Friday, July 29, 2016

Friday's Forgotten Books, July 29, 2016

Todd Mason will have the links today as I watch movies-11 in four days. Is that too many?

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Friday, July 22, 2016

Bob Seger Week

Friday's Forgotten Books, July 22, 2016

Todd Mason will be on duty next Friday as I travel north to the Traverse City Film Festival

(from the archives)
Forgotten Books: DRIVE EAST ON 66 -- Richard Wormser (reviewed by Bill Crider) 
Okay, as I said yesterday, it was inevitable that after seeing the title of James H. Cobb's West on 66, I was going to read it. Today's book is the reason why. I read it around 40 years ago, and I have to wonder if maybe Cobb's read it, too.

A cop named Andy Bastian is hired to drive a kid named Ralph from California to Kansas, where Ralph will be put into what's called, in the novel,s 1961 way, an insane asylum. Ralph is brilliant, and his father's quite rich. Accompanying Ralph and Andy is Olga Beaumont, a psychologist who's along to care for Ralph. They don't get far before it's apparent they're being followed.

This isn't an adrenaline-fueled thriller like Cobb's book. The characters following along aren't hate-filled gangsters and hitmen. There are no heart-stopping car chases, hot sex, and shoot-outs. But that doesn't mean there's no suspense. It's just a quieter kind, and it's played out along a route that runs in the opposite direction, as the titles indicate.

James mentions that Cobb's book isn't quite a pitch-perfect recreation of a Gold Medal novel. Wormser's book is pitch-perfect, not as a re-creation but as an original. Read the first couple of pages, and you'll know what I mean, I think. Wormser's descriptions of the people, the landscape, and the seedy motels are on the money. I like all Wormser's GM books, including The Invader, which one an Edgar for best paperback. If you get a chance, give one a try and see what you think.

Joe Barone, FATAL PURSUIT   Martin Walker  
Les Blatt, DEATH OF A BOVVER BOY, Leo Bruce 
Bill Crider, RASH, Pete Hautman
Scott Cupp, THE PEACOCK FEATHER MURDERS, John Dickson Carr
Charles Gramlich, WARLOCKS AND WARRIORS, ed. Douglas Hill
Jerry House, THE SNAKE, Mickey Spillane 
George Kelley, THE BIG BOOK OF SCIENCE FICTION, ed. Ann and Jeff Vanderveer
Margot Kinberg, UNLEASHED , David Rosenfelt 
Rob Kitchin, , MASARYK STATION, David Downing
Todd Mason, THE CRIMES OF OUR LIVES, Lawrence Block
Stephen Nester (The Rap Sheet), SIDEWALK CAESAR, Donald Honig
J.F. Norris, PUZZLE FOR PUPPETS, Patrick Quentin
Mathew Paust, SALVATION ON SAND MOUNTAIN, David Covington 
James Reasoner, MURDER CALL THE BLACK BAT, G. Wayman Jones 
Richard Robinson, GREEN MAGIC, Crawford Kilian
Kevin Tipple/Barry Ergang, A CHAIN OF EVIDENCE, Carolyn Wells
TomCat, THE CASE OF NAOMI CLYNES, Basil Thomson 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

My Favorite Gary Marshall Movie

The Commute Read

My best reading took place when I took a bus to work. It was an hour ride and I could sometime finish a book in two days that way. Airplanes are very good too. Trains not as much because you pass too many interesting landscapes but still...

But maybe this doesn't work for everyone. Where do you do your best reading?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Forgotten Movies: THE FISHER KING

Terry Gilliam directed this in 1991 and I liked it a lot at the time. Jeff Bridges plays a radio DJ (shock jock) who rants against hippies on air and a madman goes on a rampage and kills some people. (sound familiar). This pretty much destroys his career. Later he meets Robin Williams, who has gone off the rails after the death of his wife, and has delusions which the film is adept at showing. The two become friends and help each other escape their paranoia.There is considerable romantic interest too as both men find love  I haven't seen this one since its release and wonder if it would hold up now. The initial premise would be very disturbing.

Monday, July 18, 2016

For Those Who Don't Get The NEW YORK TIMES.

Summer Series


We have been watching MARCELLA on Netflix (from ITV in the UK) and find it difficult to follow at times. There are so many characters and so many plot threads. And they introduce an idea about Marcella's sanity and five episodes in they really haven't followed up on it . We don't know what incident got her into trouble. (Unless I dozed off).
When her husband paid people to beat him up so he would feel something, I almost bailed and I still might. No one in the series acts the way you'd expect them to act. Would a student writing a thesis continue to spend time alone with a man who has murdered several people?Would the cops allow Marcella to investigate a case involving her husband's firm? Or any case for that matter. And her kids, banished to prep school, seem to hate her but we never learn why. Why is everyone so suspicious of her? It's like there was a first series we missed.
If I didn't know it was going to be wrapped up in one episode, I would never have stuck it out.
I much prefer the single thread narrative in shows this complex. 
What are you watching?

Friday, July 15, 2016

Friday's Forgotten Books, July 15, 2016

Thanks to all of you who have posted reviews of SHOT IN DETROIT on your blogs or on amazon. I really appreciate it. And I also appreciate ones that will come in the future.

My review of SWISS ARMY MAN.


 From the archives, Randy Johnson. We miss him.

As a young boy discovering a love of reading even as I was learning, John Brunner was an early find, third I believe, behind Heinlein and Norton. The early stuff was mostly from the Ace Doubles. Black Is The Color is a little bit different. From 1969, part spy novel, it has a plot line that would fit in in things happening today.
Mark Hanwell, a disillusioned young man returns home to London after six months in Spain where he’d met and worked for The Big Famous Writer he only ever refers to as Hairy Harry. It didn’t take long for him to realize his hero had feet of clay, making the bulk of his money selling pornography and weed. In fact, the last four pieces of writing under his name had been written by Mark.
Home, he goes looking for a woman who’d sent him a few letters early on, then stopped. A singer, he traced the bank d she’d been with falling into as different a world as he’d ever run into.
Sadism was part of it, voodoo, a plan to start a race war in England, Mark finds his work an and the man she’d taken up with, a South Africaner.
I’d never heard of this book before I came across it. Good stuff

Yvette Banek, MURDER OF A LADY, Anthony Wynne
Les Blatt, TOWARD ZERO, Agatha Christie
Brian Busby, THE QUEBEC PLOT. Leo Heaps
Bill Crider, THE NEDDIAD, Daniel Pinkwater
Martin Edwards, THE COLOUR OF MURDER, Julian Symons
Ed Gorman, THE EVIL DAYS, Bruno Fischer
Rick Horton, ROMANTIC COMEDIANS, Ellen Glasgow
Jerry House, CRIME STORIES FROM THE STRAND, Geraldine Beare
George Kelley, THE HOUSE OF CTHULHU, Brian Lumley
Margot Kinberg, RESURRECTION BAY, Emma Viskis
Rob Kitchin, CHASING VENUS, Andrea Wulf
B.V. Lawson, THE MIDNIGHT PLUMBER, Maurice Proctor
Steve Lewis/William Deeck, THE BLACK ENVELOPE, David Frome
Todd Mason, THRILLERS, 100 MUST READS, David Morrell and Hank Wagner
J.F. Norris, THE BLOODY MOONLIGHT, Fredric Brown
James Reasoner, KI-GOR AND THE STOLEN EMPIRE, John Peter Drummond
Richard Robinson, NORTHERN BLOOD, ed. Martin Edwards
Gerard Saylor, PAST REASON HATED, Peter Robinson
Kerrie Smith, THE CHOSEN, Kristina Ohlsson
Kevin Tipple/Barry Ergang, THE WEB, Jonathan Kellerman
TracyK, FIRE WILL FREEZE, Margaret Millar

Thursday, July 14, 2016

What were your favorite toys in childhood?

Looking out my window on the new Pokemon Go craze, made me think about my own childhood. If I had to choose the two things that I played with most and ones that served to take me out of my world, they would be my bike and crayons. I heard yesterday also, there are 44 blue crayons now. Wow. (My bike was nothing liked this btw-used, painted with a dull finish, old style brakes).

What were your favorite toys as a ten year old?

Monday, July 11, 2016

Forgotten Movies/TV: BRIAN'S SONG


 Brian’s Song (1971)

Director: Buzz Kulik
Stars: James Caan, Billy Dee Williams, Jack Warden

Brian’s Song, the widely praised 1970 made-for-TV movie was about pro football great Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams) and his Chicago Bears teammate/best friend Brian Piccolo (James Caan ) It's a tear-jerker of the first magnitude. Because of the caliber of its cast, it would have been a good sports movie in its own right, but the ending pivots it into something else.

Sayers and Piccolo were the first-ever interracial roommates in the NFL  history, an arrangement that established a close relationship. Piccolo was at beast an average player. Sayers was a star. But then Piccolo developed cancer, and that’s when the tears will start flowing for the toughest of viewers. Stars of this magnitude didn't turn up on TV very often in 1971. Play a few bars of that theme song, and I will be mush.

For Your Summer Reading...

White Shark, Ross Gresham

Jim Hawkins, and I think I remember a Jim Hawkins in Treasure Island, is hired as a summer relief trafffic cop at a New England resort in White Shark. He is not quite an albino (his words) but white-haired, big and tough from recent military training. The idea that he will be satisfied with giving out traffic tickets (in a speed trap to boot) and keeping troublesome kids under control quickly goes afoul when the island turns out to have more trouble brewing than the beach in Jaws. 

A Viking funeral, a missing worker,  shark attacks, crooked developers, corrupt local officials, and white slavery are overrunning  this Edenic spot along with the hideous houses dotting the shoreline.  But Jim has misunderstood his function on Nausset and almost joins the pyre of mounting bodies. He's not the type of guy to overlook trouble when he finds it, a trait that got him drummed out of the military. 

I am imagining another Jim Hawkins novel is underway. This is a well-written, fast-moving story with a protagonist you will like. He hearkens back to heroes of old, but the crimes covered here are very much of today. There may be a few too many balloons in the air because Gresham lets few crimes go unsolved but Gresham is cleverly using the genre to critique what he finds wanting in society. A fine strategy to me because he's a good enough writer to do it.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Friday, July 08, 2016

A big surprise!

Also CONCRETE ANGEL is a choice on Book Bub today.

But the news coming from other places stinks. Oh, poor old world. We let you down. 

Friday's Forgotten Books: Rex Stout Day

From the Wolfe Pack, the Rex Stout Society.

About Rex Stout
Author, Business Man, Sailor, Activist, Family Man, & a person with many interests

Rex Todhunter Stout was born in Noblesville, Indiana, December 1, 1886. After a brief time on campus at the University of Kansas, Stout quit school to enlist in the Navy where he spent two years as warrant officer on board President Theodore Roosevelt's yacht.

After the Navy, he began to write for pulp fiction magazines and also tried his hand at a variety of jobs.

He published three novels before he turned to the mystery genre. The books received favorable reviews but were not best sellers. Following the 1929 stock market crash he lost a great deal of the money he had saved. He returned to the United States and continued to write serious novels for a few more years. In 1932 he moved from New York City to High Meadow, the house he built on the Connecticut-New York state line. In 1934 Rex Stout published his first Nero Wolfe novel, Fer-de-Lance.

More than seventy other Nero Wolfe books and stories followed. During World War II, Rex Stout waged a personal campaign against Nazism serving as chairman of the War Writers Board, wrote and broadcast the CBS radio program "Our Secret Weapon," and was a member of several national committees. After the war, he resumed writing Nero Wolfe novels. In 1959 he won the Mystery Writers of America's Grand Master Award. Rex Stout died October 27, 1975 at the age of 88. A month before his death, he published his final Nero Wolfe book, A Family Affair.

For you edification:
Forty Years with Nero Wolfe, Terry Teachout
An Addictive Author, Laurence DiMaria


Although I was warned that this was an atypical Rex Stout novel, I had read enough of his books 25 years ago to be in the mood to read something different. And in many ways, it was a good choice. Wolfe steps out of his brownstone, out of his country, and out of his typical "you do the footwork, Archie and I'll do the brain work." setup
But in other ways,  since it had been so long, I wanted that familiar setup. I am not even sure a man of Wolfe's girth and sloth could undertake this trip. But let's say he can.
But getting to the story...
When Nero Wolfe's close friend, a restaurateur is killed, followed by Wolfe's adopted daughter, the reason clearly lies in Montenegro (where both were involved in a protest movement), so much to all of our surprise, Nero abandons his usual methods of solving crimes and goes there, undertaking a difficult passage through the mountains. This is in 1954 and the geopolitics is difficult with Tito in power.
It was hard to know who your enemies were and indeed, Wolfe does not. This is not a whodunnit as much as it is how will Wolfe trip him up. And the real genius in it is that Stout gets to prove he could have written spy novels with as much grace as his mysteries. I enjoyed it but it was not as good as Fer De Lance, The League of Frightened Men or Too Many Cooks for me.
One review suggested that this was a way for Stout to clear out two characters that had been hanging around too long. I wonder.

Sergio Angelini, PRISONER'S BASE
Bitter Tea and Mystery, BLACK ORCHIDS
Cinch Review, TOO MANY COOKS 
Bill Crider, TARGET PRACTICE, Rex Stout
Richard Robinson, CURTAINS FOR THREE

Brian Busby, THE QUEBEC PLOT, Leo  Heaps
Scott Cupp, JACK OF EAGLES, James Blish
Martin Edwards, THE NECESSARY CORPSE, R. C. Woodthorpe
Curt Evans, R in the Month, Nancy Spain
Margot Kinberg, THE CONSTABLE'S TALE, Donald Smith
Rob Kitchin, DARKSIDE, Belinda Bauer
Todd Mason, ISAAC ASIMOV PRESENTS THE GREAT SF STORIES 18 (1956) edited by Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg ; SPEAKING OF HORROR: INTERVIEWS WITH WRITERS OF THE SUPERNATURAL by Darrell Schweitzer et al.

Terrence P. McCauley, THE HUNTER, Richard Stark
J. Kingston Pierce, ANYTHING BUT SAINTLY, Richard Deming 
Gerard Saylor, DOUBLE BACK, Libby Fisher Hellman
Kevin Tipple, JOYLAND, Stephen King
TomCat, BONY AND THE MOUSE, Arthur Upfield
A.J,. Wright, William Bradford Huie

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Your Favorite Musical

This is a question I think about quite a lot because I love musicals, especially seen live on a stage. I am very attached to ones from my childhood like GIGI, MY FAIR LADY, THE KING AND I, WEST SIDE STORY. Some I enjoyed sharing with my kids (A CHORUS LINE)
But some of the more recent ones are pretty swell too.BOOK OF MORMON was a knockout, for instance. And HAMILTON has certainly rocked the musical world. SPRING AWAKENING was great.
There is more than one aspect to consider, of course. Some have weak stories-some have less than perfect scores. And it depends on the production you see.
Here is a recent list from The Guardian. 

If I was forced to choose one, I might go with CABARET. What about you? 

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Tuesday's Forgotten Movies,THE KNACK-And How to Get It. (from 2011)

In my continuing attempts to resurrect public memory of Rita Tushingham's fabulous films of the sixties, here is THE KNACK from 1965 (Dir: Richard Lester). It concerns a young man's irresistible charms and whether such a skill can be passed on. Rita plays Nancy, a waif on her own in mod London who meets up with the boys.
This was Tushingham's area of expertise, playing waifs. Not classically pretty, she used her ability to play spunky yet innocent girls to great avail.

For more forgotten films, please consult Todd Mason at Sweet Freedom.

Monday, July 04, 2016

My Jaunt to Stratford

At least once a year, we go with friends to Stratford, Ontario to take in a few plays. You can see what we saw this year and all of them were excellent, especially Macbeth. I loved the singing and dancing in A CHORUS LINE but have to say the narrative seems dated in its presentation. AS YOU LIKE IT had a terrific Rosalind but it is definitely a weaker play from the bard. And way too long at three hours. Still Stratford productions are always original and totally professional. As good as anywhere to my mind.
One of the treats of going to Canada is I always have lunch with Brian Busby and get to hear about what he's up to. And this year, he gave me these two terrific books with intros from Brian and J.F. Norris. What a treat. These Ricochet books can be ordered on Amazon, Abe Books and other venues.. Brian is Ricochet's series editor if you didn't know that.
We always try to bring home a greeting card or small print and this was this years choice from a 90 year old artist.

Oh, and have a happy fourth! I get to march in the parade as a Friend of the Library. Bring out the aspirin. 

Friday, July 01, 2016

Friday's Forgotten Books, July 1, 2016

Todd Mason will again have the links.

from the archives-One of my favorite books and favorite people. Lynn Kostoff


How I came to write this book.

I thought answering that would be a no-brainer. I mean, a copy of Late Rain, is setting right in front of me. I can reach over, pick it up, and open it to any page I want.
However, I’m not sure I can exactly untangle how it got here.
Five drafts. 1650 pages. Depending on how much life gets in the way, one draft a year or year and a half. Only the last two drafts resembling each other. That’s the way it usually works for me on a novel, and that’s how it played out for Late Rain.
Getting to that final draft is a messy process.
I don’t show the first three drafts of a novel to anyone. Inevitably, they are the equivalent of lab accidents. Characters’ names change frequently. Their back-stories bloat and shrink. Plot-lines appear and disappear and recombine. Style mutates. Good guys discover they’re not so good. Bad guys bang their heads against genre conventions until they draw blood. Lines of dialogue appear, and I have no idea who uttered them or why. Random images pile up. The style mutates again.
The pages and notes pile up (Late Rain eventually filled three and a half large boxes), and I begin to inhabit extended bouts of doubt and panic. I go on long walks and try to sort through the characters and plot elements and image patterns and find a structure and style to accommodate them. I spend a lot of time staring off into space. I obsess. I drive my wife nuts.
When I finally accept I’m lost, that’s when I know I’m ready to start drafting the novel I’ve wanted to write all along.
So, by the fourth draft, I get out of my own way and set the characters chasing after what they want and wait for the collisions to start.
I know who the characters are by then and what they’re capable of and not capable of, and because of that, they can still surprise me.
Hopefully, by the final draft, the same will hold true for readers.

Lynn Kostoff is a professor of English at Francis Marion University in Florence, South Carolina. His first book, A CHOICE OF NIGHTMARES was published by New Pulp Press.

Check out my review of MAGGIE'S PLAN on CRIMESPREE MAGAZINE.