Sunday, May 25, 2008

Bleak House Message Board

Good news. There's finally a place for the many, many women who want Anthony Neil Smith to leave his wife and run away with them to gather on the Internet. It's Bleak House's new message board (Evan Kilgore and Reed Farrell Coleman cyber-stalkers are also welcome). It's a one stop shop for discussing Bleak House's ridiculously strong front list for this year, as well as inappropriate marriage proposals, and why you can't interest an agent in that 800 page historical science fiction mystery romance you wrote last time you forgot to refill your lithium prescription.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Nice Gams

A link to a Flickr set of book covers featuring people framed in spread legs. Collected for an article in Print magazine. (via). And, in a similar vein, take a look at these ladies trying to get people's attention over at The Rap Sheet.

Wednesday Paperback Cover

You can't make this stuff up.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Review of The Big Both Ways

John Straley’s The Big Both Ways ( Alaska Northwest Books, 2008) is a 30’s era crime story and a field guide to wildlife of the Pacific Northwest. It meanders somewhat, but never strays off course and makes a fine entertainment for those with a little patience.

The story begins when logger Slip Wilson walks off the job after seeing one of his coworkers die in a gruesome accident. He has two grand in a tin and he’s planning on going back east and settling down. Unfortunately for him, he happens upon Ellie Hobbes, a pretty blonde communist with a union organizer’s corpse in the trunk of her car. One death leads to another, and soon Slip, Ellie, and Ellie’s young niece Annabelle are forced to flee Seattle in a dory while they are pursued by private security thugs, union members and the police.

Shamus winner Straley takes his time and draws his characters and his setting in loving detail. He shines depicting the runaways encounters with the wild creatures in the sea as much as he does depicting the social upheaval of the Depression. He has clearly done his research , and The Big Both Ways is part hard boiled crime story, part road novel and part naturalist work in the vein of Theodore Dreiser and Frank Norris. At times it feels as if Straley is trying to cram too much into the story, but, to his credit, it never loses focus. Still, trying to get to the end may, at times, feel like its taking longer than the characters’ trip to Alaska, but Straley’s novel is an ambitious one, and he can be forgiven for having artistic ambitions a little bit to big to fit comfortably between two covers.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wednesday Paperback Cover

It's like The Neverending Story, for adults

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

You know what they call Money Shot in Germany?

Hard Case has made it to Germany, where the books have different titles. Little Girl Lost, has become, to the best of my limited ability to figure out German, Death of A Stripper. And Bust has been comically retitled Flop.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Ardai on Fresh Air

As promised, here is the link to Charles Ardai's NPR interview.

A breath of Fresh Air

Hard Case Crime publisher Charles Ardai is scheduled to be on Fresh Air with Terry Gross today. If you can't be by your radio when the show is on in your neck of the woods, never fear, it should be on the Web later today. When I find a link I'll post it.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Review of Yellow Medicine

Deputy Billy LaFitte is a bad cop. He was run off the police force in his hometown of Gulfport Mississippi, and has taken a job working for his brother-in-law, who is the sheriff in the godforsaken hinterlands of Minnesota. Separated from his family, LaFitte, keeps up his old tricks, and trouble follows him in Anthony Neil Smith’s new novel Yellow Medicine (Bleak House Books, 2008).

Yellow Medicine, which is named after a real county in Minnesota, is well written. Smith is a tight writer, and he draws a sharp portrait of his antihero, LaFitte. The man is a mess of contradictions and a hopeless, lecherous screw-up, but he’s not unlikeable. The novel’s first half, which involves LaFitte trying to find a local meth dealer, cruises along quite nicely. The second half, which involves would-be Islamic terrorists and a rogue federal agent, is not as satisfying, mainly due to the fact that Smith never adequately explains why these would-be terrorists take a huge risk of exposure trying to get at a small town cop.

Still, Smith doesn't pull any punches, and Yellow Medicine is worth checking out for those who like their characters bad, their violence unflinching and their endings bleak.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Worst Three Pages of Fiction Ever

Sometimes you find something so good you have to share it. Sometimes you find something so bad you have to share it. James Frey, legend in his own mind, is back with a work of fiction that's labeled as such for once. The excerpt is three solid pages of exposition about Perez Hilton of all people. The word motherfucker is in the first sentence, to establish how edgy the author is, and did I mention it's all exposition? There are no scenes, and nothing really happens. There's at least one subject/verb agreement problem, and don't get me started on the comma splices which seem to serve no artistic purpose. Who is James Frey sleeping with?