Jan 292015
 
MURDERER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS
by Mike Tooney


SLEEPING CAR TO TRIESTE. General Film Distributors, UK, 1948; Eagle-Lion Films, US, 1949. Jean Kent, Albert Lieven, Derrick De Marney, Paul Dupuis, Rona Anderson, David Tomlinson, Bonar Colleano, Finlay Currie, Grégoire Aslan, Alan Wheatley, Hugh Burden, David Hutcheson, Claude Larue, Zena Marshall, Leslie Weston, Eugene Deckers. Writers: Clifford Grey (story), William Douglas-Home (writer), Allan MacKinnon (writer). Director: John Paddy Carstairs.

   We watch as an important diary is abducted from a wall safe in a Paris embassy and one of the staff has the misfortune to witness the theft, with fatal results. The thief passes the book to an accomplice and then suavely rejoins the party in progress. As the plot unfurls we learn that this diary contains enough explosive information to ignite another war in Central Europe.

   What our murderous book taker doesn’t count on is being double-crossed by his accomplice, who intends to sell it to the highest bidder. What our double-crossing accomplice doesn’t count on is being closely pursued by the other guy aboard the Orient Express. He has already killed once for the diary, and as we’ll see he won’t hesitate to do it again.

   For a story of murder and political intrigue, this movie has a remarkably light tone. Much of the film is taken up with amusing character interaction — even the villain seems to have a human side. That, as much as the rest of the plot, makes Sleeping Car to Trieste highly watchable.

   Both IMDb and Wikipedia inform us that Sleeping Car is a remake of a 1932 British film called Rome Express (in which, incidentally, Finlay Currie appeared as another character), with a somewhat different plot line and writers.

   Take note of the steward who can’t keep his tunic buttoned, Eugene Deckers, a Belgian actor who appeared many times in many disguises on the 1954 Ronald Howard Sherlock Holmes series, most memorably as Harry Crocker, the disappearance expert.

   Viewers might remember David Tomlinson as the father in Disney’s Mary Poppins; in Sleeping Car he’s endowed with just one brain cell more than Bertie Wooster, his unwitting interference deflecting the story in unexpected directions.

 Posted by at 7:13 pm
Jan 292015
 

Here in the Midwest we are having a rather warm winter. Sure, we were below zero around New Years Eve, but it has been very mild over all. I am sure that our weather will return to sub-zero temps soon and when it does, I will be stocked up. And so, I will present you with the best damn lasagna recipe ever! The link is here.

Ingredients:

  • 10 ounce box of lasagna noodles
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 whole medium onion
  • 6-10 cloves garlic
  • 1 whole red bell pepper, diced
  • 24 ounces, weight white mushrooms, chopped (I used portobella)
  • 2 whole yellow squash, diced
  • 2 whole zucchini, diced
  • 1 can (28 ounce) whole tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes, cayenne, chili powder, and paprika (to taste)
  • 30 ounces of ricotta cheese
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound thinly sliced mozarella cheese
  • Extra parmesan cheese, for sprinkling

Obviously, the first thing you want to do is dice your vegetables. If you have a slap chop or something similar, make it your best friend. You have a lot of stuff to chop, and you want the pieces to be small and roughly the same size.

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Cook your lasagna noodles.

Heat the olive oil in large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté for a minute. Add the chopped red bell pepper and cook for another minute or so. This helps soften it up before you add the other veggies.

Add the squash, zucchini, and mushrooms, and cook for a few minutes. Pour in the wine and add salt, pepper, and seasonings to taste.

Crush the whole tomatoes with your hands or a fork, and pour the entire can into the skillet. Stir, and simmer for 20 minutes. Taste often to check the seasonings, add more if the taste dissipated when the tomatoes were added. Add chopped parsley.

In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, eggs, salt, pepper, and parmesan.

To assemble the lasagna, spread a small amount of the sauce on the bottom of a lasagna dish.  Layer 4 noodles on top, and then spread 1/3 of the ricotta mixture over them. Layer the mozzarella slices over the ricotta, and then top with 1/3 of the vegetable sauce. Repeat twice more, ending with the rest of the sauce and a sprinkling of parmesan.

Cover with foil and bake at 350° for 20 minutes, and then remove the foil and cook for another 10-15. Allow to sit at room temperature for at least 1o minutes before cutting and serving.

We deviated from the recipe slightly, after all, recipes are merely a suggestion. We added some mild Italian sausage and used spaghetti sauce instead of tomatoes. Put a slice of fresh baked bread on the side and it's perfect! Which is what my lunch is today and I am starving. So off I go.

Hope all you New Englanders are faring well!

Terri

LAWRENCE BLOCK RETURNS WITH BRAND NEW NOVEL!

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Jan 292015
 







LAWRENCE BLOCK RETURNS WITH BRAND NEW NOVEL!

Hard Case Crime to Publish THE GIRL WITH THE DEEP BLUE EYES New York, NY; London, UK (January 28, 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 New Novel by Lawrence Block 2 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.

Jan 292015
 
The Black Eagles #14: Firestorm At Dong Nam, by John Lansing February, 1988  Zebra Books After reading the first volume, which was courtesy Mark Roberts (and the only volume of the series he wrote), I didn’t really consider another installment of the Black Eagles series. But when I came across a pristine-condition copy of this 14th volume for half off the cover price, I couldn’t pass it up.
Jan 292015
 

German scientists invent teleporter that can ‘beam’ simple objects to another location

Ed here: The first I ever heard of teleportation was in a mid-50s sf novel by Gordon Dickson. Now look. It's a start anyway.


23 JAN 2015 AT 10:04 ET                   
Scotty allows teleporting inanimate physical objects across distance (Screenshot)
Teleportation has been the holy grail of transport for decades, ever since Mr Scott first beamed up Captain Kirk and his crew in the 1966 opening episode of Star Trek. Now the technology may have been cracked in real life … sort of.
Scientists from the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam have invented a real-life teleporter system that can scan in an object and “beam it” to another location.
Not quite the dematerialisation and reconstruction of science fiction, the system relies on destructive scanning and 3D printing.
An object at one end of the system is milled down layer-by-layer, creating a scan per layer which is then transmitted through an encrypted communication to a 3D printer. The printer then replicates the original object layer by layer, effectively teleporting an object from one place to another.
“We present a simple self-contained appliance that allows relocating inanimate physical objects across distance,” said the six person team in a paper submitted for the Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction conference at Stanford University. “Users place an object into the sender unit, enter the address of a receiver unit, and press the relocate button.”
The system dubbed “Scotty” in homage to the Enterprise’s much beleaguered chief engineer, differs from previous systems that merely copy physical object as its layer-by-layer deconstruction and encrypted transmission ensures that only one copy of the object exists at any one time, according to the scientists.
Real-world applications are pretty short for this kind of destruction and reconstruction. But the encryption, transmission and 3D printing objects could be key for companies wishing to sell goods via home 3D printers, ensuring only one copy could be made per purchase – effectively digital rights management for 3D printed objects.
Those looking to cut their commute by simply beaming into the office will have to wait at least another decade or two.

Jan 292015
 
Reviewed by DAVID VINEYARD:          


ORRIE HITT – I’ll Call Every Monday. Red Lantern Books, hardcover, 1953. Avon #554, paperback reprint, 1954.

   I got the impression that she was short because I could see a lot of one leg. It was straight and firm and rounded and not too long from the knee down to her foot. She had the accordion in her lap and this had pulled her dress up.

   I was trying to think how I would describe Orrie Hitt’s writing style, and I went through quite a few ideas such as ‘post war spicy pulp’ or ‘hard-boiled soft-core,’ but I finally came up with the most accurate description I could think of.

   Orrie Hitt wrote in paperback covers.

   Read that passage above and tell me if you can’t see that cover by Avati, McGinnis, or Saber. The man wrote in paperback covers.

   That’s not a knock. It’s a vivid and entertaining style with a flavor of the pulps but adapted to the post war hard-boiled paperback original industry he worked in. He isn’t a lost master, but he wrote professional readable books sometimes a bit above the average and there were actual plots between the not quite sex scenes.

   It is difficult to remember how hot this was when written. Today it’s at worst frustrating. It’s the fifties juvenile kind of sex where the hero wants to see the girl naked, but he’s not quite sure what to do when she is. When anything actually does happen, you have to go back and reread the passage to be sure it did.

   I’m not complaining that it is not more graphic, only pointing out that it is hard to believe you had to read this with a flashlight under the sheets or hide it in your treehouse from your parents.

   This one was published by Avon. Beacon or Midwood were more often his style.

   The hero of this one is Nicky Weaver, a bit of a drifter, the usual WWII veteran of popular fiction of the era.. As the novel begins he’s selling insurance in Devans a small town in upstate New York USA.

   MONDAY IS A BIG day on an insurance debit. Monday is the day when the housewives hang out their wash, lie to every bill collector in town—and are thankful that they didn’t get themselves higher than a kite over the week-end.

   If you get the idea early that Nicky is a poor man’s Walter Neff from Double Indemnity you wouldn’t be far off; the film version anyway with that mouthful of Chandleresque wiseacre observations; first person Smart Aleck. The girl with the accordion is a sweet kid who lives where he does.

   She had on a dark blue dress and the way she was standing she was outlined against the window. She had high pointed breasts, a pulled-in middle that didn’t amount to anything, and a set of hips that drove the temperature in the room up to about a hundred and twenty.

   That’s Sally, the accordion girl, and another paperback cover moment. There are several of them along the way with her and others.

   The chief female in question appears shortly after. She has a husband and she’s buying life insurance on herself, for now. She’s Irene Shofield, wife of Shepard Shofield:

   She was tall, about five-seven, and she looked like she had about a forty-inch bust. Her hair was blonde, almost to the point of being white, and it was held in place by a green scarf that came up through her curls and ended in a little bow on top. She wore yellow shorts that were plenty short and a halter of the same color that wasn’t holding up anything that couldn’t have stayed up by itself.

   Irene does things to Nicky:

   She sat up, bent forward and put the glass down on the ground beside the bench. Her halter was loose and I felt my temperature getting up to sunstroke stage.

   As you might guess Shepard really needs life insurance. You see, in New York State if the wife is insured for over $1,000 the husband has to have coverage as well. That must have come as a surprise to Irene, such a thing would never occur to her. Whether that was true or not about the insurance, Hitt sells it and writes believably about what Nicky is all about, not only in his pants, but in his work. His attention to the details of the business weaving in and out around Nicky may remind you of John D. MacDonald, a lesser John D. MacDonald, but still.

   The book moves well, is well plotted, and if no surprises it has no disappointments either. Hitt’s not in the class of a Ed Lacy, a Harry Whittington, or a Day Keene, and he’s a shade on the sleazy side, but he’s the king of what he did.

   While Nicky struggles with his itch for the troubled close to illegal Sally and the seduction by the gorgeous Irene a colleague, Dell Waters, dies, and Dell told his wife that Nicky was a good guy who could help her, and of course she is attractive and represents the healthy side of Nicky’s libido. I can’t say she mourns very long though.

   I watched her as she worked. Her arms were strong and brown and she handled the hook like she knew what she was doing… She worked with a slow rhythm that made her look cool even there in the hot sun. Once or twice she bent over to pull an old piece of wire out of the way. When she did that her blouse sagged in front. There was no doubt about her being all woman.

   Bess and her kids are Nicky’s salvation, if Irene doesn’t drown him in desire and her plans. Irene is a shade on the sociopathic side. Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity is pure as the driven snow compared to Irene.

   There are a good many complications and situations for hot breathing and some panting with Sally, Bess, and especially Irene, and Irene will show her true colors with Nicky having to make the big choice between her and murder.

   There’s even a plot and several sub-plots that don’t quite get in the way of the panting, but the tame sex that seldom gets beyond a kiss, a bit of groping, loose clothing, and the temperature of the woman-in-question’s body under her clothes. “Pointed breasts” is about as graphic as it gets. This is much tamer than anything in Spillane’s work, whatever kind of hound Nicky is.

   The difference is the sex is really what this and most of Hitt’s books are about. The plot is incidental to that paperback cover style of writing.

   It’s a fairly standard paperback original suspense novel, Hitt a bit better as a writer than some, at least enough to be memorable. If you didn’t already know that he was a collectible writer from the era, you would likely read another one by him. This one is what John D. MacDonald might have written if he was just a paperback original writer and not John D. MacDonald. It’s what people thought Gold Medal was giving them, when they were giving them so much more in most cases.

   Something is missing though, and it escapes me exactly what it is. The same plot, the same level of writing in other hands didn’t feel trashy, and this does. I’m not saying it’s bad trash, though. I enjoyed it for the hour and fifteen minutes it filled. I’m just not sure I’ll remember much of it a month from now or be able to distinguish it from another Orrie Hitt book.

   There is a mystery involved here as well. Sometime later Hitt wrote a book called Ladies’ Man. That book is in the third person and features a hero named Nicky Weaver who used to sell insurance and takes a job selling advertising for a small radio station in a new town, gets involved with a woman and a bit of embezzlement, and ends up a murderer being arrested as the book ends. If he’s the same guy, he’s bi-polar at the least.

   I’ll leave that one for someone else to solve, but it’s also written in paperback covers.

 Posted by at 2:48 am
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

 

What is Wonderful About the World?

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Jan 282015
 
Emily St. John Mandel said (on @Bksandauthors) when she was thinking about her novel, STATION ELEVEN, (a post-apocalyptic story) her husband asked her, "what is wonderful about the world?'
 She came up with the work of William Shakespeare and uses that as a major plot point in her novel.

What is wonderful about the world? 

The Mystery of Marie Rogêt by Edgar Allan Poe

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Jan 282015
 
The first murder mystery based on the details of a real crime

  C. Auguste Dupin and his sidekick the unnamed narrator undertake the unsolved murder of one Marie Rogêt of Paris. The body of Rogêt, a perfume shop employee, is found in the Seine River and the media has taken a keen interest in the mystery.


 The story is based upon the actual murder of Mary Cecilia Rogers. She disappeared on October 4, 1838, in New York City and became known as the "Beautiful Cigar Girl". Only a few days later the newspapers announced her return. It was said she had eloped with a naval officer. Three years later, on July 25, 1841, she disappeared again. Her body was found floating in the Hudson River on July 28 in Hoboken, New Jersey. The details surrounding the case suggested she was murdered. The death of this well-known girl received national attention for weeks. Months later her fiancé was found dead, an act of suicide. By his side was a remorseful note and an empty bottle of poison.

Printing History
Written by Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)
  
Snowden's Ladies' Companion
William W. Snowden
November 1842
 Posted by at 2:30 pm