Posts Tagged ‘Complex 90’

A Pee-Wee Herman Christmas

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013
Pee Wee Herman Wreath

For me, Christmas begins when I receive my yearly Christmas card from Paul Reubens. Sometimes Paul writes a personal note. The cards are always charming and even hilarious, and we have easily two dozen of them. This year Barb made a wreath out of some our favorites.

I went crazy over Pee-Wee with his HBO Special, THE PEE-WEE HERMAN SHOW in 1981. I was doing the DICK TRACY strip at the time, and I put Pee-Wee in the strip – he was on television saying, “My name’s Pee-Wee – what’s yours?” And a TV-obsessed villain of mine replied, “Splitscreen!”

Paul Reubens phoned me shortly after that, delighted by the TRACY appearance, and we chatted. Shortly after that, taking time out from a San Diego con, Terry Beatty and I visited Paul in LA – he was in a small one-story brick house filled with funky toys and oddball memorabilia. We watched a version of THE PEE-WEE HERMAN SHOW that the cast had looped with blue improv material. The Pee-Wee Herman suit was on a coat tree. I asked Paul how many of those he had, and he said, “Just the one.” Then, noting my surprised reaction, he added, “Sometimes Pee-Wee doesn’t smell so good up close.”

Paul knew that I was a movie buff, and he was working on getting a Pee-Wee film going. Late at night, we would talk on the phone and (at his request) I would send him Betamax copies of offbeat films like Eddie Cantor’s ROMAN SCANDALS and Russ Meyer’s FASTER PUSSYCAT, KILL KILL! He called once every month or two for a couple of years, sometimes when he was off shooting a movie. (One was a MEATBALLS sequel, and I asked him what it was about. He said, “A virgin sees her first dick.” I thought he was kidding till I saw the movie.) Barb and I (and sometimes Terry) would go to live shows of Paul’s, and we’d see him after – we did this in New York and Chicago.

When the Pee-Wee movies and TV show kicked in, Paul changed his phone number and I haven’t heard from him since…except at Christmas. Always a wonderful card, and sometimes a warm personal note. I still love Pee-Wee Herman, and it’s been a nice perk of my minor celebrity that I got to know Paul Reubens a little. It’s very thoughtful and generous of him to send me these fantastic cards every year.

* * *

That great writer and blogger extra ordinaire Bill Crider has posted a lovely review of THE WRONG QUARRY.

Here’s a nice write-up about THE CONSUMMATA, my Spillane collaboration about Morgan the Raider. If you read the Hammers by Mickey and me, you really need to pick this one up, too.

COMPLEX 90 didn’t make this best five books list, but got a very nice mention.

Last week I sent out 14 advance copies of THE WRONG QUARRY. I am cleaned out. I had promised 12 here, planning to keep a couple for myself, but wound up sending them all. I apologize to those I had to turn down. They went the first day.

I do thank those of you who are writing Amazon and other reviews. It’s very important for me and every writer whose work you enjoy.

M.A.C.

You Slay Me

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013
Bouchercon 2013

Here are two images courtesy of Kensington editor Michaela Hamilton – a photo of Barb, Matt Clemens and me at the recent Albany Bouchercon (courtesy of Mike’s friend Gene) and the cover of the new Trash ‘n’ Treasures Christmas novella, ANTIQUES SLAY RIDE.

Antiques Slay Ride

SLAY RIDE is available only as an e-book, and is the first of three such novellas (all with Christmas themes) that will appear over a three-year period. This one came out very well, and works as an introduction to the series and the characters if you’ve never tried one of these novels by Barbara Allan (Barb and me).

Barb is working on her draft of the next full-length novel in the series, ANTIQUES SWAP – at about the half-way mark. I am deep into SUPREME JUSTICE, a political thriller for Thomas & Mercer, that Matt Clemens has helped develop. It’s due November 1 and, with any luck, I’ll make that deadline.

WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER has done very well so far, particularly on e-book, which is Thomas & Mercer’s long suit. As I write this, we are still number #1 in serial killer books. If you had a chance to read it, or EARLY CRIMES, let me again say how much positive reviews (however short) are helpful. I’ve been told by a credible source that even negative reviews can be helpful at Amazon and Barnes & Noble – statistics apparently show that books with no reviews don’t sell as well as books with primarily negative reviews. Right now we’re at 34 reviews and a four-star average for WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER. (EARLY CRIMES has 13 reviews and a five-star rating, which is very nice for such an offbeat little book.)

Barb and I have been watching horror movies, in honor of Halloween, with an emphasis on 3-D (we are set up for that in my office). The new 3-D blu-ray of the classic HOUSE OF WAX (SCTV fans, all together now: “Have you theen my paddleball?”) is quite wonderful and shows how effective and fun 3-D effects can be (from an eyepatch-sporting director who could not perceive the effect himself). Though it’s not a great movie, AMITYVILLE 3-D is also out on blu-ray as part of a boxed set of Amityville movies, and it too has wonderful 3-D effects, as well as a strong performance from the too-little-seen Candy Clark.

On the other hand, we tried to watch GATSBY and bailed after twenty minutes of pretentious self-conscious bilge. I avoided this in the theater but gave in to my 3-D curiosity for an attempted home viewing. I never dreamed Baz Lurhmann could make a film more dreadful than his MOULIN ROUGE, but he seems to have knocked the ball out of the park and into the crapper – based on the twenty minutes we watched. (Barb: “Are you having fun?” M.A.C.: “Not in the least.” Barb: “Can we stop watching this?” M.A.C.: “Absolutely.”)

We also took in the 3-D version of GRAVITY at our new multi-plex and were far less impressed than the critics at Rotten Tomatoes who give it 98% fresh. It’s an impressive piece of filmmaking in the technical sense, and well-acted, working fine as a thrill ride. The story, such as it is, is weak, with Sandra Bullock’s character in particular poorly thought through. It’s probably worth seeing, but keep in mind it’s one of those one-damn-thing-after-another movies. It also has one of those New Age orchestral scores with a wordless soprano caterwauling in a vaguely spiritual manner – the kind I hope never to hear again.

Here’s my blurb: “Way better than GATSBY!”

* * *

There’s a really nice review of several Hard Case titles, including SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT, at Barnes and Noble’s web site.

Here’s a nice review of COMPLEX 90.

Finally, no firm news on QUARRY for Cinemax yet, but here’s an interesting interview with a mention of the pilot from an HBO exec.

M.A.C.

Nate Heller Will Return

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

I’m pleased to report that Forge has exercised its option for me to write two more Nathan Heller novels. I have asked for fifteen months for each book, which means the one-a-year schedule the JFK trilogy established won’t be met this time. Lots of research for me (and George Hagenauer) to do.

The first book, currently titled RED SCARE (although I’m also considering BETTER DEAD – any thoughts?) will deal with the McCarthy era. Regular followers of the series will note that we have moved backward for this one, to the early 1950s. Right now the book rather ambitiously deals with the Rosenbergs, Dashiell Hammett, McCarthy, and CIA LSD murder. I hope to cover all of this, but discussions with George (and research) may convince me to tighten the scope.

The second book is also ambitious in scope – dealing with both Robert Kennedy’s assassination and a lengthy flashback finally exploring Heller’s role on the Rackets Committee as an undercover operative infiltrating Jimmy Hoffa’s organization. Right now I’m calling this THE SECOND GUNMAN, but I’m not married to that title.

Both of these novels deal with material I always knew I wanted to explore with but skipped over because, in order to get Heller back with a publisher, I felt the Kennedy trilogy was the more commercial bet. Part of my strategy was to get JFK done, because that was always the end game for the series. We haven’t set the world on fire with the JFK novels, at least not so far, but we’ve done well enough for me to get offered another two books.

Of course, I am now not sure that JFK is the chronological end of the saga. I am considering MLK and Watergate. But that’s another contract.

* * *

A couple of movie and TV notes.

Freaks and Geeks

Barb and I recently re-watched FREAKS & GEEKS, which is among the greatest TV shows of all time. This is where Seth Rogen, Jason Seigel and James Franco began (and arguably so did Judd Apatow, but the cast includes so many other great people. The regular cast (my favorite is Martin Starr, who went on to co-star in the also wonderful PARTY DOWN) is supported by all sorts of stars to be – Shia LeBeouf (a little kid here), Lizzy Caplan (also with PARTY DOWN in her future), Rashida Jones (THE OFFICE, PARKS & RECREATION). It’s merely the best show ever done about high school (set in the ‘80s but timeless). Tom Wilson (Biff in BACK TO THE FUTURE!) is a semi-regular, and so are Joel Hodgson and Trace Beaulieu of MST3K. MST3K veteran and CINEMATIC TITANIC cast member J. Elvis Weinstein is a writer/producer on the show. 18 classic episodes.

The one-season follow-up, UNDECLARED, about first-year college students, is a worthy add-on, with Rogen back and really developing as both writer and actor, and lots of FREAKS & GEEKS actors returning as semi-regulars or guest stars. Judd Apatow is the creator, while FREAKS & GEEKS creator Paul Feig directs an episode.

On the film front, Barb and I took in the wonderful I-MAX 3-D version of THE WIZARD OF OZ (this may not be in theaters now – I think it was a one-week limited engagement) and a screening of VERTIGO at the same multi-plex. As Terry Beatty has pointed out, the 3-D restored OZ is oddly more intimate than before. VERTIGO remains my favorite film and an incredibly layered piece of work – the only private eye story that really rivals THE MALTESE FALCON for first position in the genre. James Stewart, in a career littered with great performances and classic films, delivers his finest performance.

Of new movies, we caught DeNiro in Luc Besson’s underrated black comedy, THE FAMILY. Barb and I were very surprised by how much we liked that one. Dark and funny and with a (warped) good heart.

There are several much-hyped movies, some well-reviewed, that I can’t make myself see. RUSH is a subject I don’t care about, and director Ron Howard is notorious for his movies going on too long. DON JON – really? The story of a New Jersey lummox who gives up porn for Scarlett Johansson? How’s that for a conflict….

* * *

Booklist gave us a very good review on WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER. Don’t know how to link this, so here it is:

Jordan Rivera has spent the last 10 years at Cleveland’s St. Dymphna’s psychiatric clinic, refusing to speak after her family was murdered in an attack she managed to survive. But when she sees a news report on a similar killing, she’s convinced her attacker is still targeting families. Resolved to avenge her family’s deaths, Jordan starts talking, and soon she’s released and making connections in a victims’ support group. As the group shares stories, they find that they are all sole survivors of unsolved attacks on their families, and they feed their hunger to fight back by reinvestigating their cases as serial killings. They find unexpected assistance from Mark Pryor, Jordan’s high-school crush, now a police detective working Jordan’s case off the books. But that may not protect them from their quarry, who’s been waiting for Jordan to abandon the clinic’s protective walls. Collins, known for his outstanding Nathan Heller historical series, courts contemporary thriller fans with the victims-turned-hunters premise and riveting amateur investigation. Some suspension of disbelief is necessary, but the ride offers sure thrills, and the company is great.

Here’s a Spinetingler review of COMPLEX 90:

Reviewed by Theodore FeitThis novel is based on an original manuscript written by Mickey Spillane, one of two entrusted “for safekeeping” to Mr. Collins shortly before his death. It was originally scheduled for publication in the 1960’s, but never appeared. It is now made possible through Collins’ collaborative effort.Complex 90 is set during the Cold War, pitting one-man army Mike Hammer against the entire might of the USSR. It begins when he takes on a job as a bodyguard to protect a U.S. Senator during a party in his home. A gunman invades the home, shoots and kills another security person, a friend named Marley, and a bullet hits Mike in the thigh. Mike replaces Marley as the Senator’s bodyguard on a trip to Moscow on a fact-finding tour. There Mike is arrested and taken to a prison, from which he escapes, killing 45 Russians, and, after two months, crossing into Turkey, where he gets on a plane to return to the U.S. Russia demands extradition, and Mike thumbs his nose. (All of this action transpires very early in the book.)

Will it be a major international incident, or will Mike overpower both the American and Soviet governments? Of course, the gore and sex which play a prominent part in the novel are trademarks of Spillane, purely Mike Hammer at his wise-cracking best. It’s hard to tell where Spillane leaves off and Collins picks up.

Recommended.

Finally, here’s a wonderful review of TRUE CRIME. Never too late!

M.A.C.

New Books and Bouchercon

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013
What Doesn't Kill Her
Lady, Go Die! Paperback

My Thomas & Mercer thriller, WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER, written with the assistance of longtime collaborator Matthew Clemens, goes on sale today. That means those of you who asked for review copies will now be available to post your reviews at Amazon.

The Top Suspense Group, of which I am a part, has an excellent WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER write-up courtesy of that excellent writer Libby Hellmann on the TSG blog today. Read it right here.

Barb and I are listening to Dan John Miller’s audio of WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER, and he really brings the book to life. Dan is heading into the studio to read ASK NOT this week – I am thrilled that the definitive audio voice of Nate Heller is back for this one.

Also available, for those you who have been waiting for a mass market paperback, is Titan’s new edition of LADY, GO DIE! This establishes a pattern for Titan reprints to come, utilizing images culled from old paperback covers (as opposed to the Hard Case approach of doing new retro covers). What do you think?

Speaking of Mike Hammer, here is a nifty review from Sons of Spade of COMPLEX 90.

Well, Barb and I did not win the Nero for ANTIQUES DISPOSAL, but we remain very pleased that we were noticed. That’s a very tough place to get nominated. Read about who won and who else was nominated at the Rap Sheet.

My thanks to readers who requested review copies of EARLY CRIMES. Some of those reviews are up at Amazon now.

* * *

For those of you going to Bouchercon in Albany next weekend, here are the event times for Barb and me:

Friday, Sept. 20:

9:45 am signing – not sure where this will be held; probably the book room. It’s a Thomas & Mercer signing.

1:50-2:45 pm Barb/MAC panel, “I Don’t Want to Be Alone” RM 1

2:45-3:15 pm signing, “Barbara Allan” (Barb and MAX), book room

Saturday, Sept. 21:

10:20-11:15 am Barb panel, “Money or Love” RM 3

11:15-11:45 am signing, “Barbara Allan” (Barb and MAC), book room

12:30-1:25 pm MAC panel, “Famous Last Words” RM 6

1:25-1:45 pm signing, MAC, book room