Posts Tagged ‘Bullet Proof’

What, Me Retro?

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

I was watching the pilot of the Cinemax QUARRY with my wife, son and daughter-in-law (don’t tell HBO), and Barb turned to me when the character the Broker first entered and nudged me and smiled and said: “You did that.”

Well, I did, but a long, long time ago. About 43 years. At the Writers Workshop in Iowa City, where the instructor didn’t like the opening chapters I’d written very much, and most of the class wasn’t wild about it either.

At 67, I suddenly find myself aware of how very long I’ve been doing this, and am gratified that suddenly a lot of what I’d thought to be ephemeral works of mine are turning back up in print, and getting on the radar of a new generation or two of readers. Some of what I’ve written has almost by definition been ephemeral – specifically the movie novelizations and TV tie-in’s – though SAVING PRIVATE RYAN remains in print and a publisher is seeking permission from DreamWorks to do a hardcover edition.

But almost everything else with my byline is available again or soon will be, much of it from Thomas & Mercer, but also such boutique publishers as Perfect Crime, Speaking Volumes and Brash Books.

For these weekly updates, I routinely do a Google search to see what reviews and such have popped up on the Net, for me to provide links here. More and more I am surprised to find write-ups about older books of mine. It’s almost jarring, because often the reviewers are more familiar with the work than I now am.

Of course, the new Hard Case Crime editions of the first five Quarry novels have sparked interest, and in particular QUARRY (the first novel) has received some gratifying attention. Here’s one such write-up.

And here’s another.

And one more.

Fairly regularly, somebody comes along and praises either the entire “Disaster Series” or singles out one of the books in particular, like this piece that focuses on THE LUSITANIA MURDERS.

So many of these reviews of older work of mine just seem to appear out of the blue, like this look at the Eliot Ness novel BULLET PROOF.

But nothing could prepare me for this article specifically focusing on the musical side of my years on the planet, discussing both the Daybreakers and Crusin’.

Here, dealing with a somewhat more recent novel, is a nice review of the Jack and Maggie Starr mystery, STRIP FOR MURDER.

Coming full circle, the just published FATE OF THE UNION is pulling in some nice reviews, like this lovely one from Bill Crider, a writer I much admire.

Finally, my pal Ed Gorman brought in Ben Boulden of Gravetapping to review FATE OF THE UNION on Ed’s terrific blog, also a positive review.


Eliot Ness Back In Print

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Speaking Volumes, the audio company that has brought out several of my novels on CD, is branching out into e-books and print editions. I’m pleased to announce that all four “Eliot Ness in Cleveland” novels are now available in what look to be handsome editions (my author’s copies have not arrived yet). This is the first new printing of MURDER BY THE NUMBERS since its original publication in 1993, so that title in particular may be of interest.

Dark CityThe Dark City: Print | E-Book
Butcher's Dozen
Butcher’s Dozen: Print | E-Book

Each Ness novel is based on a real investigation by the famous Untouchable during his very exciting tenure as the Public Safety Director of Cleveland – less written about than his Chicago days, the Cleveland years mark Ness’s major contributions to crimebusting. THE DARK CITY has him cleaning up a notoriously corrupt police department (with a guest apperance by Nathan Heller), BUTCHER’S DOZEN (the best known of the novels) is the first book-length look at the famous Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run, BULLET PROOF has Ness taking on corrupt unions, and MURDER BY THE NUMBERS finds Ness making an unlikely alliance with black numbers gangsters to defeat the famous Mayfield Road Mob’s takeover of a “colored” racket. The latter book explores Cleveland as the source of Chester Himes’ imaginary Harlem in his Coffin Ed and Gravedigger Jones crime novels, featuring the real-life black cop who provided the basis for those famous characters.

Bullet ProofBullet Proof: Print | E-Book
Murder By The Numbers
Murder by the Numbers: Print | E-Book

These novels formed the basis for the second act of my play (and film) ELIOT NESS: AN UNTOUCHABLE LIFE.

A very smart review of Mickey Spillane’s classic MY GUN IS QUICK favorably mentions my introduction to that Penguin collection of the first three Mike Hammer novels. Nice to see somebody “getting” Mickey Spillane.

David Rachels’ web site, NOIRBOILED, often has interesting stuff on display, including mini-interviews with authors and “poems” culled from crime novels. He has panned several of my novels and he gives a patronizing, half-heartedly positive review to the current reprint of QUARRY. He’s a smart guy, so it’s worth a look, but I don’t agree at all with his labeling of the Quarry series as chiefly a Richard Stark imitation. His description of QUARRY as a novel built on the Stark approach/structure doesn’t show much insight to either approach or structure – a good deal of the magic of the Parker novels is the section midway that either devotes a chunk to a single point of view other than Parker’s or gives single point-of-view chapters to various characters, enabling Stark to play games with time (a trick Don Westlake admitted to me having learned from Kubrick’s THE KILLING). QUARRY, a first-person novel built much more on the traditional private eye paradigm than that of Stark’s quirky crook books, is far, far less indebted to Richard Stark than the Nolans, which began as outright Stark pastiche (though I believe they grew into something of their own). To really understand what I am doing in the Quarry novels – or for that matter what Stark is doing in the Parker novels – a reviewer would need a better grasp of W.R. Burnett, Horace McCoy, Dan Marlowe and Jim Thompson than Rachels reveals. Rachels also does not appear aware that – after the first book, anyway – Parker never kills a civilian, and he skips entirely any consideration of the key role Vietnam plays in both Quarry the killer and Collins the novelist.

My friend Ed Gorman – one of the best living crime writers – has always been generous to me in his reviews. He continues that tradition in a wonderful review of SPREE, the final (to date, anyway) Nolan and Jon novel. He talks a lot about the Comfort family, and I happen to agree with him that that criminal hillbilly clan is among my proudest achievements. By the way, the Comforts were named as an overt reference to one of my favorite novels, Stella Gibbons’ classic COLD COMFORT FARM. One of the books begins with a sentence that includes the phrase “Cole Comfort’s farm.”

Next week I will talk about the avalanche of Collins material that 2011 will bring. Golden Age or Apocalypse…your call.