Feb 122015
 
Alberto Nisman and Argentina’s History of Assassinations and Suspicious Suicides:

Sebastian Rotella, a senior reporter for ProPublica, has written a sobering article about Argentina’s history of assassinations and “unexplained” suicides. Rotella’s also the author of The Convert’s Song, which counts Argentina among its many globe-trotting settings. The resonances between the two works are strong—and I’m a great believer that the best fiction can make sense of the truth.

Jan 282015
 

GirlNew York, NY; London, UK (January 27, 2015) – Lawrence Block, the acclaimed author of more than 100 novels including A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES (recently adapted as a feature film starring Liam Neeson), will publish a brand new novel in 2015 through Hard Case Crime, the award-winning line of vintage-style crime fiction from editor Charles Ardai and publisher Titan Books.  THE GIRL WITH THE DEEP BLUE EYES tells the story of a former New York police officer, now working as a private eye in Florida, who gets drawn into the web of a local wife who’s looking for a hit man to help her become a widow. Block has described the book as “a down-and-dirty noir thriller, characterized by my Hollywood agent as ‘James M. Cain on Viagra.’ ”

The novel, which will be published in hardcover in September 2015, is Block’s eleventh with Hard Case Crime. The previous ten include Hard Case Crime’s very first book, GRIFTER’S GAME; the erotic suspense novel GETTING OFF; the bestselling movie tie-in edition of A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES; and the classic noir con-man novel THE GIRL WITH THE LONG GREEN HEART. For more than a decade, Block has consistently been one of Hard Case Crime’s most popular authors, in addition to being perhaps the most highly decorated crime writer alive. Among many other honors, Block has won the Edgar Allan Poe Award multiple times and was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America, the organization’s highest recognition (previous Grand Masters have included Agatha Christie, Graham Greene, Alfred Hitchcock, Stephen King, and James M. Cain).

“Lawrence Block is, hands down, my favorite crime writer, and it is a privilege to publish his new novel,” said Charles Ardai. “This is a dark, violent, steamy, disturbing story about a pair of characters who will haunt you long after the book ends.”

 

About Hard Case Crime

Called “the best new American publisher to appear in the last decade” by Neal Pollack in The Stranger, Hard Case Crime has been nominated for and/or won numerous honors since its inception including the Edgar, the Shamus, the Anthony, the Barry, and the Spinetingler Award.  The series’ books have been adapted for television and film, with two features currently in development at Universal Pictures, a TV series based on Max Allan Collins’ Quarry novels in development by Cinemax, and the TV series Haven in its fifth season on SyFy.  Recent Hard Case Crime titles include Stephen King’s #1 New York Times bestseller, Joyland; James M. Cain’s lost final novel, The Cocktail Waitress; eight lost novels written by Michael Crichton under the pseudonym “John Lange”; and Brainquake, the final novel of writer/filmmaker Samuel Fuller. Hard Case Crime is published through a collaboration between Winterfall LLC and Titan Publishing Group. www.hardcasecrime.com

 

About Titan Publishing Group

Titan Publishing Group is an independently owned publishing company, established in 1981, comprising three divisions: Titan Books, Titan Magazines/Comics and Titan Merchandise.  Titan Books, nominated as Independent Publisher of the Year 2011, has a rapidly growing fiction list encompassing original fiction and reissues, primarily in the areas of science fiction, fantasy, horror, steampunk and crime. Recent crime and thriller acquisitions include Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins’ all-new Mike Hammer novels, the Matt Helm series by Donald Hamilton, and the entire backlist of the Queen of Spy Writers, Helen MacInnes.  Titan Books also has an extensive line of media- and pop culture-related non-fiction, graphic novels, and art and music books. The company is based at offices in London, but operates worldwide, with sales and distribution in the U.S. and Canada being handled by Random House.  www.titanbooks.com

 

Jan 272015
 

pulpBanner2014

While you’re anxiously awaiting the arrival of PulpFest 2015 in August, we’ll be profiling some of our sister conventions in the world of pulps. We’ll begin with what is hoped to be the first of many southern pulp cons.

On Saturday, February 21st, 2015, the annual one-day Pulp AdventureCon will convert the Universal Palms Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, FL, into a collector’s mecca of rare magazines, movie posters, vintage paperbacks, golden age comics and other pulp-paper memorabilia.

The fifteen-year-old collectors’ event, with a $5 admission, has migrated with its sponsors from New Jersey and added this Florida show to the pulp con schedule. Until now, collectors had to travel to the Midwest for pulp-related events in Columbus and Chicago. Now, like a pair of bookends, the pulp show season will start with AdventureCon in Florida and end with AdventureCon on Nov. 7 in New Jersey.

“In their heyday, before television, comics or graphic novels existed, characters like The Shadow, Tarzan, and Zorro prospered in the pulps,” said show promoter Rich Harvey of Sunrise, Florida. “Authors like Erle Stanley Gardner and Edgar Rice Burroughs started their careers in these rough-edged old magazines, before moving into books and the lucrative Hollywood realm.”

Most superheroes, from Superman to X-Men are rooted in the old magazines. Captain Future appears weekly on a background poster in the situation comedy The Big Bang Theory. Writers like Dashiell Hammett, L. Ron Hubbard and Ray Bradbury filled the pulps with inexpensive entertainment in a world before the Internet and television. Western writers Max Brand and Zane Grey also wrote for the pulps.

Of special note to pulp magazine collectors, 2015 marks the 125th anniversary of pulp author H. P. Lovecraft, known for such terrors as “The Call of Cthulu” and “At the Mountains of Madness.” The Rhode Island-based author was a visitor to the Central Florida area, long before Disney cleared out the swamps.

Pulp AdventureCon will be held Saturday, February 21, 2015 at the Universal Palms Hotel, 4900 N. Powerline Road , Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309. The show runs from 10AM to 5PM. Admission is $5.00. For more information, please visit www.pulpadventure.com.

 Posted by at 2:00 am
Jan 132015
 

Al Tonik (L) & Rusty Hevelin (R) at Pulpcon 1999

Al Tonik (L) & Rusty Hevelin (R) at Pulpcon 1999
(Photo by Chuck Welch)

An article in a recent edition of the Des Moines Register highlights the University of Iowa’s acquisition of the Rusty Hevelin Collection. Donated by the PulpCon founder upon his death, the collection is now partially accessible to the public.

“The scope of the collection is astounding,” said Peter Balestrieri, the UI curator in charge of cataloging the Hevelin Collection. “There are fanzines that date back to before World War I all the way into the 21st century. Every topic you could imagine is covered there, and we’ve just begun to unpack it.”

Columnist Daniel Finney writes that “Hevelin was by most accounts the greatest science fiction convention collector and attendee of all time. He built a massive archive in more than 70 years of collecting.” Rusty is, of course, well-known to the PulpFest crowd. His PulpCon was the precursor to the summer pulp festival now held in Columbus, OH.

On why Hevelin donated his collection to UI, Finney writes: “He helped found the two largest conventions in Iowa — Icon in the Iowa City and Cedar Rapids area, and DemiCon in Des Moines. His positive experiences apparently led him to donate his archives to UI.”

For more information on the Hevelin Collection please contact the University of Iowa Library Special Collections at lib-spec@uiowa.edu

Dec 302014
 

Evan Tanner, the first series character created by LB, is now eVailable to readers around the world!

Ever since a shred of shrapnel did a number on his brain’s sleep center, Evan Tanner has been awake 24/7. This gives him more time than your average underachiever. Time to learn the world’s languages (he’s fluent in Basque, but has trouble with Chinese). Time to embrace the world’s lost causes and irredentist movements (The Flat Earth Society, the League for the Restoration of Cilician Armenia, the Society of the Left Hand). Time to write term papers theses for students with more money than knowledge. And, most important, time to do his dreaming while he’s wide awake.

Complete with gorgeous new covers (below), Kindle versions of all eight Tanner tales are now available (in English) on Amazon in:

 

Tanner Book 1 Tanner Book 2 Tanner Book 3 Tanner Book 4 Tanner Book 5 Tanner Book 6 Tanner Book 7 Tanner Book 8

 

Nov 042014
 

PulpFest2015PLogoWe’re happy to debut the new look for PulpFest.com. The clean design by Chris Kalb is an effort to make our site easier to use and to highlight the latest information about PulpFest 2015, our attendees, presenters and dealers.

There might be a missing feature or two, but over the next couple of weeks we’ll be fine-tuning the site as we get user feedback. If you notice anything broken or misplaced, please don’t hesitate to contact our sitesmith, Chuck Welch. ( chuck @ pulpfest.com )

When we finalize all costs and information for 2015, we’ll post links on the top menu — just below the PulpFest logo. The red menu at right will link to posts about programming, our dealers, awards, auction information and more. Most of the posts are about PulpFest 2014, but expect much more about 2015 in the coming weeks.

If you’re into social media, you can follow PulpFest at Facebook, Twitter and through our RSS feed. (Our email list is still active. We’ll publish the address to join in just a few days.)

Thanks for making PulpFest your favorite summer pulp convention. We’re looking forward to seeing you in Columbus August 13th through the 16th, 2015!

Oct 102014
 

Mike Dennis, who did a remarkable job of voicing the audiobook of my own early novel, Borderline, discovered this great noir classic in the public domain. He decided to narrate an audio version, and while he was at it, made plans to publish ebook and POD paperback editions as well. (While other e-versions exist, he found them to be typographical disasters, and felt the book deserved a proper and respectful presentation.) He asked me if I’d write an introduction, and I thought some of you might enjoy a look at what I turned in.

You might also welcome a look at the book itself. And, if you’re an audiobook fan, you’ll want to hear Mike’s rendition when it becomes available.

 

detour

DETOUR by Martin M. Goldsmith

Foreword by Lawrence Block

Most people who know Detour at all know the film—specifically, the 1945 film directed by Edgar G. Ulmer and starring Tom Neal and Ann Savage. (It was remade in 1992, with the male lead played by Tom Neal Jr. No, I’m not making this up.) No end of myth has grown up around the movie: Ulmer said he shot it in six days, Savage said it took four six-day weeks plus retakes; Ulmer said it cost under $20,000, a researcher found it was more like $100,000. But in 1998 it fell to Roger Ebert to say everything you need to know about it:

“Detour is a movie so filled with imperfections that it would not earn the director a passing grade in film school. This movie from Hollywood’s poverty row, shot in six days, filled with technical errors and ham-handed narrative, starring a man who can only pout and a woman who can only sneer, should have faded from sight soon after it was released in 1945. And yet it lives on, haunting and creepy, an embodiment of the guilty soul of film noir. No one who has seen it has easily forgotten it.”

And he finished his lengthy essay like so:

“Do these limitations and stylistic transgressions hurt the film? No. They are the film. Detour is an example of material finding the appropriate form. Two bottom-feeders from the swamps of pulp swim through the murk of low-budget noir and are caught gasping in Ulmer’s net. They deserve one another. At the end, Al is still complaining: ‘Fate, or some mysterious force, can put the finger on you or me, for no good reason at all.’ Oh, it has a reason.”

That’s the film—and, as it’s in the public domain, you can readily get hold of a copy and see it yourself. Full disclosure: if and when you do, you’ll be ahead of me. I haven’t seen Detour, but then I’m not here to write about the movie. I’ve read the book, the novel of the same name, published in 1939 when its author, Martin M. Goldsmith, was 25 years old. And it’s the book which I’m pleased to bring to your attention.

If Detour got in on the ground floor of film noir in 1945, the novel was even more of a novelty six years earlier, with its fast-paced narrative, hard-edged characters, and uncompromisingly dark world view. It’s an easy read, albeit an unsettling one, from the first page to the last, and much of what Ebert has to say about the film fits the book it came from.

It’s all over the place. It hinges on no end of coincidence, one element of which—Alexander’s happening to pick up a hitchhiker who happens to be Vera, the very woman who cat-scratched the poor mope who picked him up earlier—would be a dealbreaker for most publishers. It’s told by two first-person narrators, Alex and Sue, who were lovers before the book opens and who never—never!—encounter each other again.

It speaks well of Goldsmith’s narrative gifts that his story’s pace and drive can blind one to the wild irrationality of its plot. The actions of Alex and Vera, after they team up, never make a particle of sense. They’re afraid to sell their car, as if it’ll be traced to a dead man in another state, and yet they take other genuinely risky steps with astonishing sangfroid.

“People are afraid of all the wrong things.” That’s the promotional tag line for A Walk Among the Tombstones, the film based on a book of mine, so it’s much on my mind lately. And it applies well enough to Alex and Vera—and, for that matter, to Sue and Raoul.

Goldsmith, I should add, wrote and published another novel, Double Jeopardy, a couple of years before Detour. He went on to write two more novels, and received story and/or screenplay credits for a host of films and television programs. He was eighty when he died in 1994, and seems to have left behind an unpublished autobiography—which might make very interesting reading indeed, should somebody manage to hunt it down.

Meanwhile, here’s Detour. It’s a fast read, and I think you’ll find it worth your time.

 Posted by at 5:33 pm
Sep 092014
 

Grantland.com, largely a sports-oriented site named after the legendary sportswriter Grantland Rice, is a house containing many mansions. Just yesterday I taped an hour-long podcast with screenwriter Brian Koppelman (who wrote a lyrical tribute to the Scudder series in The Night and the Music) which will be up on grantland.com in a week or two; his podcast with Ray Liotta is running now. And today, in “Hollywood Prospectus,” a dozen or more writers share their varied media enthusiasms. The whole thing’s worth reading, even as the entire site’s worth bookmarking for regular visits, but if you scroll way down you come to the following, which not even my vaunted false modesty can keep me from reprinting in full:

Michael Weinreb: On September 19, writer/director Scott Frank will release a movie called A Walk Among the Tombstones, starring Liam Neeson as an alcoholic private detective named Matthew Scudder. This movie might be very good, or it might be very bad; I have no idea, and in a way, I only care insomuch as it boosts the legacy of the man who wrote the book on which it is based. His name is Lawrence Block, and he’s been writing since the 1950s, and his output is heroically abundant. He got his start writing paperback erotica; eventually, he began writing several different series’ worth of crime novels. He’s 76 years old, and he’s authored, I don’t know, maybe around a hundred books, including seven writing-advice books, a memoir, and a short tome called The Specialists, upon which the A-Team may or may not have been based. (A few months ago, I picked up a novel of Block’s called Random Walk; it was a trippy New Age story about a bartender who, you know, goes on a random walk. It wasn’t one of his best, but that almost wasn’t the point; even the Tony Robbins–meets–Stephen King undercurrent of the plot was tempered by Block’s utterly humanizing portrayal of his characters.)

In the crime-fiction world, Block is already viewed as an American treasure, but he, like his old friend Donald Westlake, is one of those writers who deserves to transcend his genre. All the Matthew Scudder books I’ve read have been dank and harrowing little gems, especially the ones set in New York before it became an adult theme park. (In other words, it’s possible Neeson could be perfectly cast.) Block knows New York; he’s lived in the West Village since before it became an aspirational address. (He’s admitted to struggling with alcohol himself, and he’s given to bouts of depression, which, like everything else, he discusses in his work.) But my favorite Block novels are the ones he started writing in the late 1990s; they’re about a stamp-collecting hit man who calls himself Keller, who’s continually trying to get out of the business he’s in but can’t seem to bring himself to do it. I can’t imagine there’s ever been a more likable and competent killer in modern fiction, which is a testament to Block’s abilities, and to his longevity, and to the idea that writers like Block — skillful and professional and utterly unafraid of failure — should always be a rare and treasured commodity.

Uh, wow. And thank you. I’m in Los Angeles, I just got here, I’ll be on Craig Ferguson’s show tomorrow night, and just as I was getting on my flight, the above showed up in my Twitter feed. I’ll tell you, if I hadn’t been flying on air I’d have been walking on it…

LB_logo.99h

 Posted by at 11:41 pm
Aug 252014
 

As LB mentioned in the previous post, Empire Magazine, the premier film magazine in the UK, loves A Walk Among the Tombstones! Here is Dan Jolin’s review in its entirety:

 

Liam Neeson has said that when he first read the scene in A Walk Among the Tombstones where grizzled gumshoe Matthew Scudder threatens his quarry (a kidnapper) down the phone, his instinct was to walk away from the tombstones. Thankfully, he read on and realised that, despite superficial similarities, Scott Frank’s take on Lawrence Block’s novels was a different breed of thriller to Taken.

In many ways, it’s the anti-Taken. Scudder has little personal investment in the case. He doesn’t pack heat. Although he throws a mean punch, violence is something he avoids if possible, preferring to talk his way out of tricky situations. His particular set of skills involves wheedling information out of people (without resorting to torture), pounding pavements and having “a strong bladder.” He’s an old-school shamus, suspicious of cellphones and computers (interestingly, Frank sets his entire mystery amid the pre-millennial tension of the Y2K scare; as one of the killers observes, “People are afraid of all the wrong things”). Frank has unapologetically served up something talky, complex, grown-up.

Rain-drenched, grey-toned and located in a dilapidated, graffiti-daubed Hell’s Kitchen, this is a dour affair. Tombstones has a thick vicious streak, which while not gratuitous involves the kinds of atrocity you’d expect from a full-on serial-killer thriller. Yet it’s far from one-note. Like Connery, Neeson may never nail the Yank accent, but he sparkles as Scudder, a man tussling with demons but gifted with a wry sense of humour that makes him deeply likable throughout. And, especially in the scenes between Scudder and his unwanted streetkid sidekick TJ (Brian ‘Astro’ Bradley, fresh from American X Factor), Frank imbues his script with a light and knowing regard for the genre, as if to say the private-eye movie, like Scudder himself, might well seem outmoded, but goddammit, it still gets the job done.  DAN JOLIN

 

VERDICT
Like a good butcher’s cleaver, it’s weighty, solid and sharp—an effective matching of director and star in what is hopefully the first of a new film series.
 black_star_icon_by_midnight_flame-d4oxfl5 black_star_icon_by_midnight_flame-d4oxfl5 black_star_icon_by_midnight_flame-d4oxfl5 black_star_icon_by_midnight_flame-d4oxfl5

 

 

Aug 192014
 
Like many other writers I was shocked to learn Jeremiah Healy passed away recently. I loved his work, having picked up the first John Francis Cuddy books because I had read most Spenser books and was looking for something similar. Of course, besides the Boston PI thing there's little they really had in common. The Cuddy books had their own style and Cuddy wasn't the superman Spenser was.
So sad that now both Robert B. Parker and Jeremiah Healy have passed away.
I will always be grateful for the blurb he provided for my Noah Milano books:
 "J. Vandersteen takes us back to the glory days of pulp fiction. And I mean the genre, NOT the movie. His Noah Milano character rings completely true as a tough, lone-wolf private."

That goes to show you what a wonderful man he was and how friendly he was to his fellow writers, always ready to help them along.


He will be missed by readers, writer and family.