Thursday, October 31, 2013


My Life in the Theater: AN ILIAD

We saw this last week at the Performance Network Theater in Ann Arbor. The play sold out for its entire run and it was easy to see why. John Manfredi is amazing in a one-man show that tells the story of THE ILIAD, but also makes a case for the history of war-which coincides with the history of mankind.

AN ILIAD was written by Lisa Peterson and David O'Hare, based on the work of Homer, of course. It won a 2012 Obie award.

If it comes your way, you won't regret seeing it.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tuesday Night Music: WAITING AROUND TO DIE

Forgotten Tv Shows: CHEF

This BBC sitcom starring Lenny Henry was on when we were in England in 1994-95 and we found it very entertaining. Of course, this was long before chefs became a staple of TV reality series. Henry was king of the castle in his work kitchen, but at the mercy of his wife (Caroline Johnson) at home.

He was probably too unlikable to suceed on US TV then or now. We like more sugar in our recipes and only tolerate chefs as egotistical as this one on reality shows. But the Brits between Basil Fawlty and Chef seem to find nasty people quite charming--at least on TV.

This may have run here on PBS at one time. It seems like I have some memory of it.

Monday, October 28, 2013


Do You Listen to the Radio?

Once upon a time,  I listened the the radio all the time. First as a teenager, listening to the 45s they used to spin. Then, early in my marriage, I listen to WJR in Detroit most of the day. The shows were mostly talk shows but not necessarily political. I carried my little radio from room to room as I cleaned and did whatever the heck I did back then. No kidding, I think I listened to the radio half the day in the seventies. Even listened to Tiger spring training games. Not sure why I found it so enthralling or if I would should those shows return today.

Then WJR was bought by a right-wing consortium, and began introducting Rush and Dr. Laura and I turned it off.  Today  I listen to NPR off and on during the day and that's about it. I get my music from CDs and rarely bother to download music. I know I am out of step with the way music is listened to now. But I like change rather than the SOS.

Phil listens to two stations that play classical music most of the time.

Do you listen to the radio? If so, what? Is there anything on there I am missing?

Friday, October 25, 2013

How About a Horse Race?

Friday's Forgotten Books, Friday, October 25, 2013

Next week, B.V. Lawson will be our host. And two weeks from day, we will celebrate the work of Ross MacDonald

Crossroad Blues, Ace Atkins

Nick Travers, a former football player, is now employed by Tulane University in New Orleans teaching the history of the blues. In his spare time, he is a "tracker" and scholar, seeking gap-filling information about blues singers in the last century. His particular interest is in Guitar Slim. Travers also plays blues at JoJos Blues Bar.
A Tulane colleague, who was following leads about some missing Robert Johnson music, goes missing himself, and Travers, knowing the area and the people, agrees to look into it. Along the way, he tangles with a tantalizing redhead, a wily albino with more information than is good for him, a lethal Elvis lookalike and other dangerous types following the same path, looking to score from supposedly missing records Johnson made before his death.
Atkins is so highly skilled at evoking atmosphere-you feel like you're traveling down through the Delta with him, stopping at jukes, having a po boy on the road or a beignet in New Orleans, listening to some great music. He creates a believable protagonist, who wrestles with some dangerous adversaries as well as the question of how to keep the blues alive without exploiting it. This is fine crime fiction, but it is these other elements that makes the novel zing. 
It's hard to believe a 25-year old had the nerve and talent to write this exciting and evocative book. You can feel the excitement and enthusiasm of its young author in every sentence.

Sergio Angelini, DEATH IN CAPTIVITY, Michael Gilbert
Bill Crider, SCRATCH ONE, John Lange (Michael Crichton)
Curt Evans, RASPBERRY JAM, Carolyn Wells
Ray Garraty, A SHROUD FOR JESSO, Peter Rabe
Ed Gorman, NIGHTMARE ALLEY and GRINDSHOW, William Lindsay Gresham
Jerry House, HARLAN ELLISON'S MOVIE, Harlan Ellison
Randy Johnson, THE OUTFIT, Richard Stark
Nick Jones, A MAGNUM FOR SCHNEIDER, James Mitchell
George Kelley, RAYGUNS OVER TEXAS, edited by Richard Klaw
Margot Kinberg, THE BIG SLEEP, Raymond Chandler
Rob Kitchin, JADE LADY BURNING, Martin Limon
B.V. Lawson, THIS ROUGH MAGIC, Mary Stewart
Evan Lewis, CONAN, THE ROGUE, John Maddox Roberts
Steve Lewis/William Deeck, DEATH IN HIGH HEELS, Chrisitana Brand
Todd Mason LEARNING TO DRIVE, Katha Pollitt; SEDUCING THE DEMON, Erica Jong 
 Neer, THE MUSICAL COMEDY CRIME, Anthony Gilbert
J.F. Norris, THE COOK, Harry Kressing
Juri Nummelin, THE BATTLE, Brian McDermont
James Reasoner, LADY, Thomas Tryon
Richard Robinson, The Penguin Science Fiction Omnibus ed. by Brian W. Aldiss
Gerard Saylor, JITTERBUG, Loren Estleman
Ron Scheer. RED HAWK TRAIL, Max Brand
Kerrie Smith, NO MAN'S LAND, Reginald Hill
Kevin Tipple. Patrick Ohl, THE WEST END HORROR, Nicholas Meyer
Prashant Trikkanad, ACTION COMICS #1
James Winter, HENRY FOUR, PART TWO, William Shakespeare, THE GREEN MILE, Stephen King
Yvette. CIRCLE OF SHADOWS, Imogen Robertson

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Who is Your Favorite Movie Music Composer

Elmer Bernstein is mine. I don't know how any person could compose so many distinct and gorgeous pieces of music. I couldn't choose a favorite.

Who is your favorite composer and if it's Bernstein what is your favorite piece?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Movie Theme Music: THE EXORCIST

Mississippi Goddamn

For me, this is the greatest protest song ever. 

We just spent three days in Mississippi visitng Megan, who is there for a year as the John Grisham writer-in-residence.  She is ensconced in a terrific apartment right on the square in Oxford. She is thrilled at the caliber of students in their MFA program and happy to be amongst writers like Ace Atkins, Tom Franklin, Chris Offut, Jack Pendarvis and others.

Mississippi is like another country to me. Oh yes, Oxford is somewhat like most flagstaff univeristy campuses in some respects, but where else on a lovely Sunday morning would you hear a young man say to his dog,

"Roscoe, what do you feel like doing this afternoon? Should we get ourself some ducks."

It took me a minute to suss out he was talking about hunting and not pet or grocery shopping.

Highlights of the trip: having drinks with Ace Atkins and Jack Pendarvis at a terrific bar. Jack is a writer on the show ADVENTURE TIME and wonderfully funny. I have enjoyed his blog for years and it was a treat to meet him and talk about some of his favorite subjects.

Driving to the famous Taylor Grocery for dinner and being told the wait would be in the neighborhood of three hours. I have never seen tailgating at a restaurant before this.

Drving to Greenwood (and look at that sky) and having lunch at the Crystal Grill. Fried oysters and fried green tomatoes with coconut cream pie for dessert. Seeing a bit of the Delta and the cotton crop.

A football game with LSU filled the town for three days. Marching down to the Grove on game night to see the thousands of tents set up for the tailgating there. The co-eds dress better than any girls in the north. Flirty skirts, I think they call them. And Ole Miss won unexpectedly.

Visiting Rowan Oak, Faulkner's home. Is there a more famous writer's house in the country? It manages to be modest and grand at the same time--much like the writer.

Going to Big Bad Breakfast with Jack Pendarvis and his wife, Dr. Theresa Starkey, who's as sweet and interesting as her husband. How I wish I could take her course which compares seventies films to fifties films.

Getting to see Phil and Megan watch two Tiger games together. I often see Phil and Josh share games but rarely Megan and Phil.

This is my second MS trip. The first time we drove down the Trace to Natchez. The people are so polite, helpful, kind. And yet. Mississippi Goddamn.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tuesday Night Music: Lorde

Forgotten Movies: BUS RILEY'S BACK IN TOWN

I adored MIchael Parks at age sixteen and he starred in this film shortly before his TV series ALONG CAME BRONSON. In this one he is backed by: Ann Margaret, Kim Darby, Janet Margolin, Jocelyn Brando, Mimy Farmer. It has the vibe of a sixties movie, not sure exactly where to land.

From Wikipedia-

Bus Riley's Back in Town finds a young man returning from a stint in the Navy to a world that is not quite the one he left behind. His unscrupulous and devastating ex-girlfriend Laurel (Ann Margret) has married an older and wealthier man. The job he's been promised disappears. Bus Riley's relationship with his old girlfriend is no less than a drug, he cannot resist her as she zaps him of all his morality and his resolve and sense of self. His mother watches him sink, trying to hold on to her son and leave him enough room to find his way back from the hell of sexual addiction.
The film is provocative and sexy and yet rather sweet. Perhaps the scenes between the two teen girls keep the film from devolving into bathetic melodrama. This is a crossroads when the 50's greaser chic meets 60's Beatle chic, a cultural phenomenon rarely noted.
 Just when it seems he is losing himself again, his little sister's best friend's mother sets their house on fire in an alcoholic haze, killing herself and leaving the girl homeless. The tragedy brings the Rileys together as they remember what matters - family - and the young girlfriend finds a home with the Rileys.

Monday, October 21, 2013


One Movie to Watch for Halloween-What would it be?

I am choosing THE HAUNTING, which as you all know comes from THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE (Shirley Jackson) who I revere.  I watched the opening of it the other day and was reminded on how far implied horror can take you. Mood, music, camera angles can scare me plenty.

What about you?

Friday, October 18, 2013

How 'Bout a Stagecoach Chase

Friday's Forgotten Books, Friday, October 18, 2013

And Happy Birthday, Phil.

George Kelley has kindly offered to host this week while Phil and I celebrate his birthday.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tuesday Night Music: DIDN'T I

Forgotten Movies: LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN

For those who can't abide movies about unlikable characters, Gene Tierney takes the bull by the horns in this one. Has anyone seen more gorgeous sisters than Tierney and Crain? Tierney plays a woman who chooses a man (Wilde) who resembles her much loved father. Anyone who threatens to come between them, including his brother and her sister, is at risk.John Stahl directed a movie that scared me to death as a kid. Surely women like this one did not exist.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sunday Poetry: John Keats

What Female Writers Write the Most Convincing Males?

I am going to go out on a limb here and say Hercule Poirot, although an interesting character, never seemed quite like a man to me. Christie dodged it by making him "foreign" and full of tics and oddities that kept you from noticing that. She also had plots that kept you involved enough to not care. . I am sure some of you will disagree.

I think Elizabeth George does a great job with Inspector Lynley. Also Kate Atkinson with Jackson Brodie and Ruth Rendell with Wexford. Who else writes a believable male?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Saturday Night Music: KRONOS

When You Disagree

Which happens frequently with Phil and me. I loved GRAVITY. He found it a snoozer. He thought PRISONER was a stronger film than I did. He falls for movies with twists and suspense, and I fall for movies with heart and lessons. He hates romances; I hate horror.

Does this go on with you and your friends, partners, kids? How often do you and your primary companion disagree on a movie?

Phil's fabulous bush

Friday, October 11, 2013

How 'Bout a Car Chase: Bullitt

My review of GRAVITY in on Crimespree Magazine.

Friday's Forgotten Books, October 11, 2013

George Kelley will host this endeavor next week.

For Halloween; Sara Waters Favorite Ghost Stories and Waters' THE LITTLE STRANGER is high on my list.  I read THE DEMON LOVER (Bowen)  recently and it is a marvel.

Sarah Waters is the author of THE LITTLE STRANGER, a ghost story.

The Monkey's Paw" by WW Jacobs
This is one of the most anthologised of all ghost stories, and its "be careful what you wish for" message has become one of the clichés of the genre. Every time I read it, I realise how economical it is: we never see the son who, summoned up by the diabolical power of the monkey's paw, has dragged his mangled body out of its grave and back to his parents' house; we only hear his baleful knocks at the door. But it's the anticipation that makes it so hair-raisingly good.
Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu
This story of a beautiful revenant and her fascination with teenage girls is about a vampire rather than a ghost, but it can't be beaten. Most memorable is the "very strange agony" into which her voluptuous wooing plunges the story's unworldly narrator: "Sometimes it was as if warm lips kissed me, and longer and more lovingly as they reached my throat . . ."
A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro
As far as I know, none of Ishiguro's fiction is actively supernatural, but his novels have a brilliant strangeness to them, which makes reading them always an unnerving experience. Here his Nagasaki-born narrator has become so detached from her own traumatic past, she has effectively turned it into someone else's life. As in many great ghost stories, the result is a tightly controlled narrative surface, with half-glimpsed, terrifying depths.
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
This is a brilliant depiction of a woman's decent into insanity. But the room in which its unnamed protagonist slowly loses her wits is definitely a "haunted" one: the ghosts are other women, trying furiously but fruitlessly to "shake the bars" of the claustrophobic patterns in which they are trapped.
"The Specialist's Hat" by Kelly Link
All of Link's stories are wonderfully odd and original. Some are also quite scary - and this, from her collection Stranger Things Happen, is very scary indeed. It's the story of 10-year-old twin girls in a haunted American mansion, being instructed by an enigmatic babysitter just what it means to be "dead".
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
The definitive haunted house story, and one of the novels that inspired a fabulously scary film, the 1963 The Haunting (1963).
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
I'm not really much of a James fan, but I think this has to be on my list, if only because the story - of a lonely governess whose charges may or may not be being haunted by the ghosts of wicked servants - has been such an influential one. As far as chills go, I actually prefer the two films for which it provided the inspiration: the 1961 The Innocents, with a fragile Deborah Kerr, and The Others (2001), with a demented Nicole Kidman.
"The Demon Lover" by Elizabeth Bowen
In many of her novels and stories, Bowen beautifully captures the eerie atmosphere of wartime London, with its blitzed, abandoned houses. In this story, a middle-aged woman tries to evade an assignation with the sinister soldier fiancé, lost to her many years before.
The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
Watching a BBC adaptation of this several Christmases ago, I got so frightened, I was sick. Admittedly, I had eaten a lot of Christmas pudding - but Hill's story is terrifying, a classic of the genre. The "woman with the wasted face", made so malevolent by the loss of her own infant that she destroys the children of others, is a fantastic creation.
Beloved by Toni Morrison
"Not a house in the country ain't packed to its rafters with some dead Negro's grief," one of the characters points out, when Sethe, the novel's protagonist, suggests fleeing from the spiteful spirit inhabiting her home. One of the great fictional studies of slavery and its scars, Beloved is also a sublime literary ghost story: a meditation on the ways in which individuals and communities - an entire nation - can be haunted by the violence and injustice of the past.

Ed Gorman is the author of the Dev Conrad series of political thrillers.

I like to read while I eat. Lately I've been working my way through David Thomson's enormous Biographical Dictionary of Film at lunch time. Thomson is the most interesting and entertaining flm critic since Pauline Kael--and every bit as frustrating. When I disagree with him, I want to all him up and read him his rights--before violating every one of them.

Today I read his take on Edmond O'Brien. Thomson notes going in that movie stars aren't supposed to sweat. That makes them too much like everybody in the audience. Part of movie stardom is inaccessability, fantasy. But what a clever hook because beefy O'Brien sweated all the time, especially in his most memorable movie DOA. He was also fat, frequently out of breath, devoutly neurotic and often frightened. He was, in other words, pretty much like the people in the darkness watching him on the big screen. An Everyman of sorts.

In the course of his entry on O'Brien, Thomson makes clear that he enjoys the odd-ball actors and actresses far more than he does the stars. Thus he finds Warren Oates vastly more compelling than Robert Redford and Jeff Goldblum more intriguing than Paul Newman.

When I was a kid I rarely wondered about the lives of the stars. But I was always curious about character actors such as Elisha Cook, Jr. and J. Carrol Naish. There was a vitality to their performances that the stars were rarely capable of matching. And in the case of Cook, there was a melancholy and weariness that I recognized even then as being much like my own.

Same with the women. The ones I was always excited about were the second- and third-leads. They were the ones I got crushes on. They were often as pretty as the leading ladies, sometimes even prettier. And they frequently had more interesting roles, the bitch, the tart, the victim.

Barry Gifford once remarked that when you see a musical with all those young gorgeous girl dancers you have to wonder what became of them. The majority probably became housewives; more than a few probably took to the streets as parts became harder and harder to come by; and a lucky handful became the wives of powerful Hwood men.

I've been watching a lot of silent films of TCM and the same impulse grabs me then, too. Who were they? What happened to them? Did they know they'd become immortal? A full century later I sit in our family room and watch them as--most likely anyway--another century from now people will still be watching them. This is probably heresy of sorts but to me film immortality is far more imposing than literary immortality.

Sergio Angelini, BLACKMAILER, George Axelrod
Brian Busby, THE LONG NOVEMBER, James Nablo
Bill Crider, SAD WIND FROM THE SEA, Harry Patterson
Martin Edwards, FATALITY IN FLEET STREET, Christopher St. John Sprigg
Curt Evans, MURDER IN 913 and MURDER OBLIQUELY, Cornell Woolrich
Ray Garraty, DARK TIMES IN THE CITY, Gene Kerrigan
Randy Johnson, BRAGG'S HUNCH, Jack Lynch
Nick Jones, OUT ON THE RIM, Ross Thomas
George Kelley, NEXT OF KIN, Eric Frank Russell
B.V. Lawson, WOMAN OF MYSTERY, Maurice LeBlanc
Evan Lewis, THE BRAVOS, Brian Wynne Garfield
Steve Lewis/Bill Pronzini, THE FOX VALLEY MURDERS, John Holbrrok Vance
Neer, BLACK PLUMES, Margery Allingham
J.F. Norris, POLICELAN"S HOLIDAY, Rupert Penny
Juri Nummelin, MURDER FORESTALLED, Peter Chester
James Reasoner, RED, Jack Ketchum
Richard Robinson - guest post by Art Scott, ASK A POLICEMANThe Detection Club.
Gerard Saylor, BLACK ORCHID
Ron Scheer, THE BETTER MAN, Arthur Henry Paterson
Kerrie Smith, CHILDREN OF  THE WIND, Kate Wilhelm
Kevin Tipple, Patrick Ohl, THE JULIUS CAESAR MURDERS, Wallace Irwin
Prashant Trikannad, HELL IS TOO CROWDED, Jack Higgins
James Winter, SHOTGUN and JIGSAW, Ed McBain

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Your Favorite Robert Mitchum Movie

Robert Mitchum has the amazing ability to play all sorts of roles while still maintaining his Mitchumness. This is one of my favorites. He lets Jean Simmons take on the evil role and yet we never quite believe he is her dupe. Love it. 

What is your favorite Mitchum part? 

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Great Movie Themes: THE GREAT ESCAPE

What Man Does a Good Job Writing a Female Protagonist?

Few men attempt to suss women in their novels. Just how much do we understand about Daisy in THE GREAT GATSBY, for instance. Very little. The bomb-toting daughter in Roth's AMERICAN PASTORAL is largely a mystery to us. Many prominent writers have never written a fully fleshed out woman.

Stewart O'Nan does a fine job in EMILY, ALONE. Likewise Evan S. Connel does a fantastic job with MRS. BRIDGE.

How about some male crime writers that succeed here? Who writes women well?

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Tuesday Night Music: Clyde McPhatter


And the trailer tells you all you need to know.

Directed by Lalle Hallstrom, starring Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Juliette Lewis and perhaps none of them ever topped their performance in this film. Based on a novel by Peter Hedges, it manages to be both sad and joyful in equal terms. The quintessential Hallstrom movie.

Monday, October 07, 2013


What TV Show Should I Be Watching?

It is almost impossible to keep up with the hundreds of TV shows on right now. I just learned
that a US version of BEING HUMAN is on Sy Fy. What am I missing? Anyone found anytbing I shoud try out?

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Saturday Night Music; Billy Joel

What Ingredients do you hope for in a crime novel?

I am always surprised at how we all share a love of mysteries or crime fiction and yet what we hope to find between the covers is very different beyond the notion of a "crime."

If you had to name 3-5 elements you expect to find in a book beyond some crime, what would they be? For me...

1) sparkling prose
2) complex and very well -defined characters
3) a sense of place
4) originality

Now I am betting these would not be everyone's top elements and perhaps it is because I came to this from reading and writing mostly novels without a crime.

Here is what I don't like or care about so much

1. I don't particularly care about whodunnit although I'd like to understand why.
2. I don't need a lot of action. In fact, action generally puts me off in a novel. The pacing can be quite slow. I don't mind a lot of detail.
3. I hate following a detective around while he interviews suspects. This is the main reason I have stopped watching Masterpiece Mystery. Every series seems scripted by the same writers. I like detective stories, just not ones where this is the main plot device.
4. don't want the same plug- in story format. In other words, if the story is laid out much the same way all the other stories the writer has written is laid out, I am put off
5. serial killers or child murderers
6. too many POVs. I am very happy with one, in fact. 


Friday, October 04, 2013

How 'Bout a Car Chase: ROCKFORD FILES

My review of PRISONERS is right here on Crimespree Magazine.

Friday's Forgotten Books, Friday, October 4, 2013

 Lemons Never Lie by Richard Stark

There are so many twists, turns, starts and stops in Lemons Never Lie by Donald E. Westlake as Richard Stark that the novel becomes a kind of a crime picaresque filled with mugs, thugs, killers, victims and Parker's redoutable thespian friend, Alan Grofiled. There's also a lot of notably brutal violence.

The book begins with Grofield visiting Vegas to partake of a robbery that will give him the money to survive one more season in his summer theater. Grofield, in case you didn't know, is a "purist" when it comes to acting, his chosen profession. No movies or television for him. Stage only. But it takes his other profession, robbery, to support his theater. Only his long-supportive wife understands how hard he works at both careers.

A man named Myers has set up a robbery plan and has called in amateurs to help him. With the exception of a man named Caithcart and a dangerous man named Dan Leach, the group is a zero. As is Myers. Now Myers, who speaks with a boarding school accent, is one of the great villains in Westlake's world. He is a true sociopathic murderer; a serial killer of a kind. Grofield and Leach decide against working with him.

This is the set-up. There's an early twist that lets us know just how nasty Myers is. And then the various adventures start. Grofield resembles his friend (and fellow robber) Parker only occasionally. For instance, he loves chit-chat, feels sorry even for a guy who tries to kill him and lets another live that (as reader) you know should be killed on the spot, slowly and joyously.

There's also a lot of witty humor. Grofield gets into the damnedest conversations with people. Once in a while you may even forget you're reading a crime novel. Westlake has a great time riffing on all the cliche exchanges you read in most crime fiction. At a couple of point Grofield starts sounding like a TV shrink.

Lemons Never Lie is Westlake at his very best. While there's a screwball comedy-feel to some of the misadventures, the unrelenting violence reminds readers that the Richard Stark is the master of the hardboiled. The masterful plotting, the wry way the genre cliches are turned inside out, and the earnestness and humanity of Alan Grofield make this a pleasure from page one to the unexpected ending

Ed Gorman is the author of the Dev Conrad series of mysteries. The newest one FLASHPOINT.

A Lost Lady, Willa Cather

I love all of Willa Cather's books, but this is my favorite. It is short enough to read in an hour or two but deep enough to stay with you forever. Like Wharton's HOUSE OF MIRTH, this is a story of a woman who is simply unable to survive on her own in the world and makes poor decisions because of that.

When our protagonist meets Marion Forrester, she is years younger than her prominent husband. They live in Sweet Water, a town expected to thrive due to the railway. A young neighbor, Niel Herbert, become infatuated with her and she allows his infatuation. But before very long, the fate of Mrs. Forrester turns sour and young Niel is simply too inexperienced to see her clearly and believes the worst of her. Because he never understood her situation, he is unsypathetic to her fall from grace. Years later, he is finally able to understand her.

A beautifully written book and portrait of a complex character.

Bill Crider, Hell's Cartographers, Harry Harrison and Brian W. Aldis
Martin Edwards, CICELY DISAPPEARS, A Monmouth Platts
Curt Evans, HIDE MY EYES, Marjorie Allingham
Randy Johnson, HIDDEN BLOOD, W.C. Tuttle
Nick Jones, RED STORM RISING, Tom Clancey
Margot Kinberg, OUT OF THE SILENCE, Wendy James
Evan Lewis, DARK HEART OF TIME, Philip Jose Farmer
Steve Lewis/Frances Nevins, EIGHT FACES AT THREE, Craig Rice
Ed Lynskey, DR.NO,, Ian Fleming
Todd Mason
Neer, STAR TREK: PRIME DIRECTIVE, Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens
J. Kingston Pierce, ALISTAIR MACLEAN
Graham Powell, RUMPOLE OF THE BAILEY, John Mortimer
James Reasoner, SIN IN THEIR BLOOD, Ed Lacy
Ron Scheer, GUNSIGHTS, Elmore Leonard
Kerrie Smith, MISS MARPLE SHORT STORIES, Agatha Christie; MASTER OF THE MOOR, Ruth Rendell
Kevin Tipple, PARIAH, Dave Zeltersman
TomCat, SHE DIED A LADY, Carter Dickson (John Dickson Carr)
Prashant Trikannad, SOMEONE IS KILLING THE GREAT CHEFS OF EUROPE, Nan and Ivan Lyons
James Winter, ROSE MADDER, Stephen King
Zybahn, A SEPARATE PEACE, John Knowles

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Theme Music: Dragnet

First Wednesday Book Review: BREWSTER, Mark Slouka

Mark Slouka's BREWSTER takes place in the blue-collar town of Brewster, NY in 1968. But as he makes a point of saying in a wonderful interview with Edward Champion on the BAT SEGUNDO podcast, 1968 was very different for blue-collar teenagers in a blue-collar town than for those slightly older at that time and of more means. Only gradually does the outer world work its way into the story of four kids in upstate New York.

Its the inner world that Slouka is concerned with here anyway. It's the past not the present that has a enormous affect on these lives.

Jon Mosher has always felt like an outsider in his town because of his parents’ roots as German-Jewish émigrés and the accidental death of his older brother. The death of his brother has destroyed his family and especially his mother, who like the mother in ORDINARY PEOPLE seems to hold him responsible for being the one who survived. Spending your life dodging your mother's distain for you takes its toll.

He begins to run track on his high-school team and becomes friends with Frank Krapinski, a Christian and talented athlete; volatile Ray Cappiciano, who comes to school bearing the bruises of constant fistfights; and Karen Dorsey, who falls for Ray.

Ray’s alcoholic father, a WWII veteran possessed of a raging temper takes an interest in Jon. And Jon's damaged mother has a fondness for Ray, confounding both boys.

The four teens bond in their desire to leave their damaged lives and working class town behind. It is only gradually they see that you can never leave the past behind. This book is especially about the solace, the support, and the gift of friendship and loyalty among teens who feel they are powerless.

This was a hard book to read in many ways and it is certainly more noir than more books touted as noir.  But every moment felt real. Highly recommended. 

For more book reviews, see Barrie Summy.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Tuesday Night Music: WILD HORSES


From Wikipedia

I LED THREE LIVES was loosely based on the life of Herbert Philbrick, a Boston advertising executive who infiltrated the U.S. Communist Party on behalf of the FBI in the 1940s and wrote a bestselling book on the topic, I Led Three Lives: Citizen, 'Communist', Counterspy (1952). The part of Philbrick was played by Richard Carlson.
I Led Three Lives lasted 117 episodes. Philbrick narrated each episode and served as a technical consultant — and all scripts were approved by J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI. Nonetheless, the episodes often had very little to do with the actual events of Philbrick's life, with plotlines taking Philbrick on journeys to Europe and South America. They gradually became more and more outlandish, featuring such supposed "Communist plots" as an attempt to convert vacuum cleaners into bomb launchers.

ILTL was on from 1953-56 and I barely remember it. I do remember that a nest of Communists was routed out of the house behind me when I was a child. The people who bought the house next became friends and it was fun to go down to their basement and see the knotty pine paneling, the bar, the furniture where these blackhearts had conducted their business. It was scary much as the show. 

THE AMERICANS has a bit of the feel of it, but of course, hindsight makes it much less shrill than it was when the red menace was part of our life. Any kid from the era remembers the world maps where the Communist bloc was all in red, and seemingly growing bigger every day.