Oct 212014
 
A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by Karol Kay Hope


  GORDON ASHE – A Nest of Traitors. Holt Rinehart & Winston, US, hardcover, 1971. Popular Library, US, paperback, no date. First published by John Long, UK, hardcover, 1970.

   Gordon Ashe is a pseudonym of John Creasey, an amazingly prolific British writer who had to his credit some 560 novels published under more than twenty names. A Nest of Traitors continues the adventures of Patrick Dawlish and “The Crime Haters,” one of his most popular series.

   A revered British war hero and onetime independent crime fighter, Dawlish is now deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, London, specializing in crimes of international significance. He is also the acknowledged leader of a loosely knit group of crime fighters, the membership representing every major police force in the world.

   In this case, Dawlish must alert various international investigative agencies to a widespread passport-fraud scheme that could wreak havoc on immigration and passport control throughout the world. As Dawlish’s investigation continues, passport control turns out to be the tip of the iceberg; a select group of the world’s most powerful men are on their way to seizing control over each government, major industry, banking system, and society on the planet.

   By the time Dawlish discovers this master plot, the organization — known as “the Authority” — has almost succeeded, and Dawlish is the one person standing between a
free world and its complete domination by this small but vicious group of immensely wealthy megalomaniacs.

   Unfortunately, Dawlish is just too perfect; and the Authority is too powerful to really be vulnerable to the heroic antics of what Ashe would have us believe is the last honorable man in the world. Farfetched, but a good book to read yourself to sleep with.

   Patrick Dawlish appears in all the Gordon Ashe novels except The Man Who Stayed Alive (1955) and No Need to Die (1956). Representative titles are Death on Demand (1939), Murder Too Late (1947), Elope to Death (1959), A Clutch of Coppers (1969), and A Blast of Trumpets (1975).

         ———
   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.

 Posted by at 10:38 pm
Oct 212014
 

Hake Talbot's 1944 masterpiece, Rim of the Pit, is one of the best "impossible crime" mysteries ever written (at least in my humble opinion). It's the subject of the current book discussion under way among the members of the "4 Mystery Addicts" group at Yahoo. I'm the question master; between now and October 30, I'll be posting a total of six questions for the group to consider and discuss. The first question is already posted; the second will be going up there tomorrow. If you've read the book, I invite you to come discuss it in conversation with the group - I'd love to know what you think.

If you're not a member of the group yet, by the way, I strongly encourage you to join (you can do it at the link above) - it's free, of course, and you'll find discussions there about every possible sub-genre of the mystery field and the very latest books by your favorite authors.

For those who may have missed what I had to say about Rim of the Pit in the past, here's a link to an earlier post.

Let Chandler Be Your Guide

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Oct 212014
 
Last week on this page we announced the start of a new giveaway contest. The prizes this time: four copies of “The Raymond Chandler Map of Los Angeles” (Herb Lester Associates), illustrated by Paul Rogers, with text by Kim Cooper, author of The Kept Girl. Today we have our winners, chosen completely at random. They are:

Kenneth Koll of San Diego, California
David Origlio of Aurora, Colorado
Carol Gwenn of Hollywood, California
Larry W. Chavis of Mendenhall, Mississippi

Congratulations to all four of those lucky Rap Sheet readers. Copies of the Chandler map and guide should be mailed out to each of them within the next several days.

And if you didn’t win? You can still purchase a copy of “The Raymond Chandler Map of Los Angeles” by clicking here. They’re beautiful.

WAIT FOR SIGNS

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Oct 212014
 




WAIT FOR SIGNS
Twelve Longmire Stories
By Craig Johnson
Viking Penguin
183 pages

We reviewers are always trying to come up with fancy descriptions that will instantly cue the reader into exactly what kind of experience awaits them in the title we are reporting on.  It’s that tight-wire routine of giving away just enough of the idea without spoiling the actual contents.  With any Craig Johnson Longmire title, that’s not all that difficult.

Like the best fictional detective series ever put to pen, the joy in these mysteries is always the characters themselves with the actual who-dunnits really only an excuse to visit them time after time.  And the Longmire books are no exceptions.  Rather they excel at this process and every time a new one comes out, we can’t wait to spend more time with Sheriff Walt, Deputy Vic, George Standing Bear and all the marvelous characters who inhabit Johnson’s Absaroka County, Wyoming.

Over the past years, since beginning the series, Johnson has written a dozen short stories dealing with this series.  Some are poetic epilogues to certain novels while others are simply stand alone vignettes that do not require any real familiarity with the books.  What they all have in common is Johnson’s grasp of humanity with all its foibles and his unique homespun humor.  Here’s the bottom line, if Mark Twain had written mystery stories, they would have read a whole lot like the dozen between the covers of “Wait For Sign.”  That’s the best compliment this reviewer can offer.


Oct 212014
 

Backlist Spotlight: Nice Girl Does Noir
Image

Dear Ed,

"Short stories are the poetry of prose. They are precise, cut to the bone, every word a necessity. Not many authors develop that control. Libby Fischer Hellmann has the hand of a master. Take it from a guy who knows her well: Libby is a nice girl. But she writes noir with a savvy edge honed on the hard, dark knowledge of the evil possible in us all." - William Kent Krueger
While Kent's words are meant to be flattering, I do have to confess something: I love writing short stories. I often say that a novel is like a marriage, but a short story is an affair: passionate, all-consuming, wonderful, and brief. So I've written lots of short stories, and continue to. I've collected fifteen of them in Nice Girl Does Noir. Volume I includes five Ellie Foreman and Georgia Davis stories; Volume II has ten stand-alone stories that span different territories, characters, and times. You'll find them all here.
And if you'd like to know why I think writing short stories are critically important for a writer's career, take a look at this article.
Reviews
"I don't usually like short stories, but these are terrific! I roared through them. Hellmann had a good mix of Chicago historicals and contemporaries. My highest recommendation here."
- Molly Weston, Meritorious Mysteries
"When Hellmann explores the less sunlit areas of Chicago, her canvas becomes not only more universal but has greater depth and emotional value. Aspiring short-story writers would do well to pay attention."
- Naomi Johnson, The Drowning Machine

Best




Libby
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trapped in the netherworld of your spam box.





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Forgotten TV: SMOTHERS BROTHERS COMEDY HOUR

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Oct 212014
 


Although I never found the Smothers Brothers all that funny and I never found their singing all that good. But they managed to put together a fun show that we watched every week for the two years they were on CBS. The show became hip to watch for young people because of the focus of the humor and the youth and prestige of the musical guests.

They ran amuck of the network constantly and were pulled for their anti-war stance. That I  really did admire. How many entertainers use the power they have to try and stop a war? Despite being pulled in the middle of a season, the show won an Emmy for best writing that year.
Oct 212014
 
Is there a movie that absolutely everybody else in the world has seen, and somehow you've missed it? For me that movie was BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S. Never saw it, despite the hundreds of times it was on TV when I was growing up. But my daughter Joanna loaned me her DVD of it, and now, well, I've finally seen it, too. I won't bother talking about the plot (since all of you have already seen it,
Oct 212014
 
Time to travel again as we take to the airways on our way to Peking China. Wait there is no Peking today, or is there? The answer might enlighten one. The Chinese capital did not change its name but Chinese words became spelled in English differently. Sometime the 1980's the Chinese started to enforce its official name on all flights, sea routes, and official documents. This is why the name Peking is still echoing in ones minds and people continue to us even today. It might be easier to pronounce Beijing.
 

Assignment: Peking
by Edwards S. Aarons


He was Sam Durell, Caucasian master spy for K Section. Now he is Major San Tze Peng, Occidental master spy for the Black House of L-5 in Peking. Surgically altered to look like the tall Chinese, he must sneak his way into the People's Republic of China and find out who are the Sentinels.

The Peking Pornographer
 by Mallory T. Knight


The evil spymaster Wang was back for another attempt to bring the world to its knees, this time through a plot to neuter all the males except those he alone spared. The first task, though, was to neutralize O'Shane.

The Peking Target
by Adam Hall


The mission started with the assassination of two high level diplomats, one English and the other American, while on official business to the People's Republic of China. During the same time frame, at least two agents for the Bureau are removed from life, taking with them the reasons for the attacks.

The Peking Dossier
 by Linda Stewart


Nick Carter heads to China to find out the meaning of KAN. He learns it means an army of soulless soldiers incapable of feeling any fear … or mercy.

 Posted by at 7:30 am
Oct 212014
 
Reviewed by JONATHAN LEWIS:         


CORNERED. RKO Radio Pictures, 1945. Dick Powell, Walter Slezak, Micheline Cheirel, Nina Vale, Morris Carnovsky, Edgar Barrier, Steven Geray. Director: Edward Dmytryk

   Cornered is the type of suspense film where, for a time at least, you really don’t have a clue exactly where you’re headed. But you’re in good company, because the film’s protagonist doesn’t really know what’s going on all around him, either. It’s not the easiest plot structure to pull off in a book, let alone a film.

   You’d surely agree with me that far too many crime films have been ruined by a director holding back important information about what’s going on from the viewer without his ultimately, and successfully, clearing the obfuscation so as to bring the plot to a satisfying conclusion. Sometimes, trying to do too much to give the film an air of mystery ends up letting all the air out of the proverbial bag.

   In Edward Dymytrk’s Cornered, however, the mystifying and suspenseful plot ultimately works quite well. This is thanks in no small part to the film’s casting of Dick Powell as Laurence Gerard, a Royal Canadian Air Force pilot on the hunt for a Nazi collaborator, and Walter Slezak as Melchior Incza, an enterprising scoundrel who serves as Gerard’s Virgil on a tour of the war criminal underground of Buenos Aries. Powell and Slezak are both such talented actors that you don’t mind not being temporarily in the dark.

   On the surface, at least, the plot is fairly straightforward. The Second World War is officially over. Unofficially, of course, there are many unresolved issues. The murder of Laurence Gerard’s French wife is one of them. Gerard resolves that he will track down his wife’s killer, a French collaborator by the name of Marcel Jarnac. He travels from France to Switzerland and then to Argentina on the hunt for the mysterious man.

   Once he arrives in Buenos Aires, Gerard is immediately thrust into a web of deception and psychological turmoil. He’s not sure whom to trust or who is lying to him. All the while, he is struggling with headaches, a reminder that the recently concluded war’s casualties include those struggling with post-traumatic stress.

   Among the nefarious, or potentially dangerous people he encounters are the enigmatic Melchior Incza (Slezak), the sophisticated Argentinian lawyer, Manuel Santana (Morris Carnovsky), and a woman who is thought to be Jarnac’s wife (Micheline Cheirel). All the players seem to have hidden agendas.

   But Gerard is a man on a mission of revenge and will not heed calls to abandon his task, no matter what the cost. He descends deeper into the shadowy underground of Buenos Aires, all culminating in a violent showdown on the waterfront in which we finally see the unassuming Jarnac. He looks like he could easily blend into a crowd without anyone noticing something was amiss.

   And that’s the point. Fascism hides in plain sight. It is Jarnac, in his discussion with a captive Gerard, who most clearly enunciates the film’s strong anti-fascist message and warning: the Second World War may be over, but fascists like him still live, hidden both in plain sight and in the shadows.

   In conclusion, Cornered is both a suspense film and an early example of film noir. Gerard is caught up is a labyrinth of uncertainty, often subject to historical forces well out of his control. Many of the film’s pivotal scenes occur in interior settings, well away from the disinfectant power of bright sunlight. Nowhere is this the case more striking than in a beautifully filmed sequence in the Buenos Aires subway in which a traumatized Gerard struggles to maintain his composure in a broken world.

 Posted by at 1:24 am