Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Woods -- Harlan Coben

Harlan Coben has pretty much started his own sub-genre in the crime field. If you've read his standalone novels, you know what I'm talking about. Nearly all of them have the same hook: some family member or friend is murdered or disappears. Supposedly. Years later, evidence turns up proving that the murder might not have happened. Or that the person who disappeared is still around.

Everyone in the book will have secrets relating to the murder or the disappearance, even the protagonist. Nobody will come out unscathed at the novel's conclusion.

This time the crime occurs in the woods near a summer camp. (No, it's not Camp Crystal lake, and the killer didn't wear a hockey mask.) Four people are presumed dead, though not all the bodies are recovered. Now it's twenty years or so later, and the victim of a current murder turns out to be one of those thought to have died in the woods. So what's going on? Paul Copeland, a New Jersey county prosecutor, wants to know because his sister was supposedly one of the victims, and her body wasn't found.

Did I mention secrets? Even Paul has them, and he's repeatedly warned to stop his investigation into what happened at the camp. Even the killer, now in prison, warns him. But Paul, being like all characters who find themselves being warned off in crime novels, keeps right on digging. There are complications and twists galore, maybe too many, as the book rockets along to its conclusion. Has anybody ever written about Coben as a noir writer? I think this book is noir. But maybe I'm wrong. Check it out and see.

Good News for Texas

And we know it will come to pass because these guys never make a mistake.

Accuweather forecasts hot summer for much of U.S - Yahoo! News: "NEW YORK (Reuters) - Private weather forecaster Accuweather is predicting hotter-than-normal temperatures for much of the United States this summer, the company said in a press release.

Temperatures will be the hottest in the Northeast, the Great Lakes region and the Midwest. Texas is expected to be one of the few exceptions to the expected hotter-than-normal conditions.

Rainfall in the United States is expected to be normal except in the Southwest and the Rockies. The Great Lakes, Texas and Florida will receive more rain that usual, Accuweather said."

Bill Clinton is a Good Name for an Emu

But perhaps things would have gone better if they'd read this book. | It was a nice day in Carrboro, but not for the emu: "CHAPEL HILL - Bill Clinton, a 6-foot emu on the run nearly a week, died Thursday after Carrboro police captured him outside a nursing home.

The cause of the flightless bird's death was in dispute: The manager of the Orange County Animal Shelter said police Tasered him. But a police spokesman said officers didn't use a Taser stun gun or tranquilizers. He said the bird injured himself as police tried to load him into a truck to take him to the shelter.

'My guess is it did something to its neck,' Capt. J.G. Booker said.

Bill Clinton's flight was the latest and most spectacular of a string of Triangle-area emu escapes that ended in death."

Friday, May 18, 2007

Cheap Thrills -- Ron Goulart

Back in 1972 information about the pulps wasn't easy to find, at least not in the sources I had access to. So it was a real pleasure to learn about the publication of Ron Goulart's Cheap Thrills: An Informal History of the Pulp Magazines. I got a copy for my birthday that year, and I immediately read it straight through. It's been on my reference shelf ever since.

Now, thirty-five years later, there's a new edition. Naturally I had to have a copy, although of the thirteen original chapters, only one has been changed. So why get this edition? Because the chapter that's been changed is the last one, the one that had comments from the pulp writers Goulart corresponded with during his research. The new edition doesn't have excerpts from the letters Goulart received. It has photos of the letters themselves, just as they were written. So Chapter 13 is worth the price of the book all by itself, even if you already have a copy.

Seems to me there are more and better color illustrations this time around, too, but I haven't done a comparison. If you care about the pulps and pulp writers at all, you need a copy of this book.

From the Guys at Demolition

Hello my darlings. I know it's beautiful outside, but it's downright
nasty at Demolition Magazine. Our Spring issue is now live with
stories from Pat Lambe, Albert Tucher, J.D. Smith, Alan Girling, Greg
Bardsley, and Terry White.

Recently we've been awarded the Gumshoe Award from Mystery Ink for
Best Crime Fiction Website and one of our stories, "The Law and the
Order" by Paul Guyot was named as a notable story in the StorySouth
Million Writers Award.

We couldn't be prouder and plan on resting on our laurels for a good
long time to come.

First It's Kirstin Dunst as Marie Antoinette

And now it's this.

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for keeping me posted.

Will the Persecution Never End?

OMG, it's just like Chained Heat only without John Vernon!

New Blog on the Block

Declan Burke writes to announce that he's running a new blog devoted to Irish crime fiction. It's Crime Always Pays, and the idea is to plug any and all Irish crime fiction, including, not incidentally, that written by Delcan Burke. Check it out.

March of the Penguins

In 30 seconds. With bunnies.

Bo Diddley Update

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link to this encouraging news.

iWon News - Diddley Improves After Suffering Stroke: "OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Four days after suffering a stroke, Bo Diddley walked around the intensive-care unit at Creighton University Medical Center, and doctors were encouraged that the singer-songwriter-guitarist would be able to perform again, his manager said.

The 78-year-old Diddley told his audience that he wasn't feeling well during a show in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on Saturday night. Diddley's manager, Margo Lewis, said she had the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer taken to the hospital by ambulance when he appeared disoriented at the Omaha airport on Sunday.

Though Diddley's speech is impaired, he's made significant progress.

'We're going to get a guitar for him and put it in his lap and let him entertain people here,' Lewis said from the hospital. 'People think that would be good therapy for him.'"

Thursday, May 17, 2007

This Can't be True

Janet Charlton's Hollywood -- Celebrity Gossip & Rumors: "Introducing the new Bond Girls: Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen! One of the producers (who happens to be a female) of Daniel Craig's next James Bond movie is very impressed with Ashley and Mary-Kate and really wants them in the 22nd 007 movie scheduled to start filming in 2008. The Olsens would be the first set of Bond twins. The producer is making the offer as appealing to the girls as possible - there will be no nudity or sex scenes. And the twins will play good girls - not villains."

Stephen King Picks the 25 Best Rock Songs

Not a bad list, and I love it that he includes "Stupid Cupid." And yet Connie Francis is not in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. Those people are nuts. Thanks to "Rockin' Jeff" Meyerson for the link.

Photo 1 | Stevie's Wonders | Photos | "So I run into one of my Constant Readers and — everybody's a critic — the guy says, ''Your column's suckin' out lately, Steve. You're losin' your edge.'' My first impulse is to tell him I have a cozy place where he can put my column, but since he looks like a recently retired Hell's Angel, I rethink this option. Instead I ask him what he thinks would make a good piece.

''Best rock songs of all time,'' he says. ''That subject always starts arguments, especially if you don't put 'Stairway' on there.''

I realized he was right. Especially since the idea of putting ''Stairway to Heaven'' on such a list grosses me out. So I decided to take my biker buddy up on his idea. Twenty-four great songs, one for every hour of the day, picked by the Infallible Me."

Best Wishes to Bo Diddley for a Speedy Recovery

Bo Diddley hospitalized after stroke - Yahoo! News: "DES MOINES, Iowa - Bo Diddley is in intensive care after suffering a stroke in western Iowa, a publicist said Wednesday.

The 78-year-old singer-songwriter-guitarist and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer was listed in guarded condition at Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha, Neb., said Susan Clary, a publicist for the musician's management team.

Diddley, who has a history of hypertension and diabetes, was hospitalized Sunday following a concert in Council Bluffs in which he acted disoriented, she said.

Tests indicated that the stroke affected the left side of his brain, impairing his speech and speech recognition, Clary said.

Clary said she has no other details on Diddley's condition or how long he would be in intensive care.

Diddley, with his black glasses and low-slung guitar, has been an icon in the music industry since he topped the R&B charts with 'Bo Diddley' in 1955. His other hits include 'Who Do You Love,' 'Before You Accuse Me,' 'Mona' and 'I'm a Man.'"

Will the Persecution Never End?

Maybe. Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for letting me know. (I'm pleased to see the bit about the shower. No janes in jail movie is complete without a couple of shower scenes. Paging Sybil Danning! Paging Sybil Danning!)

My Question Today Is . . .

. . . what the hell is going on with David Letterman's hair? For a long time now, it's looked as if he's been styling it with a weed-whacker just before going on stage. Some time back his hair was cut short and looked pretty good. Now it's as if he's out to make it look as bad as possible. Just Dave's way of telling us he hates the show and doesn't give a damn how he looks? I have no idea, but it seems odd to me.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Derringer Award Winners

As voted on by the Short Mystery Fiction Society. Here's the official announcement, and I'm proud to say that I'm a winner for "Cranked."

Hi, folks -
I'm very pleased to announce the Winners of the 2007 Derringer Awards for Excellence in Short Mystery Fiction.

First, I want to give my deepest thanks to Elysabeth Eldering, who volunteered to be a vote counter and, again, to judges who gave so generously of their time and energy.

The Winners are:
FLASH STORY: "Vigilante" by Barry Ergang (Summer 2006, Mysterical-E)

SHORT-SHORT STORY - We have a tie:
• "Four For Dinner" by John M. Floyd (Seven by Seven) AND • "Elena Speaks of the City, Under Siege" by Steven Torres (September/October 2006, Crimespree Magazine)

MID-LENGTH STORY - "Cranked" by Bill Crider (Damn Near Dead: An Anthology
of Geezer Noir)

LONGER SHORT STORY - "Strictly Business" by Julie Hyzy (These Guns for Hire)

Congratulations to all of the Winners.

Top 160 Books for Boys

The complete list is here.

160 books on must-read list for boys – full of blood, guts and class heroes-Arts & Entertainment-Books-TimesOnline: "A list of the top 160 books for teenage boys will be published today by the Education Secretary in an ambitious attempt to encourage them to read more for pleasure and keep up with girls at secondary school.

To launch the 600,000-pound project, Alan Johnson has promised to give every secondary school in England the chance to chose 20 books from the list free.

The list contains no Dickens and no J. K. Rowling, but Philip Pullman, Anthony Horowitz, Robert Muchamore, Terry Pratchett and Darren Shan all feature in a list that is full of gritty, fighting, spying, fantastical, bloodthirsty and sporty working-class heroes from authors past and present."

Just What the World Needs

Proof that GWTW still captures people's imaginations, I suppose. Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

Rhett Butler's People - Books - Margaret Mitchell - New York Times: "It’s taken 12 years, three authors and one rejected manuscript, but tomorrow will be another day when “Rhett Butler’s People,” the second sequel to Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone With the Wind,” is published this fall.

Less a conventional sequel than a retelling from Rhett Butler’s point of view, the new book, to be published by St. Martin’s Press in November, is written by Donald McCaig, a former advertising copywriter turned Virginia sheep farmer who has written well-reviewed novels about the Civil War."

Anna Nicole Smith Update

Jeff Meyerson (who swears that Anna Nicole never asked for his "#") provides the link.

iWon News - Anna Nicole Diary: Sex, Surgery, Sadness: "LOS ANGELES (AP) - 'Don't Read!! Personall,' warns the diary's inside cover. But its author, Anna Nicole Smith, has no hold in death on the remnants of her life.

The public now can discover that she was delighted by rough sex, ecstatic over the prospect of plastic surgery for her breasts, and fearful of a jealous boyfriend. She was careless with spelling, punctuation, and, too often, with her own well-being.

Complaining about her then-lover's carousing, Smith writes that she'll break it off with him if he doesn't stop. Then she amends her stand, according to new diary excerpts released exclusively to The Associated Press.

'We discussed it and he said he wouldn't go out and get drunk no more unless it was with me,' Smith wrote in the diaries, which span about a year from early 1991 to 1992.

On an evening out a few weeks later with the same man (identified only by first name), Smith wrote that she got drunk and 'asked a guy for his #.'

Her boyfriend 'came unglued. threw me out of his house & broke up with me it was awlful he hit me and my mother,' she said."

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bruce Campbell is "Hungry Like the Wolf"

Will the Persecution Never End?

Paris on a chain gang? In Arizona?

Cat Tales

Judy and I are taking a couple of the cats to visit the vet this morning. This is not an event we look forward to with eager anticipation. More like fear and trembling. Neither cat will cooperate, and one will be downright cantankerous. I just hope they don't shred our clothing. Or our skin.

Monday, May 14, 2007

A KILLING IN COMICS -- Max Allan Collins

Update: Becky Riordan points out in a comment that this review is quoted in toto in's book section today. I'm finally famous.

Did Max Allan Collins start the trend in historical mysteries? I don't know, but he's sure a master of the form.
A Killing in Comics is his latest, and it's a good example.

The book is set in 1948, and Wonder Guy is the best-selling funny book in the country. Unfortunately for all concerned, the publisher drops dead at his 50th birthday party. He's wearing a Wonder Guy costume that does nothing at all to protect him from the sharp cake knife he falls on.

Jack Starr works for the newspaper syndicate that has the rights to the Wonder Guy comic strip, and when he finds out that the death is a result of murder, he decides to look into it. He's a licensed p.i., after all.

There are plenty of suspects, including writers, artists, a mistress, gangsters, and so on, but what interests Collins as much as the crime is the state of the postwar comic-book business. Fans will recognize just about every character in the book, since the thin disguises don't so much conceal as hint at actual identities.

The novel seemed to me to be very much a Nero Wolfe pastiche. Starr's boss is believes she's overweight and never leaves the building (well, almost never). Starr is a snappy dresser with a photographic memory. The gathering of the suspects in the end, along with detailed seating arrangements, will remind you of Wolfe, for sure. But there's a big Ellery Queen element, too. In fact, this is the first book I've read in years with a Challenge to the Reader. (I'll bet you figure out the crime pretty well.) If you're getting the idea that this is a cozy, you're not too far off the mark. There's more detection than action (and that's not a criticism).

As a bonus, you get Terry Beatty's great B&W illustrations that capture the comics of 1948 about as well as anybody possibly could. Check it out.

Okay, This is Pretty Cool

It's Flickrvision. Kind of hard to explain, but here's the deal. Flickr is a photo-sharing site. Flickrvision is a map of the world, and when people post their photos on Flickr, one of them pops up on the screen and is pin-pointed on the map. Kind of addictive if you like looking at other people's pictures.

Link via Techblog.

In Case You Were Wondering . . . - News - From jokester to jailbird: "He started out as a gifted improv comic at Toronto's Second City. From there, Tony Rosato took his zany writing and performing style to the small screen, winning fame on SCTV and later on Saturday Night Live.

His off-the-wall characters ranged from fictional TV chef Marcello Sebastiano to Lou Costello, Captain Kangaroo and Yasser Arafat. Industry buzz pegged him as the next John Belushi.

Rosato went on to perform in a variety of TV shows and movies. In 1989 he was nominated for the best-supporting-actor Gemini for his role as police informant Whitey in Night Heat.

Then suddenly, two years ago, Rosato disappeared.

Since then, the actor has been behind bars, with no trial, at the maximum-security Quinte Detention Centre in Napanee, 30 kilometres west of Kingston, on charges of criminally harassing his wife during their marriage. It's alleged that his 'reckless' behaviour led his spouse, Leah, with whom he has a now-2-year-old daughter, to be afraid for her own safety or others'."

Will the Persecution Never End?

It had better, or Paris Hilton will kick your ass. Maybe she'll also come over and keep those damn kids off my lawn.

No, Thanks. I'm not Hungry.

Wis. festival sells deep-fried testicles: "ELDERON, Wis. - Around here, it may be tough to pass up anything deep-fried.

More than 300 people paid $5 for all-you-can-eat goat, lamb and bull testicles Saturday at the ninth annual Testicle Festival at Mama‘s Place Bar and Grill in Elderon in central Wisconsin.

Festival founder Nancy Fenske said the festival grew out of her late husband Roger‘s birthday party 12 years ago. They decided to have 'a nut fry' at Mama‘s Place after bringing back lamb fries from a trip to Montana.

'What else can you do in a small town?' Fenske said."

Oh, I don't know. Read a book? (Thanks to Jeff [Mr. Gourmet] Meyerson for the link.)

Croc Update

They're still after Reggie.

Crocodile Hunters Will Hunt Local Alligator | News | KTLA The CW | Where Los Angeles Lives: "A team of crocodile hunters from the late Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo will soon be on the way to Los Angeles to try to succeed where American gator wranglers failed, and remove Reggie the alligator from his murky Los Angeles park lagoon.

City councilwoman Janice Hahn said logistics are almost complete for a July 10 expedition, when a crew from the Australia Zoo in Queensland will attempt to remove the seven-foot-long creature from Machado Lake.

Quantas Airways has agreed to fly a crew and their gear to Los Angeles in early July, and city Parks and Recreation Department workers are keeping a log to try to establish Reggie's cruising habits in advance of the visit, Hahn told the Long Beach Press-Telegram."

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Harry Potter Update: the Eighth Book

NEWS ROWLING TO PEN EIGHTH POTTER BOOK Music, movie & Entertainment News: "British author JK ROWLING's seventh HARRY POTTER book may not be the last we read of the teenage wizard - she is planning another installment in the fantasy franchise.

The seventh novel, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, hits bookstores on 21 July (07), and while Rowling has always insisted it would be the last chapter of the phenomenally successful series - she is now considering an eighth book.

Rowling says, 'I might do an eighth book for charity, a kind of encyclopedia of the world so I could use all the extra material that's not in the books.'"

Zombie Update

Joe Lansdale has weighed in with an update to his list of zombie movies. Click here for the original post and the update.

Albino Gator Update

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

iWon News - Rare Albino Gator on Display in Tenn.: "KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - This white alligator has it made in the shade. A rare albino alligator on loan to the Knoxville Zoo spent one recent afternoon basking under a heat lamp beside a warm pool with one claw lazily dipped in the water. If outside, her skin would burn in the sun.

'Is she real?' is the most common question from visitors, says Phil Colclough, assistant curator of herpetology at the zoo.

'Nobody believes she's real. They stare until she takes a breath or moves her eyes or jumps in the pool.'"

Reggie Update

LA Daily News - L.A. ducks gator issue for a while: "NOW that people have lost interest in the MacArthur Park dust-up, we can turn to a much more important issue:

Namely, what's to become of Reggie the alligator."