DELL SHANNON – Mark of Murder. William Moorow, hardcover, 1966. Paperback reprints include: Pyramid X1973, 1969; Warner, 1986; Carroll & Graf, 1994.
When she wrote Mark of Murder, Elizabeth Linington was not as political as she was to become, and so it is one of the better books in the Lieutenant Luis Mendoza series, [written] under her Dell Shannon pseudonym, of course.
One of the things I liked about this book is its picture of Mendoza on vacation in Bermuda, totally bored and feeling undressed because he is not wearing a tie. Fortunately for him (and us) there is an emergency, and he is asked to return home. A serial killer, dubbed “the slasher,” is plaguing Los Angeles, and Mendoza is needed on the case.
Because there are not as many separate cases in this book as usual, the reader can get more involved without the diffuse quality of other Liningtons which present a half dozen or more crimes. This book is also noteworthy for one of Linington’s best features, the ability to make her readers care about the victims and survivors.
MARGOT NEVILLE – Murder of a Nymph. Doubleday Crime Club, US, hardcover 1950. Detective Book Club, hardcover reprint [3-in-1 volume]. Pocket #829, paperback, 1951. First published in the UK by Geoffrey Bles, hardcover, 1949.
Another young woman, no better than she should be, bites the dust. And here it’s Australian dust, in, of all places, Come-Hither Bend. Apparently the young woman’s, for want of a better word, friends and relatives at that oddly named place, including her betrothed, were not too fond of her. When she gets off the bus to spend the weekend there, someone beats her about the head and pushes her off a cliff.
Since everyone had problems with Enone — thus one reason for the nymph — coverup is the name of the game. Detective Inspector Grogan knows this but has difficulty penetrating what each person is trying to conceal. When another murder occurs through the stupidity of one of the characters, all begins to come clear.
It took me five attempts to finish this book. Grogan appealed, but the rest of the characters left me cold or slightly nauseated. While she writes well, Neville doesn’t provide the wit or lightness that I particularly enjoy. Maybe if I’d read it in sunlight and warmth –
Bio-Bibliographic Data: Margot Nevile was the joint pen name of Margot Goyder (1896-1975) and Anne Neville Goyder Joske (1887-1966). Most but not all of their criminous output consists of the Inspector Grogan series. All were published by Geoffrey Bles in the UK; those marked with an asterisk (*) were never published in the US:
The Inspector Grogan series —
Murder in Rockwater. 1944. US title: Lena Hates Men.
Murder and Gardenias. 1946. (*)
Murder in a Blue Moon. 1948.
Murder of a Nymph. 1949.
Murder Before Marriage. 1951.
The Seagull Said Murder. 1952. (*)
Murder of the Well-Beloved. 1953.
Murder and Poor Jenny. 1954. (*)
Murder of Olympia. 1956. (*)
Murder to Welcome Her. 1957. (*)
The Flame of Murder. 1958. (*)
Sweet Night for Murder. 1959. (*)
Confession of Murder. 1960. (*)
Murder Beyond the Pale. 1961. (*)
Drop Dead. 1962. (*)
Come See Me Die. 1963. (*)
My Bad Boy. 1964. (*)
Ladies in the Dark. 1965. (*)
Head on the Sill. 1966. (*)
Among these problems: Fleming was near the end of his life, trying to recover from a heart attack. In the recollections of the U.N.C.L.E. creative team included [as “extras” in a 2008 complete series DVD release of the show], Fleming was difficult to corner for specific materials. In one remembrance included in the DVD set, Fleming is described as only wanting to walk around New York City (part of his physical recovery program) and talk endlessly about his own life and experiences. While fun, it didn’t accomplish a lot of solid work.(Right) A 1966 Man from U.N.C.L.E. metal lunch box
What’s fascinating about these U.N.C.L.E. crew memories is the way they depict an Ian Fleming obviously weaving together important strands of his own life’s reflections.
One bit of Fleming’s “weaving” got him into serious trouble. He played a role in naming the lead character “Napoleon Solo” and thought the entire series should revolve around him. Unfortunately, just before Christmas 1964, the movie Goldfinger was due to be released in the U.S. and the TV producers of U.N.C.L.E. discovered that “Solo” also was the name of an American mob boss who joins forces with [conniving gold magnate Auric] Goldfinger. This Solo is not only an evil fellow, but he meets an evil end at the hands of Oddjob--crushed inside a car. …
The TV producers were horrified. The whole thing became entangled in a lawsuit. The series name was changed to The Man from U.N.C.L.E. And Ian Fleming quickly retreated from working with the TV team, signing away any creative ideas he had shared with them. Sadly, by August 12, 1964, Fleming was dead.
The reviewers did not know quite what to make of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. The reviewer for TV Guide had apparently viewed the pilot and “The Double Affair,” and hated the show … He criticized both the writing and the casting. After this first review, TV Guide received many letters stating that he had missed the point, including a letter from a nine-year-old fan of the show stating, “I think you are a T.H.R.U.S.H. member trying to kill everyone who works on U.N.C.L.E. I also think you are trying to kill me by writing those boring articles for TV Guide.” The letter was from David Rolfe, Sam Rolfe’s son.(T.H.R.U.S.H. was, of course, U.N.C.L.E.’s world-conquering adversary, a body that, as Napoleon Solo once declares, “believes in the two-party system--the masters and the slaves.”)
Have you seen it yet?
Here’s the scoop— A Walk Among the Tombstones, starring Liam Neeson, written and directed by Scott Frank, and based on the tenth Matthew Scudder novel, opened Friday, September 19, throughout the US and UK and most of the world. (But some of y’all have to wait a while. The opening’s set for mid-October in Australia and Taiwan—which seems odd, doesn’t it? You folks get daybreak twelve hours before we do, but you have to wait an extra month for a movie. Well, the opening in Germany’s not until November, so go figure.)
Lynne and I saw AWATT Wednesday at a special screening, and here we are in a photo with an unidentified stranger. (The stranger’s latest venture, Celebrity Name Game, premieres this evening on a TV channel near you.) All three of us loved the film unreservedly, as did the rest of the audience and most of the critics. And so did a great many of you, as I’ve been assured by a tidal wave of emails and tweets and Facebook posts. It’s a genuine rarity these days, a suspense thriller made by and for actual grown-ups, with a solid script and wonderful actors and a cinematographic vision of New York City that manages to be down-and-dirty and, at the same time, genuinely beautiful. Liam just plain IS Matt Scudder, and embodies the character even more perfectly than I knew he would. What a treat!
I’m very likely preaching to the choir here, as most of you have either already seen AWATT or placed it high on your To-Do list. Either way, I have a couple of suggestions. If you’ve seen the movie, and if you loved it, please spread the word. Word of mouth is what makes the difference, and I hope you’ll enlist your mouth in the cause. Tweet, post, blog, send emails—and, if you’re sufficiently retro to have actual conversations with folks, on the phone or even (shudder) in person, well, you know what to tell them, loud and clear.
And if you’re planning to go see AWATT, sooner is better than later.
Why? Well, you’ll be shocked to learn that I have an agenda here…but it’s one I hope you share. See, if enough people buy enough tickets soon enough, the Powers That Be will greenlight a sequel and we’ll all get to do this again. Scott would love to write and direct another one, and Liam would welcome a return engagement as Matt, and you can probably figure out that I’m on board. So if you’d like to see a sequel—well, enough already. You get the point.
Moments before they lowered the house lights Wednesday night, an email informed me that Hard Case Crime’s mass-market edition had just landed on the New York Times Best Seller List; it will debut there this Sunday, September 27, in the #19 slot. That means a whole host of sales in airports and supermarkets, but it’s becoming clear that the paperback’s also a strong seller online. (And, while we’re not able to offer this edition in LB’s eBay Bookstore, David’s got a good supply of autographed copies of our Trade Paperback edition @ $14.99.)
Now on to other matters. I know I’ve tipped you to Defender of the Innocent, the 12-story Ehrengraf collection coming September 30 from Subterranean Press. You can pre-order it now—and I’d recommend doing so, as the publisher routinely sells out his entire printing, and prices tend to climb on the aftermarket. I self-published the book in audio, with the little lawyer expertly voiced by Don Sobczak, and you don’t have to wait until the end of the month to download it; it’s available right this minute at Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.
Emily Beresford voiced our audiobook of Jill Emerson’s erotic novel in diary form, Thirty; it’s been getting a good reception from listeners and reviewers. She’s just finished narrating Jill’s first book, a sensitive novel of the lesbian experience with the unfortunate title of Warm and Willing. “Beautifully written as usual,” Emily messaged me. “I really loved this story. You write so believably from a woman’s perspective, more so than many women authors I have read.” I’ll let you know when Warm and Willing goes on sale; I can let you know now that Emily’s on board to narrate Jill’s second novel, Enough of Sorrow. (And the title, from a Mary Carolyn Davies poem, is a whole lot better than Warm and Willing.)
My friend Brian Koppelman, best known as a screenwriter and director, does a weekly podcast called The Moment on Grantland.com, and I sat down with him recently for an hour of conversation, most of it about Matthew Scudder. (Brian’s a big fan of the books, and wrote a lyrical appreciation for The Night and the Music.) The podcast goes live sometime tomorrow (Tuesday, 9/23); if you get there ahead of time, his chat with Gilbert Gottfried is a killer. As if he hasn’t got enough to keep him busy, Brian made time to write a story for an anthology I’m editing, and it’s a honey, set in a Kazakh-run NYC barber shop. I’ll tell you all about that project a little later on.)
And that would be enough for now, but I have to keep David happy by mentioning a couple of items in LB’s eBay Bookstore. Actually, I’ll let him do the mentioning:
Okay, sure. Step by Step, LB’s racewalking memoir, price xxxed to $9.99. Tanner’s Tiger, Subterranean hard cover, way too cheap at $9.99. The Mundis book on breaking writer’s block, don’t recall the title, price reduced to $4.99, or a 10-copy lot for $29.99 postpaid. Grab bag lot of 8 Burglar paperbacks, six lots left and then forget about it, $49.99 postpaid. And I’ll be adding titles if we can get the new scanner to work. That okay? You can edit it, fix it up nice.
I suppose I could, but I think I’ll leave it as it is. It’s got its own crude charm, and gives the folks out there an idea of what I have to put up with.
PS: As always, please feel free to forward this to anyone you think might find it of interest. And, if you’ve received the newsletter in that fashion from a friend and would like your own subscription, that’s easily arranged; a blank email to email@example.com with Newsletter in the subject line will get the job done.