Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Monday, June 25, 2007
This means the my attentions to this blog may be spotty for the next few weeks, or even months, but I'm not going away. In fact, I've got plans to introduce interviews and other features to this blog which will make it even better, but right now most of my energy will be focused elsewhere. Please be patient and bear with me. You will be rewarded.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
A question I've had for a while now has been answered.
As you probably know, Charles Ardai won an Edgar in April for his short story "The Home Front." That story was published under his real name. He also writes under the pen name Richard Aleas. So, naturally, I wondered if Ardai's alter ego was also an Edgar winner. Apparently so. I got a copy of his latest John Blake novel, Songs of Innocence in the mail yesterday and, sure enough, Mr. Aleas is billed as an Edgar winner on the cover.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Monday, June 18, 2007
I have been under a lot of stress lately because of a situation that is out of my control, and consequently I've been unable to concentrate on any one thing for a sustained period of time. Thank God issue 2 of Out of The Gutter arrived today. I'm free to pick it up and flip around to anything that catches the attention of my poor, fevered brain.
OOTG 2 looks a little more polished than the first outing, and it's got a new flash fiction section, and whores. There are a lot of whores in this issue, as editor Matthew Louis is quick to point out in his intro. Don't see how that can be a bad thing.
Oh, and John Rickards, in case you were wondering, is going straight to hell when he dies.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
There are a couple I'd like to endorse. The first is a live show from 1990, which some of you may know at the bootleg "The Electric Werewolf Strikes Again." It's from the Transverse City tour, and the quality is excellent.
For a more intimate experience I recommend Zevon's 2000 show at The Customs House, which is one of my favorites.
My next post will, I swear, be about books. I just haven't been able to concentrate well enough to read seriously lately, and I'd rather be a little behind on reviews than half-ass it. I don't want to shortchange anyone.
Friday, June 15, 2007
Thursday, June 14, 2007
While I like the idea of putting novels online, the reality is that reading large chunks of text on a computer screen can be exhausting. If you'd rather listen to your fiction. Seth Harwood has put his novel Jack Wakes Up and its sequel This is Life, is being posted periodically.
Of course, you can always read short stories, which I think are ideally suited for the Internet, since they are, well, short. Thuglit and Hard Luck Stories are personal favorites, but they're hardly the only game in town. There's Demolition and Mouth Full of Bullets. Supposing you're really serious about finding some short stories, you could always cruise over to Crime Zine Report, where you will find a longer list of publications.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
I just finished reading Feral City, the first collection of the Fell comic book series by Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith. It features detective Richard Fell, who, after a shadowy incident, is transferred to an urban hellhole called Snowtown, where he proceeds solve crimes. I've got to say that, after Transmetropolitan, which was an excellent series, the first volume of Fell is a bit of a disappointment. A big part of it is the format. The individual books were experiments: 16 pages long with roughly nine panels on each page. The idea was to tell a story in a shorter, cheaper format. In theory, this is a great idea, but the visual repetition gets old quick. The muted palette is also a bit dull, but I understand the look the artist was going for.
Ellis is still the king of weird, and the stories don't disappoint in that sense, but Ellis is a much more accomplished storyteller than this volume would lead you to believe. If you want to start reading his stuff, start with Transmet and then move to this. Or, you could just wait for August and the release of his novel Crooked Little Vein, which seems full of promise. Read the first issue of Fell here.
Monday, June 11, 2007
First, we've got a profile of Akashic Books' Johnny Temple that ran in the IHT some time ago. I missed it the first time around. He also managed to land himself in a Glenlivet ad.
Over at Bleak House Ben LeRoy interviews Mike Segretto of Contemporary Press. (For a publisher with books like these, they sure have an innocuous sounding name.)
The Rap Sheet has the scoop on Crippen & Landru's definitive collection of Lew Archer short stories.
Allan Guthrie is on television.
Saturday, June 9, 2007
Blackmailer (Hard Case Crime, 2007), is a breezy mystery by George Axelrod, the screenwriter for Breakfast at Tiffany’s and The Seven Year Itch. It focuses on hapless book publisher Richard Sherman as he searches for the final manuscript of famous writer and Hemingway stand in Charles Anstruther. After being offered the manuscript by the titular blackmailer, a young call girl, Sherman finds himself being harassed by gangsters and invited to a party by Truman Capote doppelganger Walter Heinemann. To compound problems Walter’s old flame Janis Whitney, now a movie star, is also mixed up in the missing manuscript mess.
Blackmailer is fun, but not an essential entry in Hard Case’s collection. The story moves at a brisk pace, but there’s not much there, and when it really counts the novel goes into explanation mode, using huge chunks of dialogue to clear up plot points. The last twenty pages of a novel should be filled with action, not explanation.
SHADOW OF THE SERPENT
Shadow of the Serpent (Polygon, 2006) is the first novel in an ongoing series featuring real life Edinburgh police inspector James McLevy. McLevy, a Victorian Era detective, was a crime fiction author and is considered a likely influence on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Author David Ashton originally brought the fictionalized McLevy to life for a radio series on BBC4.
Shadow of the Serpent’s storyline is nothing special. After a prostitute is cut down with an axe on the streets of Edinburgh, McLevy follows the clues, which happen to point toward William Gladstone, who is in the midst of running for prime minister against Benjamin Disraeli. When McLevy gets too close to power he is removed from the case, but still manages to save the day.
The characters and setting are what brings the book to life. McLevy is a brooding introvert whose lack of concern for convention and social standing cause more than a little concern for his superior Lieutenant Roach as well as his sidekick Constable Mulholland, who has bourgeois aspirations. Indeed, the interplay between McLevy and Mulholland is one of the highlights of the book. The same can be said for the relationship between McLevy and brothel keeper Jean Brash, who maintain a wary friendship despite their irreconcilable differences. Ashton’s Edinburgh is finely rendered and the cobblestones and gaslight atmosphere adds to the book’s menace.
Inspector McLevy hasn’t made it across the Atlantic yet, so anyone who wants it stateside will have to order it from the UK, or wait until it gets adapted and ends up on Mystery on PBS, which it will.
COCAINE AND BLUE EYES
Fred Zackel’s Cocaine and Blue Eyes (Pointblank, 2006) is a classic of 70’s detective novels, right up there with James Crumley’s Last Good Kiss. How it ever went out of print is a bit of a mystery itself, but the good people at Pointblank had the sense to bring it back.
It should be stated up front that the book bears no resemblance to the OJ Simpson made-for-television movie bearing the same name, and that, if you have been unfortunate enough to see it, you should forget about it right now.
Unemployed PI Michael Brennan gives a guy with a broken down van a ride on Christmas Day. The guy finds one of Brennan’s old business cards and asks him to track down his live-in lover, who ran out on him. Brennan refuses and, a few days later, the man dies in a car wreck. Before he died however, he sent Brennan a thousand-dollar-bill and a picture of Dani Anatole, the girl he wanted found. With nothing else to do, Brennan sets out to find Dani, and soon finds himself neck deep in the sordid affairs of the wealthy Anatole family.
Zackel’s novel is a perfect period piece, capturing the aimlessness and permissiveness of the 70’s, not to mention the sideburns and mustaches. The rainy, empty streets of San Francisco at New Year serve as a perfect setting for a story of ruined dreams and doomed love.