Jan 302015
I’m not usually a football follower, but living in Seattle, it’s hard not to get caught up in all of the excitement surrounding this Sunday’s Super Bowl game, pitting the Seattle Seahawks against the New England Patriots. My wife and I were actually invited to a Super Bowl party, and we’ve accepted--even though most of the folks who will be attending aren’t football enthusiasts either, just bandwagon fans, so we’ll all be equally confused by the twists and turns of play. It should make for a funny scene. Anyway, fingers crossed for the ’Hawks.

• Amid all the publicity surrounding Paula Hawkins’ debut crime thriller, The Girl on the Train (Riverhead), Crime Fiction Lover surveys the broader field of “railways in crime fiction.” Works by Edward Marston, John Buchan, and (no surprise here) Agatha Christie all figure prominently in the mix.

I had a good deal to say about the beautiful book The Art of Robert E. McGinnis when it was first published last fall. But blogger Andrew Nette piles on with this recent appreciation in Pulp Curry.

• There’s been lots of news recently from Hard Case Crime. Not only does it have two long-out-of-print Ed McBain works slated for publication (one this coming July, the other--with a McGinnis-painted front--planned for release come January 2016), but it’s readying a brand-new Lawrence Block novel, The Girl with the Deep Blue Eyes, for distribution in September 2015. According to a news release, Block’s book “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 50 Sexiest Literary Villains,” according to Flavorwire, include Helen Grayle from Raymond Chandler’s Farewell, My Lovely, Arthur Conan Doyle’s Irene Adler, Veda Pierce from James M. Cain’s Mildred Pierce, and Francisco Scaramanga, played by Christopher Lee in the 1974 film version of Ian Fleming’s The Man with the Golden Gun.

• I have never before seen this 1976 British telefilm adaptation of Geoffrey Household’s best-known thriller, Rogue Male. Watch it yourself … before YouTube takes it down.

• For January Magazine, Brooklyn critic Anthony Rainone reviews The Burning Room, the latest entry in Michael Connelly’s popular Harry Bosch detective series.

• Unfortunately, I have two deaths to report: Best-selling Australian novelist Colleen McCullough has passed away at age 77. Although she was known most widely as the author of The Thorn Birds (1977), which was made into a 1983 TV miniseries starring Richard Chamberlin and Rachel Ward, McCullough also penned five novels featuring a small-town detective named Carmine Delmonico (beginning with 2006’s On, Off). Meanwhile, Elizabeth Foxwell notes in The Bunburyist that “Helen Eustis, Edgar winner for The Horizontal Man (1946) and the last living author on the Haycraft-Queen Cornerstone list of essential mysteries, died on January 11 at age 98. She was also known for The Fool Killer (1954, adapted for a 1965 film with Anthony Perkins).”

• Friend of The Rap Sheet Tony Black (Artefacts of the Dead) has a stage play, The Ringer, opening for a two-day run at the Gaity Theater in Ayr, Scotland, on Wednesday, February 11. “Told in the raw Scots tongue,” it’s based on his short 2014 novel of the same name. As the Gaity’s Web site explains, this “hard-hitting crime drama … is a cautionary tale of revenge, enacted upon the most unsavory of characters.” Here’s a plot synopsis:
For small-time Glasgow drug dealer Stauner, life is sweet when he meets Monique. With free board and an unpaid servant at his beck and call, the daily trip to the bookies is his toughest chore. It could all be too good to be true, but the misogynist Stauner stupidly believes it’s his due. When the wide boy’s deluded state persuades him that Monique should steal from night-club boss Davie Geddes, however, Stauner’s arrogance gets the better of him. Soon his cloak of small-minded bigotry is stripped from him and he’s forced to pay for the grievous misdeeds of his past.
Click here to watch a video preview of The Ringer.

• Ian Rankin’s Inspector John Rebus is being called out of retirement once more. The Scottish author isn’t giving much information regarding his next Rebus novel, but he did tweet recently, “I’m keeping the title of my next book under wraps, but am beginning to wish I hadn’t named it after a song with such a catchy chorus …”

• As I’ve mentioned, UK screenwriter and author Anthony Horowitz (House of Silk, Moriarty) has completed his writing on the next James Bond novel, “based on an Ian Fleming idea for a never-made James Bond television series and [with] a setting in the world of auto racing.” Like Ian Rankin, Horowitz isn’t revealing the title of his book yet, but The HMSS Weblog has a suggestion for what it could be.

• Let me go on record as agreeing with Kristopher Zgorski’s comment, in BOLO Books, that Grantchester, the British sleuth drama now showing in the United States as part of PBS-TV’s Masterpiece Mystery! series, “is a pure delight to watch.” Based on the fiction of James Runcie, it stars James Norton (who played the creepiest of killers in Season 1 of Happy Valley) as Anglican priest and amateur gumshoe Sidney Chambers, who repeatedly comes to the investigative aid of overworked, ill-tempered Detective Inspector Geordie Keating (Robson Green). As Zgorski explains, “The first season of Grantchester is based on the debut novel in the series, Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death [2012]. Since the book is more of a collection of short stories featuring recurring characters, the television series follows the same format. Each hour-long episode is dedicated to one case that Sidney and Geordie must solve. As one would expect, the mysteries contained within have various levels of complexity, but they are nevertheless entertaining.” Only two of six episodes of Grantchester have been broadcast so far, and Criminal Element’s Leslie Gilbert Elman is keeping close track of them.

• Hmm. I, for one, had never looked at Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire as a mystery. But apparently I should have.

• In the blog Ontos, Mike Gray looks back at three episodes of the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994) that featured detective and mystery themes. If my memory serves, however, the first time Star Trek incorporated a criminal investigation into its fictional universe was in “Wolf in the Fold,” a 1967 episode of the original series that found the Enterprise’s chief engineer, Montgomery Scott, being suspected of having slain several women during a shore leave on the planet Argelius II.

• I only vaguely recall this Saturday morning cartoon show.

• And don’t forget that the submission deadline for entries to the 2015 Debut Dagger competition, organized by the British Crime Writers’ Association, is this Saturday, January 31. As the CWA Web site explains, “The Debut Dagger is open to anyone who has not yet had a novel published commercially. All shortlisted entrants will receive a professional assessment of their entries. Winning the Debut Dagger doesn’t guarantee you’ll get published. But it does mean your work will be seen by leading agents and top editors, who have signed up over two dozen winners and shortlisted Debut Dagger competitors.”
Jan 302015

MEET MR. CALLAGHAN. Eros Films, UK, 1954. Derrick de Marney, Harriette Johns, Peter Neil, Adrienne Corri, Larry Burns, Trevor Reid, Delphi Lawrence. Based on the novel The Urgent Hangman by Peter Cheyney. Director: Charles Saunders.

   Every once in a while, if you watch enough old movies on DVD, even the most obscure ones, you run across one that you enjoy so much you know about it. Such is the case with Meet Mr. Callaghan, and luckily I so have a blog by which I can you, at least, about it.

   I’ve not been able to confirm that The Urgent Hangman is indeed the Peter Cheyney novel the movie’s based on — that will have to wait — but Slim Callaghan is a British PI who appears in any number of Cheyney’s novels and short stories, and at the moment one mention on IMDb is all I have to work with.

   And The Urgent Hangman is the first Slim Callaghan novel, and if it’s as good as the movie, it would be well worth reading. Callaghan is one of those PIs whom, once you hire him, just won’t let go, even if you want to fire him. He’ll do everything in the book on your behalf, even if you come to detest him, as young and beautiful Cynthia Meraulton (Harriette Johns) soon discovers, and even outside the book, as demonstrated on this case.

   Callaghan, you see, if one those PIs who believe in manipulating evidence, intimidating witnesses, bribing and double-crossing suspects and whatever else it takes. I was reminded in this regard of Perry Mason, whose actions are also often questionable but always make sense in the end. But Callaghan goes Mason the extra mile. Mason stays within the law, Callaghan skirts just on the other side of it.

   The case: Cynthia Meraulton fears that her stepfather may be murdered and she will be set up to take the blame by one of the man’s sons, who are all included in the man’s will. Red flags go up as soon as Callaghan learns that the man has been killed, and quite probably right around the time Cynthia was in his office.

   Derrick de Marney, who plays Slim Callaghan, reminded me at times of Robert Mitchum, not so much the droopy eyelids, but on occasions those too. But I’m thinking more of the laconic almost deadpan delivery, but very British in nature. It is difficult to put into words — I don’t believe I’ve come across anything like it before, and de Marney is very very good at it.

   There are also several good-looking women in this movie, including Delphi Lawrence, who plays Callghan’s secretary Effie Perkins, who unlike Sam Spade’s Effie, is not loyal, far from it.

   The detective work is very good, and the complicated plot holds together, but it’s the overall sense of good humor that really carries the day — not laugh out loud funny, but the mood is light enough to smile almost constantly.

   There was a second Slim Callaghan movie made the next year, Amazing Mr. Callaghan, said to have been based on the novel Sorry You Have Been Troubled, but that one stars Tony Wright and was made in France by another filming company altogether, which is too bad, since I’d like to see another one made by the same crew as was responsible for this one.

 Posted by at 2:05 am

Tom Piccirilli’s poetry

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Jan 292015

Reviewers are saying that these are Tom's most personal poems yet
dealing with mortality, the loss of longtime friends and the existential
traps everyday existence.

Why I write poetry by Tom Piccirilli
Poetry is like writing 10 sentence short stories.  They are self-contained screams of self-indulgence.  When the writing is good its faster--much faster than prose--and sometimes you just need that speed to capture the essence of what you're trying to say.  Metaphor isn't frowned against and rhyme and meter are easily sidestepped, if you so choose.

available exclusivey from crossroads press

Book Bargain of the Day! THE COZY MYSTERY BUNDLE

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Jan 292015
(lifted from Bill Criders blog)

Curated by Patricia Lee Macomber

I can think of no better cure for the winter blues than curling up with a good book. In that vein, here are fourteen great books by nine great authors. This Cozy Mystery Bundle offers a variety of books to appeal to a broad range of readers, each of them hand-picked by me. And as always, you decide the price you pay. And please keep in mind that a portion of the proceeds goes to charity.

Here there are happy characters and dark, humor and suspense. You can get a good dose of ah-ha moments and a few prickles of fear. The bundle includes my own book, Murder, Sometimes, the first book in the Jason Callahan supernatural mystery series. It also includes books by perennial favorites, Bill Crider and Ed Gorman, as well as some new and rising stars. There are two boxed sets included in this bundle, as well, bringing the total number of books to fourteen.

This bundle only runs for three weeks, so you'd better get 'em while they're hot. There is no better way to give the gift of reading to your friends, too. The first five books are available for the nominal price of $5 (or more if you're in a charitable mood) and for $14 (or more if you're in a charitable mood) you will receive the four bonus books. – Patricia Lee Macomber

The initial titles in the bundle (minimum $5 to purchase) are:

A Minor Case of Murder by Jeff Markowitz
Deadly Blessings by Julie Hyzy
The Kewpie Killer by Falafel Jones
Lexy Baker Cozy Mysteries Boxed Set 1-4 by Leighann Dobbs
Murder, Sometimes by Patricia Lee Macomber
If you pay more than the bonus price of just $14, you'll get another four books:

One Dead Dean by Bill Crider
The McKinleys Mystery Series Boxed Set 1-3 by Carolyn Arnold
New Improved Murder by Ed Gorman
Death is a Cabaret by Deborah Morgan
The bundle is available for a very limited time only, via http://www.storybundle.com. It allows easy reading on computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as Kindle and other ereaders via file transfer, email, and other methods. You get multiple DRM-free formats (.epub and .mobi) for all books!

It's also super easy to give the gift of reading with StoryBundle, thanks to our gift cards – which allow you to send someone a code that they can redeem for any future StoryBundle bundle – and timed delivery, which allows you to control exactly when your recipient will get the gift of StoryBundle.

Why StoryBundle? Here are just a few benefits StoryBundle provides.

Get quality reads: We've chosen works from excellent authors to bundle together in one convenient package.

Pay what you want (minimum $5): You decide how much these fantastic books are worth to you. If you can only spare a little, that's fine! You'll still get access to a batch of exceptional titles.
Support authors who support DRM-free books: StoryBundle is a platform for authors to get exposure for their works, both for the titles featured in the bundle and for the rest of their catalog. Supporting authors who let you read their books on any device you want—restriction free—will show everyone there's nothing wrong with ditching DRM.

Give to worthy causes: Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of their proceeds to charity. We're currently featuring Mighty Writers and Girls Write Now.

Receive extra books: If you beat our bonus price, you're you're getting fourteen total books (which includes two boxed sets)! StoryBundle was created to give a platform for independent authors to showcase their work, and a source of quality titles for thirsty readers. StoryBundle works with authors to create bundles of ebooks that can be purchased by readers at their desired price. Before starting StoryBundle, Founder Jason Chen covered technology and software as an editor for Gizmodo.com and Lifehacker.com.

For more information, visit our website at storybundle.com, Tweet us at @storybundle, Like us on Facebook, and Plus us on Google Plus. For press inquiries, please email press@storybundle.com.

Jan 292015
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.


  • 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!



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Jan 292015


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.