Mar 272015

I know, I know. I’ll tell you, my newsletters are like buses. You wait and wait and wait and wait, and then three of them come one right after the other. But I’ve got news, and I’m bursting with it.

EbookCover_Block_TCOOLInnit pretty? It’s the book I mentioned late last year, the one I’d fully expected to bring out on Valentine’s Day; well, it took a little longer, but I hope you think it was worth the wait. I love the cover Jaye Manus came up with, and it’s every bit as attractive on the inside, as the same deft hand did the formatting.
In the course of a lifetime of fiction writing, I’ve done a certain amount of nonfiction as well, and in The Crime of Our Lives I’ve collected the critical pieces and trips down Memory Lane that center on the field of crime fiction. Many of my recollections of colleagues appeared in Mystery Scene; others were published in American Heritage, GQ, and the Japanese edition of Playboy. Several were commissioned as introductions. All told, chapter subjects include Edward Anderson, Fredric Brown, Raymond Chandler, Mary Higgins Clark, Joseph Conrad, Ed Gorman, Dashiell Hammett, Gar Haywood, Evan Hunter, Henry Kane, Al Nussbaum, Robert B. Parker, Edgar Allan Poe, Spider Robinson, Mickey Spillane, Ross Thomas, Jim Thompson, Donald E. Westlake, and Charles Willeford. And there’s a personal survey of the genre from its early days, and a recollection of my own early days at Scott Meredith’s bucket shop.

But here, instead of my telling you about it, let me give you a taste:

Evan Hunter: “In his mid-seventies, after a couple of heart attacks, an aneurysm, and a siege of cancer that had led to the removal of his larynx, Evan wrote Alice in Jeopardy. And went to work right away on Becca in Jeopardy, with every intention of working his way through the alphabet. Don’t you love it? Here’s a man with one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel, and he’s perfectly comfortable launching a twenty-six book series.”

That’s one of five pop-out quotes—the subjects of the others are Fredric Brown, Raymond Chandler, Donald Westlake and Charles Willeford—and I invite you check them all out. They’re all to be found in the book descriptions at Amazon, Nook, Inktera and Scribd, where the TCOOL ebook is already on sale. (It’ll be eVailable as well at Kobo and iTunes, probably within a day or two.)

Okay, I’ll take a few questions.

You’re calling it TCOOL because those are the initials, right? Same as you refer to A Walk Among the Tombstones as AWATT. But what’s that hyphen doing in the headline?

Well, that’s how we found ourselves pronouncing it. And with the hyphen it becomes T-Cool, whom I think of as a clueless white rap artist who never really got anywhere. Gosh, I hope there’s another question—

I get that you’ve published it yourself, and I applaud your industry and enterprise—

Let’s not forget avarice.

—but does that mean it’ll only be obtainable as an ebook? I love ebooks, and I’ll download it and enjoy reading it in that form, but this is the kind of volume I like to have on the shelf as well.

Oh, I do like your thinking. And I’m happy to report that in a matter of days TCOOL will be on sale as a trade paperback. I just ordered a proof copy earlier today, and as soon as I check it and voice my approval, the presses will roll.

That’s welcome news.

And it’s only the beginning, because in a very short time you’ll have the option of owning TCOOL in a splendid hardcover first edition, complete with dust jacket.

Ooh, I want one! How do I get it?

From Amazon for sure, and from other online booksellers as well. Select brick-and-mortar stores will have the book, too.

You know, what I really really want is a signed copy. But I suppose that’s out of the question.

Oh, is that what you think? We’ll have signed copies for sale in LB’s eBay Bookstore, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if a number of mystery specialty booksellers have them, too. I’ll be at The Mysterious Bookshop May 7 in aid of Dark City Lights, my new Three Rooms Press anthology, and I expect we’ll have copies as well of TCOOL, in both hardcover and paperback. I’ll let you know more closer to the date.

Do you want to tell us the prices?

Sure, why not? The ebook’s $9.99, the trade paperback’s $16.99, and the hardcover’s $24.99.

That seems quite reasonable.

You think? I’d call it a steal. But for now why don’t you click on one of those links—here they are again, for convenience—Amazon, Nook, Inktera and Scribd. Read the book description and see if it moves you to click on the Buy button.

And, before I forget, this Sunday, March 29, I’ll be on John McMullen’s radio program, The johnmac Radio Show, at 7pm eastern time. The call-in number is 646-716-9756. You can ask me anything, but I’ll warn you right now, I’m not as good as I used to be on State Capitals. For that there’s Google.



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 with Newsletter in the subject line will get the job done.
LB’s Bookstore on eBay
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Twitter:  @LawrenceBlock

 Posted by at 9:13 pm
Mar 272015

Monday, April 4, 2011
Brian Garfield on Playing Poker with Donald Westlake and Lawrence Block

Cullen Gallagher: 

Imagine a poker game with Brian Garfield, Donald Westlake, Lawrence Block, and occasionally Robert Ludlum. That's one game I'd gladly pay to sit in on! (And I'm sure I would pay--my poker days ended in middle school, and even then I wasn't exactly Orono, Maine's sharpest card shark.)

Head on over to The Chicago Blog (courtesy of the University of Chicago Press) to read the interview with Brian Garfield. And dig those crazy beards!

LTS: First off, why don't you just tell us a bit about your friendship with Donald Westlake. When and where did you meet? Were you friends for a long time?

BG: We met at a poker game in New York, 1965. It was a regular weekly quarter-limit writers' game. Lawrence Block and agent Henry Morrison were regulars. The game was a wonderful source of one-liners—now if only I remembered them. . . .


Our "lit'ry" discussions might have seemed odd to people who weren't writers. For example I remember Don's fascination with the way Ira Levin had cleverly concealed the identity of the killer in A Kiss Before Dying, and we all admired the way Mickey Spillane solved the mystery in Vengeance is Mine in the final word of the novel. I don't know that it's ever been done that way before. Spillane was a comic book-style writer, but we all thought he was much underrated as a storyteller. We didn't talk about his writing style; we talked about his inventiveness. It helps, I suppose, to realize that we all had worked our way up through the pulps—probably the last generation to do that, as the pulps mostly died by the early 1960s. Don and Larry wrote crime stories and softcore porn; I wrote crime stories and Westerns. (They came from the Northeast; I came from the Southwest.) We all had been published since the end of the 1950s. By the mid-60s we'd found a way to do the apprenticeship and make a sort of living out of it, although it wasn't a great living; most of my early books earned somewhere between a few hundred and a thousand dollars. All that meant was we had to write them fast. We thought of the work as fun, challenging but easy to do.

Mar 272015

by Erin Mitchell

In March, 2010, my friend and YA author Marley Gibson received an email from a school librarian in Riceville, Tennessee. The librarian, Cheryl, explained to Marley that while her students loved her Ghost Huntress series, she was distressed because she had to go through each with a Sharpie (she was specific about this) before shelving them to “mark out bad words.”

In other words, she censored them.

Marley was furious. She responded to Cheryl and contacted her publisher. As a reader, I was horrified, and I contacted a number of reporters. Marley’s publisher didn’t want to pursue it. The only response I got was from a Washington Post education columnist, who contacted the county school board, but didn’t write anything when she got no response.

In other words, nobody gave much of a shit.

When I was growing up, my dad took the attitude that anything I read wouldn’t harm me, and as a result, he didn’t censor nor regulate what I chose to read. Thankfully, the good folks at the Greenlake library in Seattle didn’t censor books. I read a lot of books that were age-inappropriate, and boy, I’m glad that I did. (So if we ever meet in person and you’re offended by my language, feel free to blame Ed McBain, Lawrence Block, Thomas Hardy, Judy Blume, Colleen McCullough, and Stephen King, among others.)

Which brings me to Clean Reader.

Clean Reader is a reading app that “prevents swear words in books from being displayed on your screen.” The app is free for Apple and Android devices. The app has four settings—Off, Clean, Cleaner, or Squeaky Clean—that affect which words (if any) are hidden.

Until yesterday, the app had an integrated bookstore. As of right now, it does not. In response to (strong) objections from authors, Inktera removed their store from the Clean Reader app. This means that as of this morning, the store page in the app is empty. Inktera still shows up on the app's "More" tab, but I expect this will change, too.

Clean Reader is an ebook reader, and as such it can still be used to read ePub and PDF books, such as those purchased from "open" stores like Google and Smashwords. can authors prevent readers from using this app to read their books? The short answer is that unless an author holds their ebook rights and chooses only to publish on Kindle and iBooks with DRM, she or he can't. Think of it this way: With paper books, you can't stop anyone with access to a pen from redacting or replacing words in their paper copy of your book...this is the same principle. Authors can raise the issue with their publishers, but I’d bet money doing so won’t get you anywhere.

The above leaves aside the discussion around DRM as a whole and closed vs. open ebook systems. I do, however, think that’s a discussion worth having.

When it comes to reading, I have always been an advocate of choice and opponent of censorship. As Terri pointed out yesterday, if a reader prefers books without certain words, there are more than enough to choose from. If a parent wants to control which words their kids read, again, they have more options than a dog has fleas.

Which brings me back to Clean Reader. I was curious to know how it came to be, so I did some digging. Here’s what I learned:

Kirsten and Jared Maughan of Twin Falls, Idaho are the face of the company. They say they had the app created because their daughter was distressed by reading swear words (they’ve told different versions of this story). They are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), which takes a strong stance against profanity, which says in part:

Foul language is both degrading and harmful to the spirit. We should not let others influence us to use foul language. Instead, we should use clean language that uplifts and edifies others, and we should choose friends who use good language. Setting an example will encourage those around us to use clean language.

Here’s what I find interesting about this: The church’s language talks about words you use. Not censoring the words other people use. The Maughans appear to have missed this.

The Maughans commissioned Page Foundry to create the app. According to the Clean Reader website, the copyright is held by Upstream Media, which is an Assumed Business Name registered to Mr. and Mrs. Maughan. Following the Upstream Media trail leads to Kitchens Connect, Inc., which is owned by Darin G. Maughan.

Page Foundry’s CEO, Dan McFarland, has been extremely responsive, thoughtful, and transparent in helping me understand Clean Reader from a technological perspective. If you’re inclined to criticize them for taking on this project, I would argue that’s akin to blasting McDonald’s for selling food to people at risk of heart disease.

Jared Maughan, on the other hand, responded to only one of my emails with: “We'll have more updates later. Thanks!”

Huh. One might almost think the Maughans have something to hide. The conspiracy theorist in me thinks maybe they have some weird motive in all of this, other than wanting to encourage censorship.

Because, really, wouldn’t their energy and money have been better spent on, say, compiling a list of books they consider acceptable, and putting those into an app?


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Mar 272015
Today marks the conclusion of our contest to give away three copies of The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook, edited by Kate White. If you missed The Rap Sheet's earlier post explaining what this handsome volume is all about--and offering an excerpted recipe from the cookbook--click here.

If you haven’t entered the drawing yet, well, what the hell are you waiting for? The process could hardly be simpler. Just e-mail your name and postal address to, and be sure to write “Cookbook Contest” in the subject line. Entries will be accepted until midnight tonight. The three winners will be chosen completely at random, and their names listed on this page tomorrow.

Sorry, but at the publisher’s request, this contest is open only to residents of the United States and Canada.

Feeling lucky?
Mar 272015
Striking ruthlessly out of the night, the Ghost Riders are the most brutal band of outlaws ever to plague Texas. Leaving death and devastation behind them, they raid town after town, slaughtering, looting, and burning. Dressed in white robes that conceal their identity and seemingly unharmed by bullets, the Ghost Riders may not even be human!  Facing the greatest challenge of his career,
Mar 272015

Whisperer in DarknessWhisperer in DarknessWhisperer in DarknessHoward Phillips Lovecraft’s fiction has been adapted numerous times to film, often badly. Most of the efforts to transform the horror master’s prose to the silver screen have yielded far more groans than screams of terror. The best known motion picture to be inspired by Lovecraft’s work is probably Stuart Gordon’s cult favorite, RE-ANIMATOR, a horror-comedy loosely based on the author’s “Herbert West–Reanimator,” a story originally serialized in HOME BREW in 1922. Gordon’s film, released in 1985, went on to gross nearly three-million dollars and was followed by a pair of sequels–BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR (1990) and BEYOND RE-ANIMATOR (2003).

Although financially successful, devoted fans of the author have called Gordon’s film “a desecration of Lovecraft.” Even the film’s admirers, such as Curt Holman in PASTE MAGAZINE, have labeled it “not Lovecrafty.” Holman writes, “RE-ANIMATOR more closely resembles a zombie film than Lovecraft’s signature brand of occult sci-fi.”

It was left to an organization devoted to the live-action role-playing game CTHULHU LIVES, to create two of the most faithful adaptations of the work of H. P. Lovecraft. In 2005, the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society released THE CALL OF CTHULHU, a silent movie based on the story, originally published in WEIRD TALES in 1928, that introduced the author’s most famous creation, Cthulhu. Filmed by Andrew Leman and Sean Branney, with cinematography by David Robertson, THE CALL OF CTHULHU was an official selection at more than thirty international film festivals and winner of numerous awards.

In 2011, the Society followed with an adaptation of Lovecraft’s THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS, a masterful blending of horror and science fiction that originally ran in the August 1931 issue of WEIRD TALES. With Branney and Leman again collaborating with David Robertson, THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS ran in selected theaters nationwide and was again screened at film festivals across the globe.  Mirroring the style of such classic horror films of the 1930s as DRACULA, FRANKENSTEIN, and KING KONG, this entertaining film features an “atmosphere of barely-controlled hysteria.”

As part of its celebration of the 125th anniversary of H. P. Lovecraft’s birth and his relationship with WEIRD TALES, the leading supernatural fiction magazine of its time, PulpFest 2015 is very pleased to offer fully authorized showings of both THE CALL OF CTHULHU and THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS. The films will be respectively shown on Friday, August 14th and Saturday, August 15th, beginning at 11:30 PM. Each will be paired with an episode from ROD SERLING’S NIGHT GALLERY that originally aired in 1971–“Cool Air” and “Professor Peabody’s Last Lecture.”

To thank the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society for their generosity in allowing us to exhibit their films, PulpFest has offered to help the organization with a couple of research projects.

Other than her collaborations “The Curse of Yig,” “Medusa’s Coil,” and “The Mound,” the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society is looking for copies of any pulp stories published by Zealia Brown Reed Bishop. It is thought that she had a number of stories published, probably in romantically inclined pulps, and most likely credited to Zealia Reed or Zealia Bishop, depending on the year in which they were published.

Andrew Leman recently explored a trove of letters from Lovecraft to Bishop, in which he names a number of her manuscripts on which he had worked. Click here for a list of their working titles. Some of these stories may have never been published or they may have appeared under other titles. Zealia’s last name was Reed when she was writing these stories, and she didn’t marry Mr. Bishop until later in life. So if any of these stories were published, it probably would have been under the name Zealia Reed or Zealia Brown Reed. The stories are not weird tales or science fiction, but domestic or love fiction.

Additionally, the Society is seeking high quality scans of any advertisements placed in WEIRD TALES by H. P. Lovecraft for his services as a revisionist. It is thought that one ad appeared in the August 1928 number of “The Unique Magazine,” but there were probably others published at an earlier date.

(If you are able to help with either of these projects, please contact Andrew Leman at or Sean Branney at To view a trailer of THE CALL OF CTHULHU, click here. To view a trailer of THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS, click here. The one-sheet, pictured above, is copyright 2015 by the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society.)

 Posted by at 1:00 pm
Mar 272015
I've become a big fan of Charles Boeckman's Western pulp stories over the past couple of years, but WHEN THE DEVIL CAME TO ENDLESS is the first Western novel of his that I've read. Published by Avalon in 1996, it came out long after the pulp era was over, but it shows that Boeckman had lost none of his top-notch storytelling ability. Endless is a small town in West Texas, and as the book