Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dylan in America

Audioing Dylan in America by Sean Wilentz and finding it interesting. The framing makes it quite interesting to me--what he puts in and what he leaves out. He pretty much dismisses Dylan from the late seventies-early eighties to the late nineties.

I saw Dylan play once and he never engaged with the audience at all. This would have been in the early nineties. Quite a disappointment. But some of those songs....What do you think? What is his place in the annals of American music?

LA RONDE, Part 9: Kassandra Kelly

You can find the newest episode "Knocked-Out Loaded" of LA RONDE at Kassandra Kelly's blog, right here.

You can find Part Eight at Nigel Bird's blog right here.

Part Seven "Mirror Image" on Eric Beetner's blog.

Part Six "The Lesser Evil" on Evan Lewis' blog.

Part Five "It's a Dog's Life" on Rob Kitchin's blog can be found here.

Part Four, "Enter the Fat Lady" can be found on Sandra Seamans blog. Right

Part 3 "Provocateur" was on KA. Laity's blog.

Part 2 "Blinded by the Brilliance of His Own Reflection" was on Dana King's blog.

And here's "The Dish Ran Away with the Spoon" the original story

Also check out a new blog from Consuelo Saar Baehr as she transitions from a print writer to an ebook writer.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


My Dad died today, just after my visit. I probably won't be around for a while but I have a few things scheduled to go up without me. Thanks for all the kind words I know your hearts will send me. He was 96 today.

Friday, November 26, 2010

THE SUMMING UP, Friday November 27, 2010

THE SUMMING UP, Friday, November 25, 2010
Paul Bishop, Breaks, Kevin Miles
Bill Crider, Control, William Goldman
Scott Cupp, The Night Life of the Gods, Thorne Smith
Mike Dennis, The Brat, Gil Brewer
Martin Edwards, Before the Fact, Francis Iles
Richard Godwin, Hunger, Knut Hamsen
Jerry House, Tarzan of the Movies, Gabe Essoe
Randy Johnson, The Yellow Overcoat, Frank Gruber
George Kelley, Letters, Saul Bellow
K.A. Laity, Lord Malquist and Mr. Moon, Tom Stoppard
Evan Lewis, Schlomo Raven, Bryon Preiss, Tom Sutton
Steve Lewis/Geoff Bradley, A Press of Suspects, Andrew Garve
Heath Lowrance, The Name of the Game is Death, Dan Marlowe
Todd Mason, The Hugo Winners, Vol. 1 & 2, edited by Issac Asimov
Juri Nummelin, Death Train, Gordon David (Leonard Levinson)
James Reasoner, Lawnmover Bliss, Rex Anderson
Ron Scheer, White Crosses, Larry Watson
Kerrie Smith, A Perfect Match, Jill McGown
James Thompson, Dr. Frigo, Eric Ambler
Kevin Tipple, Hardboiled, edited by Michael Bracken

Friday's Forgotten Books, November 26, 2010

I will be gone most of the day so the Summing Up will come tomorrow or late tonight and latecomers added then.

Heath Lowrance is the author of The Bastard Hand, coming soon from New Pulp Press. His short fiction has appeared in ChiZine, Demon Minds, The Nautilus Engine, Necrotic Tissue, and a whole bunch of other places you've never heard of. He lives in the general vicinity of Detroit. Visit his blog at www.psychonoir.blogspot.com for occasional free stories, essays, and pointless rambling about crime fiction, horror stories, movies and more.
The Name of the Game is Death, by Dan J. Marlowe

“Forgotten book” might be the wrong way to describe Dan J. Marlowe’s The Name of the Game is Death. For hard-core fans of brutal, fast-paced noir, the book is anything but forgotten-- it is, in fact, considered a cornerstone of the genre. But despite that, in the fifty years since its first publication it’s been out of print more often than in, and most casual readers of crime fiction have never heard of it. For me, The Name of the Game is Death is one of the essential five or ten books in the world of hardboiled/noir.
The story: a career criminal calling himself Roy Martin (more on his name later) holes up after a botched bank robbery, while his partner sends him monthly allotments of their take. But when the money stops coming, Martin suspects the worst and sets off to find out what happened. The small town he finds turns out to be a cesspool of corruption and hypocrisy that makes even Martin’s twisted morality seem sane and rational by comparison.
In the hands of most writers, this rather simple plot wouldn’t be particularly noteworthy, but Marlowe paints a vivid picture of Martin, not just through his actions but also in a set of chilling flashbacks to Martins’ youth and young manhood, where all the signs of a sociopathic personality begin to emerge. And the steps Martin takes to find out what happened to his partner and to retrieve his money reinforce him as a deeply disturbed man.
Quite simply, he enjoys killing and hurting people; in one memorable scene, he’s unable to become sexually aroused for intercourse, and admits to himself that the only thing that really turns him on is bloodshed-- in a later scene, he brutalizes a woman who attempted to set him up, and he’s able to “perform” without a hitch.
So all in all, Roy Martin is a seriously messed-up sociopath, with barely a redeeming feature-- aside from a fondness for animals. Why do we find ourselves almost rooting for him? Because almost everyone else he encounters is a hollow, lying hypocrite. Martin is the only character who is actually true to himself… much to the horror of everyone else.
The climax to Th e Name of the Game is Death is stunningly violent, very dark, and totally chilling-- not the sort of ending that would cause you to expect a sequel. And yet Marlowe did indeed bring the character back a few years later for a book that was almost-but-not-quite as good as the first, One Endless Hour. In that one we discover that Martin’s name is actually Drake (which is how he’s often referred to when discussing The Name of the Game is Death).
More books about “The Man with Nobody’s Face” would follow, each one a bit softer than the one before, until almost all signs of the near-psychopathic Martin were gone, replaced by a repentant crook who now worked for the government.
But lovers of dark, violent tales will always remember him as the blood-thirsty killer calling himself Roy Martin.

Albert Tucher is the author of five unpublished novels and dozens of published short stories about prostitute Diana Andrews. He'd like to try a stand-alone story, if Diana doesn't kick his ass for him.


Over the weekend of November 13-14 I attended the Crimebake conference in Dedham, Mass. On Saturday a gentleman about my age joined my breakfast table. I read his nametag and blurted, "Mr. Carkeet. I'm a big fan of The Greatest Slump of All Time."
David Carkeet's comic novel, which came out in 1984, supports my belief that baseball is life, only more so. It's the story of a major league team, each member of which suffers from a secret depression. That would be bad enough, but the team is also on a winning streak, The wrose the players feel, the more they win, and the more they win, the more like worthless frauds they feel. An excerpt says it better than I can:
"Bubba fears someone is going to break into his apartment on a dark night while he is in bed. The intruder will of course steal from him, but he will also abuse him with words. Bubba feels that the man will have every right to do this."
The scene in which the teammates break through their manly silence and share their pain is hilarious, but I won't spoil it here.
David Carkeet also wrote at least two crime novels in which a researcher in linguistics solves the mystery, and he has a new book set in Vermont called From Away. I plan to get hold of it.

Richard Godwin, HUNGER, Knut Hamsum
Richard Godwin writes dark crime fiction, and he lets it slip the net like wash into horror. His work has appeared in many publications, places like A Twist Of Noir and Pulp Metal Magazine, as well as in two anthologies. His story 'Pike N Flytrap' is in this Fall's issue of Needle Magazine. His play ‘The Cure-All’ has been produced on the London stage. All his stories and poetry can be found at his blog here http://www.richardgodwin.net/ His first crime novel ‘Apostle Rising’ is about to be published and will be released for sale onto the market on March 10th 2011. Use the link to watch a video ad of it.

KNUT HAMSUN’S HUNGER. I remember talking about ‘Hunger’ by Knut Hamsun many years ago with a friend in a smoke filled London pub. It’s a great novel. You can stick whatever label you want on it, it fits existentialism, post modernism, noir, surrealism and the point is it’s a story that is totally compelling. Labels are for soup tins.

Pan published it in the UK, among a treasure trove of great authors when writing still made sense in Britain. It yawned into a golden gap filled with brilliant old and new novelists before the door was shut by some politically correct agenda. Hamsun, a Norwegian novelist, August 4th, 1859 – February 19, 1952, won the Nobel Prize for literature. He stepped over the edge and kept on walking. He is iconoclastic, irreverent, and utterly inspired by whatever dark gods trespass on our soul in the midnight hour.

The protagonist of ‘Hunger’, which is told in the first person, is an unnamed vagrant with intellectual le
anings. It is the intense story of a starving writer living in Christiana. We’re in the great Scandinavian tradition of relentless exposure It was written after Hamsun made an ill-fated tour of America, and based on his own impoverished life before his breakthrough in 1890. It takes place in the late nineteenth century and narrates the delusionary existence of a starving young man on the dark side of a modern metropolis. It has tones of Dostoyevsky and Kafka, Genet and Zola.

The protagonist tries to maintain a veneer of respectability while he decays. He refuses to pursue a professional career,
seeing it as unfit for his abilities and descends into starvation. I remember reading the opening lines: ‘’It was during the time I wandered about and starved in Christiania: Christiania, this singular city, from which no man departs without carrying away the traces of his sojourn the re.’’ Hamsun’s themes are alienation and the inescapability of the physical condition. As the protagonist’s hunger intensifies his hallucinations become more intense. ‘’I raise myself up in bed and fling out my arms. My nervous condition has got the upper hand of me, and nothing availed, no matter how much I tried to work against it. There I sat, a prey to the most singular fantasies, listening to myself crooning lullabies, sweating with the exertion of striving to hush myself to rest. I peered into the gloom, and I never in all the days of my life felt such darkness.

There was no doubt that I found myself here, in face of a peculiar kind of darkness; a desperate element to which no one had hitherto paid attention. The most ludicrous thoughts busied me, and everything made me afraid. A little hole in the wall at the head of my bed occupies me greatly--a nail hole. I find the marks in the wall--I feel it, blow into it, and try to guess its depth. That was no innocent hole--not at all. It was a downright intricate and mysterious hole, which I must guard against! Possessed by the thought of this hole, entirely beside myself with curiosity and fear, I get out of bed and seize hold of my penknife in order to gauge its depth, and convince myself that it does not reach right into the next wall.’’ This really does deserv
ed to be read.

You won’t forget it once you have read it.

Jerry House lives in southern Maryland. He can be reached at house_jerry@hotmail.com.

With the death of Johnny Sheffield last month, I got to thinking about Tarzan movies. Five-year old Sheffield had been handpicked by Johnny Weismuller to play Boy in TARZAN FINDS A SON. Weismuller had looked on Sheffield as the son he couldn't have during his tempetuous marriage to Lupe Velez. (Weismuller's first marriage to Bobbe Arnst ended at the request of MGM Studios, which paid Bobbe $10,000 for the divorce, because the studio felt marriage would be a hindrance to Weismuller's career; his later romancing of Velez was approved by the studio as good publicity.)

This is just one tidbit from Gabe Essoe's TARZAN OF THE MOVIES: A PICTORIAL HISTORY OF MORE THAN FIFTY YEARS OF EDGAR RICE BURROUGH'S LEGENDARY HERO (Cadillac Publishing, 1968), a chatty walk down memory lane from Elmo Lincoln to Mike Henry, with a side jaunt to the Ron Ely television series and a few unauthorized foreign films (such as Singapore's THE ADVENTURES OF CHINESE TARZAN, 1940). Some of the other interesting items:

- When a drugged lion turned on him during the filming of TARZAN OF THE APES, Elmo Lincoln stabbed and killed the lion.

- Boris Karloff's first screen appearance was as a Waziri chief in TARZAN AND THE GOLDEN LION, the last true silent Tarzan movie, which also featured Burroughs' future son-in-law Jim Pierce as Tarzan. That movie, by the way, was financed by Joseph P. Kennedy, the father of John F. Kennedy. The book has a great photograph of Karloff as an angry African warrior.

- The several attempts to kill off (or ignore) Jane as a character.

- The deaths of an actor, a trainer, and a stuntman during the filming the series.

- Among the actors rejected for the role of Tarzan was Clark Gable. (Because, "He has no body.")

- How Weismuller made a friend of the movie Cheetah by hitting him hard on the head with his hunting knife to show him who was boss,.

- The original Tarzan yell was created by using four different synchronized sound tracks: a camel's bleat, a hyena's howl, the growl of a dog, and the plunking of a violin's G-string. Weismuller and Lex Barker were able to recreate the yell; Ron Ely wasn't.

The book portrays Burroughs as a sometimes canny/sometimes naive businessman whose protective nature for his creation was paramount. His disdain for many of the portrayals of his character is evident, as we follow the complicated business dealings that allowed "duelling" Tarzans from different studios. All too often the producing studios' visions led to the degradation of the series to strictly juvenile fare.

TARZAN OF THE MOVIES also contains hundreds of photographs (all, alas, in black and white), including those of television guest stars Diana Ross and Mary Wilson, Ethel Merman, Fernando Lamas, and Julie Harris.

Bottom line: a casual and entertaining overview and a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.

Paul Bishop
Bill Crider
Scott Cupp
Mike Dennis
Martin Edwards
Randy Johnson
George Kelley
K.A. Laity
Evan Lewis
Steve Lewis/Geoff Bradley
Todd Mason
Juri Nummelin
James Reasoner
Ron Scheer
Kerrie Smith
James Thompson
Kevin Tipple

Thursday, November 25, 2010


I got the two copies of DND2 I bought at NOIRCON today and those wonderful people at Farley's Bookstore in New Hope, PA had them tied in a red ribbon!

I urge everyone to buy this book--and not because I have a story in it. But instead to honor the memory of David Thompson-to give him this final success. There are so many fine writers in this volume, you can't not own it.

And if you really want to do something nice, order it from Murder by the Book or Farley's Bookstore (www.farleysbookshop.com). You might save a dollar or two at Amazon but you will keep indies and chains open by buying it elsewhere.

What say we all buy at least one book from a brick and mortar bookstore this Christmas. And I'm not talking about Walmart, Costco or Target who will raise their prices as soon as the two big chains are gone.

Happy Thanksgiving


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Guilty Pleasure Movie

I am trying to come up with my ultimate guilty pleasure movie. Of course there is subjectivity in this choice because what might be a guilty pleasure to you might not to me. In other words, how merit-less does it have to be to count?

What movie would you admit to? What do you watch when no one else is there to shake a finger and say, "Not again!"


James Reasoner.

Most of my books have had fairly commonplace origins. Sometimes I was writing in a series with established characters, where I knew what sort of plots were acceptable. Occasionally I’ve even taken over a series in the middle of an ongoing storyline. Other times an editor would get in touch with me and say, “Write me a book about the Gold Rush” (RIVERS OF GOLD) or “Write me a book about a family of doctors during the Civil War” (THE HEALER’S ROAD). So in quite a few cases during my career, that initial spark of creativity came from someone else.

Not so DUST DEVILS. I know how the idea came to me and where I was when it happened. I was driving down to Brownwood, Texas -- don’t ask me why, that part I don’t recall – and listening to an oldies station on the radio. A song by Bobby Goldsboro, “Summer (The First Time)” came on. If you’ve never heard this song, it’s about a young man’s initiation into the glories and mysteries of sex by an older woman. It’s not a song that’s a particular favorite of mine, and I’d heard it many times before, but for some reason that day I asked myself if you couldn’t write a book based on that concept . . . only it would be one of those books where nothing, absolutely nothing, was what it seemed to be at first.

From there I started building a plot around that idea, only instead of a novel I decided to write it as a screenplay. I’m not sure why, except I had it in my head in those days that I wanted to write a screenplay and I thought this could be a very visual story. I got about forty pages into the script before I realized I wasn’t really comfortable with what I was doing and decided to turn it into a novel instead. That’s why the whole book is very lean and visually-oriented: it started life as a screenplay.

While I was writing those opening scenes, I worried that the story might start out too stereotypical, that the readers would just assume they knew where the plot was going. But I knew if they would just stick with it until the first big twist, the predictability of those early scenes would work in my favor and make the direction in which the story veered off even more surprising. I didn’t stop there, of course. I kept more surprises in reserve for later on in the book.

But where it all started was a boring drive to Brownwood and a Bobby Goldsboro song, and it turned out to be one of the most enjoyable books I’ve ever written.


Spur Award nominee James Reasoner is one of the most prolific and in—demand Western writers working today, with more than 200 books to his credit, both under his own name and under various pen-names. In the mystery field he is best known for the novel Dust Devils and Texas Wind, which has achieved legendary status as a collectible paperback. For several years early in his career, he wrote the Mike Shayne novellas in MIKE SHAYNE MYSTERY MAGAZINE under the famous pseudonym Brett Halliday. Under his own name in recent years he has written a ten-book series of historical novels set during the Civil War and several historical novels about World War II. He lives in Texas with his wife, award-winning mystery novelist Livia J. Washburn

If you have a book coming out you would like to write a piece about, feel free to email me.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Boxing Match

Are you as sick of me as I am? If not, go here and be tortured by more of my words.

Ross D. MacDonald or
John D.

La Ronde, Part 8

You can find the newest installation of La Ronde at Nigel Bird's blog right here.

Part Seven "Mirror Image" on Eric Beetner's blog.

Part Six "The Lesser Evil" on Evan Lewis' blog.

Part Five "It's a Dog's Life" on Rob Kitchin's blog can be found here.

Part Four, "Enter the Fat Lady" can be found on Sandra Seamans blog. Right

Part 3 "Provocateur" was on KA. Laity's blog.

Part 2 "Blinded by the Brilliance of His Own Reflection" was on Dana King's blog.

And here's "The Dish Ran Away with the Spoon" the original story

Monday, November 22, 2010

Your Five Favorite U.S. Movies from the 1970s

Gerald So is interviewing writers from DISCOUNT NOIR over on Chatterific.

My Five Favorites (today) because truthfully I could have chosen fifty easily.

Patti Abbott
The Godfather, Chinatown, The Last Picture Show, Klute, Annie Hall

David Cranmer,

Steve Oerkfitz, The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Chinatown, The French Connection,The Last Picture Show

Margot Kinberg, The Godfather, The Last Picture Show, Chinatown, Taxi Driver, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

Charles Gramlich, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Wars, Revenge of the Jedi, Taxi Driver, Escape from the Planet of the Apes


Deb, Animal House, Annie Hall, Blazing Saddles, Chinatown, Close Encounters of the Third Kind

MP, The Godfather, Chinatown, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Don't Look Now, Halloween

Phil Abbott, Mean Streets, The Godfather, Annie Hall, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Conversation

Superman, The Conversation, Jaws, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Alien

A Clockwork Orange, The Godfather, All the President's Men, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Apocalypse Now

Chad Eagleton,
-Star Wars, Superman, Enter The Dragon, Rolling Thunder, The Outlaw Josey Wales

James Reasoner,
The Last Picture Show, Chinatown, American Graffiti, Blazing Saddles, Star Wars

Dorte "One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest" (Dorte put all her eggs in one nest)

Dan Fleming,
Godfather I and II, Chinatown, Dog Day Afternoon, Taxi Driver. Star Wars


Paul D. Brazill, Paper Moon, The Godfather, Eraserhead, Mean Steets, Prime Cut






Who's Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? Young Frankenstein, Sleeper, The Sting
The Wicker Man

Dan Luft,
Nashville , Alice's Restaurant, Dog Day Afternoon, Chinatown, Paper Moon

E. Anders:

Lois Karlin:
Chinatown, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Star Wars, Annie Hall, The Sting"

Todd Mason,

Cullen Gallagher, The Heartbreak Kid (Elaine May), Mikey and Nicky (Elaine May), Minnie and Moskowitz (John Cassavetes), Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett), and What's Up Doc? (Peter Bogdanovich).

Saturday, November 20, 2010

One of the great themes- IMHO

Sense of Place

We've watched a few episodes of DETROIT I87 and it does a good job of capturing Detroit. Harder to do in a novel though. I once heard a somewhat belligerent reader tell Ruth Rendell some facts about Kingsmarkam-- a fictional town she created she reminded him.

Who's good at this? Where do you feel like you've been (or recognize because it's your own turf) in novels. Galway comes across loud and clear in Ken Bruen novels. And Laura Lippman's middle class areas of Baltimore's are now familiar too. Alice Munro brought rural Ontario to life for me. Paul Auster: New York, Philp Roth: Newark.

Who's good at this IYHO?

Friday, November 19, 2010

THE SUMMING UP, Friday, November 19, 2010

I want to thank all of today's contributors. I didn't get to make many comments because of what's going on here, but I so appreciate this amazing list of books and you amazing people.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Joe Barone, Affirmative Reaction, Aileen Schumacher
Paul Bishop, The Jade Figurine, Bill Pronzini
Michael Carlosn, Mandeville Talent, George Higgins
Bill Crider, Supernatural Sleuths, Martin Greenberg and Charles G Waugh, editors
Quinn Cummings, Portable Dorothy Parker
Scott Cupp, Of Men and Monsters, William Tenn
Martin Edwards, Laidlaw, William McIlvanney
Jose Ignacio Escribano, Murder at the Savoy, Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo
Ed Gorman, Scandal on the Sand, John Trinian
Jake Hinkson, The Condemned, Jo Pagano
Randy Johnson, Dealing of The Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Bick Lost Bag Blues, Michael Douglas Lois Karlin, Forgotten Books Online
George Kelley, The Last Hieroglyph, Clark Ashton Smith
Rob Kitchin, I, the Jury, Mickey Spillane
B.V. Lawson, Ghost of a Chance, Kelly Roos
Evan Lewis, Let Them Eat Bullets, Howard Shoenfeld
Steve Lewis/Bill Pronzini, Marcia Muller, Mr. Fortune Objects, H.C. Bailey
Steve Lewis/Jeff Meyerson, Circle of Fear, Mark Sadler
Todd Mason, Reverse Angle, John Simon, The Other Glass Teat, Harlan Ellison
Andrew Nette, The Wandering Ghost, Marin Limon
Juri Nummelin, The Night Watch and Fingersmith, Sarah Waters
Eric Peterson, The Green Eagle Score, Richard Stark
James Reasoner, The Iron Trail, Jackson Cole (Peter Germand)
Ron Scheer, Bat Wing Bowles, Dane Coolidge
Kerrie Smith, Planning for Murder, Anne Morice
Kevin Tipple, Fedora 11, Michael Bracken
Yvette, The Wooden Leg of Inspector Anders, Marshall Browne

Friday's Forgotten Books 1, November 19, 2010

Quinn Cummings is the author of Notes from the Underwire: Adventures From My Awkward and Lovely Life. She can be found blogging at quinncummings.com and she can be found on Twitter as Quinncy. Mostly, she can be found driving her daughter to extracurricular activities while also drinking tea.

The Portable Dorothy Parker

I don't know why short stories have withered as an art form. Really, they couldn't be more modern. All the pleasure of eavesdropping on the table behind you, only with a good editor. In the modern arena where we're all gladiators competing to see who has the shortest attention span and the most to do, what could be better than a beginning,a middle and an end in the time it takes the plumber to snake the bathroom drain?

And if you're going to read short stories, you're going to want to read Dorothy Parker. Even if you don't think you know Dorothy Parker, I'll bet you do. Men don't make passes...

If you just thought, ...at girls who wear glasses, you know a little Dorothy Parker. If you're a bookish type (And we know you are; you're reading this) you probably know she wrote for The New Yorker and the Constant Reader, was the Clever Girl in Manhattan in the 20's and 30's, was the Hermione Granger at the Algonquin Round Table.

Some of her stories are funny. Some are snorting-into-your-sleeve funny; my mother gave me "The Waltz" to read when I was eleven and I can't think of a better gateway drug to Ms. Parker. "From the Diary of a New York Lady" gleefully exposes the stupidity and lack of self-awareness of a society dame, some primordial Paris Hilton. But while I've never turned down Dorothy in high humor, the stories which have stayed with me were her more serious stories, which inevitably circle around how people, knowingly and unknowingly, hurt one another. Her serious short stories have the precision of Flaubert and the scrupulous attention to detail of an autopsy. I don't wish people pain, so I'm not pleased Ms. Parker had a well-documented difficult romantic life. Having said that, there have been times in my dating life where I thought back to some moment or sentence from a story of hers and thought, "Oh. That's what she was talking about" and felt oddly mollified if not exactly happy. Her stories are clear and bright, very much of their era but also timeless. They are excellent company which fits in your purse.
And here is my copy of her book, which I've had since I was twelve years old. If use=love, this is a most-loved book.

Yvette is an illustrator, a great reader, a new grandma, a cancer survivor and a blogger at: http://yvettecandraw.blogspot.com She grew up in NYC in the 1950's when Manhattan was a giant playground - or so it seemed.

The Wooden Leg of Inspector Anders by Marshall Browne

Marshall Browne (1935 - ) is one of those Australian authors whom, it appears, very few have ever heard of possibly because some of his books are so hard to come by in this country. But I recommended Browne to an Australian blogger asking for Australian author recommendations recently and even she had never heard of him. Go figure.

Born in Melbourne, Browne is a sixth generation Australian, an international banker by trade (the family business), an author of crime and historical novels by choice.

I first discovered Browne when struck in the fancy by the title of his novel: The Wooden Leg of Inspector Anders. You have to admit, this is a great title, never mind if

the book is good or not. I’m rarely swayed by something so tenuous as an interest in a clever title, but this time out I couldn’t resist. The book was published in 1999 by St. Martins and is still available, though I can’t say the same for the third Inspector Anders book, Inspector Anders and the Blood Vendetta, which I have yet to read though it was published in 2006. If I sound disgruntled, it’s because I am. (And don’t get me started on Browne’s second Franz Schmidt novel, The Iron Heart, which doesn’t seem to have been published here at all.) This guy is just too good a writer for this kind of hide and seek.

Inspector Anders is a police inspector of northern Italian roots considered, with some irony, a hero in his Italian homeland for action in the fight against the Red Brigades –terrorists of the 80’s – in which he lost a leg. He is on the edge of retirement when called upon to take up one last job. Limping slightly on his artificial leg (government provided) and carrying a spare in his luggage, he is sent south by train from Rome to a city which is never identified. Anders is meant merely to make a few perfunctory interviews and publish a glossy final report – nothing too daunting. In the south, he finds a city polluted with corruption, a city in which the murders of a judge and an investigative magistrate – the crimes he’s theoretically come to investigate - are greeted with a shrug by everyone he talks to. A city in which the mafia stranglehold is unbreakable and to speak the truth is to earn a death sentence – a city which works as another character in the book, its evil corruption a living, breathing, foul thing.

At first, the careful Anders tries to look the other way and live to return to Rome, make his report and retire to write his magnum opus, the life of an ancestor, a poet named Anton Anders. But in the end, he is just too inherently noble. He simply cannot bring himself to go along to get along yet again and once the mafia begins flexing its muscles, he has no choice.

On another note, one of the more interesting things about Anders, is the attraction he still has for women. The stump that is his leg seems not to hinder his sexual conquests in the slightest. At age fifty he still has a good eye for a certain sort of older, voluptuous female and makes no effort to hide this interest as he conducts his investigation. When he meets two totally different women: the earthy bartender/owner of the small hotel in which he’s staying and the judge’s more sophisticated widow, both are quite willing to share their beds with Anders. Perhaps it’s his politeness and the unabashed gleam in his eye. A man who truly likes women is hard to resist.

Once Anders decides to do something about the mafia’s chokehold on the city, he sets about concocting an outrageous plan (with a surprise twist) which, if you stop to think about it, goes against anything anyone’s ever been taught about the niceties of law and the workings of justice.

With the help of Matucci, a loud-mouthed cop who appears to be more than the sum of

his parts, the slain judge’s widow, and his own basic guile and intelligence, Anders performs a miracle of retribution. This is a darkly violent novel with a fairly oppressive dystopian outlook of Italy which is unsettling to say the least.

The Wooden Leg of Inspector Anders won the Ned Kelly literary prize for best first novel and was an L.A. Times Book Award nominee.

Jake Hinkson blogs at THE NIGHT EDITOR. He has the lead story in BEAT TO A PULP: ROUND ONE and you can find his stories in many fine publications. Check out his blog today for a review of the movie made from the book.

The Condemned Jo Pagano, 1947

To understand The Condemned, Jo Pagano’s strange hybrid of social commentary and gritty noir, a little background is in order. Born in 1906, Pagano was the youngest son of Italian immigrants who came to Colorado at the turn of the century so Pagano’s father could work as a miner. Jo quickly figured out that writing stories beat the hell out of swinging a pickax, and by the thirties he had started selling stories to magazines like The Atlantic, Scribners, Reader’s Digest, and Yale Review.

He moved to Hollywood, and by the late thirties, he was working at RKO Pictures. Around this time Pagano became friends with the novelist William Faulkner. The great writer was in Hollywood doing script rewrites for Howard Hawks, but he spent most of his days chasing girls and getting shitfaced with other scribblers. At the time, Faulkner’s work was little read outside highbrow literary circles, but Pagano was already a devoted fan. Because Pagano could match the Mississippian drink for drink, the two men became fast friends. Faulkner became Pagano’s literary mentor and took special care to warn him about the hazards of selling out to Hollywood. Talent, Faulkner believed, couldn’t survive the compromises one had to make with the studios. He told Pagano simply, “Jo, you have got to get out of this town.” In the midst of this tutelage with Faulkner, Pagano published his third book, The Condemned, in 1947.

The novel was based on the true story of Thomas Harold Thurmond and John M. Holmes, who in 1933 had abducted and murdered a wealthy man named Brooke Hart. After the killers were apprehended and confessed to the crime, thousands of angry people descended on the Santa Clara County jail in San Jose, dragged the men from their cells, and hanged them from two trees across the street. Pagano changed the names and turned the story into a serious crime drama. The central conflict is that of Howard Tyler, an everyman living in postwar California. He can’t find work to support his family, so he takes a job as getaway driver for a small time crook, and big time psycho, named Jerry Slocum. This decision turns out to be a catastrophic mistake because soon Jerry has decided that he and Howard need to move up the criminal ladder to kidnapping.

Neither of Pagano’s previous books—both of which were affectionate evocations of family life among Italian Americans—would have prepared a reader for The Condemned. This novel is a serious literary attempt to deal with Hart’s murder and the subsequent lynching of Thurmond and Holmes. As such, it marks a sharp departure from his previous books in terms of both focus and tone. It is also something of a swing for the fences in terms of style. It bears unmistakable Faulknerian touches such as shifting perspectives, shocking violence, and buried psychosexual motivations, but it also owes a debt to Steinbeck’s social consciousness. It was Pagano’s attempt to write a great, important novel.

After its initial printing in hardback failed to bring literary glory, however, the book was radically abridged and repackaged as pulp (a process that would continue for years: Zenith Books re-released the book in 1958 under the title Die Screaming). The book isn’t entirely successful. Pagano’s weakness as a writer was preachiness. He gives us the character of Dr. Simone, an Italian professor who functions as the film’s moral and intellectual color commentator. This character mouths all of the appropriate leftist horror at the American financial and judicial systems. Moralizing in noir usually comes in the form of boring authoritarians espousing a right wing point of view, but Dr. Simone’s sermons prove that preaching doesn’t work any better when it comes from the left.

In many ways, the abridgment makes for a better read. It focuses more on the central story of the killers—in particular on Howard Tyler’s terrible guilt. After all, the key tension in the story is Howard’s gnawing sense of his own culpability, the tortured humanity of a normal man who fumbles into theft and murder and then watches in horror as his life falls apart. Soon, Pagano accepted the job of adapting the book into a screenplay for producer Robert Stillman. The resulting film that Pagano and director Cy Endfield delivered, The Sound Of Fury, was a masterpiece, a dark and serious look at American society in the post-war era. Endfield rightly seized on Pagano’s strongest material and brought it to the front of the film. He also kept Pagano’s strong supporting cast of characters: crazy homme fatale Jerry Slocum, the careless newspaperman Gil Stanton, and Hazel, the odd young woman who exposes Howard to the police.

The film met with great opposition, with theater managers across the country catching flack for running such an “anti-American” picture at the outset of the Korean War. The film was re-titled Try And Get Me! and peddled around as a genre piece (much as the book had been), but it quickly sank into obscurity. Stubbornly, the film lived on, and as film geeks rediscovered it, its reputation grew. It is now in line for a major restoration by the Film Noir Foundation. Pagano’s novel doesn’t have the same reputation that film the does, but this strange and beguiling work is well worth seeking out. Read Jake Hinkson’s review of Endfield’s movie adaption The Sound Of Fury at The Night Editor.

Ed Gorman is the author of several crimes series, many westerns, several collections of short stories, and edits many anthologies. You can find him here.


John Trinian was a working name of Zekial Marko. He was a formerconvicted criminal who started publishing when he got out of jail in the early sixties. His first novel was under his real name(Scratch a Thief, Fawcett Gold Medal 1961, also as Once a Thief), after which he started using the pseudonym. As Trinian, he published five or six novels with various paperback houses, such as Pyramid. Scratch a Thief is an excellent novel, you should try it. That's
the only book I've read by him, sadly, so I can't comment on the others. -- Juri Nummelin (on Rara-Avis)

Further information on Trinian has him writing for The Rockford Files and other TV shows. While I don't think he was as good as Malcolm Braly, another Gold Medal author who served hard time, I do think his novels had both a lyrical and sexual aspect that we don't find in most of Braly.

I just finished Trinian's SCANDAL ON THE SAND (1964) and I have to say that it offers just about everything I ask for from a novel. A unique story, a strong voice, a definite worldview and several compelling characters, most notably the rich young woman at the book's center, Karen Fornier.

A dying killer whale washes up on a stretch of deserted Southern California beach. Karen, hungover and dismal that she finally gave into the childish wanna-be macho man Hobart, the one her parents would like her to marry...she leaves their beach motel hoping to lose him. Wandering along the beach she finds the whale and for her its appearance is almost religious. The way she bonds with it is moving and is a credit to Trinian's skill.

Hobart insists that the whale is dead and should be cut up for cat food. He finds a sinister, arrogant young cop, Mulford, who agrees with him. Mulford orders a tow truck to come in and drag it away. He then orders Hobart and Karen to leave the area. Hobart sees in the harsh machismo of Mulford everything he's secretly wanted to be, that not even his considerable inheritance could buy him. He sides with Mulford and tries to drag Karen away. But she defies them both and stays. Not even when the whale proves to be alive will Mulford stop the tow truck. He says he'll shoot the whale.

All this is being observed from close-by a hood named Bonniano who is to meet a runner who will give him enough money to escape to Mexico. Bonniano is in the news for being a hit man who last night iced a prominent mob figure. Everybody's looking for him.

These and others play into the story of whale on the beach. The character sketches show the influences of Sherwood Anderson and John O'Hara and the cutaways to life on the beach bring the 1964 era alive. Boys wearing white clam digger pants--girls lying about in pink bikinis with transistor radios stuck to their ears--and just about everybody managing to grab themselves a little marijuana whenever the opportunity comes up...all this being the lull before the flower power storm that was less than two years away.

A cunning little book. Trinian was the real deal.

Joe Barone
Paul Bishop
Michael Carlson
Bill Crider
Scott Cupp
Martin Edwards
Randy Johnson
Lois Karlin
George Kelley

Rob Kitchin
B.V. Lawson
Evan Lewis
Steve Lewis/Bill Pronzini, Marcia Muller
Steve Lewis/Jeff Meyerson
Todd Mason
Andrew Nette
Juri Nummelin
Eric Peterson
James Reasoner
Ron Scheer
Kerrie Smith
Kevin Tipple

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thursday Night Music-Julie London

Short Story Challenge at Yvette's Place:In So Many Words

Check out this cool idea for a short story challenge at Yvette's blog.

How I Came to Write the Book, Milton Burton

“Nights of The Red Moon.” Milton T. Burton

Years ago I heard a legendary old East Texas sheriff say that he’d let one elderly black moonshiner make about fifty gallons of corn whiskey a year because, as he put it, “He didn’t sell the stuff. He gave most of it away, and it was a matter of art with him rather than profit. Besides, it was damned good whiskey. He gave me a couple of gallons every year.”

Such accommodations are common among rural law enforcement people in my part of the world. Just about every old lawman I ever knew allowed a few bootleggers to operate so long as they didn’t sell to kids, and they turned a blind eye to black working men who had their dice games going in deserted sharecropper shanties every Saturday night. The payoff was that these people had their fingers in the local criminal underworld, and they were expected to pony up the information when the sheriff needed to know who had just burgled the hardware store, of if someone was planning to rob the local jeweler.

So I started thinking about a rural county where this sort of thing still went on. Thus was born Sheriff Bo Handel and his elderly black moonshiner friend, Ira Blevins. Bo’s backstory is that he came from a prosperous timber family, and that he was in Rice University majoring in classical piano forty years earlier when his father’s death in the middle of his senior year necessitated his returning home to take over the family business. A decade later, the longtime sheriff came down with cancer and talked the commissioners’ court into appointing Bo to fill out the remainder of his term. Bo liked the job and has been running every four years since. For anyone who is interested, the original short story, “Old Ira’s Still,” can be found here: http://obscuredestinies.blogspot.com/2009/07/old-iras-still.html

Once I finished the short story, I realized that Bo was too good a character to abandon. Several years earlier I had written a novel about an eighty-one-year-old retired Texas Ranger who goes back to solve his very first case, the disappearance of a wealthy oilman during the early days of the great East Texas Oil Field. The story was told by a young ex-marine friend who accompanied the old Ranger on his travels to unravel the case. My agent could never sell it because the know-it-all gremlins who run the publishing industry said the sidekick narrator was “ineffective.” Never mind that it worked for Arthur Connan Doyle in his Holmes and Watson series, the most famous duo in all crime fiction. Never mind too that these stories are still in print over a century later. The gremlins know all.

So... I had begun a second book with this old Ranger as the protagonist, but abandoned it due to its lack of marketability. I had three chapters and the ending, so it was a simple matter of two hours work to convert it to a Bo Handle book, told in the first person---Nights of The Red Moon, which is slated for release on December 7 by St. Martin’s Minotaur. Pre-release reviews have been universally enthusiastic. I am currently working on a second book with Bo as the protagonist. This will be the second of a series. I was very fortunate to get jacket blurbs from Bill Crider, Dave Corbett, and retired Texas Ranger Captain/U.S. Marshal Jack Dean, for which I am very grateful. I was especially gratified when I got an email from Captain Jack telling me he had gotten his manuscript copy from the publisher at four the previous afternoon and had finished it about ten that evening. It is one thing to satisfy mystery fans, but when a man with nearly fifty years of high-level law enforcement experience tells you he couldn’t put your story down... Well, folks, such a complement is like that Old Time Religion: it just makes you love everybody!

Milton Burton is also the author of THE ROGUES' GAME and THE SWEET AND

If you have a book coming out you would like to write a piece about, please email me.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What 's your favorite comedy?

I love a good comedy--and not necessarily a romantic one, just a funny one. They are pretty rare lately--unless you're a teenage boy.

I am going with GROUNDHOG DAY, which is a romantic one. But I think it is profound as well as funny, romantic and sweet.

Being profound is not required here though. What is your favorite comedy?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

La Ronde, Part Seven-Eric Beetner

My dad made it through the surgery ( 4 hours at age 96, go Dad!) and I thank you for your good thoughts and words.

Part Seven "Mirror Image" on Eric Beetner's blog.
Go on over and tell him how much you liked it.

Part Six "The Lesser Evil" on Evan Lewis' blog.
(Where one cool guy makes a surprise appearance.)

Part Five "It's a Dog's Life" on Rob Kitchin's blog can be found here.

Part Four, "Enter the Fat Lady" can be found on Sandra Seamans blog. Right

Part 3 "Provocateur" was on KA. Laity's blog.

Part 2 "Blinded by the Brilliance of His Own Reflection" was on Dana King's blog.

And here's "The Dish Ran Away with the Spoon" the original story