Bittersweet Edgar Noms

January 22nd, 2013 by Max Allan Collins

The Edgar nominations were announced last week, and I was pleased to see two books I contributed essays to were chosen in the Best Critical/Biographical section: BOOKS TO DIE FOR and IN PURSUIT OF SPENSER (Matt Clemens co-authored the essay in the latter, dealing with the Spenser TV series). I admit to my disappointment that Jim Traylor and my MICKEY SPILLANE ON SCREEN didn’t get a nod. I am never surprised to be absent in Edgar fiction categories – that’s the biggest crap shoot on the planet – but I felt we had a decent shot in this smaller, more specific category. There’s always the Anthonys….

Today I doing a final pass on a Mike Hammer story, “So Long, Chief,” developed from a particularly strong ten-page Spillane fragment. It will likely appear in The Strand, and I am gradually completing enough Hammer stories to see the possibility of a collection glimmering on the horizon.

Matt Clemens and I met this week and put the finishing touches on WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU. The book definitely reflects my interest in the wave of Nordic mystery fiction, which I’m mostly familiar with via foreign TV adaptations. Barb and I watched a new Varg Veum film last night, for example, and have gone through all of the available Wallanders (as well as the Brit version). The longer TV cut of GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO is superior to the films (apparently it’s not uncommon for TV movies and series to have limited theatrical releases in that part of the world, before expanded television versions are aired). While it’s dangerous to look at a country’s output of crime fiction as a genre unto itself, I am fascinated by the Nordic mix of political intrigue and social ills. WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU doesn’t reflect the political side in a major way, but does (I think) represent a move away from the CSI-oriented forensics thrillers that Matt and I have previously explored.

* * *

A nice review of the 2007 Ms. Tree prose novel, DEADLY BELOVED, has turned up on the web.

My friend, the fine writer Ed Gorman, wrote a very generous piece on SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT.

Here’s a so so review of SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT, a patronizing piece from my point of view. It also quotes a PW review from a reviewer who doesn’t know the meaning of the word “parody” (hint: not interchangeable with pastiche).

More SEDUCTION reviews are available at Goodreads.

And here’s a nice, insightful review of “A Little Faith,” the story Matt Clemens and I did for the anthology DARK FAITH INVOCATIONS.


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6 Responses to “Bittersweet Edgar Noms”

  1. Tim Field says:

    If you happen to have time to read some Nordic mystery fiction, I’d recommend Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole (not pronounced like it looks) series set in Norway. I heard Jo Nesbo speak when he was in Saint Paul recently and was pleased to learn that Martin Scorsese will be directing a film based on one of Nesbo’s novels (The Snowman, I think). Congrats on the Edgar nominations – I read the Spenser on TV article you contributed. That book was a nice sendoff and tribute to Robert B. Parker.

  2. Thanks for this post, Tim. I may wait for the film, though frankly Scorsese has always been hit-and-miss with me. I love some of it, and dislike a good share (I particularly like KING OF COMEDY and actively dislike GANGS OF NEW YORK — and in the mystery fiction adaptation realm, I thought SHUTTER ISLAND was lousy).

    The Spenser TV article was tricky. I’m not a Parker fan, as you probably know, although I extol his achievement and what he did for revitalizing the private eye genre. So I had to skirt my non-fannish feelings and concentrate on a TV show that has not been released on DVD. All Matt and I had to review were the later TV movies. I think Urich was a great TV PI, though, and I’m proud of what Matt and I came up with, out of our collective memories and web research. Very difficult editorial staff at that publisher, though (Otto was terrific, as usual) who did such lunk-headed editing as making syntax “fixes” in quotations! Yow.

  3. Gerard Saylor says:

    I’m not a big Spenser fan but I always preferred Joe Mantegna to Robert Urich.

  4. I was not able to view the Mantengna TV movies — couldn’t locate copies in time. Everything in that piece on those movies reflected Matt Clemens’ POV. By the way, Matt is a Spenser/Robert B. Parker fan.

  5. patrick_o says:

    Max, I’m happy that you got nominated — a well-deserved nomination. I’m not so happy that BOOKS TO DIE FOR got a nod. I reviewed it on my humble blog about two weeks ago and found myself fairly dissatisfied with the book as a whole. Some of the individual contributions to the book are absolutely brilliant. I loved your piece on I, THE JURY (though I still disagree about its merits), and loved several of the other pieces. Bill Pronzini, Marcia Muller, Sara Paretsky, Mark Billingham, Linda Barnes, Megan Abbott, and Christopher Brookmyre (off the top of my head) delivered top-notch essays of pure enthusiasm. If only all the contributions could be that brilliant! Instead, a lot of people clocked in for some free advertising, and there was a pronounced bias towards modernity. The 1990s got more coverage than the entire genre up to the year 1947!!! I happen to be very fond of old mysteries and was shocked that Ellery Queen, John Dickson Carr, Erle Stanley Gardner, and many other major players in the game were completely ignored.

    I know that in theory the inclusions should at least be good, but there’s such a huge bias in terms of the inclusions that a specific picture of the genre is painted, and it’s a picture I’m tired of seeing, a picture that panders to The Critics and their idea of Real Literature. I think it was Raymond Chandler who said it best: “However well and expertly he writes a mystery story, it will be treated in one paragraph while a column and a half of respectful attention will be given to any fourth-rate, ill-constructed mock-serious account of the life of a bunch of cotton pickers in the Deep South.”

  6. While I would not have put it as harshly, I agree with you as to the selections of titles. I have only read in BOOKS TO DIE FOR, just essays on books I was interested in. My objection to the nomination of books like this — the Parker book is at least dedicated to a single author — is that an editor invites a bunch of writers to do essays, and poof, instant book. I don’t think this kind of book compares, frankly, to what Jim and I did in SPILLANE ON SCREEN, because we focused on one important writer and did the first book-length discussion of the topic. I’ll put our “Kiss Me Deadly” chapter up against anything in either book, including my own essays.