Well, not everything’s free, but that’s where we’ll start. Not long ago I made the first Ehrengraf story, The Ehrengraf Defense, available free on Kindle. During the several days the offer ran, some 1500 of you picked it up—and enough of you went on to buy the complete collection, Ehrengraf For the Defense, for me to decide to Do It Again.
Hence the second story, The Ehrengraf Presumption. It’s free for several days, starting at 3am Eastern time, Friday July 6. Just click the link, then click the button, then boot up your Kindle and start reading. Kindlers outside the US can use these links for the UK, France, Germany, Italy, or Spain.
If you see where all this is going, you might want to speed things up by splurging $4.99 for Ehrengraf For the Defense. But if you just take it a story at a time, perhaps your patience will be rewarded and you’ll be able to get them all for free.
Our LB’s Bookstore page got a full remake; David pointed out that it was unwieldy, and impossible to keep up, so he erased all the endless lists and is just posting when he’s got something to report. He had something yesterday and something more today, including some additions to the store stock and some policy changes resulting from eBay’s upgrading the store’s status. Here’s part of his post:
“One perk is a discount in the fees they charge us, provided we reduce our posted handling time from 3 business days to 1, and maintain a 14-day return policy. We already had the return policy on everything but audiobooks, but we’ve now extended it to include them as well. And, since we’ve filled all orders within a day of receipt, we were happy to embrace that policy as well. So now it’s official: we’ll ship your order right away, and we’ll accept returns…”
I hate to quote the lad at great length. He’ll want royalties. Just click here and read the rest on the Bookstore page. And you might want to take his advice and check out some of the new listings, esp. Ronald Rabbit, an extraordinary example of small-press publishing. Here, because I just can’t help myself, is one of the covers:
He’s also added audiobooks. Previously we just listed those on CD, but now we’ve added around twenty unabridged audiobooks on cassette, many of them long out of print and otherwise unavailable. If cassettes work for you, there are some gems to be found here, and the price is right.
If you ordered the Subterranean Press / Hard Case Crime double volume of Strange Embrace and 69 Barrow Street, your copy’s probably arrived by now. If not, I expect you’ll be getting it shortly. I won’t be offering these for sale, at least not for the near future, so signed copies will be hard to come by. I did drop in to sign for the Mysterious Bookshop; if they have any left, a call to (800) 352-2840 will get you one. I’m also signing tip-in sheets for John Hutchinson of VJ Books, and an email to firstname.lastname@example.org will get you details on price and availability.
If you just want to read the books, well, that’s easy. Open Road’s bringing them out July 17 as individual eBooks, and you can pre-order to spare yourself having to remember this. Strange Embrace and 69 Barrow Street list at $14.99 apiece, which seems high to me, but they’re discounted to $9.99, which doesn’t seem so bad. They’ll also be available for Nook, Kobo, Apple, and others as well, and you shouldn’t have trouble finding them.
Speaking of Open Road, they’ve got a lot going on and a good deal more on the horizon. They dropped prices on my three writing books (Writing the Novel From Plot to Print, The Liar’s Bible, and The Liar’s Companion) to $3.99, and then further reduced Writing the Novel all the way to $1.99. This last reduction is very short-term, and in fact when I first found out about it I thought it was a mistake. It’s intentional, but won’t be around long; they guarantee it only until July 10, although some retailers may not get around to boosting the price right away. If this is a book you can use, don’t wait; if you bought a ratty used paperback for 1¢, you’d pay more than $1.99 in shipping charges. Again, all the platforms have this deal; my links are to Amazon, but you can find all the writing books readily enough at B&N, Apple, Kobo, etc.
More about Open Road’s writing books, and the ones from HarperCollins as well, at A Few Words for Writers…
Open Road’s also planning a summer promotion for Jill Emerson. They’ve already reduced the seven Jill Emerson novels to $2.99 apiece, so you don’t have to wait. (You can find links on the About LB’s Fiction page, more information and a good photo show on Jill Emerson’s Page.) And they’ve got something planned the last week of July for Campus Tramp. (And did you know there was a vocal group called the Campus Tramps? News to me. Gosh, my mom would be so proud…)
from Hard Case Crime
The book was first published as Pads Are For Passion (Beacon, in the early sixties), but A Diet of Treacle (name snatched from Lewis Carroll) was Block's original title. This kind of information is something I'd really like Hard Case Crime would tell at their website. The book was first published under the Sheldon Lord by-line and I already started reading Sheldon Lord's Kept that was written also by Block. Seems pretty solid (sic) by the first 50 pages.
The latter was Dave Zeltserman's Bad Thoughts that was first published in hardcover by Five Star, but is now available as an e-book. Zeltserman sure knows how to spin a dark tale, as has been witnessed by his earlier books (of which I think Killer is the best - at least of those I've read). And boy oh boy, is Bad Thoughts dark! The killer in Bad Thoughts has a dubious gift of being able to work in the dreams of the people he wants to hurt and seems like there's no escape out of the situation. There are some moments that ask for the suspension of disbelief, but Zeltserman brings the thing to a well-balanced conclusion and does it with verve, through a simple-looking style that maintains the hardboiled noir style that's so familiar to Zeltserman's readers. In the hands of a mediocre serial killer writer, this would merely be a thriller. Now it's something else entirely.
Lawrence Block's hardcover Hard Case Crime outing Getting Off makes the same thing very differently. It tells about a young and attractive woman who kills men to revenge the abuse her father inflicted upon her and does it with great pleasure, first having sex with the men. Block pulls no punches in this tale that develops into a parody of serial killer novels. He turns the clichés upside down: there's nothing inherently bad in getting your joy out of killing people. The book's highly erotic at the same time and it's no wonder Block has used his early Jill Emerson pseudonym in this (though this is much seedier stuff than anything by "Jill Emerson"). There are some moments in the book that feel forced, as a couple of details in the lesbian romance, but I can see Block chuckling to himself while writing those scenes.
The books are very different in depicting the reasons for the thrill kill violence: Zeltserman says there's no reason, the guy was just born broken and it was a pity no one made anything to stop him, Block claims the abuse of the young girl made her what she is today. Seems like the Zeltserman explanation is more fashionable now, as the psychoanalytic-tinged theory of traumatized sexual behaviour has faded out of academic fashion.
Dave Zeltserman's Bad Thoughts has also the distinction of being the first e-book I've read. I loaded the free Kindle Reader on my portable and I've been snatching some free e-books whenever they've been available. As a reading experience I thought it was okay, but something I'd think should be done with the real device. But as of yet, I don't own one. As more and more interesting noir and hardboiled books are coming out only as e-books, getting a Kindle or a Nook or something similar seems something I need to do. Just too pity e-books are so expensive here in Finland.
I finally got around to reading the first book Hard Case Crime put out, Block's Grifter's Game that was originally published as Mona (Fawcett Gold Medal 1961). It really shows Block was a good writer even when he was very young (he was 23 when this was published, and I think this is his first, at least under his own name), the text is fluent and very readable. Block's dialogue is paced well and crispy. It's too bad there's so little of it in the middle parts - the narrative turns pretty much into the protagonist's monology. The protagonist is a con man in his late twenties. He's quite sympathetic, though he's a heel of the worst kind, seducing women to to live on their money for days or for months and then dropping them. There are no good people in the world of Grifter's Game, which, combined with the pretty nasty ending, makes this a worthwhile noir novel.
Next off I'll be reading Block's Getting Off and Lucky at Cards. Why? I'm working on an article for a Finnish journal about sex and sleaze paperbacks. And because it's about time I start reading Lawrence Block.