Posts Tagged ‘Bye Bye Baby’

Nero Nom For Antiques Disposal—Satisfactory

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Barb and I (and for that matter our son Nate) are huge Nero Wolfe fans. Our preferred mode of enjoyment is the fine series of audio books read by Michael Pritchard, which Barb and I have listened to perhaps five times. I am also a fan of Bob Goldsborough’s continuation of Rex Stout’s great series – he was a role model for me in my work on Mickey’s unfinished novels.

So it was with particular pleasure and even a little pride that Barb and I learned that we’d been nominated for the Wolfe Pack’s prestigious Nero Award. This award is, rivaled only by the Edgar, the remaining award in mystery fiction that I still dream of winning – in part because it’s physically cool, being a bust of Wolfe himself. Read about it at the Rap Sheet, where you can see who the other three nominees are (like I’m going to tell you!).

The other big news this week is that top-flight actor Stellan Skadrsgard (THOR, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO), has been cast as the Broker in the Cinemax QUARRY pilot. This will be a recurring role, if the pilot goes to series, at least for the first season (regular readers of the Quarry books know why the Broker will not likely be around for the long haul…).

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: I have learned that reviews of WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER cannot go up on Amazon until after the book has been published. So those of you got review copies from me will have to wait until then, although you can post at Goodreads any time and the also on blogs of your own. When the book comes out in September, I will remind you to post those reviews.

By the way – and this was mentioned in a comment response here, but many of you may not have seen it – I am close to signing with Hard Case Crime to do another Quarry novel, which I would write later this year. The title will probably be QUARRY’S CHOICE. It will not be a “list” novel, but will return to the period where Quarry works for the Broker. (THE WRONG QUARRY will be out in January, and I immodestly suggest it’s among the strongest in the series.)

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Favorable reviews of COMPLEX 90 continue to roll in, but I really get a kick out of it when a young woman like the reviewer at Nerds in Babeland connects with Mike Hammer and his world, particularly a smart one who recognizes how strong Velda and the other female characters are.

A very well-conducted interview, part of the COMPLEX 90 blog tour, is here, at Celebrity Cafe.

And here’s another one, nicely handled by the interviewer, at blogcritics.

David Williams continues to review Heller novels in succinct, smart fashion, as in this look at BYE BYE, BABY.

And Just a Guy That Likes to Read liked reading TRUE CRIME very much, as his review indicates.

An annotated reprinting of my BATMAN comic strip story (illoed by the great Marshall Rogers) is here. I’ve posted this before, but this is a revised, expanded version.

And here’s a fun look at the “Barbara Allan” Marilyn Monroe thriller, BOMBSHELL, a book that really got lost between the cracks until Thomas & Mercer gave it a new lease on life.


Go Go Gone

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

As predicted, Barb and I wrapped up the eighth “Trash ‘n’ Treasures” mystery, ANTIQUES A GO GO, last week. It took through Thursday to finish it – I always take a couple of days to go over a manuscript and do a final tweak before sending it off. Still seems strange not to be packaging up an actual manuscript and instead just sending an attachment to an editor.

The book is something of a change of pace, as it takes Brandy and her mother to Manhattan, but I won’t dwell on that book, since the new one – ANTIQUES CHOP – is about to come out. I think CHOP may be my favorite of the series (the new one is too fresh in my mind for any kind of judgment beyond, “Whew! Glad to get that outa here!”). For those of my readers fearful of trying a “cozy,” this one has axe murders in it. So put on a bib and dig in.

I’ve alluded to a Kickstarter project here that would take one of my Dreadtime Stories radio plays into low-budget feature-film territory. We had a lot of great things in our favor, among them the participation of Danielle from AMERICAN PICKERS, my longtime cinematic collaborator Phil Dingeldein (a d.p. on PICKERS), Malcolm McDowell as narrator, and of course the Fangoria brand-name. But at the very last minute (we were going to meet on Sunday afternoon, with my son Nate coming in from St. Louis for Kickstarter consulting), a different Fangoria deal interceded to make ours untenable. The good news is that Phil and I will likely be involved in some aspect of this new direction. I’m hopeful we can involve Danielle, too. We’d spent a lot of time (including me doing three or four drafts of “House of Blood” as a screenplay) gearing up for the Kickstarter effort with producer Carl Amari, so there’s disappointment in the mix, but also the promise of filmmaking to come.

Speaking of films, I can recommend OBLIVION, a very smart s-f adventure with Tom Cruise. The reviews are mixed on this one, but I am solidly in the plus column. The art direction alone is worthy of your attention, but the screenplay has some nice surprises, and it’s a well-directed film in general, though a big shoot-‘em gun battle seems out of place and maybe patched-in to satisfy studio execs.

This weekend my band Crusin’ played two nights in a row – a real oddity for us, because I try very hard to avoid that. It’s more like twice a month I’m after. And I will freely admit that on Sunday, I felt like I’d fallen down a flight of stairs (I’m writing this on Monday and feel only marginally better). I continue to enjoy the band, but sometimes it’s starting to feel like that moment in the action movies where the old star says, “I’m getting too old for this shit!” You know, right before a helicopter blows up?

This week I am looking at galley proofs of THE WRONG QUARRY and ASK NOT.

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The three-part look at the Nolan series by Dan Luft over at the Violent World of Parker has wrapped up with a discussion mostly about SPREE. This is a nice series of articles, and with some smart commentary. Occasionally, though, Dan misses the mark fairly wide – he’s about the only reader I’ve ever encountered who disliked the use of the Comfort family in SPREE. He claims to really like the book, except for the Comforts, which is kind of like loving everything about JURASSIC PARK except the dinosaurs.

Here’s a really nice COMPLEX 90 review. Coming up soon, by the way!

This BLOOD MONEY review is basically positive, but it’s a little odd, albeit in an interesting way. It continues to be weird reading reviews of stuff I wrote forty years ago.

Here’s a very good TRUE DETECTIVE review. It’s amazing how resilient that book has been. Published thirty years ago, it sold more copies in the last year (e-book format) than in its first several.

Mel Odom, himself a hell of a writer, has some interesting things to say about BYE BYE, BABY, the first book in the Nathan Heller JFK Trilogy.

Finally, here’s yet another positive look at SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT (mine, not Wertham).


And The Collins Prize Goes To…Richard Zanuck

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

I start off on a sad note today. Mickey Spillane’s widow Jane lost her mother over the weekend. Ethel was a strong Southern gal who went toe to toe with Mickey, who loved her dearly. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jane.

People always ask me, the day after, how I liked the Academy Awards show (much as they do with the Super Bowl). The last time I sat through that long evening was at a public event in Des Moines the year that ROAD TO PERDITION was nominated for a bunch of Oscars. What I usually do is record the marathon, then zip through on fast-forward looking for good parts. I had heard that all of the James Bonds would be on stage together as part of a 50 Years of 007 celebration. So that was my main reason for recording the thing.

As a STAR TREK fan, I stopped to watch the over-long but fitfully entertaining opening with Shatner as Kirk coming back in time to prevent a disaster of a show due to Seth MacFarlane’s tastelessness. I don’t follow MacFalane’s shows, and skipped his movie TED, but he was pretty good on SNL a while back. The opening was so endless that they skipped Shatner at the punchline. Later, the Bond tribute, introduced by a stunning Halle Berry, offered up not a single Bond (apparently Brosnan, understandably bitter about getting kicked off the series he saved, had refused to participate). But Shirley Bassey brought the superstar crowd to its feet with “Goldfinger” – a song co-written by the unjustly forgotten Anthony Newley, who is one of my heroes.

Barbra Streisand made a surprise appearance (it surprised me, anyway) to sing “The Way We Were” in tribute to the late Marvin Hamlisch, at the end of the In Memoriam reel. Shamefully, Andy Griffith was left out. Richard Zanuck rated a nice moment, with him on screen insisting that the most important thing about a film was “the story, not the script, the story.” This is from the man who, with his son, read ROAD TO PERDITION and recognized its potential. R.I.P, Mr. Zanuck – I owe you much.

There were other fun moments that I stopped to take in, acceptance speeches here and there (in particular Christof Waltz, Quentin Tarantino, and Daniel Day Lewis), Adele singing “Skyfall” (but so upstaged by Shirley Bassey), and it was nice that in a year of unusually good films that the awards got passed around a little bit. And the winners were unusually gracious to fellow nominees. Everybody reading this probably knows I am an Obama man, and usually adore Michelle, but the First Lady giving out the Best Picture Oscar came off weird and gratuitous. The sock puppet (you read right) version of “Flight” was, by the way, much more entertaining that the actual film, which was a lousy, poorly paced Made-for-TV movie about substance abuse, designed to give Denzel Washington an Oscar-worthy part. By the way, has any actor as good as Denzel Washington ever made so many dreadful films?

While the Academy Awards were recording, Barb and I watched Richard Burton, Roger Moore and Richard Harris in the 1978 adventure movie THE WILD GEESE. We’d never seen it before, and it was terrific. At a theater this week, we took in SNITCH, a very uneven crime film in which nobody seemed worth rooting for. We also watched the last season (three movies) of the great MORSE follow-up LEWIS, on DVD from Britain. As you may gather, I had a fairly lazy weekend.

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The blog tour for SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT appears to be winding down. I have an article to write today for the Playboy site, Smoking Jacket, about controversial comics. My Huff post piece on the same topic, with 10 controversial covers, should be up some time this week. So will any number of interviews I’ve done.

Reviews, mostly very favorable, have been rolling in for SEDUCTION. Check out this Book Reporter rave.

And here’s another great one at Fearnet.

Another fine one popped up at The Book Bag.

Comic Hype has this review.

Here’s one from Cult Geek. I love that younger reviewers, at hip cites like this, are digging the book.

Same goes for this review at Geek Hardshow.

And this fun one from (wonderful blog title) Just a Guy That Likes to Read. I wonder if any porn review site out there is called Just a Guy That Likes to…never mind.

Comics Crux has this write-up.

The very interesting, unusual site Noir Whale looks at SEDUCTION in some depth. Cool approach.

Then there are the interviews. I have endeavored to repeat myself as little as possible. Helping me toward that goal are the interviewers, who have come up with their own takes on the book and their own approaches – they are the saving grace of all my yammering.

Here’s one from Comic Book Movie, and if you scroll down to look at the comments, you’ll learn that I appear to resemble Elton John (no, really?) and that I should play “Doc Ock” in the next Spider-Man Movie. Having bought every issue of Ditko’s SPIDERMAN off the stands back in the ‘60s, I am flattered.

Here’s another interview, this one at Gamma Squad.

And a somewhat horror-themed interview at Dread Central.

Here’s another at Terrible Minds.

And now a change of pace – Woody Haut looks at BYE BYE, BABY and TARGET LANCER. He has to strain himself working his suspension-of-disbelief muscle (poor baby), but he seems to like both of ‘em.

And now my favorite web appearance of the week. At the Writing Reader, the first sentence of a novel of mine has been chosen the First Line of the Week. Please check this one out – I’m making you go there to find out what it is.


Parker at the Movies

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Most people checking in with me here know that I was a big fan and later friend of Donald E. Westlake. In fact, Don was a mentor who helped me get my first novel, BAIT MONEY, into print. This was especially gracious considering that my Nolan character is so blatantly derived from his Parker.

Parker novels have been the source for a number of films, notably POINT BLANK (a ‘60s classic), THE OUTFIT, THE SPLIT and PAYBACK (in two versions). There have been several foreign adaptations as well, including a Jean Luc Godard travesty. Fans of the novels Don wrote as “Richard Stark” tend to be pretty hard on these films, though POINT BLANK is generally revered. Don never allowed Parker to be called “Parker” in any of the movies (Lee Marvin plays “Walker” in POINT BLANK) to guard against unwanted sequels.

Now, for the first time, a film uses the name Parker – in fact, it’s called PARKER. The title is probably the worst thing about this strong, tough little crime movie. Parker is a cult character and all of the fans of the books couldn’t fill enough theaters to make a ripple. So why would you call the movie PARKER? Maybe for whatever stupid reason that somebody decided to call a movie JACK REACHER. Those aren’t movie titles, they’re suicide notes.

Barb and I love the over-the-top TRANSPORTER and CRANK movies with Jason Statham, but almost nothing else he’s made is worth a damn. PARKER is. It’s very tough, with plenty of action, but also the kind of character bits that represent the oddball humans who (in the novels) often drift into Parker’s orbit (represented here chiefly by a real estate agent, well-played by Jennifer Lopez). Many touches reveal the director and screenwriter are familiar with the Parker novels in general – Parker calls his heist victims by their first names to put them at ease, he is loyal to his girl friend Claire despite temptations otherwise, he operates by a code that is harsh but fair, and he shows little if any emotion. The screenplay is a fairly faithful rendition of the Parker novel FLASHFIRE, with some POINT BLANK elements stirred in. It’s not the classic POINT BLANK that is, though PARKER is ultimately more like the novels than that great film. The only other Parker movie to rival PARKER is THE OUTFIT with Robert Duvall.

However…PARKER was disliked by many critics, and apparently did only mediocre business on its opening weekend (the audience we saw it with loved it, even applauding at the end). And a good share of the hardcore Parker fans are unhappy with the film. Check this out at the Violent World of Parker site, and be sure to read my comments.

Two other quick notes. We also saw HANSEL AND GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS. Why did we go? I get cabin fever, working on a book (and I have just started THE WRONG QUARRY), and have to get out and do something – in Muscatine, Iowa, a movie is pretty much it. The reviews have been dismal, though seem to have been written by people who either haven’t seen the movie or had already decided their opinion of it before doing so. One of the producers is Will Ferrell, which indicates that a lot of reviewers are not understanding what audiences seem to: it’s spoof. It’s a comedy. Not an unintentional comedy, but a send-up of all these dumb serious “fairy tale” movies like RED HIDING HOOD. It’s a combo of EVIL DEAD and RESIDENT EVIL. If you like either or both of those, you will probably enjoy this one.

A final movie note: I loved (and still do) RUSHMORE by director Wes Anderson. But virtually everything he’s done since has seemed precious and disorganized to me, and I really, really hated THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX. But my son and his smart wife encouraged me to take a look at MOONRISE KINGDOM. I did, and they are right – it is a wonderful movie that would have been high on my best of 2012 list, had I seen it sooner. It is precious – or, as some smarty-pants critics like to say, “twee” – but it’s also charming and a very well-plotted, beautifully characterized story of young love. Funny as hell, too. Also the best boy scout movie ever made – even better than HENRY ALDRICH, BOY SCOUT (and those who know me well will understand that this is not sarcasm, but high praise).

The positive reviews about SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT just keep rolling in, I’m pleased to say. Like this one from the always insightful Craig Clarke.

And this short sweet write-up.

Plus this even shorter and sweeter one.

On the other hand, there’s this generally positive, amusingly written but patronizing review. Could we please ban the use of the pretentious term “trope”? But if we do use it, can we please not affix needless adjectives like “well-worn”? And can reviewers quit apologizing for liking something?

Finally, here’s a pleasant surprise – a late review of the first Nate Heller JFK trilogy novel, BYE BYE, BABY.