Saturday, August 14, 2010

Abbey Lincoln, R. I. P.

Abbey Lincoln, Jazz Singer and Writer, Dies at 80 - Obituary (Obit) - "Abbey Lincoln, a singer whose dramatic vocal command and tersely poetic songs made her a singular figure in jazz, died on Saturday in Manhattan. She was 80 and lived on the Upper West Side."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Another Review of Interest (At Least to Me)

The Education of a Pulp Writer: Murder in the Air

A Review of Interest (to Me, Anyway)

Vintage Hardboiled Reads: Gator Kill by Bill Crider

Happy Birthday, Gary Larson!

Morning Minutes: Aug. 14 - Waynesville, MO - Waynesville Daily Guide: "Number to Know

15: Number of years that “The Far Side” was nationally syndicated. The cartoon’s creator, Gary Larson, was born on this date in 1950."

Today's Western Movie Poster

Top 5 Laziest Grocery Store Items

Top 5 Laziest Grocery Store Items - Houston Restaurants and Dining - Eating Our Words

Ay, Caramba!

YouSwear Teaches You to Swear in Any Language: "Web site YouSwear teaches you to swear in over 200 languages, from Afrikaans to Yiddish to Firefly.

Bill Gates predicts that the best education will come from the web in five years, but YouSwear demonstrates how nearly everything worth learning is already available on the internet anyway."

Croc Update (Surgery Edition)

Vet performs surgery on wide-awake croc: "A Taiwanese vet has successfully removed a tumour from a crocodile's mouth while the animal was awake.
[. . . .]
After ten vets declined to perform the operation, Wang accepted, injecting 60 ml of a local anaesthetic and cutting the tumour off with a blade."

Cool video at the link.

On the Old Spanish Trail

Friday, August 13, 2010

Richie Hayward, R. I. P.

Richie Hayward, co-founder of Little Feat, dies | Music | "Richie Hayward, co-founder of the Little Feat, an eclectic jamband that maintained a strong cult following throughout the decades, has died. He was 64.

The drummer had been suffering from liver cancer and died Thursday at a hospital near Vancouver, Canada, after complications of pneumonia, his publicist, Bridget Nolan, confirmed Friday."

Vampire Update

BBC News - Peru battles rabid vampire bats after 500 people bitten

Rocketship Update

Rocket art landing on SF waterfront | San Francisco Examiner: "It won’t fly anybody to the moon, but a retro-themed rocket ship planned for The Embarcadero will recall a time when Americans romanticized the unlikely pursuit of space colonization.

“Raygun Gothic Rocketship” — a striking 40-foot, 8-ton sculpture — is scheduled to be installed along San Francisco’s waterfront in August."

Today's Western Movie Poster

It's About Time

First in a Decade: A Living Novelist on Time’s Cover - ArtsBeat Blog - "The new cover of Time Magazine, on sale Friday, will feature Jonathan Franzen on the cover, the first time in 10 years that a living American novelist has been on the cover since Stephen King, in 2000."

The Weird Book Room

Discover Literary Oddities in the Weird Book Room on AbeBooks: "Welcome to AbeBooks' Weird Book Room - heralded by the New York Times, Canada's Globe and Mail, The Times of London, and The Guardian (UK) as the finest source of everything that's bizarre, odd and downright weird in books. We now have 156 crazy and strange titles about every oddball aspect of life you could possibly imagine and a few things you couldn't possibly imagine."

Some great titles and covers!

Forgotten Books: THE THIRD MAN -- Graham Greene

I'm not at all sure about the history of this one. I do know that the film came first and that Greene says that this book is really just the treatment for the movie. I'm not sure I believe that, since he also says that his original ending was an upbeat one but that the director of the film, Carol Reed, suggested another one. The downbeat one is in the book.

Whatever the history is, the book's very short, 116 pages in the edition I have, which I bought back in 1963 or so. The narration is a lot like a film voiceover, and you can see it playing out as the Scotland Yard man, Calloway, tells his part and then fades into the third person for the story itself.

Rollo Martins shows up in post-WWII Vienna to see his old school friend, Harry Lime, only to discover that Lime has died in an auto accident. There are a couple of witnesses on the scene who load him into an ambulance, and a third man sees the events from a window above. His story is different from the one the others tell, and indeed he mentions another third man, one at the scene of the accident. Martins is determined to find out the truth, and pretty soon people start to die.

The movie was such a big success that it spun off a radio prequel, The Lives of Harry Lime, with Orson Welles playing Lime as he did in the film. The idea was that Lime, who was quite the villain in the movie, wasn't so bad earlier in his life, more of a hapless conman than someone with the heartless, cynical view that he later developed. In the intro to the show (I've heard a few episodes on XM), Welles gives away the ending of the movie.

Later on there was a TV series, The Third Man, with Michael Rennie playing a thoroughly rehabilitated Lime. He's more or less a legit businessman, far more sympathetic than the character in the book and movie.

But back to the book. Would The Third Man be published today? Up until the end of the novel, almost all the action is off-stage. The narration is odd, as I've said. The first two paragraphs take up more than two pages, so it's obviously not in the current thriller style. Lots more emphasis on character and setting than action, though the final chase through sewers is a good one. In the end, though, I really don't think this one would be much to the taste of anybody over thirty. As for old-guy me, I had fun re-reading it.

Song of the Wastelands

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Missed it by That Much

Psychic finds wrong corpse | The Sun |News

Hat tip to David Cranmer.

Lawrence Block Seeks Sinner Man

Hey, Sinner Man, Where’d You Go? | Mulholland Books

Shamus Nominees

Best Hardcover P.I. Novel:
The Silent Hour, by Michael Koryta (Minotaur)
Where the Dead Lay, by David Levien (Doubleday)
Locked In, by Marcia Muller (Grand Central)
Schemers, by Bill Pronzini (Forge)
My Soul to Take, by Yrsa Sigurdardottir (William Morrow)

Best First P.I. Novel:
Loser’s Town, by Daniel Depp (Simon & Schuster)
The Last Gig, by Norman Green (Minotaur)
The Good Son, by Russel D. McLean (Minotaur)
Faces of the Gone, by Brad Parks (Minotaur)
Chinatown Angel, by A.E. Roman (Minotaur)

Best Paperback Original P.I. Novel:
Dark Side of the Morgue, by Raymond Benson (Leisure)
Sinner’s Ball, by Ira Berkowitz (Three Rivers Press)
Red Blooded Murder, by Laura Caldwell (Mira)
Vengeance Road, by Rick Mofina (Mira)
Body Blows, by Marc Strange (Dundurn)

Best P.I. Short Story:
• “The Dark Island,” by Brendan DuBois (from
Boston Noir, edited by Dennis Lehane; Akashic)
• “Deadline Edition,” by S.L. Franklin (
Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, April 2009)
• “Blazin’ on Broadway,” by Gary Phillips (from
Phoenix Noir, edited by Patrick Millikin; Akashic)
• “Suicide Bonds,” by Tim L. Williams (
Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, March/April 2009)
• “Julius Katz,” by Dave Zeltserman (
Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, September/October 2009)

Hat tip to The Rap Sheet.

No Comment Department

Topless sunbather accused of sensuously rubbing in sun cream | "A TOPLESS sunbather is being investigated by police after being accused of sensuously rubbing sun cream on herself on a public beach.

Police were called to a beach at Anzio south of Rome by a furious mother who said the way the “attractive” sunbather was rubbing lotion on her body had “troubled her sons aged 14 and 12.”"

Headline of the Day

"Albino python on cocaine confronts police"

Cathy, R. I. P.

CBC News - Arts - Cathy comic strip to end: "The comic strip Cathy, which has chronicled the life, frustrations and swimsuit season meltdowns of its namesake for more than 30 years, is coming to an end.

Cathy Guisewite, the strip's creator, said Wednesday that deciding to end the comic strip was 'excruciating.' The comic has won several awards, including a 1992 National Cartoonists Society's Reuben Award and an Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program in 1987, and at its height appeared in 1,400 papers."

Here's the Plot for Your Next Globe-Spanning Thriller

Real-life Catch Me If You Can. And now he's caught | Houston & Texas News | - Houston Chronicle: "'I think he's a very, very smart individual. Fortunately, this last move on his behalf was idiotic,' said David Wilburn, a deputy U.S. marshal who spent nearly three years hunting Farris."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Rice student's project could have big effect on global health | Houston & Texas News | - Houston Chronicle: "Rice University senior Andy Miller took on a school project last year to design a highly functional but portable, low-cost microscope. Eighteen months later, health care workers in the developing world may have a device to diagnose disease where people live.

Using off-the-shelf parts and a minimalist approach, Miller invented a 2 1/2-pound, battery-powered microscope that a new study shows is just as good at diagnosing tuberculosis as hospital machines that retail for $40,000. Miller's costs $220."

Seepy Benton Knew this Already

God's Number is 20: "Every position of Rubik's Cube™ can be solved in twenty moves or less.

With about 35 CPU-years of idle computer time donated by Google, a team of researchers has essentially solved every position of the Rubik's Cube™, and shown that no position requires more than twenty moves."

Today's Western Movie Poster

10 Celebrity Exhumations

10 Celebrities Who Really Should Have Been Left in the Ground

Update from Richard Moore, since not everybody reads the comments:

I hope the other nine are more accurate than the one on Stonewall Jackson's arm. Back in the 1980s when I toured most of the VA, PA and Maryland battlefields, I visited the cemetery and viewed the marker for the arm. There are no Jackson family members in that cemetery. Jackson's Chaplin Beverly Lacy retrieved the arm and buried it at the plantation then owned by his brother. It was not then an easy site to visit but I was on a tour guided by Ed Bearrs, then chief historian of the National Park Service.

I live in Lexington, VA where the rest of Stonewall is buried. His grave is at the center of a plot surrounded by graves of his widow, his daughter and his two grandsons (who never knew their grandfather but both were career military men).

In life, Jackson was known to enjoy sucking on lemons during battles (and no one could figure out how he always managed to have them on hand). Virginia Military Institute students to this day visit the cemetery and leave lemons on the grave of the old VMI professor.

The arm has a more interesting history than recounted here. It was dug up in 1864 by Union troops and said to be reburied. A widely reported incident happened in 1921 when the US Army was conducting military exercises in the area. The legend is that General Smedley Butler had the arm dug up, then reburied in a metal box.

In 1998, the National Park Service decided to open the Elwood Plantation to visitors. Concerned that someone might attempt to make off with the arm, they were going to put in a concrete apron to protect it.

But first they had archeologists explore the site. There was no metal box and after exhaustive study of records, the Smedley Butler seems to be pure legend.

They also could find no evidence of a grave in the vicinity of the marker. It had been placed there in 1903 by a man named Smith but based on the other markers Smith installed at other sites, it was only intended to mark the general area, not the precise location.

So for what its worth, the National Park Service says it believes the arm is in the cemetery but the precise location " unknown and likely to remain unknown."

A Man, A Plan And A Sharpie

A Man, A Plan And A Sharpie: 'The Great Typo Hunt' : NPR: "Incensed by a 'no tresspassing' sign, Jeff Deck launched a cross-country trip to right grammatical wrongs.

He enlisted a friend, Benjamin D. Herson, and together they got to work erasing errant quotation marks, rectifying misspellings and cutting unnecessary possessive apostrophes.

The Great Typo Hunt is the story of their crusade.

In 2 1/2 months, Herson and Deck traveled the perimeter of the country, exploring towns and cities in search of typos. They found 437 typos and were able to correct more than half of them."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Mannequin thieves on the prowl | "There has been a rash of mannequin burglaries over the past several weeks. The latest was stolen from on top of First Rate Fixtures off East 53rd street.

The thief somehow climbed on top of the roof, cut a chain the mannequin was attached to and took off with it.

“It was a heavy duty one. So they came prepared. I think they probably watched her, came back. Needed a date that night,' laughed Leah Leissner."

Iowa Leads the Way

Iowa chef licks 2 toads in kitchen, gets fined: "Chef Christopher Turla earned his Davenport, Iowa restaurant a $335 ticket Wednesday after health inspectors saw a video of him kissing and licking toads in the kitchen."

Christopher and the Toad Lickers would be a good name for a rock band.
Hat tip to Art Scott.

Will the Persecution Never End?

iWon News - Paris Hilton sued for $35M for wearing wrong hair: "Paris Hilton was sued Wednesday for allegedly wearing someone else's hair."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Zombie Island Massacre

The Name Proves He's Telling the Truth

Man arrested at Large Hadron Collider claims he's from the future | Crave | CNET UK: "A would-be saboteur arrested today at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland made the bizarre claim that he was from the future. Eloi Cole, a strangely dressed young man, said that he had travelled back in time to prevent the LHC from destroying the world."

Hat tip to Richard Moore, who reminded me I'd missed this story earlier.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ummmmmmmm! Cheese!

Denny's Joins The Absurd Sandwich Game With Fried Cheese Melt - A La Carte Dining Blog -- "Here we go again. According to Nation's Restaurant News, Denny's has added a Fried Cheese Melt sandwich to its updated '$2 $4 $6 $8' value menu.

To be clear, that's four mozzarella sticks pressed into a grilled cheese sandwich. The $4 plate is served with French fries and marinara sauce."

Needle: The Summer Issue

Needle: The Summer Issue | Needle: A Magazine of Noir: "Needle, the summer issue is live and ready for your enjoyment."

Ray Banks
Nolan Knight
John Stickney
Frank Bill
Julie Summerell
Nigel Bird
Sarah Weinman
Allan Leverone
Chris F. Holm
David Cranmer
Stephen Blackmoore
Mike Sheeter

Order HERE

If you order, try the code FREESHIP at checkout. See if that works for ya

David L. Wolper, R. I. P.

'Roots' producer David L. Wolper dies | Show Tracker | Los Angeles Times: "David L. Wolper, the producer of the groundbreaking miniseries 'Roots' and several other critically acclaimed projects, has died of congestive heart disease and complications of Parkinson's disease.

The 82-year-old producer died in his Beverly Hills home Tuesday evening, Wolper's spokesman Dale Olson told the Associated Press."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Here's the Plot for Your Next Gastronomic Thriller

Missing French chef's body found stuffed in freezer - "The body of a retired restaurateur who's been missing for two years has been found in a freezer in the French city of Lyon, police there told CNN Wednesday.

The corpse of Jean-Francois Poinard, 71, was discovered Tuesday in the apartment he had shared with a girlfriend in Lyon, regarded as the culinary capital of France."

E-Book Update

Pete Hamill, Print Holdout, Goes Direct to E-Book - "It makes perfect sense that Pete Hamill, 75 years old, chronicler of vintage New York City and newspaper tabloids and boozy Greenwich Village literary haunts, prefers print books to electronic.

Far more surprising is this: His next book will skip print altogether and be published only as an e-book."

No Comment Department

Gamble on Your Grades With the Ultrinsic Website | Fast Company: "Ultrinsic, currently in beta form, allows students at 37 colleges to gamble on their grades in each of the classes they take. The student hands over money to Ultrinsic--as well as access to his or her official school records--as a wager that they will attain a certain grade. If they get it, Ultrinsic pays out on a sliding scale."

Link via Neatorama.

No Comment Department

Man tries to get his name legally changed to Boomer the Dog: "Preparing for his day in court, Gary Guy Mathews took off his red dog collar and left his squeaky toy at home. It is now up to a judge whether he will wake up one day as Boomer the Dog and find his furry dreams come true."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

If She Had a Lawn, I'd Stay Off It

970 WFLA Tampa Bay News, Traffic & Weather: "A 52-year-old Land O’ Lakes inmate now facing additional charges after she stabbed her cell mate with a pencil on Monday.

According to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, Nancy Waro attacked the woman she shares a jail cell with, and stabbed her with a le[a]d pencil six times."

Otto Penzler Defines Noir Fiction

Otto Penzler: Noir Fiction Is About Losers, Not Private Eyes: "Noir fiction has attracted some of the best writers in the United States (mostly) and many of its aficionados are among the most sophisticated readers in the crime genre. Having said that, I am constantly baffled by the fact that a huge number of those readers don't seem to know what noir fiction is. When they begin to speak of their favorite titles in the category, they invariably include a preponderance of books and short stories that are about as noir as strawberry shortcake."

And Keep Off Her Lawn!

1110 KFAB - Omaha's News, Weather & Traffic: "101 Year Old Nebraskan Honored Nationally

Sally Gordon has been honored as America's Outstanding Oldest Worker for 2010 by a national organization.
[. . . .]
Gordon has been in the work force 84 years. For the last 26 years, she has been an assistant sergeant-at-arms, or 'red coat'' for the state, serving the Nebraska Legislature while it is in session."

And Stay off Their Lawns!

'Raging Grannies' arrested at Vermont Yankee protest - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-: "A protest at Vermont Yankee on Tuesday ended in several arrests, with eight women landing citations for trespassing.

The protestors, known as 'The Raging Grannies,' blocked the main gate while calling for the immediate shutdown of the nuclear reactor.

The eldest woman with the group was 91 years old and has now been arrested seven times for protesting the nuclear plant. Five of the other women were either in their 60s or 70s."

I guess Raging Grannies wouldn't be a good name for a rock band.

Bye Bye Baby -- Allan Guthrie

There's supposed to be a print edition of this novella in 2013, but if you don't want to wait, it's available in various e-formats here. I read it on my Kindle. It's a police procedural that goes in a direction you might not expect. I won't say too much about the plot except to mention that it involves a kidnapping, though there's never been a kidnapping quite like this one, at least not that I've ever heard about.

As a bonus, Guthrie includes the short story on which the novella is based. The two are very different, and it's interesting to see them and to think about how one led to the other.

I got the nice color cover from Guthrie's website, by the way. It doesn't look like that on the Kindle. Check it out.

Couldn't Resist Linking to This

The Sentence Salvo: Another (unnecessary) Opinion on eBooks.

Art Deco Books - Unforgettable Design Treasures from 1910 - 1939

AbeBooks: Art Deco Books - Unforgettable Design Treasures from 1910 - 1939

Today's Western Movie Poster

How to Watch This Week's Spectacular Meteor Shower

How to Watch This Week's Spectacular Meteor Shower

No Comment Department

Is Picky Eating a Medical Condition That Should Be Covered by Insurance? - ABC News: "Krause survives on little more than grilled cheese sandwiches, French fries and waffles. And, like other picky eaters, Krause hopes that a registry of adult picky eaters, recently begun by Duke University and the University of Pittsburgh, will bring attention to a problem he believes should be considered a medical condition."

Erle Stanley Gardner on "What's My Line?"

About Last Night:: "Erle Stanley Gardner, the creator of Perry Mason, appears as the mystery guest on a 1957 episode of What's My Line?"

About nine minutes long.
Hat tip to Art Scott.

Kingdom of the Spiders

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hard Case Crime Update

Subterranean Press � Blog Archive � A Hard Case Crime Exclusive for Subterranean Press

Hat tip to Todd Mason.

Reality TV: The Bottom of the Barrel? Parts 3 & 4

'American Idol' and 'Dancing With the Stars' Behind Bars: Discovery's Prison Reality Shows Produced by Mark Burnett - ABC News: "Last week's announcement by the Investigation Discovery channel that it's developing Burnett's 'Dancing Behind Bars,' along with a singing competition called 'Talent Behind Bars,' was greeted by tweets of 'WTF' by critics. Some of them have already dubbed the latter project 'Prison Idol.'"

Speaking of Physical Objects People No Longer Buy . . .

. . . Vinyl albums, CDs, VHS tapes, and, next in line, DVDs.

Netflix to Stream Films From Paramount, Lions Gate, MGM - Media Decoder Blog - "At a cost of nearly one billion dollars, Netflix on Tuesday said it would add films from Paramount Pictures, Lions Gate and MGM to its online subscription service.

It was a coup — albeit a costly one — for Netflix, which knows its needs to lock up the digital rights to films as customers stop receiving DVD’s by mail and start receiving streams via the Internet. The deal will commence Sept. 1.

Ted Sarandos, the chief content officer for Netflix, said he is essentially taking the “huge pile of money” that Netflix pays in postage for DVDs by mail — about $600 million this year — “and starting to pay it to the studios and networks.”"

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

And stay off her lawn!

67-year-old attack victim uses 'Three Stooges' defense - WBBH News for Fort Myers, Cape Coral & Naples, Florida: "'I had watched the Three Stooges cartoons a long, long time ago. I actually wanted to hook his neck with the front part of my cane, I wanted to hook him and I wanted to pull him inside my kitchen,' Henrietta Lopez said.

67-year-old Henrietta Lopez is describing her first thoughts when she found a man sitting in her car outside of her Corpus Christi, Texas home Thursday night.

'So, he came to me. I don't know if he was going to attack me or whatever he was going to do, but when he came to me, I let him know that I was not afraid of him and that I was going to take care of him,' Lopez said.

Lopez didn't have to look very far for a weapon.

'I pulled my cane and I held it just like a baseball bat, I held it and when he came over I just let him have it over the head,' Lopez said."

Hat tip to Art Scott.

Headline of the Day

Police find hard object in man's underpants when speeding Mercedes pulled over | The Australian

And yet another tip of the hat to Jeff Meyerson.

Is Yours Here?

Bad Yearbook Photos

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson, who claims his isn't among them.

Rabid Child -- Pete Risley

New Pulp Press is new but already known for pushing the envelope. With Pete Risley’ Rabid Child they may have torn it. I mean, how many books have you read that feature a homeless degenerate child molester as the protagonist? Probably none, but if you’ve been waiting for one, Rabid Child is here to fill the void.

Desmond Cray is the molester, living on the streets, eating garbage, peeping in windows, and masturbating. One night he’s found by Mrs. Honnecker, once his foster mother. He fled her home a decade previously, but now he returns with her. Her home is worse than the streets. She’s cracked, and her religious fanatic boarder is even crazier. And then there’s her daughter, the sexy Tracy. She’s crazy, too, in a different way. You might be thinking that this can’t end well. You would be right.

Risley doesn’t spare the reader anything in this book. You might have heard the expression “down and dirty.” Okay, multiply that by about a hundred. There are times you might want to turn away, but if you do, you’ll likely turn back. Risely is a skillful writer, and while you might not want to invite Desmond Cray to dinner, you at least begin to sympathize with him a little.

Rabid Child is one of those books that isn’t for everyone. If you’ve read this far, you know whether it’s for you or not. Take my word for one thing: You won’t read anything else like it this year.

Dorchester Redux

I've been thinking about Dorchester's switch from paperback to e-book format for the last couple of days, and one thing it's brought home to me is how much I enjoy the tactile experience of buying books. I like taking them off the rack and reading the blurbs on the back. I like opening them and reading the blurbs and editorial material on the first few pages. I like looking at the print to see how big or small it is. I like looking at the covers. I guess I like the whole browsing experience, which more often than not leads me to buy more books than I intended to. All of that is lost when it comes to e-books, and it's a heck of a loss in my case.

The reason I'm thinking about this is probably Dorchester's western line, which was always well-represented in the only place to buy new books in Alvin, Texas: Wal-Mart. I like spending time in front of the rack, looking over the new titles, looking for books, by people I know. Browsing e-books just isn't the same.

I know that real books will be around for many more years, but not Dorchester. I'm gonna miss 'em.

Update: Blogger Richard Robinson has some further thoughts.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Fire Department Officer Fixes Traffic Tickets On Facebook - Houston News Story - KPRC Houston: "A veteran Houston Fire Department officer is facing discipline for getting traffic tickets dismissed in response to a stranger's request on Facebook, Local 2 Investigates reported Monday."

Today's Western Movie Poster

Kong! - At the Zoo, Donkey Kong Plays Donkey Kong: "Amateur photographer Christina Spicuzza saw video games and reality collide at the San Francisco Zoo, when a little boy dropped his Nintendo NDS into the gorilla habitat."

Photos at the link.

Five Quick Questions with Your Favorite Writer

Writ: Bill Crider

Vidoq Society -- Interesting Interview

'The Murder Room': Heads-up on 'heirs' of Sherlock Holmes - "Few people know about the Vidocq Society, a real-life crime-solving contingent that helps local law enforcement agencies crack cold cases. Michael Capuzzo profiles the society in his new book, The Murder Room: The Heirs of Sherlock Holmes Gather to Solve the World's Most Perplexing Cold Cases (Gotham, $26, on sale Tuesday). Capuzzo spoke with USA TODAY

Q: What is the Vidocq Society?
A: The group, founded in 1990, is made up of the world's great detectives and forensic specialists. They meet once a month over lunch in a Victorian dining room in Philadelphia to examine cold case murders. They spend years, pro bono, bringing killers to justice in cases where the cops just can't figure it out."

More at the link.
Hat tip to Scott Cupp.

Spare Me

Levi Johnston to run for mayor for reality show - Entertainment - Celebrities -

Jack Parnell, R. I. P.

The Associated Press: 'Muppet Show' bandleader Jack Parnell dies at 87: "British jazz drummer Jack Parnell, who served as bandleader on 'The Muppet Show,' has died aged 87, his family said Monday.

The family said Parnell died at his home in Southwold, eastern England, on Sunday following a yearlong battle with cancer.

Parnell was born in 1923, the son of a showbiz family — his father was a music hall performer and his uncle ran a string of theaters — and began drumming professionally as a teenager. During World War II he served in the Royal Air Force and performed in a band at the headquarters of Bomber Command."


Monday, August 09, 2010

Lawsuit of the Day

Godzilla's lawyers target Damariscotta eatery | The Kennebec Journal, Augusta, ME: "Its name: Grill Zilla BBQ.

Its motto: 'So good it's SCARY!'

Its logo: A smiling green creature with a red apron who, the way Burnham sees him, is part dinosaur, part alligator and part dragon. Or, as Swett sees him, 'Tyrannosaurus rex on steroids.'"

Texas Doesn't Lead the Way

10 Worst Places to Live

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

This Is Why You Shouldn't Take Assault Rifles to Weddings

Groom accidentally kills dad, two guests after firing celebration shots at wedding | "A GROOM accidentally killed three relatives at his wedding in Turkey yesterday when he fired into the air with an assault rifle in celebration.

The Anatolia news agency reported eight other people were wounded at the incident at the village of Akcagoze in the south-eastern province of Gaziantep.

The groom unleashed a volley of rapid aerial shots with an AK-47 rifle to celebrate his nuptials, but quickly lost control of the weapon and accidentally raked the guests with bullets, the report said."

The Ghostwriter

About a year ago, I had a few comments on The Ghost, a book by Robert Harris. You can find them here. Now I've watched The Ghost Writer, the movie based on the book. I suppose the changed the title a bit so nobody would think this was a remake of a movie with Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze. Anyway, the plot of the movie follows that of the book almost exactly, so you can just click on the link just above and read all about it if you care to. The ending is slightly different, and a character is eliminated, but that's about all.

The movie stuff? Well, the performances are uniformly good. Yes, even Jim Belushi in a minor role. And Eli Wallach at age 95? Hey, I wish he'd had a bigger part. The stars are Pierce Brosnan, Ewan McGregor, Kim Cattrall, Olivia Williams, and Tom Wilkinson. Excellent work all around. Roman Polanski is the director, and while he may be a terrible person, he knows what he's doing behind the camera. The score's not Bernard Herman, but it's close enough.

If you like suspense without car chases and explosions, check this one out. You won't be disappointed.

The Truth Comes Out at Last

Musick: Howard Hughes lived on: "The book says eight years before his 'death,' Hughes substituted a Las Vegas derelict for himself and escaped his identity yet continued to operate his business affairs until his stand-in died and his family overturned his famous will in court. It says Hughes spent his exile in the Panama Canal Zone, the Florida Panhandle, Arizona and Alabama in the privacy he craved. He assumed the identity of aircraft maintenance supervisor Verner 'Nik' Nicely, the name of a real person who conveniently disappeared while working with or for the CIA in Panama."

James Reasoner Writes about his Career

Western Fictioneers: Who Am I Today?

Interview of Interest

If you're not looking at The Trap of Solid Gold blog, which is devoted to the short fiction of John D. MacDonald, you should be. The link below is to an interview with the blog master, JDM expert Steve Scott.

There Will Always Be an England

Quirky News | Orange UK: "More than 100 naked thrill-seekers stripped off to ride into the record books - on a rollercoaster.

A total of 102 enthusiasts bared all to take their seats on the Green Scream rollercoaster at Southend-on-Sea, Essex."

Photo at the link.
Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Today's Western Movie Poster

The Glades

I've been watching A&E's The Glades regularly. Pretty entertaining stuff, and of course there was that caiman in the first episode. How could I resist? Also, I sort of know Matt Whitten, who's the supervising producer. I liked a couple of novels he wrote, and he and talked at a few conventions. He even tuckerized me in an L&O episode he wrote years ago. Last night's episode was written by Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin. I also know Lee, and I know he's a Harry Whittington fan. While I got a kick out of the entire episode, my favorite part was the fake name used by one of the suspects: Ashley Carter. Judy wondered why I laughed when I heard the name, so I had to explain about The Sword of the Golden Stud and other novels. I'm looking forward to the second episode that Goldberg and Rabkin wrote, coming later this season.

Hundreds of Nurse Novel Covers

Nurse Book Collection // Tiny Pineapple

Link via Retrospace.

Bubba Ho-tep Update

Austin, TX Community: Bubba Ho-tep Fest - | Austin American-Statesman: "Mobile Art Program (MAP) will be having our first ever fundraising event on August 15th which will include the screening of the film Bubba Ho-tep, an Elvis impersonator contest, a JFK trivia challenge and various other fun activities. Local film writer/novelist Joe O'Connell and cult film legend Gary Kent will be on site with their books (Evacuation Plan and Shadows & Light) to discuss the film. PLUS, Bubba himself, actor stuntman Bob Ivy will be there too!"

Patricia Neal, R. I. P.

Patricia Neal, an Oscar Winner Who Endured Tragedy, Dies at 84 - Obituary (Obit) - "Patricia Neal, the molasses-voiced actress who won an Academy Award and a Tony but whose life alternated surreally between triumph and tragedy, died at her home in Edgartown, Mass., on Sunday. She was 84 and lived in Manhattan and Martha’s Vineyard."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

The Beast of Hollow Mountain

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Croc Update (Bikini Edition)

Here we go again | Northern Territory News | Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia | "SOME girls show no hesitation when risking life and limb for their five seconds worth of fame.

The two wannabe stars on our front page were photographed bikini-clad and sunbaking atop a crocodile trap.

One of the girls, believed to be in her 20s, is lying on her stomach while the other is crawling around on all fours."

Yes, there is a photo at the link.

Lawsuit of the Day

Parents sue town after fatal crash - The Boston Globe: "The parents of a Milton woman killed in a July 2008 car crash are suing The Kraft Group and the town of Foxborough, contending that security at Gillette Stadium failed to prevent ticketless underage drinkers from partying and consuming alcohol in the stadium parking lot during a rowdy annual music event before getting behind the wheel to drive home.

Filed in Norfolk Superior Court, Mary Ann and Stephen Davis’s lawsuit says that stadium officials enacted a “no ticket, no entry’’ policy in 2007 to deter tailgating by underage drinkers without tickets to the New England Country Music Festival, but that a lax security force never enforced it."

Here's the Plot for Your Next Poker Noir Novel

Samuel McMaster Plays Poker to Avoid Jail: "A professional poker player from New Mexico will have to pray that he does well at the game over the next six months – because if not, he’s going to jail. A judge has made the surprising move to allow Samuel McMaster to travel out of state in a bid to earn the money he needs to pay back as restitution.

The 59 year old was charged with swindling at least 26 elderly people out of their savings, and he has half a year to pay back the $440,000. As part of a plea deal, the player has promised to pay back the money in $7,500 monthly installments and – in return – the judge will provide a more lenient sentence after the money is paid back."

Worm Charming Update

PLEASE PIC AND PUBLISH Worm charming festival fails to catch a single specimen - Telegraph

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Top Notch Thrillers

Top Notch Thrillers

Summer 2010

The summer titles from Ostara Publishing’s Top Notch Thrillers imprint which aims to revive Great British thrillers ‘which do not deserve to be forgotten’ include: a 50th anniversary reissue of a classic manhunt, the story of a World War II conspiracy from one of the biggest selling authors of the 1970s, an award-winning against-the-clock thriller and a Gothic chiller from an author described as the literary link between Dennis Wheatley and James Herbert.

Watcher in the Shadows by Geoffrey Household is the tense, spare story of a manhunt across England’s green and pleasant countryside in 1955 which has been described by one critic “As if Gunfight at the OK Corral had been transposed to St Mary Mead.”

Geoffrey Household, the writer widely considered to be the natural successor to John Buchan, had an unrivalled feel for the English countryside and the primitive bond between hunter and prey. First published fifty years ago in 1960, Watcher in the Shadows is a masterly description of a deadly game of cat-and-mouse which ranks comfortably alongside Household’s legendary Rogue Male.

Black Camelot, first published in 1978, combines a superbly researched wartime conspiracy plot with blistering action and rightly led to the author, Duncan Kyle, being favourably compared to Alistair Maclean and Desmond Bagley.

Under his real name, John Broxholme was a distinguished journalist and Chairman of the Crime Writers’ Association, but it was as Duncan Kyle that he achieved international fame from the moment his first thriller, A Cage of Ice, became an instant bestseller on publication in 1970.

Francis Clifford was one of Britain’s most respected thriller writers from his first well-crafted mysteries in the late 1950s to his untimely death in 1975. His 1974 novel The Grosvenor Square Goodbye was a sensation on publication, won the Crime Writers’ Silver Dagger and was serialised in national newspapers.

The action of the book takes place in less than 24 hours and begins with a crazed lone gunman bringing the West End of London – and the American Embassy – to a violent halt. But nothing, absolutely nothing, in this ingenious ticking-clock thriller can be taken for granted.

The Young Man From Lima, first published in 1968, shows all the trademark touches which made author John Blackburn “today’s master of horror” (Times Literary Supplement).

Blackburn held a unique place among British thriller writers of the 1960s, adding his own taste for the Gothic and the macabre to the conventions of the thriller, the spy story and the detective novel, and always at a ferocious pace. As a writer he is seen as the literary link between the work of Dennis Wheatley and James Herbert and many of his plots were based on scientific or medical phenomenon presaging the work of writers such as Michael Crichton.


In less than ten months since its inception, the Top Notch Thrillers imprint has reissued 12 novels from what consulting editor Mike Ripley calls: “the heyday of British thriller writing – the 1960s and 1970s.”

Says Ripley, himself an award-winning crime writer and a member of the International Thriller Writers organisation: “It’s a fantastic honour to be re-issuing many of the thrillers I grew up reading, but it is not just a question of nostalgia. The range and distinctiveness of British thrillers forty years ago was staggering, and the sheer quality of imaginative writing then simply does not deserve to be forgotten.”

Full details of all Top Notch Thrillers can be found on

Details of summer titles for 2010 are:

Watcher in the Shadows by Geoffrey Household, first published in 1960[ISBN 9781906288457].

The Young Man from Lima by John Blackburn, first published in 1968 [ISBN 9781906288440].

The Grosvenor Square Goodbye by Francis Clifford, first published in 1974 [ISBN 9781906288433].

Black Camelot by Duncan Kyle, first published in 1978 [ISBN 9781906288426].

Forthcoming Top Notch Thrillers in 2010 and 2011 will include novels by John Gardner, Victor Canning, James Mitchell and James Munro.

Series Editor Mike Ripley can be contacted via

Extreme Sports Update

AFP: Sauna contest in Finland cut short as Russian dies: "The two finalists in Finland's annual World Sauna Championships were rushed to hospital before the competition ended Saturday evening and the Russian contestant died, organisers said."

Hat tip to Art Scott.

Excellent Post on e-Books

Do Some Damage: "Other than improper use of grammar, mistakes regarding guns, and swearing, nothing seems to bother the legion of readers snapping up these Kindle books for $.99 with awful writing, poorly developed characters, and stories that just generally drip crap out of every electronic orifice.

And I'm not talking Dan Brown or James Patterson type bad. Those guys are All Stars compared to these amateurs. But it doesn't seem to bother readers. Sure, they'll comment on it in an Amazon review or whatever, but then mention that they still loved the story and will buy the next book by the author."

The 50 Best Films of the '00s

The best films of the '00s | Best Of The Decade | The A.V. Club

Today's Western Movie Poster

Hard Case Crime Update from Charles Ardai


Those of you who are tuned in to goings-on in the publishing industry may have seen the announcement last week from Dorchester Publishing that they've decided to get out of the business of publishing mass-market paperback novels (the main business they've been in for the past 40 years). Instead, they've announced they're only going to publish ebooks and a limited number of larger trade paperbacks, using a 'print on demand' process.

What does this have to do with Hard Case Crime? Well, for the past six years, Dorchester has been the company that has printed and distributed our books. They're a first-rate company run by good people, and I'm sorry to see them going through tough times. I'm also sorry to see them stop publishing books in our format. What does this mean for us? Well, either we'll need to switch from the smaller "mass market" format to the larger "trade" format, or we'll need to start working with another publisher, or both. (Most likely both, but we'll see.)

It'll take a little while for this all to get sorted out, and I apologize for delays in the meantime. Our August title, Brett Halliday's MURDER IS MY BUSINESS, has shipped to booksellers and is available right now. I'd encourage you to grab a copy while you can -- it's a terrific book (with a gorgeous Robert McGinnis cover), and it'll be the last new Hard Case Crime book you'll see for a while. The next two -- QUARRY'S EX by Max Allan Collins and CHOKE HOLD by Christa Faust -- will not be coming out in October and March as planned. They will come out -- but probably not till sometime later next year. We'll keep you posted as soon as we know when.

And you'll be glad to know we're already at work on subsequent titles. It's too early to spill the beans about what they are -- but it looks like books #69 and #70 will actually be by the same author, one well known to readers of our line. The former will be a reprint, the latter a brand-new book, and both are very exciting. As soon as I can let the cat out of the bag (once the ink is dry on the contracts!), you'll hear more.

After that? Well, you won't be seeing a new book every month, but I expect you'll continue to see a handful of new Hard Case Crime titles each year, and rest assured they'll be good ones. Stay tuned to your email for news and announcements (also not every month -- but every time we've got news to share, I promise).

And if you're a member of the Hard Case Crime Book Club, I'd say don't cancel that subscription just yet -- again, it's too early to talk about what we've got in store, but a neat idea has surfaced for a way to keep the books coming and if it works out, I think you're going to like it. (I know I'm excited about it.)

In the meantime, I want to thank you all for your years of support and your passion for our books -- it feels good to know so many of you are as excited about these books as I am, and (circumstances permitting) I'm looking forward to bringing you more of them for years to come.

Charles Ardai

NYC Leads the Way

Pop Tarts World Cafe : Eater NY

The Decline of Western Civilization Continues Apace

Lookalikes dress as GaGa in Chicago | The Sun |Woman

Photo at the link, if you dare.

Giant from the Unknown