Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday's Forgotten Books, July 31, 2015

The links will appear on Evan Lewis's blog, right here. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Jason Isbell

Karen Dionne's Book Shelf

What books are currently on your nightstand?

I'm currently reading MUDBOUND by Hilary Jordan. Recent reads include THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins, ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr, STATION ELEVEN by Emily St. John Mandel, EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU by Celeste Ng, GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn, THE 19TH WIFE by David Ebershoff, A RELIABLE WIFE by Robert Goolrick, and THE TIGER'S WIFE by Tea Obreht. If you're sensing a theme, it's because the novel I'm currently writing is literary suspense rather than a straight-up thriller like my previous books, and I'm trying to up my game. Not that there's anything wrong with thrillers!

Who is your all-time favorite novelist?

It's a tie between Michael Crichton and Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. I love many, many authors, but these authors' books are the ones that inspired me to become a writer, so they'll always hold a special place in my heart.

What book might we be surprised to find on your shelves?

Two volumes of the collected fairy tales of Hans Christian Anderson and The Brothers Grimm that I've had since I was a child. These are my all-time favorite books. It's no wonder my agent says I have a dark soul . . . .

Who is your favorite fictional character?

Strong, independent characters like Scout Finch and Huck Finn are the ones that stick with me.

What book do you return to?

I never read a book a second time. So many books, so little time . . .

Karen Dionne is the internationally published author of Freezing Point, a science thriller nominated by RT Book Reviews as Best First Mystery of 2008. A second environmental thriller, Boiling Point, about an erupting volcano, a missing researcher, and a radical scheme to end global warming published from Berkley in January 2011. Her newest novel, an original story based on the popular Fox television series “The Killing” starring Joel Kinnaman and Mirelle Enos published from Titan Books June 24, 2014.

Karen is co-founder of the online writers community Backspace, and organizes the Salt Cay Writers Retreat held every year on a private island in the Bahamas. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and the International Thriller Writers, where she served on the board of directors as Vice President, Technology.

Karen has been honored by the Michigan Humanities Council as a Humanities Scholar for her body of work as an author, writer, and as co-founder of Backspace.


Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday's Forgotten Books, July 24, 2015

Next Friday, Evan Lewis will  helm FFB while I go to the Traverse City Film Festival.

(From the archives of Randy Johnson)

Bloody Murdock – Robert Ray

It wasn’t a new story. Older man falls for a young woman half his age and it costs him his marriage.

Laguna P.I. Matt Murdock, not the blind lawyer from New York, doesn’t know that at first. Ellis Dean wants to hire him as a bodyguard. It wasn’t until someone in a red pickup tried to kill Dean, forcing Murdock to put two bullets into the engine to get him off that he began to get the full story.

He’d read about the horrific car accident the night before that had crashed, bursting into flames and killing the young couple, a Mexican actor and the young woman with dreams of Hollywood.

Dean had witnessed the accident, which wasn’t an accident at all, when he’d followed them after she’d ditched him at a party. He was in time, and got photographs, of two men in a red pickup and a Porsche hosing down the wreck with a fire extinguisher. 

His client ends up firing him, then gets himself murdered, and the photos are gone. Then the dead girl’s sister comes to find out what happened.

We get a story of pornography, shattered dreams, and Murdock’s obsession with finding the truth though he’s been fired by two clients before the tale ends.

Good one.

From the archives of Ron Scheer.

Elmer Kelton, Texas Showdown

This book is actually two short novels by Elmer Kelton, first published in the 1960s and reissued under one title by Forge in 2007. Pecos Crossing, originally titled Horsehead Crossing (1963), appeared under Kelton’s own name, while Shotgun, originally titled Shotgun Settlement (1969), was published under a house pseudonym, Alex Hawk.
First off, Elmer Kelton is one of my top-10 favorite western writers. He wrote with a strong sense of history and an informed awareness of the West Texas terrain, its flora and fauna, and its weather. I find it easy to believe in his characters. They are not just convenient types but possess an emotional depth that makes them three-dimensional.

I would say he achieves this by conceiving of them as ordinary people who get themselves into all-too-human predicaments that force them into making choices. And these in turn drive a plot that is both inevitable and often unpredictable. As in his novel Other Men’s Horses (reviewed here a while ago), his central characters are fundamentally decent people up against dangerously determined men ready to lie, thieve, and kill.
His women are strong-willed and resourceful. Romance plays a role in both novels in this volume, as a young man falls in love with a girl who complicates matters as he follows his heart, though at the risk of losing his life.
Often, a pivotal character is a lawman who has learned how to wield authority with a firm but easy hand and has earned the respect of others by exercising a strong sense of fair play, even when upholding the law puts him on the unpopular side of a dispute.
One other thing. While there is a kill-or-be-killed element in Kelton’s fictional West, and men carry and use firearms, there is not an assumption that the reader is a gun enthusiast who needs to know the make, model, and caliber of every weapon that shows up in the narrative. It’s probably just me, but this habit of western writers today immediately draws attention to itself--like a fetish. For this reader, it comes across as too much information and disturbs rather than reinforces the illusion of a credible scene.
Pecos Crossing.  The central characters in this exciting yarn are two young cowboys who stop a stage to collect unpaid wages from one of the passengers. In the resulting confusion, a woman is accidentally shot dead. Her husband, a retired Ranger, then tracks down the boys to take revenge for her death.
Fleeing westward, the two come upon a young woman and her father, who is dying of TB. One of the cowboys, Johnny Fristo, wants to help them. His partner, who is chiefly responsible for the trouble the two are in, disagrees. Fristo, with a stronger sense of decency, prevails, though they lose time and the Ranger eventually catches up with them at a crossing on the otherwise treacherous Pecos River.
Like Other Men’s Horses, the story unfolds as a series of adventures encountered while traveling across a rough and mostly unsettled frontier.
Shotgun. The characters in this novel are drawn from the more usual stock of recognizable types that appear in westerns: the big ranch owner, his sons, a problematic neighboring rancher, his daughter, and a cunningly vicious villain who wants both men’s ranches.
Blair Bishop is the cattleman who, over a lifetime, has acquired a vast acreage. At the novel’s start, his main problem is a long drought that is drying up the water supply for his herds and leaving them with little grass to feed on. There has been an invasion of the thirsty cattle of his neighbor, Clarence Cass, and they are being driven back where they came from.
Relations between the two ranchers are further complicated by the fact that Bishop’s son, Allan, and Cass’s daughter, Jessie, make no secret of having fallen in love and intend to run off together if Bishop doesn’t give them his blessing.
Enter the villain of the story, Macy Modock, with a ten-year grievance against Bishop, who once had him sent to the pen for some wrongdoing. Having served his time, Modock hires a gunman and a shady lawyer to put the squeeze on Bishop by claiming legal ownership of parts of his ranch. Strengthening his hand, Modock lures Cass into his scheme.
Elmer Kelton
In a long and suspenseful conclusion, Jessie is holed up in a barn, bravely exchanging shots with Modock, while Allan lies unconscious beside her. Like the young women in Pecos Crossing and Other Men’s Horses, she is a credit to her gender.

Bernadette, THE UNQUIET DEAD, Ausma Zehanat Khan
Les Blatt,PANIC, Helen McCoy
Elgin Bleecker, NORTH DALLAS FORTY, Peter Gent
Brian Busby, THE SILENCE ON THE SHORE, Hugh Garner
Ed Gorman, BONE JUSTICE, Elizabeth Fackler
John Hegenberger, TEN YEARS BEYOND BAKER STREET, Cay Van Ash
Rick Horton, THE LEOPARD, Giuseppe di Lampedusa
George Kelley, THE ARCHER FILES, Ross Macdonald
Margot Kinberg, JAMAICA INN, Daphne DuMaurier
Rob Kitchin, LITTLE GIRL LOST, Brian McGilloway
B.V. Lawson, MURDER AMONG FRIENDS, Elizabeth. Ferrars
Steve Lewis, DEAD LETTER, Jonathan Valin
Todd Mason, October 1950: WEIRD TALES, FANTASTIC ADVENTURES, AMAZING STORIES, IMAGINATION, OTHER WORLDS: the US newsstand peers of the new GALAXY, Part 4 of 5
J.F. Norris. THE CAT SAW MURDER, D.B. Olsen
James Reasoner, GUN THE DAME DOWN, Gil Brewer
Richard Robinson, THE SELECTED STORIES OF ERIC FRANK RUSSELL, by Eric Frank Russell
R.T. PIETR, THE LATVIAN, Georges Simenon
Kevin Tipple. FALLING FROM GRACE, J.R. Lindermuth
TracyK, JOHNNY UNDER GROUND, Patricia Moyes

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Kathe Koja's Book Shelf

What books are currently on your nightstand? 
Reading Peggy Guggenheim's CONFESSIONS OF AN ART ADDICT, and DRACULA, because I'm adapting it for a nerve performance next year. And yesterday I picked up RIDDLEY WALKER (which I love, and have read many times) and read for forty minutes before I could wrest it out of my hands and get back to work.

Who is your all-time favorite novelist? 
Oh please don't make me choose for all time! For this year past, it's been Emily Bronte and Anthony Burgess. 

What book might we be surprised to find on your shelves? 
Not one in particular, but maybe the promiscuous mingle of Pynchon, Gaddis, Merton, Please Kill Me and about a million Little Golden Books.   

Who is your favorite fictional character? 
Today it's the first Sneetch who said, "No kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches." Other days, it's Heathcliff, who knew exactly what he wanted and wasn't afraid to live (and die) for it. Or the monstrous, unforgettable Judge in Blood Meridian. Or Flannery O'Connor's Mrs. Turpin, screaming at God.

What book do you return to?
Wuthering Heights speaks to me always, and has for years and years.  

Kathe Koja's novels include The Cipher, Strange Angels, Buddha Boy, Talk, and the Under The Poppy trilogy (Under The Poppy, The Mercury Waltz, and The Bastards' Paradise, forthcoming in fall 2016). Her work has been multiply translated and optioned for film. She creates immersive events with her performance group, nerve. She is a Detroit native and lives there with her husband, artist Rick Lieder.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

What are some of the reasons a book disappoints?

I just finished a book I expected to like a lot more than I did. It took me a while to suss out what disappointed me--now it wasn't a bad book by any means but my expectations were high. Here's what I came up with

The initial premise of the book turns out to be a red herring. I don't mind red herrings but if the reason the book intrigued you turns out to be nothing clever at all, it's a disappointment.

The denouement goes on too long. Try the last thirty pages. And what if you have arrived at most of the explanation before the detective does? I think a writer has to assume this has happened to some extend so a long exposition or even dialog explaining it is a bad idea.

The murderer is a serial killer with Mommy issues. And we get a long explanation of how this came about. Either his mother was a bad one or his mother was a victim that needs to be avenged.

Too many of the characters seems to share the same basic traits: angry, sarcastic, sad.

What are some of the reasons a book disappoints you?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Forgotten Movies: CASH MCCALL

Not a great movie by anyone's definition, but at 12 I was pretty head over heels over James Garner. So it was terrific by my standards. Cash is a rich guy who buys failing businesses on the cheap. It's mostly about the glamour of James and Natalie Wood and their chemistry together. But it sort of confirms the MAD MEN life style and their attitudes.

What movies personify the sixties for you? 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Alex Segura's Book Shelf

What's on your TBR pile.

I'm currently deep into Don Winslow's THE CARTEL, which has been amazing. Winslow's books are Ellroy-epic in scope and they are also informative, so you feel like you're getting a crash course on not only Mexico-US relations, but the entire drug trade. It's an epic, monster book. I'm sad to be finishing it. Up next is Neely Tucker's second Sully Carter novel, MURDER, D.C. I very much enjoyed Tucker's first book, THE WAYS OF THE DEAD, so I'm excited for this one. After that, I'll be hopefully reading Karolina Waclawiak's second book, THE INVADERS and the first Rebus book by Ian Rankin. 

Who is you favorite writer?

I love so many novelists that it's hard to pick just one - but in terms of loyalty and inspiration, I'd have to say George Pelecanos. It was his first Nick Stefanos book, A FIRING OFFENSE, that made me want to write crime fiction. I've loved most of his work since, but that book will forever hold a special place for me. 

What would be surprised to see on your bookshelves?

As far as surprising books, I have a lot of sci-fi, including a pretty big collection of Star Trek Pocket Book novels I devoured as a kid. I'm also a sucker for a quick rock biography. 

Who is your favorite fictional character?

My favorite fictional character is from Grant Morrison's ANIMAL MAN series: Buddy Baker. Grant struck the perfect balance between flawed and heroic and I don't think it's been matched since. Peter Parker and Archie Andrews are a close second. In terms of prose, I love the aforementioned Stefanos, Patrick and Angie from the early Dennis Lehane novels and Tess Monaghan from Laura Lippman's series. 

What book do you find yourself going back to?

Ellroy's White Jazz is the book I find myself going back to. Lehane's Darkness, Take My Hand is a close second. 

 I’m a writer of novels and comics. My first crime book, SILENT CITY, came out in late 2013. The second and third in the series are in the works. I’ve written a lot of comics, mostly for Archie, including ARCHIE MEETS KISS, “Occupy Riverdale” and more. I oversee Archie’s PR/Marketing and also edit the company’s Dark Circle line of superhero comics, which will launch next month with THE BLACK HOOD, followed by THE FOX and THE SHIELD, redefining the company’s stable of superhero properties. I’m married, vegan and live in New York City with my wife and two cats. I read a lot of books, listen to tons of music and watch some TV and movies. I talk about all of these things.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Infinitely Polar

is on crimespree cinema.

Friday's Forgotten Books: IN MEMORY OF RANDY JOHNSON

From his archives.
FFB: The Case of The Hardboiled Dicks – John Blumenthal
02 Thursday Jan 2014

I should have realized it from the title, but it didn’t take long for me to figure out this book wasn’t meant to be taken seriously. It grabs every private eye cliche and wrings it for every thing it can get out of it. Mac Slade is our erstwhile hero and every woman wants him. He wants every woman. When he brushes a woman off several times, he literally gives her a brush(clothes, hair, lint). 

The women are all beautiful and we get lines like “gams from the hips all the way to the ground” and “a blouse so tight that if breasts could breathe, they would have to come up for air shortly.” He has a gal Friday named Tuesday, he carries a gat, a heater, a roscoe.

He’s not very bright and has been known, when following a car, to lose it and pick up the wrong one later. He once followed a car from New York to Arizona before realizing his mistake.

He’s hired by a beautiful woman who calls herself Mary Smith to find her baby brother Link, in hiding from the mob for gambling debts. Slade quips “I specialize in finding missing links. Also, when he learns her real identity, he finds that her husband committed suicide by shooting himself in the back with a bow-and-arrow. “Not that weird, I did it to myself by accident,” he thinks.  

Bodies keep turning up with a bullet from Slade’s gun in them, but they’ve been dead for hours, boiled alive in water. The first is identified as Mike Hammer, Jr., the second as Philip Marlowe, Jr., and the cops are looking for Sam Spade, Jr., one wanting to pin it all on Slade.

A shadowy figure known as the “Fat Man” seems to be behind it all and Slade runs into a mob boss looking for the brother named Don Corleone.

An amusing little book and it put me in mind of Get Smart for it’s silliness. Don Adams would have been perfect in the role of Mac Slade.

Mark Baker, MRS. POLIFAX PURSUED, Dorothy Gilman
Joe Barone, A THEORY OF LIBERATION, Gustavo Gutierrez
Elgin Bleecker, BAD COUNTRY, C.B. McKenzie
Brian Busby, PRESENT RECKONING, Hugh Garner
Bill Crider, THE PERSIAN CAT, John Flagg
Martin Edwards, BACKGROUND TO MURDER, Shelley Smith
Ed Gorman, ON THE LOOSE, Andrew Coburn
John Hegenberger, THE FRANKENSCIENE MONSTER, Forest Ackerman
Rick Horton, TEMPEST-TOST, Robertson Davies
Jerry House, MISTS OF DAWN, Chad Oliver
Nick Jones, THE MINISTRY OF FEAR, Graham Greene
George Kelley, THE POWER OF THE DOG, Don Winslow
Margot Kinberg, THE INTRUDER, Hakan Ostlundh
Rob Kitchin, EASY STREETS, Bill James; IN THE WIND, Barbara Fister
B.V. Lawson, A PRIVATE INQUIRY, Jessica Mann
Evan Lewis, TARZAN, THE TERRIBLE, Edgar Rice Burroughs 
Steve Lewis/Marv Lachman, NGAIO MARSH
Todd Mason,  WORLD'S BEST CONTEMPORARY SHORT STORIES selected by the Editors of SHORT STORY INTERNATIONAL [magazine] (Ace Books, 1966)
Nik Morton, JACK OF SWORDS, E.C. Tubbs
J.F. Norris, FLORAL TRIBUTE, C.E. Vulliamy
James Reasoner, TARZAN THE TERRIBLE, Edgar Rice Burroughs
Richard Robinson, SONG OF THE BEAST, Carol Berg 
Kerrie Smith,  DOUBLE SIN AND OTHER STORIES, Agatha Christie 
Kevin Tipple, PANDEMONIUM, Warren Fahey
TracyK, A SKELETON IN THE GRASS, Robert Barnard 
Graham Wynd, CAROL, Patricia Highsmith
Zybahn, THE SUICIDE CLUB, Robert Louis Stevenson 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Lynn Kostoff's Book Shelf

What books are currently on your nightstand?

William Styron, My Generation (collected non-fiction)
Kent Haruf, Eventide
Charlie Stella, Cheapskates (re-read)
Tim O'Brien, In the Lake of the Woods (re-read for teaching)
Patti Nase Abbott, Concrete Angel

Who is your all-time favorite novelist?

Wright Morris

What book might we be surprised to find on your shelves?

Collected Poems of John Donne

Who is your favorite fictional character?

John Yossarian from Catch-22

What book do you return to?

Like a lot of crime novelists, I return again and again to The Friends of Eddie Coyle

Bio: On the way to becoming a crime novelist, I've worked as a truck farmer, gardener, janitor, hospital orderly, steel mill laborer, and professor. I'm the Writer-in-Residence at Francis Marion University and author of WORDS TO DIE FOR, LATE RAIN, THE LONG FALL, and A CHOICE OF NIGHTMARES.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

How Fast Do You Read?

I met a new neighbor a few weeks ago who told me she read at least a book a day. She was able to speed read by reading the middle of each page. She seemed to enjoy reading this way. I am able to do this somewhat with subtitles in a movie, but I can't say I enjoy it. And I am, in fact, a slow reader. And I have gotten slower over time-more distractable I suppose. I stop to think, stare out the window, digest what I've read. Only rarely does a book hold my interest to the extent that I speed through it. The average book takes me a week to read. In my twenties I read three books a week. But I think there were so many fewer distractions then. Both in the world and in my head.

What is the average amount of time it takes you to finish a book? Tell me how you read. Does it vary? Do you read a book you like faster than one that is so-so? Where do you read usually?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


When I looked through the list of TV westerns, I was surprised at just how many I had watched growing up. This was one of my favorites. And Hugh O'Brien seemed to embody him. Never believed Kevin Costner in the role later. 
And I know every word of the song. I bet some of you do too. 


The first of its kind...the original adult western. The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp was the first in a wave of new TV westerns aimed at adults (previous entries, such as The Cisco Kid and The Lone Ranger, were considered fodder for the after-school crowd). The show was then followed, in the same season, by Gunsmoke on CBS, Frontier on NBC and Wyatt's fellow ABC show Cheyenne. It was these four shows alone that started an incredible and unmatched phenomena that would see up to 28 new westerns premiering during the 1958 primetime TV season. But only a handful of them were able to dominate a few of the top 10 spots in the network ratings and Wyatt Earp was one of them. Wyatt Earp was inspired by the legendary events of the real life Frontier Marshal who lived from 1848 to 1929. The show followed Earp from his days as a Marshal in Ellsworth and then later Dodge City (this caused some confusion amongst viewers since Matt Dillion was the Marshal of Dodge City in Gunsmoke) and finally to the infamous Tombstone, Arizona. Along the way Wyatt would encounter such figures as John Wesley Hardin, the Thompson Brothers, Doc Holliday and Earp's brothers Virgil and Morgan. Bat Masterson would also appear before getting his own series (where he would be played a different actor). The show even featured the famous Buntline Special, a foot-long-barreled Colt .45 single-action revolver which many believe to be the kind of gun that the real Wyatt carried and was given to by Ned Buntline. The series would conclude in 1961, after six full seasons, with an epic five episode story that told of how Wyatt took on Old Man Clanton and the Ten Percent Gang in a final showdown at the O.K. Coral with the help of his brothers and Doc Holliday. The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp is not as well known today as most other classic westerns such as Gunsmoke and Bonanza simply because it didn't last as long and was not shot in color. But ask any baby boomer who grew up in front of the television during the '50s and they'll easily recall Wyatt Earp with fond memories. By today's standards, the series was rare in that Frederick Hazlitt Brennan, an author and playwright, didn't just write the first episode (based on the 1931 biography by Stuart N. Lake), he wrote the majority of the 226 episodes throughout the series' entire six season run. This Desilu production originally aired from 1955 to 1961 on ABC, Tuesdays at 8:30pm

Monday, July 13, 2015

Cowboy TV Show Themes

Please read Randy Johnson's blog if you haven't..

I am sick with grief. I am torn between wishing I had known the extend of his illness and understanding completely why he didn't share it. I loved Randy. He was a terrific person, writer, a generous critic, reader and gentleman. He spoke out against injustice on facebook.
We are so much less without him. I fervently hope his death was quick and painless. If anyone has any more details, please share them.

Can we possible set up a book prize in the names of Ron Scheer and Randy Johnson for the best western written each year? The Scheer-Johnson Prize?

Jamie Agnew's Book Shelf

What books are currently on your nighstand?

I usually read a mystery at work and a non-mystery at home. Lately I’ve been fascinated by RAINTREE COUNTY by Ross Lockridge, Jr., which I think might be the legendary great American novel, so I’m reading a memoir/literary analysis/biography by his son Larry Lockridge called BENEATH THE RAINTREE. It’s quite good and moving (Ross killed himself when Larry was five) and I don’t think the dealer who sold it to me knew it was signed! My current mystery is the ARC of Steve Hamilton’s new book THE SECOND LIFE OF NICK MASON and, surprise, it’s fantastic. Steve really knows how to suck the reader in. It’s supposed to be the start of a new series, which would be great as long as he also writes more Alex McKnight installments.
Who is your favorite novelist of all time?
In literature it has to be Knut Hamsun, a Norwegian who was a great writer but not that great a person. In mystery, Ross Macdonald knocks me out whenever I open one of his books.
What books might we be surprised to find on your selves?
We have a very large collection of Archie Comics Digest, though they’re often found in the bathroom.
Who is your favorite fictional hero?
Elizabeth Hand’s Cass Neary isn’t exactly a saint, but when the chips are down she always does the right thing. I just know Cass and I would be great friends. You wouldn’t want to be her enemy!
What book do you return to?
I’ve probably read PAN by Knut Hamsun almost every summer. It’s a magical book.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Congrats to Megan

For making it a double play this week by winning the ITW award for Best Novel.(THE FEVER)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Problems with CDs Now

And maybe this was always true to some extent, but I was listening to a CD played in its entirety online as I went about my household chores. (Now that I am in a ranch I can do that easily). And from what was usually a room or two away, the songs were way too similar. He could have been playing the same tune over and over. Same voice, of course, but also same everything (tempo, instrumentation, feel). If I am going to buy a CD I like versatility in the tunes. Some fast, some slow, some with different instruments. Like the Beatles used to do. Or even folk singers like Bob Dylan. This was really brought home to me when I listened to a Nina Simone CD last week. Great variation in all things.

What more recent CD has this sort of variation on it? I know of none other than a show tunes CD.

My review of THE OVERNIGHT appears here. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Friday's Forgotten Books, Friday, July10, 2015

(From the archives) 
Kent Morgan lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba where in retirement he co-writes two sports columns, plays hockey twice a week, and tries to figure what to do with all the books in his house and garage. He admits that he didn't need that box of 15 books that arrived this week from

In A True Light – John Harvey – Carroll & Graf 2002
In 1998, John Harvey won the first-ever Sherlock Award for the best detective, Charlie Resnick, created by a British author. When he decided to stop writing the Resnick series, he opted to write a standalone where he could use his interest in both art and music in the storyline. The result is this book which received well-deserved raves from book reviewers on both sides of the Atlantic. Sloane is a 60-year-old painter who is just out of prison after serving time for duplicating fine art for a dealer. He takes the rap and doesn’t squeal on the dealer who promised him 20,000 pounds on his release. After he collects the money, he is contacted by a woman in Italy who tells him a prominent artist with whom he had a fling in New York when he was 18 is dying and wants to see him. She claims that Sloane is the father of her estranged daughter, who is a jazz singer in the States, and asks him to find her. This takes him back to New York where he discovers the younger woman is involved with a man who beats her and has ties to organized crime. Sloane isn’t convinced that the woman is his daughter and despite the fact that she doesn’t seem to want him in her life and any help with her problems that includes drugs, he can’t stop himself from getting involved. The story moves back and forth from New York to London and Pisa and Harvey’s characters jump off the page as Sloane attempts to resolve his issues as well as the woman’s problems. This is one of the few books I have read in recent years that I didn’t want to put down.

Elgin Bleeker, THAT SUMMER IN PARIS, Morley Callahan
Bill Crider, STAR SCIENCE FICTION #2. ed. Fredrich Pohl
Martin Edwards, THE INGENIOUS MR. STONE. Robert Player
Ed Gorman, THE EVIL DAYS, Bruno Fischer
John Hegenberger,  MACABRE READER,  Donald Wolheim 
Rick Horton, HELLO, SUMMER, GOODBYE, Michael Coney
Randy Johnson, AMOS FLAGG: HIGH GUN, Clay Randall
George Kelley, ALL BUT IMPOSSIBLE. ed. Edward D. Hoch
Margot Kinberg, THE CRY, Helen Fitzgerald
B.V. Lawson, A NIGHT AT THE CEMETERY, Anton Chekov
Steve Lewis/Barry Gardner, THE MAGIC OF RECLUCE, L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
Todd Mason, GALAXY: THIRTY YEARS OF INNOVATIVE SCIENCE FICTION edited by Frederik Pohl, M. H. Greenberg and Joseph Olander (Wideview/Playboy Press 1980)...and the other US sf and fantasy magazines, along with the first issue of GALAXY, October 1950
J.F. Norris, THE DOORS OF SLEEP, Thurman Warriner
James Reasoner, CRISIS ON MULTIPLE EARTHS, Gardner Fox
Richard Robinson, THE BOTTOM OF THE HARBOR, Joseph Mitchell
Gerard Saylor, KISS HER GOODBYE, Mickey Spillane & Max Allan Collins
Kerrie Smith, A IS FOR ALIBI, Sue Grafton
Kevin Tipple/Barry Ergang, PETER LAWFORD: THE MAN WHO KEPT SECRETS, James Spada
TomCat, CITY OF BRASS, Edward D. Hoch

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Wallace Stroby's Book Shelf

What books are currently on your nightstand? 

CROW FAIR – Tom McGuane

 Who is your all-time favorite novelist?

That’s an ever-changing list, and they’re all over the shop. Dashiell Hammett, Rafael Sabatini, Larry Brown, Richard Price and others, as well as the ones mentioned below. 

What book(s) might we be surprised to find on your shelves?

The complete works of Lorrie Moore, right next to the SEA OF FERTILITY tetralogy by Yukio Mishima. That said, I love Mishima's work, but his RUNAWAY HORSES – which ends with a  murder and a young man’s ritual suicide – depressed me so much I haven’t been able to go back to him in a while.

Who is your favorite fictional character?

There are a few. Probably Ray Hicks from Robert Stone’s DOG SOLDIERS,  and Will Graham from Thomas Harris’ RED DRAGON (though I’m less taken with his current TV incarnation). Andre-Louis Moreau (“He was born with a gift of laughter, and a sense that the world was mad”)  from Sabatini’s SCARAMOUCHE. Certainly Dave Robicheaux in the early James Lee Burke novels, especially A MORNING FOR FLAMINGOS.  

What book do you return to?

Again, there’s more than one. THE GLASS KEY by Hammett is up there. DOG SOLDIERS again, along with George V. Higgins’ THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE. I reread Elmore Leonard whenever it feels like writing is becoming a trudge. His work reminds me that stories need to breathe, and don’t have to be laser-focused all the time. In other words, they can be more like life. 

THE DEVIL’S SHARE (St. Martin’s Press / Minotaur) is Wallace Stroby’s seventh novel, and his fourth about professional thief Crissa Stone, who previously appeared in SHOOT THE WOMAN FIRST, KINGS OF MIDNIGHT and COLD SHOT TO THE HEART. In THE DEVIL’S SHARE, Crissa takes on a work-for-hire assignment, hijacking a truck full of plundered Iraqi artifacts before they’re repatriated to their homeland. But what should be a simple “give-up” robbery soon goes sour, and Crissa finds herself on the run from both an ex-military hit squad and her own partners in crime.

Co-Winners of Strand Critics Award: Megan and Laura Lippman

Nice to share an award with one of your closest friends. Yay: Megan and Laura.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Megan on her way to the Strand Book Awards. She's nominated for Best Novel with some fierce competition. Those feet are too pretty for those dirty New York streets.


What Series Character Has Held Up Best Over Time?

I never grew tired of Morse, for instance. Dexter seemed able to give him interesting cases and forged a character that had dimension to him. But other series characters have grown tired for me. Not to mention names here but 26 books about the same sleuth may be too many. I think the important thing is to have a character change over time, to have the world change with them. Also to give them enough traits to make them human. Too many books rely on having them drink too much, be divorced, be grumpy, like jazz. Oops, I have described Morse, haven't it. But he liked opera. Whew!

What series character holds up best for you?

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

We Belong


Barry Newman and Susan Howard starred in PETROCELLI, a pleasant if generic series on for two years in the mid-seventies. It followed the format of shows like ROCKFORD FILES (actually coming on at the same time) although was not as good. Petrocelli is an defense attorney in the southwest. A nice way to spend an hour for a couple of years.

What was your favorite pre-2000 detective/cop series?