Thursday, May 31, 2007

Your Last Chance to Win Hard Man

The response to my Hard Man giveaway has been good, but I'm offering readers one last chance to get in on it. If you'd like a chance to win email me today at IndieCrime-at-gmail-dot-com, with "Contest" in the subject line. I'm picking a winner tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Articles on underrated or forgotten pulp authors

I've been collecting some links to articles and blog entries on paperback authors lately. Here they are, in no particular order:

Gonzalo Baeza at Sweet Home Alameda on Dan Marlowe. (En Ingles)

Ed Lynskey on Bruno Fischer over at Allan Guthrie's Noir Originals

An article on Orrie Hitt by one Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff (Hat tip to Allan Guthrie)

And, although he is neither forgotten nor underrated, a story on Donald Westlake's often overlooked forays into erotica. (Link posted to the Rara Avis mailing list by Bill Crider who got it from Ed Gorman's blog.)

Review of Havana Blue

Havana Blue, (Bitter Lemon Press, 2007) the third novel in Leonardo Padura’s acclaimed Havana Quartet to be translated into English by Peter Bush, is not your usual mystery novel. For a full five-sixths of the book, it is unclear if a crime has been committed. Padura is more interested in writing about middle age and the broken dreams that litter people’s lives as they move inexorably toward old age than he is in writing a police procedural. In fact, the Spanish language title of the book is the more evocative Pasado Perfecto, or Past Perfect. The bland Havana Blue fails to capture the book’s melancholy tone.
Havana police lieutenant Mario Conde is having a bad day. He wakes up on New Year’s Day with a brutal hangover and gets a call from his boss demanding he look for Rafael Morin, one of the lieutenant’s high school classmates. In fact, he’s the man who married Tamara, the woman Conde has been in love with for years. Needless to say, Conde does not want to get out of bed and go looking for Morin, who is now a high ranking official in the Cuban bureaucracy. He does get out of bed, though, because he is a police officer, and it’s his job to find missing people whether he likes them or not.
With that phone call, Conde, nicknamed The Count, is put on a collision course with his past. The books cuts back and forth between Conde’s memories of high school and the present as he tries to figure out if the too-good-to-be-true Rafael Morin is really the upright comrade everyone says he is. Along the way Padura writes with affection about Havana, Cuban cigars and food. Conde is a bit of a gourmand, and there are many lush descriptions of meals throughout the book. The book works well as a window into a place and a culture that, given the current political scene, many people will never be able to experience first hand.
What is missing from Havana Blue is action. Readers looking for an American style police procedural, where the investigation is interrupted by action sequences will be disappointed. Conde’s investigation is all talk. The only violence in the novel takes place in flashback, when Conde remembers then only time he ever had to shoot a man. The languid pace of the novel, while it fits well with the novel’s tropical setting, may frustrate readers used to stories that move a little more quickly.
There are also a couple of places, most notably on the first page of the book, where the point of view switches from first person to third person for no discernable reason. For most of the book, first person is used in flashbacks and third person for the present, and these lapses may leave the reader scratching his head, but they are not so confusing enough to ruin the narrative.
Readers with the patience to follow Mario Conde through the streets of Havana in search of the truth about his lost classmate and himself will be rewarded with a glimpse into a closed society and the closed hearts of men.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Rap Sheet's List of Overlooked Crime Novels

It's been a busy week for me. I've made the four hour trip to Atlanta twice, and consequently I haven't really been keeping up with everything. One thing I have been following, however, is The Rap Sheet's ongoing first anniversary celebration, and the huge list of overlooked books. J. Kingston Pierce has posted a wrap up and a comprehensive list of the books people picked. I was gratified to see that Charles Willeford, whose Black Mass of Brother Springer I picked, also got mentioned by Shane Maloney and Susan Kandel.
You can tell from the sheer volume of responses that were posted that Mr. Pierce asked the right question. If you like books you've got a list of them you can't believe more people haven't read. My submission was done quickly. I didn't take a lot of time to think about it. Since then I've thought of three other books that I could've listed, none of which were mentioned by anyone else. Oh well, there's always next year.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Bleak House podcast featuring me

Ever wondered what I sound like? No? I didn't really think so, but if you are curious you can listen to yesterday's Bleak House Books Podcast, where I was the guest. You will find that I am both incoherent and clumsy, as I managed to accidentally bang my head against the wall while talking to Ben LeRoy. There you have it: I'm inarticulate and accident prone. Now you know why I'm so popular with the ladies.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Win A Copy of Allan Guthrie's Hard Man

Today, dear reader, is your lucky day. I just received copies of Hard Man and Kiss Her Goodbye from Polygon Press. I already own both books, so I'm going to have a contest to give them away. First up for grabs is the new one, Hard Man. If you want a copy send an email to Indiecrime at gmail dot com with the subject line Contest. I will number each email in the order of its arrival. Then, when the time comes, I will use to generate a number. Whoever's entry number matches the random number wins. I will drop the book in the mail gratis. No shipping, no handling, no nothing. Just a free book. The deadline for entry is June 1. Good Luck.

Wednesday Paperback Cover


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Keeping company that's too good for me

My selection for The Rap Sheet's One Book Project has been posted in the latest update. I'm definitely the least illustrious person to offer an opinion. You can tell because I misspelled Meursault when referencing Camus' The Stranger. No, that's not the book I picked. You'll have to go here to see what I chose. And, while I'm at it, I guess I should say happy birthday to The Rap Sheet, since this entire One Book deal is part of their first anniversary.

A Brief Note

I've had an extremely busy weekend, traveling, seeing friends I don't get to see very often and going to job interviews. As a result, I'm functioning on no sleep, and I haven't looked at the Internet for the last couple of days. I feel completely out of the loop. No email. No Fark. No Crimespot. Funny how something that didn't exist when I was growing up now seems essential. Anyway, I've got nothing really interesting to say about crime fiction or anything else, and probably won't until I've had some sleep. I did notice, however, that J. Kingston Pierce over at The Rap Sheet, has started posting the answers he got as part of his one book project, where he asked people to write a little something about an overlooked piece of crime fiction. I've learned quite a lot reading it, and my contribution might show up there some time this week.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Review of Bloodthirsty

Bloodthirsty, (Macadam Cage, 2007) the second Lomax and Biggs novel from Marshall Karp, shows the author has learned from his mistakes.
Last year’s The Rabbit Factory was an enjoyable, but overly long thriller, where the author tried to throw in everything but the kitchen sink. The new outing featuring LAPD homicide detectives Mike Lomax and Terry Biggs is streamlined, with all the emphasis on keeping the plot rolling.
Lomax and Biggs are still basking in the notoriety they gained from solving their last case, and they sell the rights to the story to director Halsey Bates, who wants to get producer George Gerber to finance the film. When Gerber’s bloodless corpse turns up stuffed in a garbage can in the Hollywood Hills, Lomax and Biggs catch the case, and set out to find out who murdered one of the most hated men in Hollywood. When their prime suspect, an arrogant movie star, gets kidnapped and then turns up murdered in the same macabre fashion, the two detectives must scramble to prevent more murders.
While Bloodthirsty has none of the pacing problems of its predecessor, the plot is a little thin. Karp’s previous novel kept readers guessing until the end, the motives of the criminals in this book are transparent and what you see is what you get, which is disappointing, because part of the fun of a mystery is being in the dark, not just as to whodunit, but why it was done.
Still, with nothing to distract from the narrative’s motion, there’s no reason to put it down, and Karp’s clean prose makes for easy reading. Bloodthirsty will definitely satisfy fans of Karp’s detective duo and probably win them some new ones.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Things that are worth your valuable time

Allan Guthrie has quietly updated his Noir Zine. As I mentioned last week, Bleak House Books has launched a daily podcast. I was kind of skeptical that they'd acutally do it daily, but they have. You can choose between interviews with author Marcus Sakey, Uberblogger Sarah Weinman, or the fiction editor from Library Journal. You can also hear Allison Janssen and Benjamin LeRoy answer questions from readers, and learn about experimental Doritos.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Everything Old is New Again

A couple of reviews worth revisiting: The Blue Cheer by Ed Lynskey, which was scheduled for February publication, but got pushed back to the end of April, and Vicki Hendricks' Cruel Poetry, which I reviewed in January, was released stateside this month.

Wednesday Paperback Cover


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Noir of the Week Blog

I don't have a budget for market research, or a budget at all, really, so I'm just going to assume visitors to this site have a more than casual interest in film noir. That's why I'm posting a link to the Film Noir of the Week blog. As the name implies, every week there's new write-up of a classic film noir. There are even video clips to watch. Good stuff.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Noircon Update

The Noircon Web site now has a preliminary schedule and a registration page. I wish I could commit to going, but my situation is fluid right now, so I don't know where I'll be or what I'll be doing next April.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Internet Promotions

MacAdam Cage author Marshall Karp is holding a "Pimp this Rabbit," contest at his Web site. No, it does not actually involve selling someone a rabbit for sex, so you animal rights types can stop reaching for your placards. It's a Youtube contest for the best internet promotion for his first novel, The Rabbit Factory. The winner will get $500 bucks and his or her name in the third Lomax and Biggs mystery.
Over at Bleak House Books, they want your questions. If you're lucky they'll get answered on a daily podcast. You can listen to Benjamin LeRoy, Bleak House publisher, talk about his job here.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

A Correction

Ray Banks' first Cal Innes book is Saturday's Child, not the Saturday Boy, which is his Web site. I knew this when I wrote the review, and somehow still managed to get it wrong. Don't believe everything you read. The error has been corrected in the review, but I'm instituting a policy of issuing separate posts about any factual errors I make, for the sake of transparency, which I think is important.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Soho Press Event in NYC Thursday

Soho Press authors, including Henry Chang, Anne Landsman and Camilla Trachieri (who writes mysteries under the pseudonyms Camilla Crespi and Trella Crespi) will talk with Soho Press co-founder Laura Hruska, at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 10 at the Small Press Center, The General Society, 20 West 44th Street.
The event is free and open to the public, but reservations are recommended. They can be made by calling 212-764-7021 or emailing:
The discussion is the inaugural event of the Small Press Center's new Emerging Voices series.

Review of Donkey Punch

A good fighter doesn’t go for the knockout right away. He wears down his opponent’s defenses with jabs and body blows, waiting until the moment is right, and his opponent drops his guard. Then, boom. He unloads.
Such is Ray Banks’ technique in Donkey Punch (Polygon, 2007). The follow up to Saturday's Child finds former private investigator Callum Innes fresh off of probation and working at Paulo’s Lad’s Club, where troubled youths come to learn the art of boxing. Cal life isn’t all sunshine and flowers, however. He’s got an addiction to codeine, and Moe Tiernan is coming around the gym, selling dope and upsetting Paulo, who is convinced he can handle the situation. Cal isn’t so sure, which is why he is less than enthusiastic when Paulo asks him to accompany Liam, a promising young boxer with a temper, to America for a tournament.
Still, Cal gets on the plane, headed for Los Angeles, hoping for a vacation. What he finds isn’t palm trees and movie stars. Cal has to contend with Liam’s temper and a cast of characters who will do anything to make it in the brutal world of professional boxing.
Donkey Punch is a slow burner, a crime novel driven forward by characters more than plot. Banks takes his time setting up the big conflict, and when it comes, the reader will find that he cares about Cal, despite the fact that he often acts like a son-of-a-bitch. The same goes for the surly Liam, who turns out to be more level headed and mature than Cal.
While the characterization is good, the plot could unfold a little more smoothly. The motivations of Nelson, a former boxer who ends up being central to the novel, are a little unclear. Suffice to say he does something to Liam which will leave the reader puzzled. It’s not enough to throw the book off. In fact, it was only in retrospect that Nelson’s actions seemed strange. Banks is so deft at pulling the reader in that slight slips don’t matter much.
Banks’ style is no nonsense. There isn’t a wasted word, and his dialogue is sharp and direct. Those who haven’t read The Saturday Boy may find the backstory a little hard to follow at first, but it’s not confusing enough that it should discourage anyone from reading the book. Cal Innes is a character with staying power, and Banks is an author who knows when to unload.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Another Zevon Article in the NY Times and two in the LA Times

There's another article in the NYT about the new oral biography of Warren Zevon. That's two in a week, if you're keeping score. The LA Times also has two Zevon articles. It's official, being dead is the best thing that ever happened to Zevon. I got my copy of I'll Sleep When I'm Dead a couple of days ago, but it's 400-plus pages, and I'm only about 100 pages into it, so I'm reserving judgement.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Kind Words for Stark House

I was returning a book to the library yesterday, when the Stark House Press reprint of Gil Brewer's Wild to Possess and A Taste for Sin caught my eye on the new arrivals shelf. I don't need anything else to read, but I picked it up because I've never actually seen one Stark House's books before. I'm impressed. It's got Brewer's bibliography up front, and three essays on Brewer, including one from his ex-wife, and a truly excellent one from Bill Pronzini. It's the sort of thing any pulp fan would love to have.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Maybe I found what those people Googling Alison Janssen were looking for

Last week, I posted a link to an interview with Bleak House editor Alison Janssen. I was a little perplexed when a lot of people (around 15 or 20 in two days) ended up finding my site by searching for her name. If she were an author I wouldn't have been all that surprised, but editors aren't really public figures. I think they might have been looking for this picture.

Wednesday Paperback Cover

One from Reginald Heade. Note the gravity defying dress.