Hang Dead Hawaiian Style by Patrick Morgan

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Sep 232014
A free-form secret agent does his own thing
And the spy game makes a whole new scene

Operation Hang Ten

With a simple purchase of a microdot filled with Red Chinese weapon technology, the true identity of the troublemaker is not known. It could be the Chinese, the Soviets, or a simple robbery. Bill Cartwright is sent to Hawaii to get the microdot. When an innocent girl is killed, it turns very personal.

Printing History
Written by Patrick Morgan 

Macfadden-Bartell Corp
 Posted by at 4:23 pm
Sep 232014
Checking something else from the Fictionmags Index, I noticed this entry:

VIDOR, KING (chron.)
Southern Storm, (ss) Esquire May 1935
The Texas Rangers, (ms) Texas Rangers Dec 1936

Now, can this be the famous film director of Fountainhead, Ruby Gentry, War and Peace and other films?

Forgotten Movies: THE SNOW GOOSE

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Sep 232014

Watching CALL THE MIDWIVES for the first tine, it took me a few minute to remember Jenny Agutter, who plays a nun, in her youth. She is incandescent in the series and so she was forty years ago.

It was, of course, on HALLMARK that I saw it. When you look at the list of movies or series they put out in the past, it is remarkable. Nowadays they seem to rely on romances. 

THE SNOW GOOSE was a story, based on a folk tale, written by Paul Gallico and published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1940. It won the O'Henry Award that year. 

Sep 232014
by Marv Lachman

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.

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 8, No. 5, Sept-Oct 1986.

 Posted by at 2:35 am
Sep 232014
William F. Deeck

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 –

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 11, No. 3, Summer 1989.

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. (*)

 Posted by at 1:24 am
Sep 232014

Opening title sequence from the seventh episode of U.N.C.L.E.'s first season, “The Giuoco Piano Affair” (November 10, 1964), featuring Jerry Goldsmith's original theme.

On September 22, 1964--precisely 50 years ago today--NBC-TV introduced a new weekly spy-adventure series titled The Man from U.N.C.L.E. It starred Robert Vaughn as American Napoleon Solo and David McCallum as his Russian partner, Illya Kuryakin, who made up a troubleshooting team in the employ of an international espionage agency known by the acronym U.N.C.L.E. (United Network Command for Law and Enforcement). Veteran English actor Leo G. Carroll played their organization’s head, Alexander Waverly. By the time this program went off the air on January 15, 1968, 105 episodes had been broadcast (in both black-and-white and, later, color). U.N.C.L.E. would win the 1966 Golden Globe Award for Best TV Show (and be nominated for a stack of Emmy Awards), spin off another short-lived serial (Stefanie Powers’ The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.) as well as a succession of feature films, and generate associated merchandise such as children’s lunch boxes, board games, toy weapons, and tie-in novels. In addition, the series would become an enduring pop-culture reference point. For instance, as Wikipedia notes, the Promenade directory on the 1990s TV series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine listed “Del Floria’s Tailor Shop” among its offerings, recalling one of the secret entrances to U.N.C.L.E.’s New York City headquarters.

Although Sam Rolfe and Norman Felton are credited as the show’s co-creators, British naval intelligence agent-turned-author Ian Fleming--yes, the man who gave us James Bond--also had a hand in its conception. In fact, Ian Fleming’s Solo was originally bandied about as the show’s title. But a Web site called Read the Spirit synopsizes the “unforeseen problems … that doomed the plan to personally involve Fleming in the series.
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.

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.
(Right) A 1966 Man from U.N.C.L.E. metal lunch box

Other obstacles faced the series in its debut year. “Airing on Tuesday nights,” The HMSS Weblog recalls, “it was up against The Red Skeleton Show on CBS, which nearly led to cancellation before a mid-season switch to Monday nights.” Furthermore, critics offered mixed opinions of the show. In 1987’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Book: The Behind-the-Scenes Story of a Television Classic, Jon Heitland explains:
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.”)

Fortunately, NBC did not give up on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. simply because a few columnists panned it. Ed Tracey of The Daily Kos remembers that the show went on to receive “critical success in its first season (1964-1965), and during its second season (1965-1966, which is when I started watching) briefly reached #1 in the ratings (ahead of Bonanza, Bewitched, and The Dick Van Dyke Show) with a 50-share rating: unbelievable in this 500-channel era. And its second season theme music was scored by Lalo Schifrin, the best version during the life of the show, in my opinion.”

By Season 2 Rolfe had left as the program’s producer, and U.N.C.L.E. took on a more tongue-in-cheek tone. Viewers seemed to respond well to that change. So did humorists. As Heitland writes, “The final indicator of the success of the series was the number of times The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was parodied. Napoleon Solo, Illya Kuryakin, and U.N.C.L.E. became household words. The title lent itself readily to parody, and thus very early on Mad magazine ran its spoof of the show, titled ‘The Man from A.U.N.T.I.E.’ … The best U.N.C.L.E. parody, however, occurred on the ‘Say Uncle’ episode of Please Don’t Eat the Daisies. The episode features cameo appearances by both Vaughn and McCallum, and the story concerned the children mistaking their father for a secret agent. The episode featured a tailor shop (although Felton declined to allow the use of Del Floria’s, to preserve the mystique--B&C Tailor shop, another set seen in [1966’s] “The Dippy Blonde Affair” was used instead) and the U.N.C.L.E. theme music, and the twin children even wore U.N.C.L.E. sweatshirts.”

A short but dramatic clip from this series’ pilot, “The Vulcan Affair,” guest starring Patricia Crowley.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. unquestionably benefited from its association (no matter how troubled) with Fleming and the concurrent box-office success of the Bond films (three of which were brought to the silver screen during U.N.C.L.E.’s four-season run). It also profited from its pair of telegenic leads, its often outlandish gadgetry, its quirky plots, its throng of alluring female guest stars, and its era’s real-life news about Cold War tensions and global surveillance tactics. However, by 1966 the U.S. TV schedule was thick with agents of intrigue (in such dramas as Blue Light, Amos Burke--Secret Agent, The Baron, and I Spy), all hoping to win over the same audience U.N.C.L.E. had worked to build. Combined with U.N.C.L.E.’s increasing shift toward campiness and self-parody--allegedly, the result of its effort to duplicate the success then being enjoyed by a new ABC series, Batman--The Man from U.N.C.L.E. suffered a ratings drop from which it couldn’t recover, even by restoring some of its seriousness. The show was axed midway through its fourth season.

By then, though, U.N.C.L.E. had already earned itself a prominent place in the history of American television.

A reunion movie, The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Fifteen Years Later Affair--in which Vaughn and McCallum reprised their familiar roles--was shown on CBS-TV in April 1983. (You can watch a preview here.) A new theatrical film based on the series, starring Armie Hammer, Henry Cavill, and Hugh Grant, is scheduled for release in August 2015. And this coming weekend, September 26 and 27, will bring to Los Angeles a 50th anniversary celebration of U.N.C.L.E.’s 1964 TV premiere, open to only 100 fans hoping to “gather and share their memories and their love of this classic series.”

Clearly, U.N.C.L.E. touched a nerve--and continues to do so.

READ MORE: The Fans from U.N.C.L.E.
Sep 232014

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.)

craiglynnemoiLynne 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 awatt-tie-in 2this 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 AudioCover2_Block_DefenderInnocentthe 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 lawbloc@gmail.com with Newsletter in the subject line will get the job done.

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Twitter:  @LawrenceBlock

 Posted by at 1:01 am
Sep 222014
As many of you probably know, pulp writer Charles Beckman who specialized in hardboiled and noir crime stories and wrote also for the western market has been seeing a revival of his work getting into print. (Here and here Amazon links for the new collections of his old stories.) Beckman is still alive and I was able to ask him via James Reasoner if I could a small collection of his work that's been translated in Finnish.

The collection would be with two stories. There's an old story in an old Finnish pulp magazine called Seikkailujen Maailma (The World of Adventures), and then there's a called story "Class Reunion" that was translated by my friend, Tapani Bagge, that appeared in a late crime fiction magazine called RikosPalat (Crime Bits or some such in English). Beckman gave me his permission. (There are also some three or four stories in the old issues of the Finnish edition of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, but I don't have an easy access as to who translated them and where I could find them for a permission.)

After I'd typed "Class Reunion" I started typing the other story from the 1955 pulp mag. The Finnish title is "Tanssiva kuolema", which translates back as "The Dancing Death". The anti-hero of the story is one "Kippy Nikkeli" (I believe the name's been changed), who's on the run from some organized crime thugs, one of whom is called Pope (probably so, since his name is translated as "Paavi", which is the literal translation of "Pope"). In the beginning of the story Kippy finds himself in a junky joint trying to have a hamburger. It seems he hears voices in his head, and he also reminiscences another joint where he used to dance. He's also involving with Pope's mistress falling in love with another man. It's a moody noir-type piece where there no winners, only losers.

Now, there are several problems. Beckman himself didn't remember the story, nor did he find it in the pulp magazines he still has from his writing days. The story is not "Run, Cat, Run" that was reprinted in Beckman's Suspense, Suspicion & Shockers, nor is it "Should a Tear be Shed" in the same book, even though they share some similarities.

Googling the story's name with "Charles Beckman" doesn't give any clues. I don't have access to the crime fiction short story indices and I could check only the Fictionmags Index. There are some stories with the title "The Dancing Death", but none that match. Some of the stories listed therein did appear in a pulp magazine, but they seem to be a bit old or too long, i.e. serials. The story that I have at hand is more like a filler, even though it's a good story.

But there's a story called "Die Dancing, Kid" from Detective Tales, January 1947, and by Charles Beckman. Now, the publisher of Seikkailujen Maailma used lots of stories from the Popular Publications' magazines, such as Dime Detective and Detective Tales (and also Dime Mystery). I asked Beckman again if this could be our story. He said he doesn't remember writing that story and doesn't have a copy.

Now, does anyone have the issue of Detective Tales, January 1947, and can check the story out for me?

The photo accompanying this post is the illustration for the Finnish publication. For all I know, it could be the original illustration for Beckman's story.

Revisiting the Roosevelts

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Sep 222014
I’m still feeling a pleasant information hangover after watching all 14 hours of Ken Burns’ latest documentary film, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, which was broadcast on PBS-TV over the last week. Although some other viewers might have found that seven-day immersion in America’s political past rather daunting, I have to tell you: I could happily spend every day of every week learning more about human history, and probably never get my fill.

Should you crave a bit more time in the company of Theodore Roosevelt--if only through the pages of fiction--you might want to check back on a piece I wrote for Kirkus Reviews about the 26th president’s participation in recent mystery and thriller novels. Previously, in a wrap-up of fictional works featuring John F. Kennedy, I mentioned two that place FDR in a supporting role. Beginning in the 1980s (and with the writing support of William Harrington), the 32nd president’s son Elliott produced a most entertaining series of mysteries in which his mother, the highly capable Eleanor, interrupts her duties as first lady in order to investigate misdeeds of one sort or another. And click here to revisit a post I wrote for The Rap Sheet about a 1936 film based on a mystery-story concept by FDR.

Those three real-life Roosevels were so full of personality and so important to the development of the United States, I can only assume we’ll see more of them in future fiction. Let’s hope we do.