A late evening

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Mar 042015

Josh Getzler

I just returned from a lovely and lively evening taking queries from members of the New York chapter of the WNBA (Books not basketball!). So full post in the AM

Mar 042015

By now you have probably already seen my latest Kirkus Revews column, which showcases half a dozen new crime, mystery, and thriller novels due out in the States this spring. But as I note in that piece, there are oodles more genre works worth anticipating between now and the close of May. I recently pulled together the titles of spring crime-fiction releases that interest me most, and counted more than 275 works slated for publication on both sides of the Atlantic.

You can look over that lengthy compilation below. Although most of the March works were mentioned in my early January post about crime fiction to come, I have made so many additions to that month’s offerings, they need posting again.

Among the selections here are David Morrell’s Inspector of the Dead, his sequel to the Thomas De Quincey mystery Murder As a Fine Art; Adrian McKinty’s fourth novel featuring Irish detective Sean Duffy, Gun Street Girl; Jacqueline Winspear’s latest Maisie Dobbs novel, A Dangerous Place; Max Allan Collins’ most recent posthumous collaboration with Mickey Spillane, Kill Me, Darling; a fresh Bruno, Chief of Police, novel from Martin Walker, The Children Return (published in the UK as Children of War); Cara Black’s new case for Parisian sleuth Aimée Leduc, Murder on the Champ de Mars; a long-awaited re-release of Ted Lewis’ 1980 “masterpiece,” GBH; Bruce DeSilva’s fourth Liam Mulligan outing, A Scourge of Vipers; The Ghost Fields. the seventh Ruth Galloway mystery from Elly Griffiths (aka Domenica de Rosa); another promising yarn from David Corbett, The Mercy of the Night; the comeback of maverick Scottish ex-cop Quint Dalrymple in Paul Johnston’s Head or Hearts; John Connolly’s new Charlie Parker thriller, A Song of Shadows; Lyndsay Faye’s The Fatal Flame, her third investigation for mid-19th-century New York City “copper star,” Timothy Wilde; Ace Atkins’ latest continuation of Robert B. Parker’s Spenser private-eye series, Kickback; the unexpected but welcome reappearance of Canadian author John Farrow’s self-righteous Detective-Sergeant Emile Cinq-Mars in The Storm Murders; and a “terrifying” new novella from Minette Walters, The Cellar. Also worth mentioning, though it isn’t a novel, is The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook, edited by Kate White, which features recipes from such notables as Sue Grafton, Bill Pronzini, Scott Turow, S.J. Rozan, Raymond Benson, Gayle Lynds, Laura Lippman, and Felix Francis.

Undoubtedly, as your pour through the list below, you will discover other imminent releases worth watching for.

Aftershock, by Philip Donlay (Oceanview)
All the Old Knives, by Olen Steinhauer (Minotaur)
All the Wrong Places, by Lisa Lieberman (Five Star)
An Anecdotal Death, by Kinley Roby (Five Star)
The Angel Court Affair, by Anne Perry (Ballantine)
Archie in the Crosshairs, by Robert Goldsborough (Mysterious Press/Open Road)
Asylum, by Jeannette de Beauvoir (Minotaur)
Bone Gap, by Laura Ruby (Balzer & Bray)
The Cheapside Corpse, by Susanna Gregory (Little, Brown)
Cry Wolf, by Michael Gregorio (Severn House)
Cuba Straits, by Randy Wayne White (Putnam)
A Dangerous Place, by Jacqueline Winspear (Harper)
Dark Rooms, by Lili Anolik (Morrow)
The Dead Key, by D.M. Pulley (Thomas & Mercer)
The Devil’s Detective, by Simon Kurt Unsworth (Doubleday)
Down Don’t Bother Me, by Jason Miller (Bourbon Street)
Due for Discard, by Sharon St. George (Camel Press)
Edge, by Nick Oldham (Severn House)
The Edge of Dreams, by Rhys Bowen (Minotaur)
Endangered, by C.J. Box (Putnam)
The Fifth Heart, by Dan Simmons (Little, Brown)
The Figaro Murders, by Laura Lebow (Minotaur)
Firebreak, by Tricia Fields (Minotaur)
Fractured, by Kate Watterson (Forge)
The Friendship of Criminals, by Robert Glinski (Minotaur)
Gun Street Girl, by Adrian McKinty (Seventh Street)
The Harder They Come, by T.C. Boyle (Ecco)
The Hidden Man, by Robin Blake (Minotaur)
The House of Wolfe, by James Carlos Blake (Mysterious Press)
Impasse, by Royce Scott Buckingham (Thomas Dunne)
Inspector of the Dead, by David Morrell (Mulholland)
Kill Me, Darling, by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins (Titan)
Lacy Eye, by Jessica Treadway (Grand Central)
Leaving Berlin, by Joseph Kanon (Atria)
Life or Death, by Michael Robotham (Mulholland)
Love’s Alchemy, by Bryan Crockett (Five Star)
The Lost and the Blind, by Declan Burke (Severn House)
A Man’s Word, by Martin Jensen (AmazonCrossing)
Meadowlands, by Elizabeth Jeffrey (Severn House)
The Mouth of the Crocodile, by Michael Pearce (Severn House)
Murder Boy, by Bryon Quertermous (Polis)
Murder in Hindsight, by Anne Cleeland (Kensington)
Murder on the Champ de Mars, by Cara Black (Soho Crime)
The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook, edited by Kate White (Quirk)
Night Night, Sleep Tight, by Hallie Ephron (Morrow)
Past Crimes, by Glen Erik Hamilton (Morrow)
The Patriot Threat, by Steve Berry (Minotaur)
The Perfect Game, by Leslie Kirby (Poisoned Pen Press)
The Pocket Wife, by Susan Crawford (Morrow)
The Prince, by Vito Bruschini (Atria)
Pursuit in Provence, by Phyllis Gobbell (Five Star)
Season of Fear, by Brian Freeman (Quercus)
Shadow Ritual, by Éric Giacometti and Jacques Ravenne (Le French)
Side Trip to Kathmandu, by Marie Moore (Camel Press)
Signature Kill, by David Levien (Doubleday)
Soil, by Jamie Kornegay (Simon & Schuster)
Spring Remains, by Mons Kallentoft (Atria/Emily Bestler)
The Stolen Ones, by Owen Laukkanen (Putnam)
The Stranger, by Harlan Coben (Dutton)
The Strangler Vine, by M.J. Carter (Putnam)
Suitcase City, by Sterling Watson (Akashic)
The Tapestry, by Nancy Bilyeau (Touchstone)
The Tomb in Turkey, by Simon Brett (Crème de la Crime)
Too Bad to Die, by Francine Mathews (Riverhead)
12 Rose Street, by Gail Bowen (McClelland & Stewart)
Under the Channel, by Gilles Petel (Gallic)
The Unraveling of Mercy Louis, by Keija Parssinen (Harper)
Viper, by Maurizio de Giovanni (Europa Editions)
The Washington Lawyer, by Allan Topol (SelectBooks)
Werewolf Cop, by Andrew Klavan (Pegasus)
What the Fly Saw, by Frankie Y. Bailey (Minotaur)
Who Buries the Dead, by C.S. Harris (NAL)
The World Before Us, by Aislinn Hunter (Hogarth)
World Gone By, by Dennis Lehane (Morrow)

After the Crash, by Michel Bussi (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
A Bed of Scorpions, by Judith Flanders (Allison & Busby)
Black Wood, by S.J.I. Holliday (Black and White)
Bryant & May: The Burning Man, by Christopher Fowler (Doubleday)
Capital Crimes: London Mysteries, edited by Martin Edwards (British Library Crime Classics)
The Case of the “Hail Mary” Celeste, by Malcolm Pryce (Bloomsbury)
A Cold Killing, by Anna Smith (Quercus)
Cold Revenge, by Alex Howard (Head of Zeus)
Death in Devon, by Ian Sansom (4th Estate)
Death Under a Tuscan Sun, by Michele Giuttari (Little, Brown)
The Defence, by Steve Cavanagh (Orion)
The Dove’s Necklace, Raja Alem (Overlook Press)
Fixer, by P.F. Lennon (Hodder
& Stoughton)
The Ghost Fields, by Elly Griffiths (Quercus)
Into the Night, by Jake Woodhouse (Penguin)
The Jackdaw, by Luke Delaney (HarperCollins)
Keep the Midnight Out, by Alex Gray (Sphere)
A Line of Blood, by Ben McPherson (HarperCollins)
The Missing and the Dead, by Stuart MacBride (HarperCollins)
The Raven’s Head, by Karen Maitland (Headline Review)
The Scrivener, by Robin Blake (Constable)
The Shut Eye, by Belinda Bauer (Bantam Press)
The Tears of Dark Water, by Corban Addison (Quercus)
Toxic, by Jamie Doward (Constable)
Walking by Night, by Kate Ellis (Creme de la Crime)
The Whitstable Pearl Mystery, by Julie Wassmer (Constable)
You Belong to Me, by Samantha Hayes (Century)

The Alchemist’s Daughter, by Mary Lawrence (Kensington)
Antiques Swap, by Barbara Allan (Kensington)
The A26, by Pascal Garnier (Gallic)
Aunt Dimity and the Summer King, by Nancy Atherton (Viking)
Basic Law, by J. Sydney Jones (Mysterious Press/Open Road)
Black Run, by Antonio Manzini (Harper)
Blood on Snow, by Jo Nesbø (Knopf)
Blood Sweep, by Steven Havill (Poisoned Pen Press)
The Bone Tree, by Greg Iles (Morrow)
Bye, Bye Love, by K.J. Larsen (Poisoned Pen Press)
The Children Return, by Martin Walker (Knopf)
Circling the Runway, by J.L. Abramo (Down & Out -- e-book)
Compulsion, by Allison Brennan (Minotaur)
The Dead Lands, by Benjamin Percy (Grand Central)
A Deadly Affair at Bobtail Ridge, by Terry Shames (Seventh Street)
The Doll Maker, by Richard Montanari (Mulholland)
Duet in Beirut, by Mishka Ben-David (Overlook)
Every Fifteen Minutes, by Lisa Scottoline (St. Martin’s Press)
Falling in Love, by Donna Leon (Atlantic Monthly Press)
Fallout, by Paul Thomas (Bitter Lemon Press)
False Tongues, by Kate Charles (Poisoned Pen Press)
Fox Is Framed, by Lachlan Smith (Mysterious Press)
Gathering Prey, by John Sandford (Putnam)
GBH, by Ted Lewis (Soho Crime)
Ghost Image, by Ellen Crosby (Scribner)
Grave Consequences, by David and Aimée Thurlo (Minotaur)
Grave on Grand Avenue, by Naomi Hirahara (Berkley)
Hot Pursuit, by Stuart Woods (Putnam)
House of Echoes, by Brendan Duffy (Ballantine)
Innocent Damage, by Robert K. Lewis (Midnight Ink)
The Invention of Fire, by Bruce Holsinger (Morrow)
The Lady from Zagreb, by Philip Kerr (Putnam)
The Language of the Dead, by Stephen Kelly (Pegasus)
The Legend of Caleb York, by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins (Kensington)
Lincoln’s Bodyguard, by T.J. Turner (Oceanview)
Losing Faith, by Adam Mitzner (Gallery)
The Masque of a Murderer, by Susanna Calkins (Minotaur)
Memory Man, by David Baldacci (Grand Central)
The Mercy of the Night, by David Corbett (Thomas & Mercer)
Normal, by Graeme Cameron (Mira)
One Mile Under, by Andrew Gross (Morrow)
Painted Black, by Greg Kihn (Open Road)
A Palette for Murder, by Vanessa A. Ryan (Five Star)
Pleasantville, by Attica Locke (Harper)
The Ravens, by Vidar Sundstøl (University of Minnesota Press)
Revenge of the Kremlin, by Gérard de Villiers (Vintage)
Reykjavik Nights, by Arnaldur Indridason (Minotaur)
The Russian Bride, by Ed Kovacs (Minotaur)
A Scourge of Vipers, by Bruce DeSilva (Forge)
Slow Burn, by Andrew Welsh-Huggins (Swallow Press)
Snake Pass, by Colin Campbell (Midnight Ink)
Snared, by Ed James (Thomas & Mercer)
Solitude Creek, by Jeffery Deaver (Grand Central)
A Stitch in Crime, by Ann Yost (Five Star)
Swansong, by Damien Boyd (Thomas & Mercer)
Tattered Legacy, by Shannon Baker (Midnight Ink)
Thanksgiving Angels, by Alice Duncan (Five Star)
Thieves Fall Out, by Gore Vidal (Hard Case Crime)
Ties That Blind, by Zachary Klein (Polis)
Threshold, by G.M. Ford (Thomas & Mercer)
Twisted, by Andrew E. Kaufman (Thomas & Mercer)
What You Left Behind, by Samantha Hayes (Crown)
Whispering Shadows, by Jan-Philipp Sendker (Atria)
You Can Trust Me, by Sophie McKenzie (St. Martin’s Press)
You Will Never Find Me, by Robert Wilson (Europa Editions)
Your Next Breath, by Iris Johansen (St. Martin’s Press)

Corridors of the Night, by Anne Perry (Headline)
Cuckold Point, by Patrick Easter (Quercus)
Dead and Gone, by Bill Kitson (Robert Hale)
Deadly Election, by Lindsey Davis (Hodder & Stoughton)
Death in the Rainy Season, by Anna Jaquiery (Mantle)
The Detective’s Secret, by Lesley Thomson (Head of Zeus)
Double Mortice, by Bill Daly (Old Street)
Head or Hearts, by Paul Johnston (Severn House)
Hidden, by Emma Kavanagh (Century)
The Infidel Stain, by M.J. Carter (Fig Tree)
The Invisible Guardian, by Dolores Redondo (HarperCollins)
Last Resort, by Quintin Jardine (Headline)
Mrs. Pargeter’s Principle, by Simon Brett (Creme de la Crime)
The Novel Habits of Happiness, by Alexander McCall Smith (Little, Brown)
Orkney Twilight, by Clare Carson
(Head of Zeus)
Red Icon, by Sam Eastland (Faber & Faber)
The Serpentine Road, by Paul Mendelson (Constable)
Silver Bullets, by Élmer Mendoza (MacLehose Press)
Sleeping Dogs, by Thomas Mogford (Bloomsbury)
A Song of Shadows, by John Connolly (Hodder & Stoughton)
The Third Sin, by Aline Templeton (Allison & Busby)
22 Dead Little Bodies, by Stuart MacBride (HarperCollins)
What She Left, by T.R. Richmond (Michael Joseph)

The Altar Girl, by Orest Stelmach (Thomas & Mercer)
Anatomy of Evil, by Will Thomas (Minotaur)
And Sometimes I Wonder About You, by Walter Mosley (Doubleday)
Benefit of the Doubt, by Neal Griffin (Forge)
Blood Ties, by Nicholas Guild (Forge)
The Book of Stone, by Jonathan Papernick (Fig Tree)
The Border, by Robert McCammon (Subterranean)
Bubba Done It, by Maggie Toussaint (Five Star)
Burnt River, by Karin Salvalaggio (Minotaur)
Camille, by Pierre Lemaitre (MacLehose Press)
The Corpse with the Sapphire Eyes, by Cathy Ace (TouchWood)
Dead Girl Walking, by Christopher Brookmyre (Atlantic Monthly Press)
Death Ex Machina, by Gary Corby (Soho Crime)
Death of a Bride and Groom, by Allan J. Emerson (Five Star)
The Devil’s Making, by Seán Haldane (Minotaur)
Disclaimer, by Renée Knight (Harper)
Dry Bones, by Craig Johnson (Viking)
The Enemy Inside, by Steve Martini (Morrow)
The Fatal Flame, by Lyndsay Faye (Putnam)
Flame Out, by M.P. Cooley (Morrow)
The Forgotten Room, by Lincoln Child (Doubleday)
The Ghost Fields, by Elly Griffiths (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
The Harvest Man, by Alex Grecian (Putnam)
Housebreaking, by Dan Pope (Simon & Schuster)
The Ice Twins, by S.K. Tremayne (Grand Central)
Independence Day, by Ben Coes (St. Martin’s Press)
Innocent Blood, by Michael Lister (Pulpwood Press)
I, Ripper, by Stephen Hunter (Simon & Schuster)
Jack of Spades, by Joyce Carol Oates (Mysterious Press)
Killing Frost, by Ron Tierney (Severn House)
The Last Four Days of Paddy Buckley, by Jeremy Massey (Riverhead)
Little Black Lies, by Sharon Bolton (Minotaur)
Little Men, Big World /Vanity Row, by W.R. Burnett
(Stark House Press)
Liz/Syndicate Girl, by Frank Kane (Stark House Press)
Mañana, by William Hjortsberg (Open Road)
A Man of Some Repute, by Elizabeth Edmondson (Thomas & Mercer)
Missing, by Sam Hawken (Serpent’s Tail)
Murder with a Twist, by Tracy Kiely (Midnight Ink)
The Night Game, by Frank Golden (Salmon Poetry)
Only the Brave, by Mel Sherratt (Thomas & Mercer)
The Organ Broker, by Stu Strumwasser (Arcade)
Orient, by Christopher Bollen (Harper)
Paris Ransom, by Charles Rosenberg (Thomas & Mercer)
Pinnacle Event, by Richard A. Clarke (Thomas Dunne)
A Promise to Die For, by Jacqueline Pelham (Five Star)
Radiant Angel, by Nelson DeMille (Grand Central)
The Return of the Fallen Angels Book Club, by R. Franklin James (Camel Press)
Robert B. Parker’s Kickback, by Ace Atkins (Putnam)
Rock with Wings, by Anne Hillerman (Harper)
Ruins of War, by John A. Connell (Berkley)
The Scarlet Gospels, by Clive Barker (St. Martin’s Press)
Secrets of State, by Matthew Palmer (Putnam)
Sidney Chambers and the Forgiveness of Sins, by James Runcie (Bloomsbury)
Six and a Half Deadly Sins, by Colin Cotterill (Soho Crime)
Solitude Creek, by Jeffery Deaver (Grand Central)
Stone Cold Dead, by James W. Ziskin (Seventh Street)
The Storm Murders, by John Farrow (Minotaur)
The Teller, by Jonathan Stone (Thomas & Mercer)
Thin Air, by Ann Cleeves (Minotaur)
Tin Sky, by Ben Pastor (Bitter Lemon Press)
Traitor’s Gate, by Charlie Newton (Thomas & Mercer)
Trident Code, by Thomas Waite (47North)
The Underwriting, by Michelle Miller (Putnam)
Vanishing, by Gerard Woodward (Pegasus)
The Water Knife, by Paolo Bacigalupi (Knopf)
What Lies Behind, by J.T. Ellison (Mira)
When Somebody Kills You, by Robert J. Randisi (Severn House)

Boxes, by Pascal Garnier (Gallic)
The Cellar, by Minette Walters (Hammer)
Cocaine, by Massimo Carlotto, Gianrico Carofiglio (Author), and Giancarlo De Cataldo (MacLehose Press)
Fall of Man in Wilmslow, by David Lagercrantz (MacLehose Press)
Going to the Dogs, by Dan Kavanagh (Orion)
Hunted, by Paul Finch (Avon)
The Invisible Man from Salem, by Christoffer Carlsson (Scribe)
Killer Plan, by Leigh Russell (No Exit Press)
The Killing Lessons, by Saul Black (Orion)
The Killing of Bobbi Lomax, by Cal Moriarty (Faber and Faber)
Lives Lost, by Britta Bolt (Mulholland)
Mockingbird Songs, by R.J. Ellory (Orion)
The Seeker, by S.G. MacLean (Quercus)
The Slaughter Man, by Tony Parsons (Century)
The Storm, by Neil Broadfoot (Saraband)
Time of Death, by Mark Billingham (Little, Brown)
You Are Dead, by Peter James (Macmillan)

As I generally do when presenting one of these seasonal book-expectation lists, I ask all of you to let me know what I have missed highlighting. Do you know of other promising works in this genre, due out over the next three months, that should also be mentioned? If so, please drop a note about them into the Comments section at the end of this post. It’d be to our mutual benefit.
Mar 032015
We still have a couple more months to go before The Rap Sheet celebrates its ninth anniversary, but this last weekend brought the blog a different sort of milestone. My short item about the 82nd anniversary of attorney Perry Mason’s debut in Erle Stanley Gardner’s 1933 novel The Case of the Velvet Claws was apparently this site’s 6,000th post. Wow! It’s hard to imagine, looking back at my modest goals for the blog in 2006, that its contributors should have been so prolific. Or that, according to Blogger’s statistics-keeping software, the site has already exceeded 3 million pageviews.

Allow me to extend my fervent thanks to all Rap Sheet readers. This blog, though sometimes challenging to keep up, has brought me abundant satisfactions and been a source of numerous rewards at a point in my career where too many other outlets for my work have dried up. It seems I’m destined to be a blogger for years to come. There could certainly be worse fates …
Mar 032015
Houston, 1940  Benjamin Wade is a laid back private investigator whose jobs are so mundane that he doesn't even carry a gun. He thought his latest job was going to be easy.  He thought wrong.  Hired by beguiling Lillian Saxton to find a missing reporter with knowledge of her brother’s whereabouts in war-torn Europe, Wade follows a lead and knocks on a door. He gets two answers: bullets and a

Forgotten Movies-LIVE-IN MAID

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Mar 032015

This is an Argentinian movie directed by Jorge Daggero made in 2005. It concerns the havoc wreaked on a wealthy woman with the financial crisis of 2001 in Argentina.

Beba and and Dora (wealthy woman and her maid) have been together for thirty years. But gradually, Beba finds herself unable to pay Dora or any of her bills. She is also unable to do any of the chores Dora performs. She is alienated from her daughter and is getting less and less money from her former husband. Apparently they have gone through money left to her from her mother.

This is a character study of the two women, who dance around each other's grievances and issues for ninety minutes. It might be too small of a movie for some but I found the subtlety of their performances a treat.

And the ending is both surprising and inevitable.

Mar 032015
By R.J. Harlick

"Have you noticed that the jacket blurb for a lot of literary novels has been saying "a great mystery" or "a nail-biting thriller" recently? As a mystery writer, what do you think is going on? And also, what non-genre novel do *you* think is a great mystery?"

I imagine it’s a simple matter of economics. Mysteries sell. Literary fiction not so much unless a book has won an award, like a recent winner of a big Canadian literary prize, which had only sold a few hundred books prior to winning. Every once and awhile someone does a report on reading habits and mysteries are invariably at the top. So maybe a publisher is hoping by adding the words ‘a great mystery’ in the jacket blurb they will sell a few more books. But I suppose I am being a bit cynical.

I have read some very good mysteries by literary authors that did set out to write one. Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin comes to mind. It not only won the Booker prize but also the Hammet, an award given out specifically to crime fiction with a literary bent.  Her Alias Grace was also an intriguing read. Michael Ondaatje, best known for his novel The English Patient, also had a literary novel, The Cat’s Table, nominated for the Hammet. While it is about the exploits of a couple of boys on a sea voyage, a mystery is at the core.

I mustn’t forget Andrew Pyper who is considered a literary thriller writer. I can’t speak on the merit of his books, since I’ve never read one. They are too scary for me, but they have won numerous awards and several are in the process of being adapted to film.

I suppose one of the literary mysteries that has stuck with me is Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson. It was a fabulous book and I believe was made into a movie.

But what makes a mystery literary or not, I’m not so sure. As Meredith wrote yesterday, often they are considered more character driven than plot driven. But many of the best selling series are popular because of their characters and not necessarily their plots. I think literary mysteries tend to have less dialogue and more descriptive, often poetic passages, more internal monologues and flashbacks with less hands-on action.  But no doubt there are exceptions. I hate to use the word ‘formula’, but mysteries with a literary slant tend to be less formulistic with often very original approaches to story telling, but so can’ genre’ mysteries.  I have a feeling the line is very blurry between the two, if there are two different types of mysteries…

On another note, I am off to Portland, Oregon next week to attend one of my favourite conferences, Left Coast Crime.  I’m really looking forward to it and hope to see some of you there. I’m on the Great Outdoors: murder in nature panel on Sunday at 11:00 am.  A bummer I know, being on the last panel of the conference, but if you are still in Portland drop by and say hello.
Mar 032015
(This post originally appeared on March 14, 2009) This movie is a good example of how out of sync I am with the critical establishment (and most of the viewing public, too, for that matter). It was roundly panned, and I enjoyed the hell out of it. Yes, it’s hokey. Yes, it’s extremely predictable. I don’t care. It worked for me. That’s probably because it’s the sort of big, historical soap
Mar 032015
I'm pleased to announce that the Femme Noir team - Yours Truly, artist Joe Staton, inker Rick Burchett, and colorist Matt Webb - have begun production of a new Femme Noir miniseries, "Cold, Dead Fingers."  I can't say when it will be finished, but I'm hopeful that it will be completed this year, and probably see print in 2016. No publisher yet, but I have been having some encouraging discussions.

To celebrate this new beginning, I thought you folks might like to take a look at the first page of our forthcoming supernatural crime saga. To make it more special, I'm going to share with you the process that we employ in making our Femme Noir funnybooks.

I. It Begins With The Word: In this case, I wrote a detailed plot, breaking down the storytelling in some detail. No dialogue or captions as yet - I write those after I have Joe's penciled pages in hand; as I am the letterer as well as writer, I basically do both at the same time. Here's how the plot described this first splash page:
PANEL 1. And here we go…. We begin with a movie poster-styled splash page. In the center of the image is a full-length shot of Le Femme, hat pulled down low, guns in hands, trenchcoat whipping in the wind. Behind her is a sketched in Port Nocturne skyline. On the left, there’s a huge, spookily-lit “ghostly” head shot of our brutish killer – in this iteration, he’s called “Crusher” Corrigan – and below him, a full-length image of mad scientist Dr. Karl Boroff. On the right hand side of the page, opposite Corrigan’s scary melon, is an equally spooky “ghost” head of Madame Morella MaCabre. Below her, opposite of Boroff, is a full-length figure of plainclothes dick Lt. Rod Riley, pistol drawn.

Below that, room for the title lettering – ‘COLD, DEAD FINGERS’ - and a breathless introductory caption.
II. Joe's Deadly Pencil: From this florid description, Joe draws the page in pencil, employing his considerable talent and experience, working his magic:


Joe then e-mails me a lo-res jpeg to review. Once I've looked it over, and am sure that we're both happy with it, Joe then e-mails the page as a hi-res image file to...

III. Putting The Noir In Femme Noir: ...inker Rick Burchett. Joe and Rick have worked together numerous times before, perhaps most memorably on the 1980s incarnation of E-Man. In this case, Rick is applying his atmospheric blacks digitally, using his Cintique tablet.


Once completed, Rick sends jpeg files to both Joe and I to see if we have any notes. If everything's cool, as it is here, the image is then sent on to our last teammate.

IV. Dangerous Hues: Colorist Matt Webb gets his hands on the page next, and with the original script for reference (and having colored several Femme Noir adventures before), Matt digitally - and dramatically - colors the page.


Nice, huh? Once again, a lo-resolution copy of the colors is sent out for approval of all and sundry. Then, it all comes back to me.

V. The Final Words With the finished page in my e-mail box, I take it into Photoshop and fit it into the appropriate page template. Having scripted the dialogue - or in this case, caption - when I got the pencils, I then do the lettering in Illustrator. Finally, I drop the text in on the page back in Photoshop...  and voilà!


So that's how we do it. Repeat for pages 2, 3, 4 and so on... until the book is complete.

Stay tuned here for future Femme Noir updates, sneak peeks and announcements (which will always appear here first!).