Posts Tagged ‘Complex 90’

Royal Reviews for KING OF THE WEEDS

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Majestic reviews have been pouring in for the new Mike Hammer, KING OF THE WEEDS (I’ll share some of them below).

Barb and I drove to St. Louis for Mother’s Day weekend with son Nate and his bride Abby (see pic taken on Sunday at the Wildflower restaurant, site of their wedding in 2012). On the way there and back, we listened to Stacy Keach’s reading of KING OF THE WEEDS.

Mothers Day 2014

It’s impossible for me to overstate what a thrill it is for me to hear Stacy read these Spillane/Collins collaborations. He’s done an incredible job on all of them, but perhaps because of the vaguely melancholy nature of this tale of an older Hammer, he brought something very special to it.

The book itself was a tricky and challenging one, because Mickey had taken several passes at it, combining chapters from one draft into another. There are three major plot elements – the mob billions from BLACK ALLEY, the mysterious deaths of police officers by seeming accident, and the release of a man convicted of a notorious series of slayings forty years ago (Pat Chambers’ first major arrest). In various versions, Mickey would abandon one or more of these elements, and I determined – in part to use as much of his work as possible – to make all three weave together in a credible and interesting manner. I actually put off the writing of KING OF THE WEEDS till last among the major manuscripts, because I knew it would be a bear, and I feared it might be the weakest of the six. But I feel it turned out very well indeed – thanks in large part to the genius of Mickey Spillane – and reviewers and readers are agreeing, a number singling it out as the best of all six.

I was asked to write about the process of collaborating with the late great author by the first-rate UK site, Crimetime. Check out my article here.

Before we move on to the KING OF THE WEEDS reviews, I need to share a surprisingly tardy but extremely good review of THE WRONG QUARRY from Publisher’s Weekly this week:

Collins’s 10th noir featuring John Quarry (after 2010’s Quarry’s Ex) is easily his best—a sharp-edged thriller with more than one logical but surprising twist. Quarry used to work as a hit man on assignments arranged for him by a middleman known as the Broker, but that work ended when Quarry had to take him out. Making use of the Broker’s records, he has begun a new phase in his killing career. He identifies the targets of other hit men, and then, for a price, offers to take them out on behalf of the intended victims. And, for an extra fee, Quarry removes the threat entirely by killing the person who ordered the hit. The early 1980s find Quarry doing exactly that in the “Little Vacationland” of Stockwell, Mo. He learns that the local dance instructor, Roger Vale, is to be killed because he’s suspected of murdering a teenage girl, and offers to save his life, for a price. The lean prose, brisk pacing, and clever plotting are a winning combination.

Back to KING OF THE WEEDS. The October Country site has this fine review from a first-time Hammer reader.

The Book Reporter has these nice things to say about KING OF THE WEEDS.

My pal Ed Gorman, one of my generation’s best mystery writers, wrote this brief but fun salute to KING OF THE WEEDS.

You’ll have to scroll down to see it, but Comic Book Resources has good things to say about Mike Hammer’s latest at their site.

The UK’s Bookbag reviews the previous Mike Hammer, COMPLEX 90, a very good review of the “I’m-Embarrassed-But-I-Really-Like-This” school.

Here’s a nice review of the under-seen, under-reviewed FROM THE FILES OF…MIKE HAMMER collection from Hermes Press. I love this book but it’s expensive, so relatively few have seen it (like the McFarland MICKEY SPILLANE ON SCREEN). The reviewer gives nice props to Ed Robbins, but underplays Mickey’s own participation in the strip. Mickey co-plotted all of it and wrote the first two of three Sunday page continuities himself.

Now here’s a peculiar one but gratifying. Despite a painfully politically correct swipe at Mickey Spillane, this reviewer for the Daily Kos has interesting and nice things to say about (ready for this?) THE LUSITANIA MURDERS. Yes, the day KING OF THE WEEDS was published, and a week after ANTIQUES CON came out, the Daily Kos reviewed a book of mine from twelve years ago. But the reviewer likes it, so I’m fine with that.

M.A.C.

Notes From a Stuffed-Up Author

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

I spent much of last week fighting a cold and researching/writing an introduction for a forthcoming Hermes Press collection of the pre-Disney ZORRO comic books from Dell. The centerpiece is a trio of issues drawn by Everett Raymond Kinstler, who would go on to be our nation’s premiere portrait artist, with subjects ranging from John Wayne to various Presidents. The other comic books (seven in all) are good as well, but I really had to dig in on the net and among Zorro fans to find out who the artists and writers were. Much guesswork involved. I am a big fan of Zorro as originally created by pulp writer Johnson McCulley, and my intro in part decries the paucity of McCulley Zorro stories in print.

Also, we received good reviews from agent and editor on ANTIQUES FRUITCAKE, so that one is largely put to bed (it’s an e-book novella). Barb is back to her draft of ANTIQUES SWAP, and I am headed into the Spillane western, THE LEGEND OF CALEB YORK. There will be a subtitle for the latter but I haven’t come up with it. I’ve been told to leave out the sex and hit the violence hard, even down to the title. So RAVAGING THE DANCE HALL GALS is out. I’m considering SHOOT-OUT AT SIROCCO.

I also worked on several more passes on a HELLER TV pitch. I’ve done seven so far. Hollywood is all about rewriting. I remember so vividly when I handed in draft umpteen on THE EXPERT to director Bill Lustig and he immediately said, “Thanks! Now, on the next draft I want to concentrate on – ” I interrupted to say that I wouldn’t take any more notes till he’d read the draft I just handed him.

Barb and I are listening to Dan John Miller’s audio rendering of THE WRONG QUARRY. This is Dan’s first Quarry novel, having done all of the Hellers. He has once again nailed it.

Speaking of THE WRONG QUARRY, here’s another nifty review.

COMPLEX 90 made the top five best book covers of 2013 at the Rap Sheet.

Here’s a nice review of the Hammer short story (available from Mysterious Bookshop as a mini-book), “It’s in the Book.”

Finally, here’s a very smart review of the film of ROAD TO PERDITION. Nice to see this great film really making its mark over the years.

M.A.C.

The Write Quarry

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

It’s very gratifying that THE WRONG QUARRY has generated so much attention, particularly on the Net. This is, after all, the tenth novel in a series begun in 1976. No other book of mine in recent years – including the Heller comeback novels that form the JFK Trilogy – has been so widely reviewed. As I noted a while back, out of what must be around forty write-ups by now, there’s been only one that wasn’t a near rave – and it was mixed.

It appears that a lot of the reviewers and bloggers who dig Quarry are only familiar with the recent five Hard Case Crime novels. I hope that gradually the Perfect Crime reprints, with the cool Terry Beatty covers, will find their way into the hands and minds of these new Quarry fans.

One interesting result of (I presume) younger readers discovering the series through Hard Case is that the premise of Quarry being a hitman who kills other hitmen has been hailed as innovative, and “new” for Quarry specifically and crime novels in general. Of course, many of you who follow these updates (both of you) know that the premise of Quarry using the Broker’s list began back in 1976, in the book now known as (not surprisingly) QUARRY’S LIST. Also, both QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE and QUARRY’S EX from Hard Case are “list” novels.

I’m not complaining. I always thought the “list” concept was innovative myself. I just thought that starting back in ‘76….

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Complex 90

Here’s a nice essay utilizing interview answers from me. The emphasis, not surprisingly, is on Quarry and the current novel.

And, yes, wonderful WRONG QUARRY reviews are still appearing, like this one at Crime Fiction Lover.

Here’s a nice one from Fiction Addict.

On the Mike Hammer front, J. Kingston Pierce at the Rap Sheet has singled out his favorite covers of last year and COMPLEX 90 made the list. He’s giving you the opportunity to vote for your favorite among his. Remember, any vote for Mike Hammer is a vote for America.

Here’s an excellent review of THE GOLIATH BONE. There’s also an explanatory comment from me about who-wrote-what.

Finally, here’s an overview of Crime Fiction in Comics and Graphic Novels that includes a nice section on yours truly (I always want to add “Johnny Dollar” to that…).

M.A.C.

Christmas Movies

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

For my family, the Christmas holiday is wrapped up in film, not ribbon. We have our favorites that we watch every year, and they are fairly predictable.

Our top pick is MIRACLE ON 34th STREET (the original, not the terrible remake) with the Alistair Sim SCROOGE a close second. A very close third is IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (James Stewart appeared in more great movies than any other actor). I’m one of the few who saw A CHRISTMAS STORY in the theater on its original release and it’s an annual event for us – but it’s more a Jean Shepherd film than a Christmas movie, showcasing his patented bittersweet nostalgia. CHRISTMAS VACATION has found its place on our seasonal special shelf, as well, and MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS is always worth a look – was Judy Garland ever lovelier?

There are many other worthwhile Christmas movies out there. HOLIDAY INN is easily better than WHITE CHRISTMAS, although the latter has its charms – it’s helped keep Danny Kaye from being forgotten, for one, and my pal Miguel Ferrer’s mom is in it. The Riff Trax and MST2K versions of various horrible Christmas movies are always good for a festive laugh. BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE (1958) is an old favorite of ours, the movie Kim Novak and James Stewart made together after VERTIGO. With Jack Lemmon and Ernie Kovacs stealing scenes left and right, it’s a precursor to BEWITCHED and might seem a better choice for Halloween, only it’s set at Christmas.

But we decided this year to try some movies that at least one of us (talking Barb and me now) hadn’t seen before. Having done so, we’d like to recommend the following relative obscurities:

THE FAMILY MAN (2000) with Nic Cage, a modern reworking of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. Heartwarming and funny. Cage may be an over-the-top actor, but the man commits – he gives one thousand percent to every performance, and this time he has a wonderful movie to do it in. This is a favorite of Nate’s, whose goal in life is to own every Nic Cage movie.

THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS (2004). Okay, so it’s a shameless reworking of GROUNDHOG’S DAY as a Christmas movie, but this admittedly minor TV movie is funny and rewarding – good-hearted but with a darkly comic sensibility. Steven Weber is excellent as the successful slick businessman (similar to Cage in THE FAMILY MAN) who has twelve tries to get Christmas Eve right. Molly Shannon gets her best post-SNL role.

THREE GODFATHERS (1948). This John Ford western stars John Wayne and is surprisingly gritty and even harrowing before a finale that you may find too sentimental. There’s some humor, too, and Ford’s first color film is visually beautiful. It’s dedicated to Harry Carey and “introduces” Harry Carey, Jr., who is very good, as is Pedro Armendariz (FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE).

PRANCER (1989). This features an amazing naturalistic performance from child actor Rebecca Herrell. It’s a sort of smalltown/rural variation on MIRACLE ON 34th STREET. Is the reindeer the little girl helps back to health really Santa’s Prancer? Sam Elliot is uncompromising as the father who doesn’t understand his daughter, whose mother has died.

We found it a fun way to get ourselves into the Christmas swing by introducing some of these lesser known films into the mix.

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THE WRONG QUARRY reviews have begun, like this great one from Ron Fortier.

Here’s another nice WRONG QUARRY review from Big Daddy.

Mike Dennis likes THE WRONG QUARRY, too.

That Woody Haut “Ten Favorite Crime Novels of 2013” piece, showcasing ASK NOT, has been picked up all over the place, notably at the Los Angeles Review of Books.

And the staff at Greenwich chooses COMPLEX 90 as best mystery, with the two runners-up ASK NOT and Bob Goldsborough’s ARCHIE MEETS NERO WOLFE. Some people have good taste!

M.A.C.