Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Book of Skulls by Robert Silverberg


SFReader.com has posted my review for Robert Silverberg's masterful scifi / horror novel The Book of Skulls. [Click here to read the review]

Robert Silverberg is a writer who I have known--routinely passed on the bookstore shelves--for many years, but a writer I had never read until I was fortunate enough to get the assignment to review The Book of Skulls for SFReader.

The Book of Skulls was originally published in 1972--you can feel the turmoil of the Sixties and Seventies mixing itself into the story and the characters the way a setting--a time--should make itself known in a story. It is another character really--perhaps the hero, or more likely the villain--who pushes and shapes and molds the flesh characters into what and who they are: We are the time and culture we live.

It is a story of youth, angst and the terrible consequences we must pay for our beliefs, dreams, actions, and maybe just because we are alive, breathing, and dying all at the same time. Read the review, then read the book, because The Book of Skulls is one of the best novels I have read this year.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

New Hard Case Crime Artwork

I just got my dirty paws on the latest artwork to appear on a future Hard Case Crime novel. It is deliciously lurid and boldly vibrant. The artist is Greg Manchess--he has painted several of the better covers for HCC including: Fade to Blonde, Home is the Sailor, and the forthcoming Michael Crichton novel (published under the pseudonym John Lange) Grave Descend. This beauty reminds me of his cover for Fade to Blonde--my favorite of the HCC covers to date--and it will appear on Gil Brewer's The Vengeful Virgin due out--sigh--March 2007.

Don't forget that Lemons Never Lie by Richard Stark (Donald Westlake), the latest HCC title, is due out in the next week or so. This is a title I can't wait to get. It features Grofield, a member of hardass-criminal Parker's gang, and now brought back into print in one of his starring roles. Westlake is great, as either himself or as Stark.

Monday, June 26, 2006

The 2006 Shamus Award Nominees are Announced

The Private Eye Writer's of America have announced the 2006 nominees for their annual Shamus Award for best private eye fiction. All of the nominees were published in 2005.

I'm ashamed to admit that I have read only one of the nominated stories--Lee Goldberg's The Man with the Iron-On Badge, which was a great P.I. novel. Anyway, here are the nominees. (I hope you pictured someone fantasically hot celebrity smoothly delivering that line--I pictured, um, Naomi Watts.)

An interesting aside: two of the five nominees for best paperback original are from independent publisher Pinnacle. The titles are: Deadlocked by Joel Goldman, and The Killing Rain by P.J. Parrish. Not a bad showing.

Best Hardcover

Oblivion by Peter Abrahams (Wm. Morrow), featuring Nick Petrov.
The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown), featuring Mickey Haller.
The Forgotten Man by Robert Crais (Doubleday), featuring Elvis Cole.
In A Teapot by Terence Faherty (Crum Creek Press), featuring Scott Elliot.
The Man with the Iron-On Badge by Lee Goldberg (Five Star), featuring Harvey Mapes.
Cinnamon Kiss by Walter Mosley (Little, Brown), featuring Easy Rawlins.

Best Paperback Original

Falling Down by David Cole (Avon), featuring Laura Winslow.
The James Deans by Reed Farrell Coleman (Plume), featuring Moe Prager.
Deadlocked by Joel Goldman (Pinnacle), featuring Lou Mason.
Cordite Wine by Richard Helms (Back Alley Books), featuring Eamon Gold.
A Killing Rain by P.J. Parrish (Pinnacle), featuring Louis Kincaid.

Best First Novel

Blood Ties by Lori G. Armstrong (Medallion), featuring Julie Collins.
Still River by Harry Hunsicker (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Minotaur), featuring Lee Henry Oswald.
The Devil’s Right Hand by J. D. Rhoades (St. Martin's Minotaur), featuring Jack Keller.
Forcing Amaryllis by Louise Ure (Mysterious Press – Warner), featuring Calla Gentry.

Best Short Story

“Oh, What a Tangled Lanyard We Weave” by Parnell Hall. Murder Most Crafty (Berkley), featuring Stanley Hastings.
“Two Birds with One Stone” by Jeremiah Healy. Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Jan/Feb 2005, featuring John Francis Cuddy.
“The Big Road” by Steve Hockensmith. Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, May 2005, featuring Larry Erie.
“A Death in Ueno” by Michael Wiecek. Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, March 2005 featuring Masakazu Sakonju.
“The Breaks” by Timothy Williams. Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, September/October 2005 featuring Charlie Raines.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Through Wyoming Eyes, by Ken Rand

My review of Ken Rand's most recent chapbook, Through Wyoming Eyes, has been posted on SFReader.com. [Click here to read it] Ken Rand is a local Utah writer--he is a librarian in my local library system--and his writing is a unique blend of science fiction, horror and western. In this collection he puts together five stories that are set in Wyoming. They all have a great sense of time, place and will often leave you smiling--they have the feel of classic scifi: The Twilight Zone, and The Outer Limits.

If you have never read Ken Rand's work, you should, and Through Wyoming Eyes is a good place to start.

Friday, June 16, 2006

An Interview with Western Writer, Elmer Kelton

There is a great interview with writer Elmer Kelton currently online at The American Enterprise Online. Kelton recently celebrated his eightieth birthday--he started his career writing stories and novellas for the old pulp magazines, and he has seen some amazing changes in the business of writing. He seems witty, humorous and downright humble. It doesn't hurt that he is one of the better selling western writer's currently producing.

I have read only one novel written by Elmer Kelton--Badger Boy--and I can't say that the story, the location--Texas--or characters spoke to me, but the prose and pace were expert and I finished it with no problem. With that in mind, this article / interview puts me in the mood to try another of his stories. I hope you read it, and enjoy it because we are watching an entire genre washed away without so much as an alert, a siren, or even a eulogy. Click here to read the interview.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril by Paul Malmont

I was pointed to a review of a new "pulp" novel on Yahoo! News, The Chinatown Peril written by Paul Malmont; published by Simon & Schuster in hardcover. (Now just if they would print the damn things as paperback originals so we could afford to buy them!*) The book sounds great--the main players will all be familiar to you: L. Ron Hubbard, Lester Dent, Robert Heinlein, Louis L'Amour and many other popular writers of pulp's golden age join forces to solve the murder of the soon to be famous H.P. Lovecraft. . . read the review. It'll explain sooo much better than I, since, dare I presume, he actually read it. This is one I hope I can find at the local library.

*This review got me thinking, if the old-style pulpy thriller is fashionable--we see it all over these days in bookstores, on movie screens, and even on television--does it take away from its power as a vehicle of the working class to tell their very real story in a fantastical way? The way it told stories in the 30's, and especially the '40s and '50s when the paperback original revolutionized American literature by making books--real paper, ink and ideas--available in editions that the common person could afford?

The way I see it, when something becomes hip, or fashionable--all the beautiful people "love, just love it baby"--it has lost its connection with reality. If the wealthiest, most charming, most beautiful--and probably most medicated--of us all has an attraction to this neo-pulp has it (the genre) lost its power as a voice for the working class? God, I hope not, but how can the same piece of fiction speak to a Harvard graduate earning $300,000 a year and to the guy that cleans the toilets for $300 a week?

No answers here I'm afraid. Only questions, but damn I wish there were more publishers putting out affordable books. Although the cover for The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril is genuinely beautiful--still, it would be even more so on a cheap rack-sized paperback.