Saturday, January 02, 2010
First things first: Happy New Year.
2009 was Hard Case Crime's busiest year ever, with 13 books coming out. The last two are still in stores now, and if you haven't read them yet, you're missing a treat. Jonny Porkpie's THE CORPSE WORE PASTIES is a hilarious detective story set in the world of burlesque; A.C. Doyle's THE VALLEY OF FEAR is also a detective story, but it's set about 100 years earlier and features a detective you may have heard of once or twice. (Interestingly, I could see Robert Downey, Jr. playing the lead in a film version of either book.)
Want a taste? You can read sample chapters from both books (as well as all our upcoming titles) on our Web site, www.HardCaseCrime.com. Want more than a taste? You should be able to find them at your favorite local bookstore, but if they're sold out you can always order a copy online or by calling 1-800-481-9191.
Or...if you would like a copy of THE CORPSE WORE PASTIES that's been signed by the author and one of the lovely cover models, a few such copies were left after the stage show they put on in November. The author is making them available for $10 apiece (normal cover price plus a bit to cover postage/handling), and it's first-come-first-served -- so if you'd like one, send me an e-mail today and I'll pass it along to Mr. Porkpie pronto.
Or...if you prefer your PASTIES live, this month you've got another opportunity to enjoy a theatrical event celebrating the book, and this one's not just for New Yorkers. In the tradition of the long-running Off Broadway hit "Naked Boys Singing," last year saw the launch of a distaff alternative, "Naked Girls Reading" -- and this month's theme is "Naked Girls Reading Pulp Fiction." The titular naked girls (and yes, they really are) will be reading excerpts from a wide range of pulp novels, including THE CORPSE WORE PASTIES. The fun starts in Chicago on January 3, and then moves on to Seattle, Key West and Dallas (with possible stops in Madison, Miami, and Denver as well) before landing in New York on January 29. The author and cover models will be there at the New York event, so if you come to that one you can get your book signed and personalized; Jonny, Nasty, and GiGi won't be there in the other cities, but the lineup of sexy readers who will be there is certainly enticing enough to get you out in the cold. (Or in the warm, for those of you in Florida.) You can find out more at http://nakedgirlsreading.com/ -- and if you're interested in coming, you should get tickets pronto, since the NGR shows are held in intimate venues where seating is limited (just 40 seats in New York, for instance), and the shows tend to sell out quickly.
What else is coming up? Our next new book hits stores at the end of March, and it's a big one (both in terms of length and in terms of significance): MEMORY, the final novel by the great (and much missed) Donald E. Westlake. After that, it's the stunning, heartbreaking NOBODY'S ANGEL about a Chicago cab driver on the midnight shift, written by Shamus Award finalist (and Chicago cab driver himself) Jack Clark. Then the great Brett Halliday makes his first bookstore appearance in something like 20 years with MURDER IS MY BUSINESS, and then the equally great Max Allan Collins brings Quarry back in QUARRY'S EX.
After that? We'll see, we'll see. We've got a bunch of cool things cooking, but none's quite ready to come off the stove yet. Rest assured you'll be hearing more as 2010 trundles along.
In the meantime: Go to your favorite bookstore and buy some books. It'll give you great reading to entertain you on these long winter evenings, and it'll help keep the bookstores (and outfits like ours) in business. It might not always feel like your $7.99 makes a difference -- but I can tell you it really does.
With thanks and warmest holiday wishes,
Editor, Hard Case Crime
Friday, January 01, 2010
Hat tip to Toby O'B.
[. . . .]
They found an AT-4 shoulder-mounted rocket launcher. It can shoot a missile nearly 1,000 feet through buildings and tanks."
Dr. Medusa is the mad scientist in a role just perfect for Lionel Atwill in a Republic serial. ("I am mad but I have the most brilliant mind in the whole world.") He has a plot worthy of a Republic villain, too. For unspecified reasons, he kills people and creates statues from their bodies, using a process of calcification. He's also accumulating huge sums of money from his victims, which, for other unspecified reasons, he uses to ceate a large underground kingdom, where he and his henchpersons will live as soon as it's finished. Only one person can stop him, and we all know who that is.
One of Medusa's intended victims is Bess Marigold. Her uncle hires the Blue Streak to protect her, but she's a spirited young woman and doesn't want to be protected. This leads to complications involving large caverns, underground rivers, whirlpools, encounters with Medusa's goons, murders, and even a bit of light romance.
All of this thrilled me when I was a kid, and I didn't notice the writing style, which is of the Hardy Boys school, or the problems with the story. I just enjoyed the adventures.
Now I wonder about the Blue Streak. Unlike a lot of Whitman books, this one doesn't seem based on a comic book, radio, or movie character. It's really a great deal like a Republic serial, but I don't know of one based on this character. It's also obviously set up for a sequel, though if there is one, I don't know of it. I don't know who Art Elder is, either, but I owe him big-time for the pleasure he brought me so many years ago. And now, too, for that matter.
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Lester Burks, 33, pulled out a sword and engaged in a match with his girlfriend and mother of two children, Yvone Coleman, 31, who had grabbed a knife, according to police reports."
Directed by Gilbert Cates
April 13 – May 23, 2010
Step into Nightmare Alley and enter the titillating world of carnies, cons and clairvoyants. With a score as wild as a funhouse and as evocative as a beautiful tightrope walker, this world premiere musical tells the tale of a young carnie couple who tempt the fickle hand of fate. Based on the darkly evocative 1946 William Lindsay Gresham novel of the same name, Nightmare Alley is a night at the theater full of special effects, wondrous feats and enough spirit to make believers of us all. But remember, here, things are never as they seem."
This musical was originally produced in 1966 and didn't last long. Probably a real toe-tapping good time, though.
Hat tip to Boing Boing.
And bizarre is the word, all right.
The movie's not without problems, especially in the storytelling. Cameron appears to have changed his mind about a potential conflict between two characters in the middle of filming and resolved it with a throwaway line, for example. So what? The story's just an excuse for the visuals, and I was swept away by them and let them carry me along.
SF fans will have fun pointing out all the influences: Poul Anderson's "Call Me Joe" is certainly there, and so is Clifford Simak's "Desertion' (a favorite of mine). Burroughs, for sure, and a dash of Le Guin, too. John Scalzi? Maybe. And then there are Dances with Wolves and FernGully. Again, so what? It doesn't matter when you're sitting enthralled in the theater. Avatar isn't a great film, but it's wonderful movie-making. You might even find out the old sense of wonder's not dead yet. I know I did.
I'll close this out with Seepy Benton's commentary on the film: "By the way, the word 'Na'vi' used in the film is also the Hebrew word for 'prophet.' It literally means 'mouthpiece' which is how a prophet was viewed in ancient times, as someone who became a mouthpiece or 'avatar' for God's voice. Also, 'Eywah,' the name of the diety of the Na'vi in the film, is an alternate pronunciation of the Hebrew 'Yahweh.' Recall that in Hebrew there are no vowels, and hence, you can take the same spelling for 'Yahweh' and pronounce it instead as 'Eywah' or Yaywah.' By the way, 'Yaywah' is also the most sacred name for God in the Cherokee language, and that name, too, was only pronounced by their priests. Of course, all of this information will be on the test next week."
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
According to the Department of Education’s National Assessment of Adult Literacy, U.S. adults are terrible at solving real-world math problems, like calculating tips or comparing prices in grocery stores. Some dismal results:
*Only 42 percent were able to pick out two items on a menu, add them, and calculate a tip.
*Only 1 in 5 could reliably calculate mortgage interest.
*1 in 5 could not calculate weekly salary when told an hourly pay rate."
And so on. It's all very sad.
With all the other parts, too, if you want to catch up.
But how do you stack up when it comes to geography? Get a sharp pencil and test yourself on a dozen questions in the third annual Detroit Free Press Travel Quiz."
On Sunday, atmospheric conditions apparently changed enough for their GPS-enabled cell phone to get a weak signal and relay coordinates to a dispatcher, Klamath County Sheriff Tim Evinger said.
[. . . .]
John Rhoads, 65, and his wife, Starry Bush-Rhoads, 67, made it home safely to Reno, Nev."
Hat tip to Jeff Segal.
That's because I don't regard what I do as reviewing. I'm just writing a few words about books I like. If I don't like the book, I don't comment on it, mainly because I usually don't finish it. Now and then, however, a book will aggravate me so much that I'll say something, Twilight being a case in point. And if a book I like has a few things in it that I don't like, I'll mention those things. Otherwise, yes, I'm a cheerleader for books I like. In fact, I like that description quite a bit. It's my blog, and cheerleading for books (and movies and music) I like is one reason I have it in the first place.
I just thought I'd clear that up, in case there was any doubt.
Pound on the door at any hour -- seriously, it's OK to arrive at 4 in the morning -- and the 67-year-old former auto worker will escort you through his discombobulating, floor-to-ceiling collection of photos, records, figurines, cardboard cutouts, candy wrappers, clocks and other random kitsch featuring the King of Rock 'n' Roll."
A neighbor in the apartment called police at 1:24 a.m. to the 2500 block of 15th Street South to report two elderly, naked men attacking each other."
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Orange County sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino says the 18-year-old and another teenager were Christmas tree surfing, a seasonal Internet fad."
Hat tip to Walter Satterthwait.
[. . . .]
Clearwater Police Department detectives say the young couple poured gasoline on Nancy Broadhead's bedroom floor and bed, and then set the room aflame. Police say the pair escaped in the mother's 2007 Ford Focus."
Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.
The movie with Steve McQueen, that is.
The 3rd Century saint - on whom Santa Claus was modelled - was buried in the modern-day town of Demre in Turkey.
But in the Middle Ages his bones were taken by Italian sailors and re-interred in the port of Bari."
The golden ratio, also known as the divine proportion, produces a shape similar to a widescreen television or a cinema screen and describes a rectangle with a length roughly one and half times its width. The proportion is said to pervade art, architecture and nature."
Women often receive warnings about protecting themselves at the mall and in dark parking lots, etc. This is the first warning I have seen for men. I wanted to pass it on in case you haven't heard about it. This will only become more commonplace as the weather warms."
Hat tip to Dan Stumpf.
Monday, December 28, 2009
It was the 22nd arson that has taken place since August in a historic Houston neighborhood called the Heights, known more for its comforting small-town feel in the midst of big city sprawl than for being the center of criminal activity."
Bishop said Walder, who has a lengthy criminal history in Liberty County, is believed to be a member of a white supremacist group.
Walder is described as 6 feet 2, about 250 pounds, with a shaved head.
He has many tattoos, including a skull on the left side of his neck, a Nazi SS symbol on the right side of his neck and tear drop under his right eye."
Sunday, December 27, 2009
An image of the three men risking their lives and limbs surfaced yesterday after they were posted on Facebook."
And his bride? The socialite hotel heiress Paris Hilton.
In typical Vegas style, Mr Morgan, who announced his engagement to writer Celia Walden only two weeks ago, got ‘hitched’ under the watchful eyes of an Elvis impersonator, a Marilyn Monroe lookalike and several Rat Pack mimics."
My guess on the first half of that sentence is that the book is certainly not from the early period when Crichton was writing as John Lange. It seems to me to come from the time when he wrote books like EATERS OF THE DEAD and CONGO.
[LOTS OF SEMI-SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ON]
I don't have a guess as to why Crichton didn't publish it, but I do think he'd have done considerable revision had he chosen to market it himself. For one thing, he'd have developed the characters. While he wasn't known for character-driven fiction, there are just too many missed opportunities in Pirate Latitudes. Even Charles Hunter, the main character, is little more than a cipher. Sure he's a ruthless killer, but how did he get that way, considering that he's a Harvard man? I think Crichton would have let us know more. The supporting characters get even shorter shrift. And then there's the almost offhand dispatching of one of the major villains, but there's plenty more.
As for the plot, well, it's just one damned thing after another. Episodic? Sure. Crichton throws in every single thing he could think of. The assault on the impregnable fortress with the hand-picked team? Check. Hurricane? Check. Hot-blooded aristocratic captive (the Maureen O'Hara role)? Check. Sea battles? Check. Traitorous crewman? Check. Sea monster? Check. Prison break? Check. And the list goes on. You've seen every one of these things in movies before, and I'm sure the book will make an entertaining movie itself. Not an original bone in it, but still fun.
But why quibble? The book's sitting on the bestseller list right now. If I could get my first drafts there, I'd be one happy guy. Okay, let's face it, if I could get my fifth drafts there, I'd be one happy guy. Check it out.