Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The New Prologue website

On Thursday March 1, 2012, F&W and Adams Media announce the premier of their new ebook website, Prologue, which will feature many of the vintage mystery and genre fiction authors of the past 100 years. Created by Ben LeRoy, the editor of Tyrus Books, it’s a great list of the known and the not-so-known.

They've got authors like Gil Brewer, Andrew Coburn, Robert Colby, Richard Deming, Fletcher Flora, William Gault, Orrie Hitt, Frank Kane, Henry Kane, Ed Lacy, Dan J. Marlowe, Wade Miller, Helen Nielsen, Vin Packer, Kin Platt, Peter Rabe, Charles Runyon, Louis Trimble, Jack Webb, Harry Whittington….and that’s just for starters.

There’s lots more to come: science fiction, romance, westerns, young adult, horror, and more mysteries.

Visit the Prologue website at, or check out online booksellers like or Barnes & Noble. We think you’ll be nicely surprised at the number of books being made available. As the site says, this is a “living record” of genre fiction. And this is just the beginning.

Introducing The Hunted and The Dame

Introducing The Hunted and The Dame by Dave Zeltserman

The Hunted and The Dame are the first two ebooks in what I hope readers will find an exciting new novella series from me that mixes hardboiled crime with government conspiracy. Each of these are going to be between 85-110 pages long, which I think is the perfect length for Kindle reading.

The Richard Stark/Parker influence in these will be evident from the sparse prose, the crime heist in The Dame (and heists in future novellas), and the name of my anti-hero, Dan Willis (Parker's cover identity in the early books was Chuck Willis), and while I think Parker fans are going to enjoy these they're still very different. The government conspiracy running through these books will make them very different.



Davy Jones

From Mark Evanier's New From Me about Davy Jones:

What makes it doubly-sad is that some of us got to meet him just 18 days ago at the Hollywood Show out in Burbank. He had a long line of autograph-seekers and folks who just wanted to meet him and tell him what his work meant to them. As I explained here, he could not have been more gracious and nice to his fans. Shelly Goldstein (seen in a video not far below these words) was one such admirer. She complimented him on his work on stage in Oliver! and he started singing a song from that score for her, a cappella and all the way through to the end. An hour or so later, he saw her walking by and he sprinted out from behind his table to gift her with a CD he was selling there that contained a medley of Oliver! tunes. She was amazed not only at his generosity but at the sheer fact that he remembered her and thought to do that. What a shame to lose someone that charming.

Ed here: I was never much of a Monkees fan but I thought Carol King wrote some good songs for them. I've read so many conflicting reports about who actually played on the Monkees records--the Monkees of course insisted they did but many many studio musicians have claimed otherwise--that I guess it's impossible to know for sure. But Mark's memory of him is certainly a warm one and an especially nice tribute.

When I told my editor Linda he'd died she was upset. "He was the boy all the eighth Catholic girls wanted to date!" Not Bobby Sherman? :)

Lee Marvin

I'll have another Lee Marvin post later on.

Monday, February 27, 2012

For Lee Marvin fans

From James Wolcott's never less than excellent blog

When Lees Collide

JANUARY 28, 2012

Former U.S. Marine and future Cat Ballou, Lee Marvin recalls his introduction to Method Acting and its founding godfather, whose strictures were seldom countermanded.

“...It’s important not to think too much about what you do. Take Strasberg. [Lee Strasberg, director of the Actors Studio and later founder of his own teaching institute.] I went to his joint once, back when I was first hanging out in New York, doing plays. I did a ten-minute scene in his class: the guy who had gangrene in his leg in The Snows of Kilimanjaro. After I did the scene, he starts in with, ‘Well, you were going for the pain in your leg, but I didn’t see it, so you didn’t put it over and thus the scene failed.’ I told him that he didn’t know anything about gangrene. When it’s in the terminal stage, there isn’t any pain. What I was going for was that the guy was trying to feel pain, because if he had any pain, it meant he wasn’t going to die. But he couldn’t feel a damned thing. I know about that shit from the Pacific. Strasberg was furious when I corrected him. He threw me out, so I said ‘fuck you’ and walked. He’s not my kind of guy at all. I didn’t dig it when he came in using his acting-school reputation to get the creamy acting jobs that some other old actor who’d paid his dues might have really needed. Nah, you can have him. He’s not in my outfit, pal.”

When it came to director John Ford, however, Marvin was glad to have him in his outfit, or to be part of Ford’s. He describes the scene in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance where a white-aproned Stewart is working in the restaurant kitchen and the steaks and skillets alike are giant-sized. Marvin:

“‘Ford,’ he says reverentially. “‘Fucking Ford. You’ll never see skillets and steaks like that in anybody else’s picture. He’s like Dickens. It’s all about bigger than life. That’s the what the old guys understood about movies. If it’s not bigger than life, put it on television.”

--from “Drinks with Liberty Valance: Lee Marvin Shoots from the Hip” in Robert Ward’s upcoming journalism collection Renegades (Tyrus Books)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Vengeful Virgin by Gil Brewer

FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 2007

The Vengeful Virigin
F. Scott Fitzgerald once noted that Hemingway (then at his peak) wrote with the authority of success while Fitzgerald (then in
the dumps) wrote with the authority of failure.

The authority of failure is what animates virtually all of Gil Brewer's work and certainly The Vengeful Virgin (now out from Hard Case Crime) is no exception. In outline it's nothing new--a very James M. Cainian scenario in which a TV repairman gets involved with an eighteen year old temptress who is taking care of a dying old man (and one we don't take to at all). He's promised to leave her a fortune when he dies. The trouble is he's dying very slowly. It won't surprise you that the temptress has thoughts of inviting the Reaper in a little ahead of schedule.

What makes this one of Gil Brewer's most successful novels is that a couple of the plot turns are truly shocking and that he is in complete control of his material. He paces this one well right up to the end. And the end is a powerhouse.

I mentioned the authority of failure. In Brewer's case it's usually because his protagonists let their dissatisfaction with their lot become a kind of self-pity that let's them justify whatever they need to do to improve that lot. They generally learn too late that maybe the old TV repair gig wasn't so bad at all.

Contrast this attitude with the reckless but doomed romantics of Charles Williams (whom I prefer). They're smarter than Brewer's men and there's rarely any self-pity. They seem to be on some kind of quest, which is a twist on the Cain-style tale. Yes they meet a bad girl. Yes they do something stupid. But what gets them through is enormous energy and a sense of mission and an undertow of anger. They're like Brewer's men, too, failures. But they are the tarnished knights that Phillip Marlowe and all his imitators only pretended to be.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Favorite Movies

This week Max Allan Colins posted a list of his favorite movies on his blog. Read it. Enlightening and fun. I like all his selections. Here are a few I'd add of my own. I'm not claiming that any of these ten are masterpieces, though a few probably are I think--only that I can watch them over and over. No special order here.

The Sweet Smell of Success
On Dangerous Ground
The Naked Spur
Singing In The Rain
In A Lonely Place
The Apartment
Odds Against Tomorrow
Sorcerer (French & American)

Friday, February 24, 2012



If you've been reading our newsletters for the past few months, you know that we've announced an effort to publish the mystery/detective fiction of Fredric Brown.

We're still finalizing the contents of the first two volumes, but above is a peek at our approach.

Next month we'll launch a new page with more details and plan to share the finalized contents.

Haffner Press and Classic Pulp Literature

From Diamond Galleries:

Columnist Mark Squirek delves deeper into the world of pulp revivals and talks with Haffner Press’s Stephen Haffner.

Classic pulp literature is undergoing a renaissance of public awareness. Many who come to pulps for the first time are struck by the vivid imagery and wild imagination behind science fiction stories that date back to a hundred years ago. Others love discovering heroes such as The Spider, Doc Savage or The Green Lama for the first time. One of the biggest reasons for this upsurge in awareness is the ability of small presses to reprint the best that the genre had to offer.

Over the last decade Haffner Press has emerged as one of the most important reprint houses in the field of pulp literature. Since 1998 the publishing company has been printing archival, high-quality editions of classic pulp fiction as well as helping new fans discover some of pulp’s best writers. Today their compilations and hardcover editions are among the most celebrated reprints in the genre.

This year Haffner Press has one of their most ambitious publishing schedules yet. There are at least eight new titles on the docket including Volumes Four and Five of their Collected Works of Edmond Hamilton and The Collected Captain Future Volume Three.

This spring will see several other titles including Thunder in the Void, a collection of Henry Kuttner’s best work in science fiction. The stories are being reprinted from such classic pulp titles as Weird Tales, Astonishing Stories, Planet Stories and Super Science Fiction.

Stephen Haffner, the publisher of Haffner Press, took a few minutes out of his packed day to talk about some of the upcoming titles with Scoop. “2010 saw the publication of one of our fastest selling books yet, Terror in the House, The Early Kuttner Volume One. This collection of the author’s early forays into the supernatural, horror and science fiction is already close to selling out in its first printing.” Kuttner is a favorite of Haffner’s and his enthusiasm for the writer shows as he speaks of the upcoming Kuttner science fiction compilation, Thunder in the Void.

“These are Kuttner’s early space opera stories, including a never-before-published story Kuttner wrote as a teenager. The themes are a bit more ‘adult’ than, let’s say, Captain Future. Two of the most fun and crazy stories come from the pulp Marvel Science Stories. This was owned by the man who eventually published Marvel Comics, Martin Goodman.”

“One of my favorites in this volume is The Time Trap. I call this a ‘kitchen sink’ novel. Absolutely everything that you could imagine is in this story. You have, of course, time travel. But there is also space travel, an alien invasion and brain-swapping. To tell you more would ruin the surprise!”


Adam Sandler, Cameron Diaz and Rosie O'Donnell in remake of Hitchcock classic

From Cinema Retro:


Classic movie lovers should try to restrain themselves as the remake train keeps rolling along. The latest idea is to have a redo of Alfred Hitchcock's 1940 classic Rebecca, the esteemed director's only film to be awarded a Best Picture Oscar. Joan Fontaine, Laurence Olivier and Judith Anderson starred in the screen adaptation of Daphne DuMaurier's 1938 gothic mystery novel. We suppose we can look forward to that stalwart cast being replaced by Adam Sandler, Cameron Diaz and Rosie O'Donnell

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Forgotten Books: The Honest Dealer by Frank Gruber

The Honest Dealer

Dick Lochte wrote a guest piece for the Rap Sheet awhile back that I found mighty pleasing in my dotage. Here are some quotes from his choice for a Forgotten Book.

"OK, I’m not sure you have to read The Honest Dealer. If Frank Gruber were still alive, I doubt that even he would consider his 1947 book a necessity. But every now and then, after working my way through a couple of dozen contemporary crime novels, with their elaborate back stories and casts of thousands and plots that call attention to social and/or political ills, I like to treat myself to the kind of mystery that initially lured me to this genre--a yarn written for the sole purpose of providing sheer, unpretentious reading pleasure.

"The Honest Dealer does that in spades. The literary equivalent of a classic B-movie of the 1940s, it immediately draws you in, moves at a breathless pace, has the requisite moments of suspense and humor, and ends with a surprise villain, neatly thwarted. There are a lot of books from the ’30s and ’40s that meet those requirements, but, for my money, Dealer is one that does it best.


"I wonder what Gruber would think of some of today’s most popular series heroes--sociopaths, alcoholics, whiners, bitter loners, paranoiacs, and worse. Would he go with the market flow and come up with his version of the depressed detective? I’d like to think he’d pawn his typewriter and buy a horse."

Ed here: The horse reference is to a plot element.

I happened to read this book awhile back myself and I think Dick does a fine job of ennumerating its many fine if slight virtues, the biggest of which being that it's just a hell of a lot of fun to read.

As somebody who receives a moderate share of review copies I know what Dick means by the all-too-modern novel. I not only read them, I also write them. But there is so much hype attendant on the Serious ones--publicists and reviewers vying for the grandest superilative--that I often pick up a simple well-told story for a respite from all the Seriousness.

Thank God there are among the younger writers people who are serious about their writing but are a true unpretentious pleasure to read. To name a few Megan Abbott, Jason Starr, Duane Swierczynski, Tom Piccirilli, Allan Guthrie. They speak in their own voices, share their observations of our sometimes forlorn luckless species and yet never forget to amuse, bemuse, shock, outrage and comfort while demanding that we keep flipping those pages.

Damned good storytellers.

As was, in a less ambitious way, Frank Gruber.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Hollywood Called

I'm rereading Frank Gruber's fascinating book about his career as a writer THE PULP JUNGLE. One of the most amusing sections is about his relationship with Hollywood.

In the 30s a good sale to Hwood was $500 for book rights. He was doing well writing pulp stories but he kept hearing about all these people making Hwood dough. It finally happened to him. He got a call about one of his characters maybe being optioned by Darrel Zanuck no less. He was thunderstruck. The Zanuck deal went away but he immediately got himself a hot shot movie agent who started calling him every day with possible deals. He was talking fifty thou and even a hundred thou,

Gruber couldn't think straight. In fact he couldn't think at all straight or otherwise. He was so caught up in the frenzy of maybe this and maybe that he couldn't write. He owed stories, he needed money but he couldn't write. All he could think about was that Hwood moolah that was BOUND to come through. It didn't of course. He dumped the hot shot and got back to work. Later Gruber went on to become a successful movie and tv writer but not at that time.

Many mid-listers have been through this (stars have better results) . Early in 80s I got my first Hwood calls and they were all I could think of for days. I kept writing my stories and books of course but I had drunk the poison wine of HOLLYWOOD. Everything fell through. And I heard all the cliches my favorite being "You know everybody in Hollywood is talking about Ed Gorman." Uh-huh. A respectable director said that. Another respectable director said something else to me. He'd optioned my book and written the screenplay himself. He wanted to reoption it after I read the screenplay. The problem was that I hated what he'd done so much I wouldn't let him have the option again. He actually screamed into the phone "I'm going to flood the studios with this and nobody'll be interested anymore. And yoi'll never work out here again!" On my honor he screamed that.

I've made decent money with options but over the years I've learned to never get excited about any Hwood deal. I've mentioned before that ABC had optioned my novel Black River Falls, cast it, announced it and just as it was about to be green lighted canceled The Sunday Night Movie when a new Programming dude came in. I've had four movies announced that never got past the script stage; and one that even warranted a press conference went painfully away.

I knew a writer who got a very nice option then decided to quit his job and write the screenplay with the director. He had a very good job and of course the movie never got made. He found himself heavily in hock with a second mortgage on the house and a wife and kiddies paying the price for his folly.

Reading Gruber you realize as Ike said the more things change the more they stay the same.

--------------Thanks to Tom Piccirilli for letting me know that Amazon is now offering our annual year's finest collection
Between the Dark and the Daylight: And 27 More of the Best Crime and Mystery Stories of the Year (Best Crime & Mystery) for only $5.49. I can't be objective of course but this looks to me like a great deal.

 Between the Dark and the Daylight: And 27 More of the Best Crime and Mystery Stories of the Year (Best Crime & My..

Monday, February 20, 2012

KINDS OF LOVE, KINDS OF DEATH (1966) by Donald Westlake

Ed Gorman Thought I'd share the link to Tipping My My Fedora's interesting take on the first of Donald Westlake Tucker Coe novels. Patti Abbott ran it last Friday; thought it was good enough to repeat here.

KINDS OF LOVE, KINDS OF DEATH (1966) by Donald Westlake

Posted on 16 February 2012

Donald Edwin Edward Westlake (1933-2008) was a prolific writer and over the decades published all kinds of crime and mystery books – and other types of fiction too – under a great many pseudonyms. Of the dozen or so names he adopted the best-known, other than his own, is probably ‘Richard Stark’, which he used for his series of tough thrillers starring the merciless Parker, the first of which I reviewed here. But I have always had a real soft spot for the lesser-known quintet of novels he wrote as “Tucker Coe’ featuring disgraced former New York cop, Mitchell Tobin.

The following review is offered as part of Patti Abbott’s Friday’s Forgotten Books meme, which this week is devoted to Westlake’s work. For more of the tributes to the late, great man’s work, visit her blog at:

“You were stopped,” she said. “Six months ago you just came to a stop, as though somebody turned a switch. Maybe this will get your started again.”

In his salad days Westlake collaborated a number of times with his friend Lawrence Block under various guises, mainly on long-forgotten paperback excitements as No Longer a Virgin (1960), originally issued under the ‘John Dexter’ house name. I mention this because Tobin has quite a lot in common with Block’s Matt Scudder, a much better-known creation in crime writing annals but who actually appeared ten years after Westlake published the first Tucker Coe mystery, Kinds of Love, Kinds of Death. Both characters were once able New York policemen who, following a spectacular fall from grace, have left the force and end up working as un-licensed private investigators, haunted by the guilt over a death for which they feel responsible. In Tobin’s case he was conducting an extra-marital affair which left his partner working alone one fateful evening. While Tobin was visiting his mistress (the wife of a crook he put away), his partner as usual covered up for him and went alone to make an arrest, getting killed in the process.

Six months later, Tobin is still living in Queens with his wife and 13-year-old son but has otherwise retreated from real life. Instead he has begun to put all his energy into building a large wall in his back yard, one which will eventually envelope his house and, presumably, permanently cut him off from the society he feels he has offended. Then one day one of Ernie Rembek’s men comes to call … Rembek is a senior member of the Outfit (aka The Syndicate aka the mob), which features heavily in many of the Stark novels, and has a big problem on his hands. His mistress, Rita, had gone missing with $80,000 of the organisation’s money but now her body has turned up in a motel. She has been beaten to death and the cash is missing. And he think it was one of his own men who did it, so he can’t go to the police …

“Failure is your way of life,” I said. “Don’t try to change it.”


Sunday, February 19, 2012


From Carolyn Hart: Dear Ed,

I hate to be a bother but for some odd reason when the link is Googled it brings up your columns and Amazon listings instead of going to the Writing Out Loud site. If you don't mind, would you instead delete the link and say that if readers are interested they can go to my website - - and lick in the upper right hand corner.

Outwitted by the ether world. As usual.
Love - C

Ed here: Paul Cain was an amazing writer. I read this in two sittings and wanted many more stories. The biographical introduction by Max Collins and Lynn F. Meyers is the single most informed and informative piece I've ever read on the elusive Cain. As for the book itself, a beautiful collector's edition that will quickly increase in value..



Paul Cain was the hardest boiled of all the Black Mask writers. And other than Hammett and Chandler, the one who best epitomizes the hard, brittle style that represented the magazine. Short staccato sentences void of introspection, conjunctions, and all but the most necessary exposition. Stark, violent, and occasionally brutal storylines. And prose so provocative and compelling that the reader finds himself gulping it down whole instead of in the usual bite-size pieces.
This massive collection features the novel Fast One (in its original serial form) and the complete 13 slayersÑbrilliant works of noir fictionÑwritten by Paul Cain for Black Mask and other crime pulps. For six of the slayers, this is the first time ever that they have been collected in book format, and also marks the first time that all of Cain’s fiction has been collected in book form.
This new edition includes a stunning biographical introduction by Max Allan Collins and Lynn F. Myers, Jr., which incorporates years of research into the life of Paul Cain, about whom little is known. Along with the stories, this edition features a cover gallery of old issues of Black Mask as well as old covers of the Fast One and Seven Slayers collections. This hardcover book is signed by Max Allan Collins, Lynn F. Myers, Jr., and Ron Lesser, the cover artist.
The 500-copy, limited hardcover edition is signed by Max Allan Collins, Lynn F. Myers, Jr., and cover and inteior artist Ron Lesser. Our distributor, Consortium Book Sales & Distribution, is showing 300 pre-orders for this book, and with some good reviews appearing, it should be an item that sells out quickly. Sample page spreads appear below. More appear on the website.
Five hundred signed and numbered cloth copies, $75. Click here to order.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Carolyn Hart; Max Allan Collins

Dear Ed,

I had the great good fortune to be interviewed on OK public tv this week. It is always fun to talk about mysteries and writing. Here is the link if you think there are any who might be interested.

DEATH COMES SILENTLY, the 22nd Death on Demand title, will be published by Berkley Prime Crime in April. Coming in October will be WHAT THE CAT SAW, a novel of suspense.

Love - C
----------------------------------MAX COLLINS

Max (Al) Collins, along with Charles Ardai at Hard Case Crime, is responsible for bringing Donald Westlake's last novel into print. Westlake sent the manuscript to Al many years ago to see what he thought of it and to see if Al might collaborate with him on revising it. But ultimately Westlake scrapped it when Martin Scorcese's King of Comedy appeared. Don thought there were too many similarities.

Al recounted this on his blog recently and then talked about how good the novel's reviews have been. But then he cited a curious and to me clueless piece of one of the good reviews.

"Another good review began oddly, stating that there might be something fishy about this discovery if it hadn’t come from me, because after all I can be trusted. You see, the reviewer (Steve Donoghue) says “a more honest thousand-word-a-day hack isn’t living.

"Here’s the thing. I resent the word hack. Any writer would. It is the “n” word of the writing world. Further, if Steve Donoghue thinks that a “hack” is anybody who can turn out a thousand words a day, he is (in my case at least) 1500 words short. And trust me, Donald E. Westlake never had a thousand-word writing day in his life. Ed McBain probably never had a day under 5000 words.

"Anyway, speed or lack of it has no bearing on the quality of writing, which should and does speak for itself. I rewrite heavily, but my practice is not to rewrite the life and spontaneity out of a work. Barb considers herself slow – 1000 words would be a good day – but the result is terrific and has an off-handed feel as if she just threw it off quickly. That’s an art in itself.

"I understand that – like Don – I am a prolific writer. This does not mean that I don’t work hard at writing. In fact, I work very hard at it, and if I write 2500 words of a Nate Heller or Jack Starr or some other historical novel, many hours of research have gone into it. And it’s not just research. One thing that Barb and I share in our approach is a propensity for thinking about what we’re going to write for at least as long as it will take to write it.

"For me writing is an art, yes, but first and foremost it is a craft, and selling what I’ve crafted is my business – you know, like trouble was Phillip Marlowe’s. When a reviewer – whether in the New York Times or on a blog – dismisses a writer as a “hack,” or talks about a writer “churning out” or “grinding out” a book, that reviewer is indulging in a lazy, prejudiced, sloppy way of thinking…and writing. Those of us who do this for a living – and are not lawyers or doctors or teachers who write on the side, and are not blockbuster writers who can afford to write a thousand words a day, or less – deserve more consideration if not respect than being called the “h” word."

* * *

Bravo! Al speaks for many of us who get treated to the "grind `em out" accusation. Sometimes these are made by snobs who think most popular fiction is trash. But I wonder if, sometimes at least, these accusations are leveled because of stupidity. How could this Steve Donoghue not know how insulting his words were? It's easy for me to imagine that he thinks that anybody not producing work at the level of Proust is writing trash--so therefore it must be easy to "crank `em out."

Bill Pronzini told me that at a signing once a woman came up and told him that she enjoyed his books "But when are you going to write something serious?" Lady, you may not think these books are serious but they are to us.

My own personal favorite came from a wealthy girl I dated awhile. She was always amused by my choices in books and movies. She feigned great interest in finer expressions of literature and music. She amused me as much as I amused her. We broke off on what I thought were good terms. Several years later I got a letter from her (by now she'd married a neuro-surgeon and lived in Georgetown). She had, she said, read one of my books. "It's the sort of novel anybody could write if they just had the time." Whoa baby. I guess those good terms weren't as good as I'd thought, eh?

I posted a letter from Carolyn Hart above. Excellent writer and very nice woman. Carolyn slaves over her work as Al does as I do as every single writer I know does. It's hard work. I know there's supposed to be some mysterious "formula" but if there is none of us have found it yet. I always joke that my full name is "Prolific Ed Gorman." I was for the first half of my career but I don't think writing two short stories and two sixty thousand word novels a year for a writer of popular fiction is going to get me an invite to the Prolific Olympics. I try to write 1500-2000 words a day. I am a professional writer. It's my job to do so.

And as Al said, speed is irrelevant. One of my favorite writers is Georges Simenon. More than five hundred novels before they planted him--and that's not counting the three hundred or so magazine length pulp novels he wrote before being published under his own name and in book form. My friend Bob Randisi is another example. He has made lasting contributions to both the crime and western genres, books I've read and re-read with pleasure and admiration. And look at Al. Nate Heller? Quarry? Road To Perdition? Ms. Tree? Etc.

I'm sure I sound defensive here but I don't mean to. I'm so used to being Prolific Ed Gorman that I kinda like it actually. Seriously. It's the "grind `em out" and "crank `em out" stuff that gets to me. My work may be junk but I work hard at producing it. At least give me credit for putting in long hours at the machine. And as for Steve Donoghue I don't know if he was just trying to be glib but he owes Al an apology.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

James Mason by David Thomson

Director Sidney Lumet said of James Mason: "I always thought he was one of the best actors who ever lived. Whatever you gave him to do he would take it, assimilate it and then make it his own. The technique was rock solid, and I fell in love with him as an actor, so every time I came across a script I wanted to direct I would start to read it thinking is there anything here for James? He had no sense of stardom at all. He wanted good billing and the best money he could get, but then all he ever thought about was how to play the part. In that sense he reminded me more of an actor in a theatre repertory ensemble than a movie star, and it was what made him so good." Lumet also directed Mason in The Sea Gull (1968), Child's Play (1972) and The Verdict (1982).[]

Every word a poison dart
James Mason - career villain, smooth talker, creative powerhouse - would have been 100 today. David Thomson looks back on an unforgettable actor who never settled for the easy option

David Thomson
The Guardian, Thursday 14 May 2009

Breakthrough role ... James Mason in Carol Reed's Odd Man Out. Photograph: Kobal Collection
James Mason had good friends, and sometimes that is the measure of a man, especially in the picture business, where it's all too easy to lose contact as golden opportunities fade away. Consider his situation in the late 1940s. After giving his youth and his early beauty to British pictures and theatre, he decided to go to Hollywood. There must have been people who told him he was too patrician, too intelligent, as well as too old to break through in America. But he made wonderful contacts. There was a chance of doing the Svengali-Trilby story (with Jane Wyman), and Mason longed to have Jean Renoir as its director because he could see that the Frenchman loved actors. Alas, that project fell through, but then Renoir offered Mason the role of the wounded veteran in his Indian picture, The River. I can't do it, sighed Mason; I'm set to play the male lead in La Duchesse de Langeais - which was to be the comeback picture for Greta Garbo.

... Advancing into his 40s, Mason had reason to think of bad luck as he played Erwin Rommel in a couple of movies, Rupert of Hentzau in a remake of The Prisoner of Zenda and "Hendrik van der Zee" in the dotty but deliriously beautiful romance, Pandora and the Flying Dutchman. In Britain, there were already superior figures in acting who marvelled over what was happening to "poor Jimmy Mason". But as we come to celebrate today what would have been his 100th birthday, there are those who only wish there was more of Pandora, more Rommel and an entire picture about Rupert of Hentzau, the only interesting person in that whole Zenda nonsense.

In every decade, from the 1930s to the 80s, James Mason did some poor work in disappointing pictures, just as he missed out on mouth-watering opportunities. So, yes, it's lamentable that he was to have been Prospero for Michael Powell, only for that Tempest to blow out. But don't forget that their long friendship did lead somewhere: to Australia, for the quirky but vivid Age of Consent, where Mason was the film's co-producer and he and Powell managed to discover the 18-year-old Helen Mirren to be the muse for the beachcomber painter Mason plays.

Yes, I know you can see Mason in these parts, but it's just as evident that you hear him and, before we go any further, it's vital to consider the unique and languid but impassioned voice of this man. Is it enough to say that he was a lad born in Huddersfield (the son of a wool merchant) who was sent to Cambridge to speak properly? Should we consider also his years on the Dublin stage as a prelude to his tragic figure in Carol Reed's Odd Man Out - the film above all that promoted him from British pictures to a Hollywood player? Or is there not still something in Mason's voice - aristocratic, but full of connoisseurship, too - that allowed the actor to become his true self just once, as the voice of Humbert Humbert in the film of Lolita? Humbert is not American. He is a scholar of comparative literature, as well as a judge of nymphets. He is a very bad man (if you like, or if you don't like), but he may be the purest-spoken scoundrel in all the movies. For he has to deliver Nabokovian prose as if to say it was the most normal and sensible way of speaking the English language yet invented.


Forgotten Books: The Procane Chronicle by Ross Thomas

Ross Thomas, The Procane Chronicle

One of life’s true pleasures is reading a Ross Thomas novel. He never lets you down when you re-read him, either.

I’ve now read The Procane Chronicle for the third or fourth time, and even though I now know all the amazing surprises Thomas blesses his readers with, the prose alone is as much fun as the story. The only writer living today who can even come close to the grace and nimbleness of Thomas is Lawrence Block. Block knows from sentences.

In this one, Phillip St. Ives is dragooned by poverty as usual to act as a go-between when a blackmailer sets a price. St. Ives is hired to make sure that both sides keep their promise. The stake this time is a possible Mafia war.

As always, Thomas gives us a radiantly cynical take on Washington, D. C. and all who do business there. Though thirty years have passe since the original publication, Procane depicts a nation’s capitol no different from the one we know today. St. Ives is lied to and betrayed by everything on two legs, even – or especially – those with fine looking female legs.

For me, Thomas was one of the finest crime writers of the last century. He brought to each book a witty and brutal intelligence that exposed all of us as less than we’d want to be. He was a romantic of course.

You’ll have to get on to ABE or one of the other web sites to buy it, but it’ll be well worth the trouble. If you’ve never read Ross Thomas, this is good place to start.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

THE COMEDY IS FINISHED by Donald E. Westlake

"The rediscovered Donald E. Westlake novel, THE COMEDY IS FINISHED, is getting some great reviews. Regular readers of these updates know that I had the manuscript for the novel in my basement (actually a drawer in a cabinet in my basement, with other Westlake materials). Don and I had explored revising the novel for publication under both our names (or possibly a joint pseudonym) after he had difficulty finding a publisher for an unfunny Westlake novel about a Bob Hope-style comedian. The book didn’t really need any work, but he was sick of looking at it, and I had some ideas about streamlining, and addressing some complaints editors had expressed about the political content. But when the similarly plotted film “King of Comedy” came out, Don called me and scrapped the project." Max Allan Collins from

Yes, thanks to Max and Charles Ardai at Hard Case Crime we're now able to read what may well be the last original Donald Westlake to see print.

Comedy deals with the comedian Koo Davis (think Bob Hope) being kidnapped just after taping another one of his uninspired and frequently self-congratulatory TV shows by a small group of mismatched hippie would-be revolutionaries.

The novel cuts back and forth between Koo using his captivity to relive his life and his captors arguing among themselves about how to best use the comedian as a bargaining chip with the powers that be. Westlake (and the readers) have a good time with Koo. Westlake avoids caricature and gives us a man who no longer understands the entertainment world--not even hanging out with generals and sports stars gives him much cache anymore--and must now face what a lousy father and husband he's been. He even wonders if he's "worth" kidnapping.

The captors are headed up by a secretive young man named Peter who is constantly being prodded by Mark, a sociopath who is dangerous even to the group itself. The others include a wistful theorist named Larry and two women, Liz, deeply troubled and confused and Joyce who held the studio job that secured the kidnapping.

Westlake makes all the charactersindividuals and it is their sniping, arguing even fighting that make the novel a real page turner.

These are the children of the faux Revolution as well as the Revolution of hippie Los Angeles with all the bravado and naivete that marked their fury. It's interesting to contrast their portraits here with an earlier novel Westlake wrote, Murder Among Children as by Tucker Coe. This appeared at the start of the Flower Power days and his take on hippies was much more benign.

Westlake was frequently a social critic in his novels and he is no less so here. He captures the late 70s perfectly, the waning times of Up Against The Wall Motherfucker as disco music played in the background. The kidnappers here are stranded in time--the cops were now killing Black Panthers in cold blood and getting away with it. The Revolution, such as it was, was long over.

While there are similarities between The Comedy is Finished and King of Comedy, King is entertaining and admirable but cold; Westlake's book is hot with fear, remorse, lust and violence. The reader is constantly speculating on how it'll end and who'll still be alive on the last page. The tight structure--we basically have the house the hippies are ensconced in and the scenes with the lawmen--embellishes the suspense and heightens the twists.

A fine novel in all respects. And all thanks to Max Collins and Charles Ardai for giving it to us.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Lee Goldberg; Black Wings Has My Angel

Ed here: I'm about halfway through McGrave and it's dazzling. I'm running out of brfeath just reading it. Congratulations to Lee on this Bookgasm review.


It’s e-books like MCGRAVE that are great for tablet reading. Lee Goldberg’s novella is just 70 pages of awesomeness. Think of it as some sort of lost ’80s action film — or both a love letter to and parody of the genre, hitting every beat you would see in those bygone films.

The title refers to John “Tidal Wave” McGrave, a cop who plays by his own set of rules. (Like there were any other kind back in the halcyon days of action cinema.) The story follows our hero as he stumbles upon a house robbery gone wrong, then goes to Berlin, where he’s a full-on fish out of water.

All the while, McGrave — who calls himself a living weapon — just barrels through the plot while having no regard that he is not even a cop anymore, due to earlier actions. The story is literally just one giant action piece from page one, with no let-up, so you don’t stop reading until it’s done. You’re never sure how more over-the-top it can get.

Goldberg seems to have his tongue planted firmly in cheek throughout, with the added bonus that there is no budget to worry about while you write. MCGRAVE is a super-breezy and easy read which will delight those who miss the men’s adventure series of old. Hopefully, Goldberg can continue in this vein since this work alone has me rethinking my anti-Kindle position. —Bruce Grossman

Elijah Wood, Anna Paquin and Tom Hiddleston join noir crime thriller BLACK WINGS HAS MY ANGEL!
Published at: Feb 13, 2012 10:01:19 AM CST

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. Now this sounds good. Screen Daily is reporting that Anna Paquin, Elijah Wood and Tom Hiddleston has joined a crime flick called BLACK WINGS HAS MY ANGEL, based on a pulp novel by Elliott Chaze.

Adapted by Barry Gifford and to be directed by Alfonso Pineda Ulloa, this story is about an ex-con who robs an armored car with the help of a call-girl. There's apparently a whole lot of darkness in this project, with nobody being devil-free if you catch my drift.

The novel has been described as Jim Thompson-esque, which means this could be friggin' awesome-sauce.

Not sure who is playing what in this adaptation, other than it's a pretty good guess that Paquin will be the prostitute unless Elijah Wood is really wanting to go against type. Hiddleston is proving to be a very welcome screen presence and I think this one has all the makings of a quality project. Can't wait to see how it turns out!

Monday, February 13, 2012

For Movie Fans: Republic Pictures

Ed here: Having grown up on Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Rocky Lane, etc. I saw two or three Republic Pictures every Saturday afternoon at the dime theater. Here's an excellent overview of the company's horror output from TCM Movie Morlocks.

Proud Republican
Posted by Richard Harland Smith on February 10, 2012

Yes, I am a proud Republican… and by that I mean I am a proud fan of Republic Pictures, the little studio that could. And by could, I mean could produce low budget genre movies that stood toe to toe and title to title (if not in grandeur, then at times in mass appeal) with the offerings of the big Hollywood studios. Founded in 1934 by Herbert J. Yates, owner of a film processing laboratory to whom several “Poverty Row” production companies were in debt, Republic came into being by consolidating the assets of six cash-strapped outfits (Monogram, Liberty, Mascot, Majestic, Chesterfield and the unfortunately named Invincible) to become something like a B-movie supergroup. Over the years, Yates’ s conscripts would break away from the Republic stranglehold, either re-establishing their brand (as did Monogram) or splintering off to be absorbed elsewhere within the industry. Known for its westerns and movie serials, Republic Pictures gave cowboy actors John Wayne and Roy Rogers career leg-ups while auteurs such as John Ford and Fritz Lang also put in their time there. I noticed recently that Netflix was offering streaming options for a number of Republic horror titles that had long eluded me, so I made a date with myself to see if these films could repay over 40 years of curiosity.

I first read about THE VAMPIRE’S GHOST (1945) in Alain Silver and James Ursini’s The Vampire Film. The oft-updated overview was published originally in 1975 and, along with David Pirie’s The Vampire Cinema and Barrie Pattison’s The Seal of Dracula, it proved invaluable for turning me on to scads of vampire movies that had not then crossed my path, like Roger Vadim’s ET MOURIR DE PLAISIR (BLOOD AND ROSES, 1960), Robert Hossein’s LE VAMPIRE DE DUSSELDORF (THE VAMPIRE OF DUSSELDORF, 1965), Jess Franco’s VAMPYROS LESBOS (1970) and this little number from director Leslie Selander. Known best for his westerns, Selander was prolific and flexible during his long career, tackling various genres with a consistent level of professionalism. (Selander’s output ran apace with Lambert Hillyer, who helmed DRACULA’S DAUGHTER.) THE VAMPIRE’S GHOST has a great look, set as it is in an African port town where the locals are dying off, their corpses discovered drained of blood and marked by curious punctures in the throat. Following as it does Universal’s many sequels to DRACULA (1931), which culminated with HOUSE OF DRACULA that same year, the script for THE VAMPIRE’S GHOST by former pulp novelist John K. Butler and Leigh Brackett (whom John Carpenter thought so highly of that he named the sheriff in HALLOWEEN after her) dispenses with all mystery from the jump, kicking things off with a confessional opening narration (“I cannot die! I cannot rest!”) spoken by vampire-at-large Webb Fallon (John Abbott). Lots of genre critics have fallen down hard on Abbott’s performance, wishing a more dynamic actor had played the tormented Fallon, but I’d counter that perhaps Fallon wasn’t meant to be Count Dracula but just your average 16th Century dude cursed with immortality for killing a chick and chilling out in equatorial Africa where nobody cares how many villagers you tap. Silver and Ursini note that the character bears more of a resemblance to John Polidori’s The Vampyre or James Malcolm Rymer’s Varney the Vampire than Stoker’s immortal creation and if history has taught us nothing else it has proven that ineffectual little men can do a world of damage when right-minded folk aren’t paying attention. If Abbott strikes some viewers as second string, he walks tall among a dull supporting cast (Grant Withers is a near non-entity as the local priest) while the jungle setting and use of native bearers (among them I WALK WITH A ZOMBIE‘s Martin Wilkins) as the first to realize there’s something unearthly about Webb Fallon (and take proactive steps to do something about it) give THE VAMPIRE’S GHOST novelty. If anything, the film suffers from a lack of ambition; though Fallon claims his victims will rise from their graves, we never see that happen, which makes the film feel like a bit of a cheat, especially when you consider what a dishy vampira Adele Mara (SANDS OF IWO JIMA, CURSE OF THE FACELESS MAN) would have been.


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Long-lost Donald Westlake tape: Redford, Godard, Hammett and more

Long-lost Donald Westlake tape: Redford, Godard, Hammett and more
Rear Window: A series that looks at interesting books and movies from the past.


Here’s another recent discovery from the dark recesses of my garage: a 60-minute Sony audiotape of an interview with the great Donald E. Westlake conducted on November 2, 1973.

Donald Westlake (1933-2008) wrote more than 100 books, numerous short stories and screenplays over a 50-year career in which he won three Edgars, the title of Grand Master from the Mystery Writers of America, and a 1990 Oscar nomination for his superb adaptation of “The Grifters.”

At the time of the interview, I was in grad school in Boston studying journalism, although “studying” is a stretch. I’d been assigned to interview a celebrated person, and I immediately thought of Donald Westlake, a writer I’d admired for his humorous thrillers (“Adios, Scheherazade,” “The Hot Rock”) and his hardboiled caper novels about a professional thief named Parker, written under the aptly chosen pen name Richard Stark (the character’s latest movie incarnation opens in October with Jason Statham in “Parker”).

Mr. Westlake seemed surprised when he opened his Manhattan apartment door—he’d been expecting me the following week. Despite the confusion, he welcomed me warmly. For the next hour or so, he patiently—and most entertainingly—answered my many questions.

For space reasons, I’ve condensed some of his responses.

On his beginnings
“I started writing when I was 11. In my late teens, I was writing short stories of every conceivable type, and sent them to everything from Future Science Fiction to The Sewanee Review. First story I ever sold [at 19] was science fiction, second was a comedy to a men’s magazine, third was a mystery story. Mysteries were what I got a good response on. I spent years saying I was a writer disguised as a mystery writer, and after 30 books and several movies, I thought maybe I’m a mystery writer disguised as a writer.”

On his favorite writer
“My admirations are not necessarily my influences. My favorite living novelist is Anthony Powell [author of the 12-volume “A Dance to the Music of Time”]. If I ever took an influence from him it would destroy me because he writes such a controlled but leisurely way that if I put anything of that into my stuff, it would break the springs. I love those books.”

On his influences
“When I was a kid and first writing I was completely in love with the Cornell Woolrich/William Irish books. I think he’s dated rapidly. I didn’t exactly borrow from him, but I had much of his sense of heightened expectations of people always being slightly off balance.

“I love Hammett, never liked Chandler—I’m one of the few. In ‘Red Harvest,’ there’s my favorite chapter title of any book: ‘The Seventeenth Murder.’ Some of Parker comes out of that.

“A guy named Peter Rabe wrote a batch of books for Gold Medal in the 50s, and he was absolutely the single largest influence on writing style. I was completely in love with the way the man wrote. Everything is a little bit oblique, but with this sense of terrific tension underneath. I read that he had [advanced degrees] in psychology, and that his dissertation was on frustration--and that was the key to the man’s writing: how to behave like a normal human being under the stress of frustration. Throughout the 50s, he was doing beautiful work . . . with awful Gold Medal titles like ‘Murder Me for Nickels.’”


FALSE DAWN (The Jake Lassiter Series) eBook: Paul Levine FREE

(Lifted from Bill Crider)
PimPage: An Occasional Feature in Which I Call Interesting Books to Your Attention
Free, for the moment, and highly recommended! FALSE DAWN (The Jake Lassiter Series) eBook: Paul Levine: Kindle Store

Friday, February 10, 2012

Shemp Forever!

Ed here: I always quote my friend Max Collins whenever I talk about Shemp Howard. Shemp was the only one of the Stooges who seemed to be dimly aware that life should't be like this--he just didn't know what to do about it. Even when I was eight I sensed a certain melancholy in Shemp. He seemed overwhelmed by everything, the way a lot of the vets in our neighborhood just back from the big war did. Mo and Larry just punched it out like machines; hilarious machines but machines nonethless. Shemp is my favorite Stooge; he was also the only one who had an independent successful movie career. Here's a great website: Confessions of a Pop Culture Addict.


The third of five Howard brothers, Shemp was born Samuel Horwitz in Brooklyn, New York in 1895. His unusual moniker “Shemp” came when his mother couldn’t yell “Sam” in her thick Lithuanian accent, and instead it came out as “Shemp,” so that’s just what everybody called him. Now during his early days Shemp had no ambitions to be in show business. However, that wasn’t true for his younger brother Moe, who wanted nothing more then to enter vaudeville. As a result of his desire, Moe was continuously coming up with new dance hall acts and recruiting Shemp as his partner. Moe was a natural on stage, but Shemp was just along for the ride in an attempt not to let his younger brother down. However, after dropping out of both high school and failing at being a plumber, not to mention a discharge from the army after it was discovered that he was a bed wetter, which saved him from the trenches of WWI, Shemp really had nothing else left to do. As a result, by 1917 Shemp and Moe were working the vaudeville circuit as part of a blackface act but by 1921 the act broke up when Moe joined comedian Ted Healey as part of his roughhouse act. As Ted Healy and his Stooge, Ted and Moe became a popular vaudeville act, and the foundations of The Three Stooges began.

Ted Healy and his Stooges - Larry Fine, Moe Howard, Shemp Howard and Ted Healey

It was in 1922, when Shemp went to one of Ted and Moe’s performances that Moe saw his older brother sitting in the audience and started to yell insults at him from the stage. Shemp, in total sync to his brother’s sense of humor, got out of the audience and jumped on stage and he, Moe and Ted improvised the rest of the act together. The result was a roaring success and after the performance Ted Healey asked Shemp to join the act. At first Shemp was reluctant to join Healey and Moe, especially as a result of the protests of his mother. Jennie Howard was against any of her sons being in show business, and having already lost Moe to vaudeville and with youngest brother Jerome (aka Curly) following in Moe’s footsteps, she didn’t want to lose Shemp to show business as well. She had far bigger aspirations for her boys then to just be Stooges. However, when Ted Healey, who was always a con man, gave a hundred dollars to the synagogue the Howard’s attended, Jennie reluctantly agreed. Thus Shemp became the second Stooge. Three years later, in 1925, a third Stooge, violinist Larry Fine, joined the act and the four were finally christened Ted Healy and his Three Stooges.

for the rest go here:

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Forgotten Books: Savages by Bill Pronzini

SAVAGES by Bill Pronzini

F. Paul Wilson once noted that private eye fiction offers the reader a snapshot of a certain time and place. We read Raymond Chandler not only for his fine prose but also for his portraits of Hollywood in the Thirties and Forties. Ross Macdonald showed us a very different Los Angeles due to the differences in time and temperment. And if you want to know what it was like on the angry lower-class streets of Depression Hollywoodland, you could do worse than read a lesser writer named John K. Butler, whose hardboiled cab driver functioned as a private eye without a license.

Today the definitive takes on San Francisco and environs are the Nameless novels and stories by Bill Pronzini. The influence here, if there is a singuar one, would be Hammett and not Chandler. Nameless is working class, competent and only occasionally up for doing the kind of favors that the more romantic Marlowe did so often. Nameless, like the Contintental Op, is a professional not a dashing knight.

A few decades from now the Nameless books will give readers a fascinating look at the past thirty-forty years of life in San Francisco. The social upheavels, the econmically and culturally stratified society, the endless experiments in modern living.

And you can find all this and much more in the Nameless novel SAVAGES. Pronzini tells three stories here. He goes back to work for a wealthy client he never much liked only after she convinces him that there's at least a possibility that her sister was murdered by her husband, a man Nameless couldn't turn anything sinister about when he first investigated him. Nameless not only comes to suspect the husband but several other people who were in the life of the dead woman. He draws these characters with clear and deserved contempt.

The second story deals with an arsonist pursued by Jake Runyon, the partner in Nameless' agency. The trail leads him to a small town where the feel is that of a western town of a hundred years ago. Pronzini, writer of many fine westerns, seems especially at home here with the good lawman and the bad lawman and the townspeople eager to get stampeded into believing any piece of gossip they hear. Interesting that he mixes this sensibility with that of young people into drugs, violence and MTV ennui.

The third story concerns Nameless' woman Kerry and the aftermath of her surgery for breast cancer. She's been pronounced all right but nobody who's had cancer ever quite believes that. Pronzini is especially adept at dealing realistically and unsentimentally with the subject.

Thus we encounter three kinds of savages here--those of the city elite--those of rural blue collar life--and those of the human body, the cancer cells that destroy without fear or favor.

Another excellent entry in one of the most consistently excellent series of the past forty years.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Painting with light: John Alton

These are all images from Anthony Mann's Raw Deal with cinematographer John Alton. Check out the website.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Brian Moylan: I’m Sick of Waiting for TV Shows to Get Good



FEB 6, 2012 1:59 PM

I’m Sick of Waiting for TV Shows to Get Good

Last night while taking refuge from the Super Bowl I tuned into the second episode of Luck, HBO's new horse racing show. I fell asleep, just as I did during the first episode. Yes, I know this is supposed to be a "slow burn," but how long am I supposed to wait before feeling the heat?

Luck has all the hallmarks of a prestige project: It was created by Deadwood mastermind David Milch, it stars dramatic heavyweights Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte, the pilot was directed by Hollywood's Michael Mann, and it has already been renewed for a second season after a healthy three million people tuned in for the first episode. Like so many of television's recent critical darlings, Luck—with its Dickensian world of intricate webs woven by the rich and poor festering around a California horse racing track—seems like it will take some time to get into. But now, after falling asleep during both of its episodes, I'm wondering if I really want to stick around.

That's the problem with these slow burn shows, especially ones with fancy pedigrees backed by highbrow channels like HBO or AMC. We can't imagine how they could not be good, so we keep watching, episode after boring episode, all the while waiting for some amazing payoff. And sometimes, like a skilled horse coming from behind, it pays off. But remember: For every The Wire there is a Treme, and for every Mad Men there is a The Killing.

Thanks to shows like The Wire and Mad Men, two of the best series in recent memory, we've been lead to believe that shows with a deliberate pace will be rewarding. We're told that if we keep drinking the gross medicine, we'll eventually be the better for it. As we get deeper into the creators' complicated universe, the plotting becomes more intricate and the characters more complete, and the show improves. In most cases, that rule is generally true. But on the flip side, it took me two entire seasons to see that the cacophony of storylines on Treme would never come together to make beautiful music. It took 13 long weeks of The Killing to realize that there was no real answer to all of our questions about who killed stupid Rosie Larson. Sometimes slow isn't good. Sometimes slow is just drab.

for the rest go here:

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Charles Williams by Bill Crider

Ed here: I've been reading Charles Wiliams this past week. I always liked this piece Bill Crider did about him so here it is with a link. From Mystery File. By the way this cover features my favorite fantasy girl Knockers O'Malley.


Here’s the back cover blurb:

The author of the hour!

He wrote HILL GIRL for you.

He wrote BIG CITY GIRL for you.

Now he has written for you his third and greatest GOLD MEDAL NOVEL: RIVER GIRL – the story of a man and a woman who met and knew instantly that not all the world could tear them apart.

If you already know that the guy who wrote those books for you is Charles Williams, then you probably already know that he, like Dan J. Marlowe from last time, is one of the people who belongs in the Gold Medal Pantheon.

River Girl was a little longer than a lot of the other books Gold Medal was publishing in 1951, so it was issued as a Gold Medal Giant and priced at 35 cents instead of a quarter. But it was still a bargain. It’s the story of Jack Marshall, who’s working as a deputy sheriff in a small southern town of the kind Williams writes about so well.
Jack didn’t set out to become corrupt. It just happened gradually, and even at that, we know he’s not all bad. He just needs a chance to escape from the life he’s trapped in. And the woman of the title, Doris, seems to be the way out he’s been looking for. But if you’re familiar with Williams’s work, you know that things seldom go well for his protagonists, and this time is no exception.
First, somebody is killed. Then, although Jack seems to have a perfect plan, little things start going wrong. One of the pleasures of reading the book is to find out what these little things are. Williams is a terrific plotter, so while you may guess some of them, I doubt you’ll guess all of them. The final chapter, only two pages long, is just right. Couldn’t be improved upon. The tone, pacing, and atmosphere of the whole book are pitch-perfect. No wonder River Girl is one of my favorite Charles Williams books.

for the rest go herte:

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Cool Dude: Ben Gazzara

Published: February 03, 2012 @ 3:50 pm

From The Wrap
By Brent Lang

Ben Gazzara died Friday of pancreatic cancer at 81, the New York Times reported.

The star of award films and plays such as "Anatomy of a Murder" and "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" was 81 years old.

Gazzara employed his distinctive, gravel-specked voice and powerful stare most memorably in a series of film collaborations with the director John Cassavetes.

Also read: 'Columbo' Star Peter Falk Dies at 83

For the maverick director, Gazzara played a collection of bitter spouses and down-on-their heels gamblers and theater directors in films such as "The Killing of a Chinese Bookie" and "Opening Night."

Like Peter Falk, his co-star in Cassavetes' "Husbands," Gazzara was perfectly suited to the director's signature examinations of bruised men who struggle to articulate and come to grips with their emotions, fears and hopes in a rapidly changing world.

Fittingly, he died the same day that Cassavetes did more than twenty years ago.

Also read: Don Cornelius, 'Soul Train' Host, Dead of Gunshot Wound

Among his other notable film roles were an accused killer in "Anatomy of a Murder" (1959), the smooth-talking pornographer Jackie Treehorn in the Coen Brothers' "The Big Lebowski" (1998), and a grandfather separating from his wife of 40 years in Todd Solondz's "Happiness"(1998).

Less successful was his starring role opposite his then-lover Audrey Hepburn in Peter Bogdanovich's "They All Laughed" (1981). The romantic comedy was a box office and critical disaster.

Also read: Zalman King, Erotic Film Producer-Director, Dies at 70

As for "Roadhouse" (1989), the critics hated the Patrick Swayze action movie too, but thanks to frequent television play, Gazzara's role as villainous businessman became a cult favorite.

On stage, Gazzara originated the role of the alcoholic, sexually confused Brick in Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." It helped make his name, but he saw the role go to Paul Newman in the 1958 film adaptation.

Even after Hollywood beckoned, Gazzara was comfortable migrating from stage to screen, making frequent appearances on Broadway. He was nominated for three Tony awards for playing a drug addict in "A Hatful of Rain," for doing double duty in two short plays Eugene O’Neill’s “Hughie” and David Scott Milton’s “Duet," and for playing the alcoholic George in a revival of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf."

His last Broadway role came in 2006's acclaimed revival of the social protest drama "Awake and Sing!"

Gazzara's performance in HBO's "Hysterical Blindness" earned him his first Emmy award in 2006. He also earned plaudits for his starring role in the TV movie, "An Early Frost" (1985), one of the first nationally broadcast works to deal with the AIDS crisis.

Gazzara was married three times to Louise Erickson (1951–1957), actress Janice Rule (1961–1979), and German model Elke Stuckmann.

He his survived by Stuckmann, their daughter, and an adopted daughter. Gazzara's brother, Anthony, also survives him.

Friday, February 03, 2012

The Top Suspense Group is Back with Their Favorite Kills

The Top Suspense Group is Back with Their Favorite Kills
A great anthology. Amazon Prime members read for free! Others pay only $2.99. Favorite Kills (Top Suspense Anthologies) eBook: Harry Shannon, Bill Crider, Vicki Hendricks, Max Allan Collins, Paul Levine, Libby Hellmann, Dave Zeltserman, Lee Goldberg, Joel Goldman, Ed Gorman: Kindle Store: We're back. We hope you're sitting down, and that you've finally caught your breath from Top Suspense, our first bestselling anthology. You're about to take another screaming thrill ride with twelve master storytellers. Each Top Suspense Group author is an award winning, highly acclaimed pro whose compelling and unforgettable tales have been published all over the world—and, in some cases, have even become blockbuster movies and TV shows.

In this book, Favorite Kills, we've collected our very best short stories. All major prize-winning tales and personal favorites, each one a knock-out punch of suspense.

So hold on tight my friend, or better yet, tie yourself down. You're in for another breathtaking wild ride of seething sex and unexpected twists, dark humor, and certain death. And when it's all over, and you're sitting there spent and satisfied, soaked in a flop sweat of terror and exhilaration, we're gonna be right there to bring you even more.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Forgotten Books: Walpurgis 111 by Mike Resnick

Mike Resnick is one of science fiction/fantasy's great storytellers. I've been reading him for thirty years and I have to say he gets more accomplished and polished every time out. In addition to being a fine writer he's a fine idea man. I'd compare him to Max Allan Collins and Bob Randisi in crime fiction. The three of them have more good ideas before breakfast than I have in a week of Sundays. True. Alas.

Resnick's fiction is generally robust in its narrative but almost always thoughtful. He can take the tropes of action fiction and instill in them the themes of more reflective work. One of my favorite examples of this is his novel Walpuris 111. In form it's a thriller. An assassin named Sable is hired to kill Conrad Bland a man who has turned genocide into an ugly art form. He has practiced his talents throughout the Republic of planets and is thus sought by everyone.

The planet Jericho lands on has been settled by Satanists (planets can be settled by every kind of group) who protect Bland because they believe him to be the Dark Messiah (he will of course murder all of the before he eventually leaves). This is where Resnick shows his true mastery.

Jericho, the most successful killer in the galaxy, is pitted against John Sable, the police chief of the city where Bland resides. Sable is straight out of Joseph Conrad, a man who has become accustomed to enforcing the political agenda of his planet. He has long felt conflicted about his duties and his own morality. Now that he is faced with the assassin he begins to wonder--does Bland deserve to live? Is Jericho just a killer or a savior?

The cat-and-mouse of killer and cop drives the book but it is the moral dilemma that enriches the book. Mike Resnick always gives his readers a terrific story and many times, as here, he takes on themes that have bedeviled mankind for its entire history.
A knock-out read and chilling look at evil.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012