Rush’s Hour

 Awards 2014  Comments Off
Oct 192014
I haven’t yet spotted a full list of prize recipients online, but Janet Rudolph is reporting in Mystery Fanfare that Los Angeles author Naomi Hirahara has won the 2014 T. Jefferson Parker Mystery Award for Murder on Bamboo Lane (Berkley). The Parker is one of several commendations given out annually by the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association (SCIBA), recognizing “excellence in books that reflect Southern California culture or lifestyle.”

Of Murder on Bamboo Lane--released this last April--Publishers Weekly wrote:
Edgar-winner Hirahara, author of Summer of the Big Bachi and four other Mas Arai mysteries, introduces Ellie Rush, a Japanese-American rookie LAPD bicycle cop, in this highly entertaining series debut. When Jenny Nguyen, a former classmate of Ellie’s at Pan Pacific West College, goes missing and later turns up dead in a Chinatown alley, Ellie’s ties to PPW and Jenny’s friends, including Ellie’s ex-boyfriend, Benjamin Choi, prove useful. Jenny’s boyfriend, controversial artist Tuan Le, is a prime suspect, and he asks Ellie for help. Her aunt, Cheryl Toma, the highest-ranking Asian in the LAPD, also wants Ellie on the case, but has a hidden agenda. Ellie finds herself navigating a personal and professional minefield when she’s assigned to work on the case with handsome Det. Cortez Williams. Readers will want to see more of Ellie, who provides a fresh perspective on L.A.’s rich ethnic mix.
Also contending for this year’s T. Jefferson Parker Mystery Award were The Ascendant, by Drew Chapman (Pocket), and The Disposables, by David Putnam (Oceanview).

Hirahara was nominated for this same prize last year, for her Mas Arai mystery Strawberry Yellow, but the honor went instead to What the Heart Remembers, by Debra Ginsberg.

READ MORE:Naomi Hirahara on Her New Mystery Series ... and the new L.A.,” by David L. Ulin (Los Angeles Times).

Are You In?

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Oct 192014
You have only two days left to enter The Rap Sheet’s latest giveaway contest. The prizes this time: four copies of “The Raymond Chandler Map of Los Angeles,” published recently by Herb Lester Associates. Find out more about that map/guide here.

To have a chance at winning one of these high-quality maps--especially perfect for attendees of next month’s Bouchercon in Long Beach, California--simply e-mail your name and postal address to And be sure to type “Raymond Chandler Map Contest” in the subject line. Entries will be accepted until midnight tomorrow, October 20. The four recipients will be chosen completely at random, and their names listed on this page the following day.

Sorry, but this drawing is open only to U.S. residents.
Oct 192014
Today we spent one more day in Moscow and will be doing some sightseeing in Traveling The Globe. We will visit the Kremlin.

The Kremlin Conspiracy
by Sean Flannery (David Hagberg)

The noted Soviet scientist Sakharov has disappeared, possibly kidnapped. Also missing is his invention, a portable laser. Both the KGB and CIA are furiously searching for both as the President is en route for a summit conference.

The Kremlin Conspiracy 
by E Howard Hunt

Working in Europe because of a murder charge pending in the U.S., Neil Thorpe had greatly regretted his missteps three years before but now he is offered a chance to correct his mistakes and possibly fix his broken life.
The Kremlin File
by W.T. Ballard

Once again the Soviets have planted missiles in the Caribbean and Nick Carter must destroy them while avoiding the assassins who have been sent to destroy him.

No Kisses From The Kremlin
by H.T. Rothwell

Michael Brooks is sent to East Germany to spy on a test-firing of a new weapon system. He then decides on his own that kidnapping the inventor and smuggling her out was an even better idea.
Secret Mission: The Kremlin Plot
by Don Smith

Phil Sherman was on a business trip, taking an Aeroflot flight from Riga to Moscow, when a hijacker sought to take control and force the plane to the West. In a short gun battle with a Soviet sky marshal, the hijacker was dead and Sherman was in possession of a pack of cigarettes passed by the dying man.
 Posted by at 2:16 pm
Oct 192014
I don't know much about the gang pulps and haven't read many stories from them, but this one has a nice cover and the first three authors in the table of contents are E. Hoffmann Price (misspelled on the cover), Norman Daniels, and G.T. Fleming-Roberts. With a line-up like that, I suspect this issue was worth reading.
Oct 182014


Posted: 16 Oct 2014 10:42 AM PDT
The Peninsula is “a comma of land hooking into the sea southeast of Melbourne” in Victoria Australia. It is a tourist destination known for its beaches, wineries, and coastal towns. It is sparsely populated, beautiful, and, recently, the stalking ground for a sex killer. One woman was found dead on the Old Peninsula Highway—a lonely road treading the eastern coast of the peninsula, cutting south and west—and another has disappeared.

Inspector Hal Challis, the regional homicide specialist, is assigned the investigation. The search is headquartered in the fictional city of Waterloo. A city with a small police force, and an even smaller CIB—Criminal Investigation Branch—squad. The killer is careful and clean. The only significant lead is the track of a rare brand of tire near the dumping site of a victim—

“There was no semen. The killer used a condom. There were no fingerprints. The killer used gloves. What he’d left on his victims wereabsences, including the absence of life.”

The Dragon Man is a beautifully written police procedural. The main plot is supplemented with crisscrossing subplots. An overzealous constable. A series of house burglaries. A frightened woman trading sex for drugs. And Hal Challis. An almost broken, flawed man. A man who is married to a woman who, along with her lover, attempted to kill him. A man who is underestimated by most, and a man who is likable, and, at times, real.

“He drove on. Christmas Day. With any luck, someone would find a body and free him from Christmas Day.”

The setting is rendered with care, and the small details—a bucket in the shower to catch the water for additional use in the garden, dry draught-like conditions of mid-summer heat, herons feasting on mosquitoes—create a real world believable place. A place that is familiar, but simultaneously exotic. Mr Disher also plays with morality. The police often behave more consistently with the criminals they chase. One steals evidence from the police locker. Another attempts to blackmail a woman for sex during a traffic stop.

The Dragon Man is the real deal. It is the first novel (of six, so far) featuring Hal Challis. It is something of a cross between literature and police procedural. It is economical, meaningful, and a wonderfully entertaining novel.

Oct 182014

THE SEA HAWK. First National Pictures, 1924. Milton Sills, Enid Bennett, Lloyd Hughes, Wallace MacDonald, Marc MacDermott, Wallace Beery, Frank Currier, Medea Radzina, William Collier, J. Lionel Belmore. Based on a novel by Rafael Sabatini. Director: Frank Lloyd. Shown at Cinefest 26, Syracuse NY, March 2006.

   The Sea Hawk was a substitution for the originally scheduled L’Argent (1929; Marcel L’Herbier, director) L’Argent was certainly the film I was looking forward to with the most anticipation. However, although 1′d seen The Sea Hawk more than once and have a Turner showing on tape, I didn’t miss the opportunity to watch it again.

   Some of you will be familiar with the Errol Flynn remake (WB, 1940), although the silent version is more faithful to Sabatini’s novel than the later version, which eliminates the extensive Moorish section that’s one of the glories of this film.

   When Sir Oliver Tressilian (Sills) is betrayed by his villainous younger brother and delivered into the greedy hands of rascally Jasper Leigh (Beery), his Christian upbringing is so damaged by his sense of outrage that when he falls into the hands of Moorish pirates, he quickly becomes Sakr-el-Bahr, the uSea Hawk,” Muslim scourge of the high seas, and the favorite of Asad-el-Din, Sasha of Algiers, much to the chagrin of the Sasha’s favorite wife and heir apparent son.

   Enid Bennett, the lovely star of Hairpins, and Sir Oliver’s intended bride until his betrayal, is imprisoned in unbecoming costumes that mask her beauty until she’s captured by Moorish pirates (guess who?) and put up for auction, her clothes in tatters that reveal something of her native charms, and sold to… guess who again?

   Beery is a rascal, but lovable, and Sills is a splendid corsaire, with a focused rage that distinguishes his portrayal from that of the rakish, devil-may-care Flynn. I like both portrayals and both films.

   Now, the downside: this was, for much of the screening, an inferior print that only occasionally incorporated a reel of superior quality, most notably during the Moorish episodes. Of course, 1 missed the great score that Korngold composed for the sound remake, but the accompanist was more than competent.

 Posted by at 7:58 pm
Oct 182014
A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by Bill Prozini

MEL ARRIGHI – Alter Ego. St. Martin’s, hardcover, 1983. No paperback edition. TV movie: CBS, 1987, as Murder by the Book (with Robert Hays as D.H. ‘Hank’ Mercer / Biff Deegan, and Catherine Mary Stewart).

   Hank Mercer is a New York mystery writer, author of such modest best sellers as Death Is My Bedmate and Kill Me Tender. Biff Deegen is Hank’s series sleuth, a hard-boiled private eye patterned after Mike Hammer. Hank is tired of Biff and Biff’s uncouth style; he wants to scrap him and begin a new series about an erudite, tasteful detective named Amos Frisby.

   His editor, Norman Wagstaff. is of course opposed to the idea vehemently. But to placate Hank, who after all is one of his top authors, he agrees over lunch to the following bargain: If Hank can solve a real-life mystery, using Frisby’s methods of deduction, then he trade Riff in for Amos/

   What precipitates this bargain — and what starts Hank off on his all-too-real mystery — is a matchbook dropped on their lunch table by a well-dressed woman, containing the scrawled words “Help me.”

   The mystery involves a valuable statue called The Etruscan Dancer, some urbane crooks, some not so urbane crooks, sexy Marisa Winfield, a poker game, a daring rescue accomplished by Hank using methods better suited to the Human Fly, a chase through the Lexington Avenue subway and, as it were, the piece de resistance: Biff Deegen.

   Biff, you see, steps out of the pages of his own books to become a character in Hank’s real-life mystery.He doesn’t really come to life, of course; he is merely an anthropomorphized figment of Hank’s overworked imagination, his creator’s alter ego. But that doesn’t stop him from becoming Hank’s detective “partner,” sneering at the likes of Amos Frisby and appearing at tense moments to advise Hank on the finer points of physical combat (“Kick him in the balls!”).

   This amusing and affectionate spoof of both genres seems to have been intended as the first of a series– it is billed on the dust jacket as “A Hank & Riff Mystery” — but so far no second book has appeared. Arrighi’s other criminous novels are much more serious in tone; these include such first-rate titles as Freak-Out (1968), The Hatchet Man (1975), Turkish White (1977), the Hitchcockian thriller Delphine (1981), and Manhattan Gothic (1985).

   Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007.   Copyright © 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.

NOTE: Mel Arrighi died in 1986 at the relatively young age of only 53. If it so happened that he wrote another book in this series, it was never published before he died.

 Posted by at 6:08 pm
Oct 182014

Guest Blogger: Dani Looney 

NYCC cosplay
With all the talk in the mystery world about Boucher-con, Marilyn thought it would be a good idea (which she may later regret) to let me be a guest blogger and write about my experiences at New York Comic Con.    

In the beginning, comic conventions were pretty much just for comics.  Buying and selling them, sharing the art, and premiering new story arcs.  Over time though, these conventions have become something much bigger.  Not only are they celebrating comics, but now they include a wide range of media.  Movies, television, books, and video games are all included under the umbrella of a comic convention.  Since it is now cool to be a “geek” and with the growing number of superhero movies, the explosion of gaming culture and the popularity of shows like “The Big Bang Theory”, Comic Con has become a 4 day extravaganza of all things “nerd”.   There are plenty of panels, screenings, games, vendors, and celebrities to draw even the most introverted of us out into public. Those running the show very quickly figured out that the quickest way to our hearts was to offer us a chance to buy merchandise from our favorite shows, and also offer us a chance to discuss and find out more about the things we loved.

As an avid reader and as a fan of things including, Doctor Who, Sherlock, Marvel, etc., Comic Con allows me 3 days of non-stop fun.  Not only do I get a chance to meet some of the actors portraying my favorite characters, like Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch last year, but I am also surrounded by other who enjoy these things and who are just as enthusiastic as I am.  Most of us have created cosplays, costumes, of our favorite characters, and quite a few attendees put some serious time and effort into these costumes.  The creativity that attendees put into their cosplays can be seen in what they can come up with.  Just this year, I saw a man dressed as the many characters Johnny Depp has played, as well as quite a few gender bends of male characters.  We all praise each other’s creativity, take pictures, and discuss our loves without fear or worry of others thinking we are “obsessive” or “crazy” or “too involved” (and those are some of the kinder things said).  It is easy to find friends while waiting in line for a panel and begin sharing theories over what the next series of Sherlock will be like, or how we are enjoying the newest regeneration of the Doctor.  Overall con going is a very enjoyable experience and the people in charge are continually trying to make things better.  This year there was even a new harassment policy about how cosplay is not consent.  This was a very welcome reminder that just because someone is dressed up, no matter how scantily, that it is not okay to just touch and take pictures of them.  As a woman, I was very appreciative of this new policy, and how it was a reminder to people that asking before touching is a good thing. 

Now to get to the best part of Comic Con for me: the books.  Since attendance this year topped 150,000+ people a day, publishers were ready with new releases and lots of new authors.  I found myself circling the few book aisles and chatting with the people working the booths.  Many times I was friendly and polite enough to snag some free ARCs.  There were also buttons, stickers, book samplers, and tote bags just being given away as you walked past a booth.  In total, I think I walked away with eight to ten books and around six of those were free.  Some of the free books being given away were part of a signing that was going on.  I was able to meet fantasy writing veteran Robin Hobb, who was happy to hear about the independent book store I worked in and that they were still around.  Many new authors were also in attendance and were encouraged to see how busy the publishing booths could get and how many readers were out there and wanting to take a chance on a new author.  The best part of these booths was the people working them.  Their enthusiasm for books and authors was contagious and I really loved being able to share my own love of books with them.  Many of them were very encouraged at seeing how many people stopped at their booths to ask about new releases and their favorite authors.  I garnered quite a few compliments on my own female Percy Jackson cosplay, which then of course led to discussions of what we all thought of the last book in the Heroes of Olympus series, as well as a few cries of, “No spoilers! I haven’t finished yet.”

Books were not only just available on the main floor, but this year there were quite a few literary panels that were incredibly interesting to go to.  There were panels for young adult readers, Doctor Who fans, ones for fantasy fans, and ones for fans of any kind of books.  Some of my favorites were, “Damsels in Distress Need Not Apply” and “How Game of Thrones Changed Fantasy, or Did It?” .  All of these panels featured authors talking and discussing different subjects.  A big topic of many of the panels was the representation of female characters.  It was very refreshing to see authors really looking at how women are presented in books, especially these genres where it’s easy to make them damsels who do nothing but be rescued.  Many authors are noticing that a good portion of their fan base is female and is craving unique strong female characters, and they are actively trying to give us these characters.  Marvel is really trying to show that comics are not just for boys anymore and have been trying to really incorporate more female heroes, including a new incarnation of Thor where a woman is worthy of the Mjolnir as well as separate arcs for characters like Black Widow and Captain Marvel.  No longer are they in skimpy costumes and armor that only covers the “important” bits, but they are taking charge and showing everyone that they are just as capable as any of the male superheroes out there.     

Sadly, Comic Con is now over.  I had a blast and would not change a thing.  After some great panels, a few autographs, numerous lines, a few hugs for a fallen Castiel, and one very damp day as Han Solo, you would think I’d be bone tired and very sore, and truthfully I very much am.  Carrying around multiple tote bags, early mornings, and lots of walking have left me very exhausted.  There are two things I know for sure though; I don't regret a single bit of it, and I cannot wait for next year.