virgin Mary in Apparently Ironic Christmas Special
Published: November 14, 2011 @ 2:13 pm

By Tim Kenneally
Sex-tape veteran and frequent "Playboy" Playmate Pamela Anderson is reclaiming her virginity -- at least on Canadian television.

The former "Baywatch" babe will play the Virgin Mary -- yes, the chaste mother of the Son of God -- in CTV's "A Russell Peters Christmas," the Canadian network announced Monday.

The special, which will be hosted by comedian Russell Peters, will deliver "an irreverent twist on the Christmas special making it unlike anything viewers have seen before."

No kidding. What, Ron Jeremy wasn't available to play Joseph?

Also joining in for the twisted Yuletide festivities: Michael Buble, Jon Lovitz and Ted Lange, lovingly known by millions as Isaac the bartender from "The Love Boat."

"A Russell Peters Christmas" will air Dec. 1 at 9 p.m. ET on CTV -- assuming the Christian community doesn't somehow cause a power meltdown with mass collective outrage.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Excellent writer and bestseller Kevin J. Anderson-Those good old lowest-price bots

Kevin J. Anderson (From Novelscribes):

A fan reported to me that Amazon has my new novel HELLHOLE with Brian Herbert,
hardcover first edition�not remaindered�for $1.77 (regular $25.99). The mass
market comes out in a few weeks and I was originally alarmed. What's going on?
Who in the world would buy the $9.99 mass market when they can get the original
hardcover for $1.77?

Tor books pressed amazon for two weeks trying to get them to fix it, with no
response. My agent looked into it, couldn't get them to do anything. As near as
we can tell, amazon's lowest-price bots got into some sort of feedback duel with
another bookstore and automatically drove the price down to nearly nothing. And
yet amazon still has to get the books from Tor at regular price, and Brian and I
still get our full royalties ($3 or more per copy) even when customers buy it at
$1.77. (Since we get free shipping as amazon prime customers, I bought 60
copies myself...I can't even buy remainders for that.)

gotta love those automatic price droppers. Here's the link, if any of you wants
to get a super-cheap hardcover

Kevin J Anderson

many of my hard-to-find novels and short stories now available as ebooks, all
under $5.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Amazon reviews

Ed here: The wonderful Patti Abbott blogs today about Amazon reviews and their worthiness as guides to buying books.

"Apparently a lot of people don't see irony or satire or even an attempt to point up societal flaws in what they read. They read each book as if it was written by the same writer and should be held to the same standards. They choose a book using these wrong standards and then hold the book accountable for their mistake in choosing it or their inability to understand it.

"Amazon has brought about the democratization of book reviewing, but is that a good thing. Are you always sure that your perception of a book is correct. I'm not. I have only ever posted one bad review on amazon and that was out of pique that an ordinary book was getting so much hype. How about you?"

Ed here: My favorite experience here was a woman's response to one of my westerns. Now even though I don't claim to be a historian I do research my backgrounds as carefully as I can. In this case the city was Denver and what I referred to (I believe this was the 1880s) was how magnificent it was in some ways but appalling in others because of the poverty. I didn't think this was big news. What city then or now doesn't have these striking differences? I guess the poverty was particularly striking because it was so raw.

This woman climbed all over me for defaming her beautiful city. I even wrote her and made my case but she was having none of it. As I recall she was on some historical committee. Yes, everything was beautiful and wonderful in Denver from Day One. And the waters, much like Lourdes, had amazing healing powers.

When I read Amazon I look for industry reviews before reader takes. You can figure out pretty quickly if a review is worth reading. I've gotten good ones and bad ones. Sometimes--true facts--the good ones are so exultant they're as embarrassing as the bad ones (are you listening Mom?). I'm not a regular reader of the reviews anyway. I tend to put a lot more credence in certain bloggers as well as a handful of established mainstream reviewers.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Goodbye, Smokin' Joe by Norman Partridge

Ed here: Norman Partridge is one of my favorite writers. He's that best thing of all, an original. :Here's a post on his blog about the death of boxer Joe Frazier. The truth, masterfully stated. (This'll take you to his website for other excellent pieces as well

Goodbye, Smokin' Joe by
Norman Partridge

Of the men who held the heavyweight championship in the seventies, Joe Frazier was my favorite. Fact is, Frazier may be my favorite heavyweight champ, period. I loved the way the guy fought. His signature left hook was a miracle of speed, precision, and devastating power, a punch that made a liar of any math geek who'd try to tell you that the shortest distance between two points was a straight line. I loved Frazier's backstory, how he'd come out of nowhere to make himself into a fighter, how he'd torn up his hand in the Olympics and managed to bring home a gold medal anyway, how he'd had to work in a slaughterhouse and bust his ass to become champ even after he had that gold medal around his neck. I loved Frazier's work ethic, and the way he carried himself, and the way he did his business in the ring.

I loved the way Joe Frazier did his business out of the ring, too.

And when it comes to Frazier's life in and out of the ring, you can't talk about Smokin' Joe without talking about Muhammad Ali. While I always respected Ali's skill as a fighter, I lost respect for him as a man because of the way he treated Joe Frazier. What Ali did went far beyond gamesmanship, promotion, or any sense of common decency. Plain and simple, he started off calling Frazier an "Uncle Tom" before their first fight, and ended up calling him a "gorilla" before the third. You can't scrape much lower than that kind of snake-bellied jabber unless you start badmouthing a man's mama.

You can alibi for Ali -- he certainly had a raw deal when his heavyweight title was stripped in the sixties, and he had a lot to be angry about -- but why Joe Frazier became his most frequent target is a mystery. Frazier had done Ali several good turns when Ali's career looked like it was way past gone. But whatever Ali's reason, he wasn't fooling around with the stuff he put on Frazier. He used his words with the same precision and power that he used his fists. Those words were built to hurt Frazier, and wound him in places punches couldn't touch, and I have to think they did their job.

But Joe Frazier did his job, too.

And the thing that always stuck with me is this: Smokin' Joe did his job in the ring.

Looking back, Frazier's first fight with Ali has to stand out as the biggest of all the big fights to come along in my lifetime. I still remember how Ali's trash talk became the focus as the fight built... just as I remember the beating Frazier put on Ali once the bell rang, and the brutal left hook that knocked Ali down that night in New York, sealing the deal and letting the world know who the real heavyweight champ was, for sure and for certain.

Yep. That's what I took from Joe Frazier.

Here was a fighter who did his talking in the ring.

And, man, I'm here to tell you: I liked what he had to say.

The first Ali fight was the top of the mountain for Smokin' Joe. Somehow, I don't think it ever got better than that. To Ali's credit, he took the second fight of the trilogy, nearly putting Frazier out for the count in that one. The third fight is a legend, and much has been made of it. Read what Ali had to say, and it was the closest thing to death a fighter could experience. Read what Frazier had to say and it's a miracle he made it into that ring in Manila, let alone managed to fight the fight he did that night. As the old saying goes, Frazier was blind in one eye and couldn't see too well out of the other by the time he tangled with Ali for the third time. He had cataracts, plus other problems, and still fought one hell of a fight. "I accepted the hurt, and damage, as the price of being the best," Frazier said. "I saw myself as a warrior who was obliged to carry on through thick and thin. I wasn't the best athlete in the world, but I had that fire in my belly. And I was reckless in my determination."

One last memory -- Joe Frazier was one fighter I always wanted to meet, but I never did... though I could have. I was in Vegas when his son Marvis fought Larry Holmes for the title, and I spent a week going to both training camps and watching their workouts. Of course, Smokin' Joe trained Marvis, who was the nicest young guy in the world. But Joe Frazier just didn't seem like the kind of guy you'd walk up to and start a conversation. He didn't give off that vibe. He came into the room (which was actually a big corrugated metal equipment shed behind Caesar's Palace), and he looked like a man who was there to take care of business, not chitchat about it, or talk about his own glory days. He was there to work with his son, and try to help Marvis snatch the belt from Holmes. So I didn't really regret not talking to Frazier. Fact is, watching him work with Marvis that week just cemented the way I'd already come to see the man, so maybe it was better that way.

I'll tell you this, though. Seeing Joe Frazier up close, I was surprised how small he actually was. Mostly, he's listed as 5' 11 1/2", but he sure looked a lot more like five-ten to me. And, really, that just makes the guy all the more amazing.

Anyway, I've linked this before, but if you've never seen Smokin' Joe in action or want another look, check out this clip over on youtube. If you're a fight fan, you'll notice right away that the timeline is a little off, but hey, what can I say -- its heart is in the right place.

So was Joe Frazier's.

Goodbye, Champ. You'll be missed... and remembered.

Nix that. Call me Norm. I write stuff. Horror,suspense, noir, pulp -- with combo plates available for repeat customers. My “personal best” novel is Dark Harvest, which was chosen as one of Publishers Weekly’s 100 Best Books of 2006. My sixth short story collection, Johnny Halloween, is now available from Cemetery Dance Publications. "It’s a Boris Custom painted metal-flake black, and it buries all the competition at the track..."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Forgotten Books: The Jugger By Richard Stark


How this for an opener? I'm about to review the worst book Donald E. Westlake ever wrote. Don't take my word for it. Here's Westlake himself speaking.

"I spoiled a book by having him do something he wouldn’t do. The sixth book in the series is called The Jugger, and that book is one of the worst failures I’ve ever had. The problem with it is, in the beginning of the book this guy calls him and says “I’m in trouble out here and these guys are leaning on me and I need help,” and Parker goes to help him. I mean, he wouldn’t do that, and in fact, the guy wouldn’t even think to call him! (laughs)"

I found this quote on The Violent World of Parker website, a goodie. More" Westlake has more than once cited The Jugger as a failure, and although I’ve never seen it straight from the horse’s mouth, I’ve heard he considers it the worst book he’s ever written. Well, Mr. Westlake, if this is the worst you can do after cranking out more books than I can count, I am in great envy of your abilities.

"Mr. Westlake is wrong about Parker acting out of character in The Jugger. He seems to have forgotten the details, which is perfectly understandable, as the book was written in 1965 and he probably has not had much reason to revisit it if he doesn’t care for it that much."

Me again: I frequently find myself liking books most other people don't and vice-versa. The Jugger's a good example. No it's not a great Parker adventure but it's got a lot of early Sixties atmosphere, a cast of truly despicable characters and a constantly shifting plot.

What we have here is a kind of psychodrama. We have a dumb but crafty Sheriff, a smart but unlucky FBI man, a dumb but uncrafty lady friend of a pathetic dead guy who'd been trying to find an imaginary sum of money hidden by Joe Sheer.

It goes like this. Parker and Sheer worked together sometimes and then Sheer got old and all he did was serve as a way station for Parker. If you wanted to talk to the big man you had to call Sheer who'd screen you. But when Parter got a nervous communication from Sheer he got concerned that maybe the old man was coming apart and would blow Parker's cover. He had to go to the small Midwestern city and make sure that didn't happen.

But when he got there Sheer was dead. And the (imaginary) enormous amount of stolen money was nowhere to be found--yes there;s money but it's modest compared to what others think. So Parker proceeds to deal with both problems. Under the name of Willis.

The Psychodrama: The Sheriff is a dope but a brutal one and Parker has to string him along in order to learn what he needs to. Watching Parter mislead him is a game worth watching. The Sheriff is a human pit bull. He's capable of killing Parker at any moment. But then Parker is more than willing to strike first. On the other hand the FBI man is slick and political. Mitt Romney could play him. Quoting Norman Mailer on a writer he didn't like: "He's as full of shit as a Thanksgiving turkey." But he suspects that this guy Willis is really a big catch under another name. He's already signing a book contract and learning to wave in parades.

So The Jugger ain't perfect and ain't gonna win none of them NYC awards but I don't care. I just enjoyed this particular take on Parker's world. I read it in two dazzled sittings.

New Books: Centipede Press' Hell House Richard Matheson; Karl Edward Wagner


A shining exemplar of the haunted house genre, Hell House is a terrifying classic. Now in a new edition with a a fine front cover image cover gallery and from old editions, a movie poster, and a lengthy, 30-page interview with Matheson by James H. Burns. William F. Nolan has written a insightful introduction to the book wherein he talks about the novel and his long relationship with Matheson.
This edition is oversize at 7 x 10 inches with a printed cloth front panel, and luxurious velvety cloth spine and back panels. The book is enclosed in a cloth-bound slipcase lined with black on the inside. The book also has a top-edge stain and ribbon marker. There are color endpapers and a cover gallery inside, along with a handsome photograph of Matheson. This classic novel has finally received the deluxe treatment it deserves. At only 100 copies for sale, it will sell out quickly. We are offering it at $25 off for one week only.
Each numbered copy is signed by William F. Nolan, Harry O. Morris, and James H. Burns. There is a facsimile signature by Richard Matheson which Mr Matheson and his representative authorized. The edition is limited to 100 copies for sale. Sample page spreads appear below. Click here to order.
Is anyone heading to San Diego for the World Fantasy Convention? Centipede Press will have two tables, and Hell House will be on display. We hope to see you there!


Karl Edward Wagner: Masters of the Weird Tale will be shipping by early to mid November. The Golem is at the bindery. That should ship in November or December. Lee Brown Coye is also in the works. We have the slipcases done and it should ship in a couple weeks.

Centipede Press
2565 Teller Court | Lakewood, Colorado 80214
Tel 303 231 9720 |

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

New Books: Murder New York Style: Fresh Slices edited by Terrie Moran; Naomi Hirahara

Hi Ed,

Thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to tell the world about the Sisters in Crime New York/Tri-State chapter’s newest anthology, Murder New York Style: Fresh Slices, edited by Terrie Farley Moran.

The twenty-two stories in Fresh Slices take the reader around and about neighborhoods all over the five boroughs of New York City, places that are not usually visited by tourists; and within those places, murder and mayhem reign. Derringer winner Anita Page kicks off the anthology in Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn and tells about a long ago murder through the eyes of a life long resident in “Tear Down.” While in the final story, “North of Clinton” Edgar and Anthony nominee K.j.a. Wishnia travels east through Queens and plunges us into the lives of day laborers struggling to get by.

Within the pages of Fresh Slices you can hang out with a community of New Yorkers living in a boat basin on the Hudson River; get an insider view of the Russian community in Brighton Beach; or stand on a rise in MacNeil Park overlooking Manhattan as the locals gather on 9/11.

The neighborhood explored in “The Green Market Violinist” by Triss Stein is a small public park which sits on land where in August 1776, British forces under General Howe defeated Revolutionary forces under General Washington during the Battle of Brooklyn. Later the site became the first home of the baseball team that grew to be the Brooklyn Dodgers, when the team was managed by Mister Ebbets himself, long before their true Brooklyn home, Ebbets Field was built.

For a taste of the kinds of odd locations and diverse stories you can expect to find here, click over to Clare Toohey’s story, “A Morbid Case of Identity Theft” which is available online at Criminal Element. The story starts in The Morbid Anatomy Library, “a private research library and collection of curiosities” which sits beside the Gowanus Canal.

On behalf of the anthology authors and all of the members of the Sisters in Crime New York/Tri-State chapter, many thanks to Ed Gorman for allowing us the chance to introduce Fresh Slices. Information about the stories, the authors and book availability is available at Murder New York Style: Fresh Slices.

Terrie Farley Moran


Michael Wolf asked each of the authors to share a little bit about themselves, talk a little about the story they contributed to West Coast Crime Wave, and tell us their thoughts about e-books. Today we talk to Edgar award winning author Naomi Hirahara.

Tell us about yourself.

After graduating from college and spending a year in Japan, I worked at a small daily newspaper as a reporter and then editor while taking creative writing classes at UCLA Extension. I don’t know if it was hubris or if I was delusional, but I was committed to being a published novelist someday. Probably what fueled me more than anything was that I felt that I had stories to tell. Not necessary of my life, but of my parents’ experiences and my larger community’s collective experience.

My first mystery, SUMMER OF THE BIG BACHI, took me fifteen years to write and get published. It didn’t start off as a mystery; it evolved into one. I was first attempting to write . a literary novel, but my prose was too simple and straight-forward, just as my journalistic training had taught me. Walking alongside me during this time were mystery authors and their books: Walter Mosley and his Easy Rawlings series, Barbara Neely and her Blanche White series. I began to see a place for my lead protagonist, Mas Arai, an aging Japanese American gardener who had survived the atomic blast in Hiroshima, in a mystery landscape. This turned out to be the perfect container for him, a passive character who needed a high-stakes situation to push him out of his dust-ridden house in Altadena, California.

The third novel in the series, SNAKESKIN SHAMISEN, won an Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Paperback Original. I remember walking back from a post-award party down a Midtown New York City street. It must have been past midnight. The streets were wet and shiny; the rain had ceased for an evening. Mas Arai had made it in New York!

I’ve published four Mas Arai mysteries — three with Random House and one with St. Martin’s. I’ve also had one middle-grade novel published with Random House’s imprint, Delacorte. Before all this, I’ve had a number of nonfiction books published by either small presses/reference publishers or my own press, Midori Books.

for the rest go here:

Jack O'Connell's Novels now available on e-books!

Ed here: Few crime writers have been as celebrated (and deservedly) as Jack O'Connell. Now four of Jack's novels are available on the new Mysterious Press e book website.

Jack O'Connell

Jack O’Connell (b. 1959) is the author of five critically acclaimed, New York Times bestselling crime novels. Born in Worcester, Massachusetts, O’Connell’s earliest reading was the dime novel paperbacks and pulp fiction sold in his corner drug store, whose hard boiled attitude he carried over to his fiction. He has cited his hometown’s bleak, crumbling infrastructure as an influence on Quinsigamond, the fictional city where his first four novels were set, and whose decaying industrial landscape served as a backdrop for strange thrillers which earned O’Connell the nickname of a “cyberpunk Dashiell Hammett.”

O’Connell’s most recent novel was The Resurrectionist (2008), which was chosen by Amazon as one of the top 10 science fiction novels of 2008. It won the Le prix Mystère de la critique and the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire in France, and was nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award. O’Connell lives in Worcester, Massachusetts, with his wife and two children.

Books by this author

Wireless by Jack O'Connell

The Skin Palace by Jack O'Connell

Box Nine by Jack O'Connell

Word Made Flesh by Jack O'Connell

Monday, November 07, 2011

Brett Rattner again; Graham Nolan

Last week I told you what a loud mouth fake-macho no-talent blowhard Brett Rattner is. Apparently the gods agreed. Not a good week for our boy Brett. First Olivia Munn reveals in her autobiography that Brett baby has a teeny tiny pee-pee; then Tower Heist flops; and now our boy runs his mouth about gay people.

First of all the slur makes no sense. Only gay people rehearse? That would come as news to thousands of straight actors and directors. But maybe our boy should've done a little rehearsing since by almost all accounts Tower Heist was a real bad movie. In other words a Brett Rattner movie.

Let's see off hand Hitchcock, Hawks, Mann, Lupino, Ford, many directors can you think of who rehearse their actors before directing a scene?

Brett Ratner Gay Slur: 'Tower Heist' Director Apologizes Over Q&A 'Fag' Gaffe (Huffington Post)

Brett Ratner has never been one to mince words, but some say the "Tower Heist" director's latest admission is downright deplorable.

After being asked whether he rehearses with his actors before shooting a scene, Ratner replied, "Rehearsing is for fags," according to New York Magazine's Vulture blog.

The gaffe, made during a Q&A session following a "Tower Heist" screening, seemed questionable even for the sharp-tongued Ratner, who is the producer of this year’s Oscar telecast and is said to be in talks to direct an adaptation of the Broadway musical "Wicked." One audience member is said to have been so upset by the reference that they immediately left the session.

The statement was quickly condemned by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) via Twitter. Entertainment Weekly writer Mark Harris felt similarly, saying that Ratner should step down from his Oscar producing duties as a result: "If he had used an equivalent racial or religious slur, the discussion would go something like, 'You're fired.' Apology or not. The same rule applies here. You don't get a mulligan on homophobia. Not in 2011."

Ratner, who also directed "X-Men: The Last Stand" and and the "Rush Hour" trilogy, quickly apologized in a statement via the Wrap. "It was a dumb way of expressing myself," he wrote. "Everyone who knows me knows that I don't have a prejudiced bone in my body. But as a storyteller I should have been much more thoughtful about the power of language and my choice of words."

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article identified Ratner as the director of the "X-Men" trilogy. Ratner directed "X-Men: The Last Stand," the third firm in the series.

------------------ON A MUCH HAPPIER NOTE

Hello, gang!

All this week, Sunshine State will be celebrating that most cherished of relationships; FRIENDS.

They say if you can count one or two really close friends in your life, you are truly blessed. I know I am blessed and I am sure you are too. I hope you will e-mail these strips or post and share them on your Facebook or other social media pages with your friends.

Share the love...that's what friends do!

I hope you enjoy the week.

All the best,

Graham Nolan

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Fred Brown, Howard Browne; Bad Moon #7; Triumph The Insult Comic Dog

Ed here: The crime publications --Fredric Brown, Howard Browne, Henry Kuttner-C.L. Moore--are knockouts enough. But for those of us who like-sf-fantasy this is an unimaginable list!

From Stephen Haffner::

Hey, everybody!

Things have been über-busy at the Secret Moon Base, but it's time for a status update on all that's happening so . . . Onward!

We now hold copies of this brand new release—and it's be-yoo-tee-full! With Kelly Freas' vintage cover art, this is a really great looking book. And the contents are equally awesome. Of course, with all this "keen-ness" something went wrong. The original dustjacket had an intolerable typo (my bad) on the spine, so we've gone ahead and printed a corrected second-state dustjacket. All copies ordered direct from Haffner Press, and select retailers, will ship with the first-state jacket wrapped to the book and shrinkwrapped, with a rolled and bagged copy of the second state jacket included. $40 gets it to you with free shipping in the Continental USA.

We're also recovering from an unplanned opportunity to exhibit at the 2011 World Fantasy Convention in San Diego last week. We arranged to have SHANNACH—THE LAST: FAREWELL TO MARS make it's debut, and we tried as best we could to collect autographs in the charity books, IN MEMORY OF WONDER'S CHILD and THIRTY-FIVE YEARS OF THE JACK WILLIAMSON LECTURESHIP. We think succeeded fairly well on all counts and we'll announce in a few weeks what new signatures have been added to these books.

We are *extremely* pleased to announce that we have deals with the following artists for two of our 2012 releases:

• THE COMPLETE JOHN THUNSTONE by Manly Wade Wellman will have cover art by Raymond Swanland. Raymond's work is ideally suited to the supernatural horrors that John Thunstone faces in this massive collection. We hope to have images before the end of the year.

• THE MICHAEL GRAY MYSTERIES by Henry Kuttner & Catherine L. Moore, a collection of four paperback original novels from the late 50s, will feature original cover art by classic movie poster and paperback artist Robert McGinnis. Mr. McGinnis has recently been providing cover art for Hard Case Crime's line of books, and we're eager to see what he delivers for this Kuttner/Moore title.

Holy cow! As if that weren't enough, we're days away from sending THUNDER IN THE VOID, a massive collection of Space Opera stories by Henry Kuttner (including a never-before-published story, "The Interplanetary Limited") to the printer. You can reserve your $40 copy here: or, preorder it as part of one of our (in)famous "Early Bird" deals on the Haffner Press homepage:

With all the other goings-on with our Henry Kuttner projects, we want to assure you all that this project to collect all the SF collaborations of Henry Kuttner and Arthur K. Barnes is going forward and we look for a release in Late February. Details are here:

Keep Watching the Skies for news on our upcoming slate of Fredric Brown titles. Editorial work on the first two volumes is in the home stretch and we will announce contents, pricing, and availability as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, we will take this opportunity to briefly announce that we have an agreement to collect all the novels and shorts featuring Chicago private eye Paul Pine from Howard Browne (sometimes writing as "John Evans".)
Contents are:
• "So Dark for April"
• "The Paper Gun"

A fine summary of the "Paul Pine" works is here:

We'll have ordering information as soon as it becomes available.

Okay, fellow astrogators. That's it for now. We'll send another update around the Thanksgiving holiday.

Meanwhile, there are hundred of orders still to be processed for SHANNACH—THE LAST: FAREWELL TO MARS. (Oh, my aching back!)

Keep Watching the Skies!

Stephen Haffner
Big Poobah

-------------Yesterday Bad Moon Rising was #6 and Baker & Taylor now #7 so maybe its run is ending. But it was good while it lasted

------------ Triumph The Insult Comic Dog goes to Occupy. The dog's material is always the most obvious (how many geeks-are-virgins gags did he do visiting that Star Trek convention?) but somehow in his irritating way he's funny. Though I still think someday somebody's going to rip him off Smigel's arm and punch Smigel in the mouth.