Mar 312015
The Short Mystery Fiction Society’s process this year by which it declared the finalists for its Derringer Awards was a tad confused, with revisions being made late in the game. Nonetheless, this morning brings an announcement of the winners in four categories.

Best Flash Fiction (up to 1,000 words): “How Lil Jimmie Beat the Big C,” by Joseph D’Agnese (Shotgun Honey)

Also nominated: “Because,” by Melissa Yi (Fiction River Special Edition: Crime); “Sweet Smells,” by Jed Power (Shotgun Honey); “Foodies,” by Rob Hart (Shotgun Honey); and “Knockout,” by Eryk Pruitt (Out of the Gutter)

Best Short Story (1,001-4,000 words): “The Kaluki Kings of Queens,” by Cathi Stoler (from Murder New York Style: Family Matters, edited by Anita Page; Glenmere Press)

Also nominated: “The Least of These,” by B.V. Lawson (Plan B Magazine, Vol. III); “Killing Sam Clemens,” by William Burton McCormick (Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine); “A Friend in Brown,” by Mary E. Stiba (from Best New England Crime Stories 2015: Rogue Wave, edited by Mark Ammons, Katherine Fast, Barbara Ross, and Leslie Wheeler; Level Best); and “The Bad Son,” by Britni Patterson (from Carolina Crimes: Nineteen Tales of Lust, Love, and Longing, edited by Karen Pullen; Wildside Press)

Best Long Story (4,001-8,000 words): “A Hopeless Case,” by Hilary Davidson (from All Due Respect, Issue #4, edited by Chris Rhatigan and Mike Monson)

Also nominated: “Separation Anxiety,” by Angel Luis Colón (from All Due Respect, Issue #5, edited by Chris Rhatigan and Mike Monson); “The Ultimate Mystery,” by M.H. Callway (World Enough and Crime, edited by Donna and Alex Carrick; Carrick Publishing); “The Missing Money,” by James T. Shannon (from Best New England Crime Stories 2015: Rogue Wave); and “Dead Men Tell No Tales,” by Cathy Wiley (from Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays, edited by Barb Goffman and Marcia Talley; Wildside Press)

Best Novelette (8,001-20,000 words): “The Snow Angel,” by Doug Allyn (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine [EQMM], January 2014)

Also nominated: “Hitler’s Dogs,” by Doug Allyn (Fiction River Special Edition: Crime); “Infernal,” by Trey Dowell (Untreed Reads); “Busting Red Heads,” by Richard Helms (EQMM, March 2014); and Juba Good, by Vicki Delany (Orca Books Rapid Reads)

In addition, the Edward D. Hoch Memorial Golden Derringer Award for lifetime achievement in the mystery short story goes to James Powell.

Congratulations to everyone considered for one of these prizes!

Forgotten Movies: 1955

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Mar 312015
Boy, 1955 was a great year for movies as you can see from the list here. 


This was one of my favorites when I saw it decades later. Doubt I saw any of them at the theater that year.  The big disappointment of a few years ago was its remake.

Wait a minute. I think I saw this one. Still gorgeous today.

What is your favorite movie from 1955?
Mar 312015
“If you are like me, your emotions will be all over the board while reading Inspector of the Dead.  I was astonished at the killer’s nerve when members of society’s elite entered public places, and were discovered murdered a short while later, and the public did not see a killer leave.  I was angered and haunted by the injustices of society toward the less fortunate.  I was awed by De Quincey’s ability to make leaps of intuition and insight despite his addiction.”

- Back Porchervations reviewing David Morrell’s new historical thriller, Inspector of the Dead
Mar 312015
To be honest, I'm not a big fan of Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. I like Hepburn in BRINGING UP BABY and THE PHILADELPHIA STORY, but that's about it. I enjoy Tracy's work a little more, especially in movies like BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK and INHERIT THE WIND. And I have to admit, they work well together in the movies where they teamed up. DESK SET is one of those I hadn't seen until now.
Mar 312015

13th World SF ConventionAs mentioned in our post of March 24th, the PulpFest 2015 newsletters would soon be arriving in the mailboxes of our loyal and supportive members. If you have not received your copy of our newsletter and registration form by April 15th, please contact David J. Cullers at or at 1272 Cheatham Way, Bellbrook, OH 45305. Please let him know whether you want our member or dealer newsletter and he’ll get one off to you. If you would prefer not to wait, click on the words “member” and “dealer” in the preceding sentence to download copies of this year’s newsletters.

For those who have not yet received their newsletter, PulpFest 2015 will be sharing the Hyatt Regency with Matsuricon, a gathering of Japanese anime and pop culture enthusiasts. Although many of these fans will be coming for a single day, there may be quite a few who will be staying at the Hyatt Regency and other downtown hotels. Therefore, we are urging all of our members to book their hotel rooms for PulpFest 2015 AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

Apparently, the people who have already received their newsletters have taken our message to heart. Earlier today, we received a message from one of our regular attendees that there were no rooms left at the Hyatt Regency. Soon thereafter, the hotel rearranged a block of rooms to make more available to PulpFest attendees. However, the earlier you place your room reservation for this year’s PulpFest, the greater chance you have of landing a room.

The best deal for PulpFest members is to book a room at the Hyatt Regency Columbus. Our host hotel is offering a room rate of $116 plus tax per night that includes a complimentary parking pass with in-out privileges and free Wi-Fi. Additional parking passes for people sharing rooms are available for $10 each. Attendees who don’t want to go elsewhere for meals or libations can take advantage of the Hyatt’s cafe, coffee bar, and cocktail lounge. Fitness-minded members can enjoy the hotel’s indoor pool and sun deck, spa services, and gym.

So what are you waiting for? Call 1-888-421-1442 to book a room by telephone. You must register by July 1, 2015 and mention PulpFest to get the special convention rate. Alternately, you can register online by clicking here or the red “book-a-room” button on our home page. The room rate offered by the Hyatt Regency to PulpFest members is one of the best in the downtown area. Matsuricon members will be paying $123 per night, plus an additional $12 a day for parking. Dollar-for-dollar, the PulpFest rate at the Hyatt pretty much stifles the competition.

PulpFest 2015 will take place from August 13th through August 16th. The Hyatt will also honor the PulpFest rate on August 12th and August 17th. Remember, your stay at our host hotel helps to defray some of the convention’s substantial costs. Please show your support of PulpFest by booking a room at the Hyatt Regency Columbus.

(It’s not quite the Hyatt Regency, nor is it Columbus, Ohio, but Frank R. Paul’s “atomic city” painting served as the cover art for the program book of the 13th World Science Fiction Convention, held in Cleveland, Ohio in 1955.)

 Posted by at 1:30 am

Clean Reader app — **shrugs**

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Mar 302015
The Clean Reader app controversy tornado blew through town. It struck me as an odd one but what the hell do I know, I'm not a writer.  Here's a couple of very random thoughts to fill my time here on this fine Monday afternoon.

-There are readers who will not abide violence towards children and animals. They will not abide profanity. Flat out. These folks also read a lot. A few years ago I went to Bouchercon in Baltimore and the first time I heard someone remark that they will not read a book that contains violence towards animals I chuckled to myself. By the time I heard it the sixth time I realized that this was a thing. The same with profanity. So it's easy to poke fun an someone who might want this app but I can see a reason for it existing. And people using it.

-There seems to be a group of writers that feel that any alteration to even a single word of their book alters if not damages the book. I understand that folks spend years writing their books and hold them dear but that argument strikes me as precious. I've skimmed enough books, for various reasons, to know that I can skip whole paragraphs and still get what your saying in the book.

-I grew up watching tons of movies that aired on Saturday afternoons on network TV. These movies were sanitized to  to make them fit network guidelines. No sex, no nudity, no profanity. Whole scenes cut for time. I loved these movies and still got what was going on in them. I'm pretty sure that Samuel Jackson's consent wasn't obtained when the "motherfuckers" in Jackie Brown were changed to "Maryland farmers".

-Thomas Jefferson (yes, that Thomas Jefferson) took a bible and cut out all of the supernatural elements of it because he didn't believe them. He wanted to get down to the essence of Christ's teachings and get rid of the Supernatural stuff that he didn't believe. For starters this meant that the miracles were cut out, the resurrection was cut out, passages indicating any divinity were cut out. You can buy a copy for your Kindle for a buck if you want. But my point in mentioning it is that Thomas Bowlder may have been marked down in history as infamous but this kind of thing has been done before.

-A lot of "classics" are published in an abridged format, particularly for kids. Did Melville consent to the abridgement changes to that Illustrated Classics edition of Moby Dick? Fuck if I know but my kids sure like the story.

None of this is coherent and doesn't make for a coherent case but those are my thoughts.
Mar 302015


Lazarus picked up for tv - Michael Lark

The Image title Lazarus, by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark, has been picked up by Legendary and producer Matt Tolmach (Amazing Spider-Man) for a TV series, according to Hollywood Reporter.  The title is Eisner-nominated, and both of the first two volumes of the graphic novel made the Top 10 in comic stores for the months they were released.

So excited for Greg Rucka! For more of his kick-ass characters, be sure to read Alpha and Bravo.

Gravetapping: “Nina” by Robert Bloch

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Mar 302015

Posted: 28 Mar 2015 02:37 PM PDT
Robert Bloch is a legend. He is popularly known as a horror writer, but his production was wide and impressive. He wrote extensively in the crime, science fiction and horror genres. He had a particular skill at taking the style of one genre—hardboiled crime—and mixing it with the theme and expectations of another genre—horror. Think Psycho .

I recently read his short story “Nina” and I was impressed (to say the least). Nolan is an American running a plantation in the wild country of Brazil. The closest city: Manaus. The plantation’s only access is by boat, and Nolan isn’t completely comfortable with the workers. It’s not that they don’t work well, but rather it is their ceaseless drumming during the night. Add the heat. The humidity. The mosquitoes. And Nolan is a miserable man.

His life on the plantation changes when a woman appears. She is unknown to the local workers, and Nolan’s translator, Moises, calls her an “Indio” and “savage.” She soon becomes Nolan’s bedmate, and when his wife and child arrive to visit, Nolan’s world is shaken on its head.

“Nina” has all of the elements of a terrific horror story: a foreign and exotic location; a creepy and dark fabric; mysticism; outright strangeness; and a violent, and very peculiar, loss. It is very much horror, but it is brilliantly delivered with hardboiled prose, which provides a raw power—not to mention forward momentum—many horror stories lack:

“After the lovemaking Nolan needed another drink.

“He fumbled for the bottle beside the bed, gripping it with a sweaty hand. His entire body was wet and clammy, and his fingers shook as they unscrewed the cap. For a moment Nolan wondered if he was coming down with another bout of fever. Then, as the harsh heat of the sun scalded his stomach, he realized the truth.”

“Nina” is one of the better genre stories I have read. Its power is heady and visceral with a shadow-like quality; the narrative creates a shifting, soft focus, of the events. The characters feel real and the narrative is perfect. It captures the essence of the story and delivers it with an impressive blend of force and jaded subtlety most writers never achieve.

“Nina” originally appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in 1977. I read it in the anthology The Best Horror Stories Volume 1 edited by Edward L. Ferman and Anne Jordan. It was published by St Martin’s Press in 1988.

This was originally posted February 6, 2009, but since I have read a few Robert Bloch short stories recently, and reviewed his fantastic “The Hell-Bound Train”I thought it would be interesting to find some of my prior writings about Mr Bloch’s work. I also reviewed his stories “The Real Bad Friend” and “Lucy Comesto Town” in 2014.
Mar 302015
The Continental Op is one of my all-time favorite characters and has been ever since I was in high school and discovered the paperbacks reprinting the stories that featured him. If you'd asked me, I wouldn't have been sure that anybody could do justice to the character in a pastiche. But by golly, that's exactly what Evan Lewis has done in his story "The Continental Opposite" in the May issue