Charging Into the Darkness

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Jul 232014
I didn’t even have this birthday marked down on my calendar, but Criminal Element contributor Jake Hinkson evidently keeps better track of some things than I do. He explains:
This year film noir turns 70. While there had been some intermittent films leading up to the birth of the classic noir, in 1944 the dahlia bloomed with six key films: Double Indemnity, Laura, Murder My Sweet, Phantom Lady, When Strangers Marry, and The Woman in the Window. In these films you have many of the key figures in noir making some of their first forays into the genre (directors Billy Wilder, Otto Preminger, Fritz Lang, and Robert Siodmak; writers Raymond Chandler, Cornell Woolrich, Vera Caspary, Phillip Yordan; actors Robert Mitchum, Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Bennett, Dana Andrews--just to name a few). This onslaught of darkness came in the wake of the bleakest days (from the American perspective, anyway) of WWII. The basis of many of these films were older properties, but it is the way these films came out--physically darker, psychologically denser, and ultimately more pessimistic--that marks the real birth of film noir.
By way of celebrating, Hinkson today posted the first of half a dozen articles, this one recalling the many strengths of Double Indemnity, the Fred MacMurray/Barbara Stanwyck/Edward G. Robinson picture that he says “might well be the most famous of all film noirs.” Stay tuned for the remaining installments of Hinkson’s series.

READ MORE:When Lightning Strikes,” by Thomas Kaufman
(The Rap Sheet).

Pro-File: Ariel S. Winter

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Jul 232014

Ariel S. Winter
August 2012
ISBN: 978-0-85768-581-0
Cover art by Chuck PyleRead A Sample Chapter
Order Now

1. Tell us about your current novel.

It's a bit of a stretch to call The Twenty-Year Death current since it came out in the summer of 2012, but it's just come out in a completely new format that I'm very excited about. The book as a whole tells of the twenty-year descent of the great American novelist Shem Rosenkrantz from bestselling literary darling to out-of-work Hollywood hack. The story is told through three separate mystery novels each in the style of the greatest crime writer of the decade in which that part of the story is set: Georges Simenon, Raymond Chandler, and Jim Thompson. It was important to me that each of the books operated independently from each other, as though each section was a lost novel of its respective era. That way if a reader read just one portion of the novel, he would feel as though he had read a complete novel, but if he read the whole thing as intended, it added up to a greater work. My original vision of the novel was as a boxed paperback set, and my editor Charles Ardai agreed. For cost reasons, however, and to make the biggest splash, we put it out as a single hardcover. This month all three books were released as independent mass market paperbacks. Now some readers might only experience a part of the story, or read the books in a different order than in the single-volume edition, and it will be interesting to hear how those experiences are different.

2. Can you give a sense of what you're working on now?

My next novel is a robot romance in the Bronte tradition. Set in a dystopic future in which humans are a small minority, it tells of an aged robot who rents a beach-side cabana to contemplate his future. He's been in a terrible accident, and the societal expectation is that he should deactivate himself, but he's not ready to die. While at the beach, he becomes obsessed with the robot family that lives in the big house that overlooks the beach from the top of the cliff. Through a series of interlocking narrators, he learns the terrible secrets that separate this family from robotkind.

3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?

Now that I have a real published book out, there's some comfort that there's tangible evidence that I existed. If I die tomorrow, even if my book goes out of print, it still exists out there, to be found, worthy of a footnote at least.

4. What is the greatest DISpleasure?

The years and years of toiling with very little encouragement, and the shock that even after you publish a novel to critical acclaim and with good sales figures, it doesn't mean that anyone will rush to publish you again. The uncertainty with the years and years between paychecks.

5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is it?

Don't forget the booksellers. The booksellers are who sell the books. Not only is it important to cultivate a relationship with as many booksellers as possible, but publishers should help to publicly champion booksellers, emphasizing the role they serve in the literary culture. If the general public began to feel that a bookseller should be consulted like a sommelier, it would help save bookstores, and it will ensure the understanding that there's a reason that 99% of books that should be read are published, not self-published.

6. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to see in print again?

I'm not knowledgeable enough to know of any forgotten mystery writers. NYRB, Hard Case, and other presses like them seem to be doing a great job of bring deserving authors back into print.

7. Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget that moment.

I was cooking dinner when my agent called. I don't remember what I was cooking, but I remember I was using a frying pan on the front right hand burner, and it was something time-sensitive, and there was a lot of noise in the kitchen, my daughter, my wife at the sink, so I was distracted. The months of trying to sell had worn me down, so that it was almost as though the news passed right by me that it had happened. There was a delay in the excitement for some reason. Of course, my wife would probably tell me that I have all of these details wrong. In any event, the moment is hyper-real for me, like the world shrunk into me at that moment. You're right that you don't forget it, but I'm not sure I remember it either. It was epochal.

Help Making the Leap

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Jul 232014
Are you an aspiring crime, mystery, or thriller writer looking for professional assistance to get you on the right literary track? Then the 2014 Book Passage Mystery Writers Conference--to be held in Corte Madera, California, from July 24 to 27--might be an event worth your attending. Writers and others leading workshops will include Ace Atkins, Cara Black, David Corbett, Anne Perry, literary agent Amy Rennert, and Judge Peter J. Busch of the San Francisco Superior Court. The conference schedule is here. To register, click here.
Jul 232014

Looking to sample some excellent summer reading? We present to you the Hachette Book Group Summer Reading Fiction Sampler 2014, which is available as a free digital download from your favorite retailers.

This sampler includes a chapter from David Shafer’s forthcoming novel, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. We love this novel and encourage you to sample that first!

Jul 232014
Nick Carter Battles A Death Squad Of Terrorists!

Killmaster #249
Terrorism is the name of this deadly game, and all the players are professionals. There's the sexy spy who travels in the fast lane of London's society. And the financial terrorists who are only too glad to kill for their cause. A squad of crack commandos Israel's best. And Nick Carter is America's only entry in this high-stakes shoot out. With Arab missiles pointing at Haifa and Tel Aviv, millions of lives are in jeopardy, it's a race against time for Nick, a race that he can't afford to lose!

Printing History
Written by Jack Canon

Berkley Publishing Group
Jove Books
Published by arrangement with The Conde Nast Publications, Inc.
ISBN 515 10014
May 1989
 Posted by at 3:01 pm
Jul 232014


All this to say, world, here is my new book. It’s name is BRAVO, and it’s about a somewhat broken man trying to do his duty, and a somewhat broken woman trying to recover what she’s lost in doing hers.

To those of you who pick it up, who give it a try, my thanks. I sincerely hope you enjoy it.

In which I bow out and let Mulholland’s eloquent authors describe their own novels way better than I ever could. 

But seriously, Bravo is so good, and I hope you can find some time this week to visit a real or imagined digital bookstore to pick up a copy.

Jul 232014

Lynne Patrick

I had a disconcerting reading experience last week. Sorry; that phrase – reading experience – sounds like marketing-ese, which is a language I’ve always gone to some trouble to avoid speaking, but I don’t know how else to describe it.

Let me begin by saying that I read a lot of American fiction. Which is to say, fiction written by American authors. Some of it is in the original American edition, either because the author doesn’t have a separate British publisher, or more enjoyably, because I bought it during a visit to America. I even have two copies of the same Jack Reacher, with different titles, because I didn’t realize they were the same till I arrived home.

And I like to think I speak pretty good American when the occasion arises. On our recent visit a couple of months ago husband was moved to comment with a smile, ‘You just said that in American,’ when I asked the hotel housekeeper for some fresh washcloths. In the UK I’d have asked the chambermaid for some fresh flannels, but that would have taken a bit of explaining to her US equivalent.

Which is really what lies at the heart of my disconcerting experience. I was reading one of the small library of books I picked up at the Tattered Cover bookstore in Denver back in May: an early title by an author whose work I discovered a few months ago. She’s a British author, and her books, at least the ones I’ve read, are set in Britain and have British characters, though it turns out they’ve become popular in the US – possibly more so than at home, since blazed across the front cover was the tag NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER.

It didn’t take me long to realize that the copy I’d found was the American edition. And it had been translated.

Many years ago I had a conversation with an author friend whose debut novel had just sold to an American publisher; he talked about his American editor as if it was the most natural thing in the world. I was pretty green in those days, and couldn’t quite understand why a book written in plain English needed an American editor; my friend patiently explained that words like ‘tanner’ and ‘bob’ would be a mystery to readers across the water (the book was set in the 1950s, before decimal coinage came in over here), so some minor changes would be needed to make it user-friendly.

And yes, OK, I could see the potential difficulty. These days even ‘sixpence’ and ‘shilling’ are a foreign language to anyone under forty, and even then (it was a long time ago) their corresponding slang terms would have been confusing.

But to return to the present issue: the American edition I was reading had been adjusted for rather more than a few outdated slang terms. It had been well and truly translated. Taps had become faucets; handbags were now purses; car parks were parking lots, and in one bizarre case a ring road had become a beltway. These are just a few examples; by the end of the first chapter I had begun to wonder if the entire narrative had been relocated.

As I said several paragraphs ago, I read a lot of American fiction, and I do buy books in the US, but since I live in the UK, most of what I read is in the British edition. And now I’m wondering if it’s me or the books: do I simply not notice that an American book has been British-ized? Or do American authors’ British editors feel it’s unnecessary to go to such great lengths to ensure a book is comprehensible to a (slightly) different audience?

And if the latter is the case – isn’t it just a little patronizing to American readers to assume that a British author’s work would need to be translated so thoroughly?

Dead Guy has a lot of American followers, not to mention six contributors. Someone out there must have a view on this. Me, I’m just confused. And disconcerted.