Posts Tagged ‘Complex 90’

A Buck-Twenty-Five A Movie

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

If any of you are interested, THE BLACK BOX, the boxed set DVD collection of my indie movies – MOMMY, MOMMY’S DAY, REAL TIME: SIEGE AT LUCAS STREET MARKET and SHADES OF NOIR (which includes the original, longer cut of MIKE HAMMER’S MICKEY SPILLANE as well as the Brian Keith “Mike Hammer” pilot from 1954) – is on sale at Oldies.com for $4.98. That’s a savings of $30.

I want to thank all of you who sent supportive comments (sometimes as private e-mails) after my post last week, complaining about various aspects of the writer’s life, now that I am officially old enough to be a complaining coot. I am considering putting a rocking chair on the porch and writing further updates there on a laptop.

For the record, it took four work days to put ASK NOT back together (also for the record, my editor at Forge was completely on my side and reinstated everything I requested). To give you an idea of how extreme the ASK NOT copy edit was, I also dealt this week with the copy-edited manuscript of the upcoming thriller WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU from Thomas & Mercer. It took one work day.

Dead Man Down

We saw an interesting crime movie that I am going to recommend, though it is not perfect: DEAD MAN DOWN. It’s directed by Niels Arden Oplev, of the original GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, and stars the “girl” herself, the indelible Noomi Rapace, probably my favorite actress working today. I used to not care for Colin Ferrell, but as his star has faded somewhat, his acting has improved immeasurably – he’s terrific here in a subtle, understated performance as a guy who is anything but subtle and understated. It’s a revenge film, with a great premise, but I sometimes felt the foreign director didn’t entirely understand the English language script – it’s a little too long, and some things don’t quite track. But the central romance between two damaged souls and the outlandish shoot-‘em-up finale are well worth the time of anybody interested in crime movies. It has one of the great screen Mike Hammers, Armand Assante, in a small but pivotal role.

SOTI

The reviews for SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT continue to roll in, in a very positive way. Let’s start with something I rarely do – customer reviews at Amazon, which includes one from Bookreporter. By the way, if you want to help out your favorite authors (including, I hope, me), a great, easy way is to post a brief four- or five-star review at Amazon, assuming you like what you’ve read. Those reviews really, really count.

Here’s a cool one from the International House of Geek (the fantastic blog names just keep coming).

And here’s a great one from Mystery People.

A somewhat horror-tinged positive review appears here, at The October Country (R.I.P., Ray Bradbury).

Here’s a patronizing but ultimately positive review from the UK’s Telegraph.

Here’s Comic Buzz on SEDUCTION. I’m very pleased that so many comics blogs have picked up on the book.

And what author doesn’t love getting an A+, as happens here at Fandom Post.

Publisher’s Weekly is getting cranky in its old age, but this review of the upcoming ANTIQUES CHOP is pretty good.

PW also isn’t much impressed with the upcoming Mike Hammer, COMPLEX 90, considering it more of the same. First of all, if somebody gives you a hot-fudge sundae when you order one, do you complain that it’s more of the same? Second of all, this is the book where Mike Hammer goes to Russia. Not more of the same – one of the most distinctive books in the series, in my opinion, one of Mickey’s most unusual, even unique plots.

Scroll down for a tardy but fantastic review of THE CONSUMMATA.

And finally Pop Cults weighs in with a late but lovely LADY, GO DIE! review.

M.A.C.

When I’m 64 – I Mean, 65….

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

As I write this, my 65th birthday is winding down. I’m in St. Louis with Barb, and we’ve been visiting with our son Nate and his incredible bride Abby. It’s been a lovely weekend, filled with food, the RiffTrax version of HUNGER GAMES, lots of great conversation, an upgrade to the Tennessee Williams Suite at the Moonrise Hotel (Williams, a St. Louis boy, is a fellow U of Iowa Writers Workshop grad), a fun/moving British movie about (fittingly) old people, QUARTET, and just so much more. And yet I find myself reflecting on the reasons why so many people who hit this age choose to retire…and how last week, another fairly rigorous week in the “blog tour” for SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT, I began wondering how long I would want to keep doing this.

Anyone who knows me at all well understands that I love writing, and that I’m very competitive and want to stay in the game. I feel great and have not lost my enthusiasm for life and creativity. How many guys my age are still in the garage band they started in high school? But there are trials. There are trials. Here are three reasons why some day I may decide to kick back, and just read the books that have been stacking up for decades, and watch the Blu-ray discs that have been piling up for years.

1. The uncertainty of the publishing business. This has always been a precarious business to be in – freelance fiction-writing – but lately it seems to be in serious freefall. Borders gone, Barnes & Noble wobbling, e-books taking over. Some of it has benefitted me – TRUE DETECTIVE has sold more copies in the last year than it did in its first year, a thirty-year-old book, thanks to Amazon. But one gets weary of the ground shifting under one’s feet. Like old age (thank you, QUARTET; thank you, Bette Davis), freelance writing isn’t for sissies.

2. Copy editors. I am half-way through the copy edit of ASK NOT. For the umpteenth time in my career, I have had to go through a manuscript painstakingly putting Humpty Dumpty back together. This is despite the lengthy memo I attach to my manuscripts with a detailed description of the elements of my style that a copy editor might think was just me screwing up. I had a particularly intrusive copy editor on TARGET LANCER, complained, and was assured a different one would be assigned this time. No – I got the same intrusive, tin-eared copy editor. I spent an hour just putting the first chapter back together. I have gone through this many, many times, and if I ever retire, I promise I will not miss it.

3. Abuse. Now and then I can get hate mail. Occasionally I get a bad review. The nature of Amazon is that geniuses may comment on a book of mine, and also imbeciles – such is the price of democracy. I’ve also had enemies (yes, I have managed to alienate a few people in these 65 years) who have used the Amazon and B & N reviewing portals to get even with me. I have learned to live with this. But occasionally somebody really steps over the line, as when I got death threats over FLYING BLIND because I suggested Amelia Earhart may have been bisexual.

This week I did an article and slide show for the Huffington Post about controversial comic book covers, as part of the SEDUCTION blog tour, arranged by my publisher. I used primarily 1950s covers. I also used one of Terry Beatty’s MS. TREE covers on the slide show, in part in a self-aggrandizing fashion, but chiefly to demonstrate it as one of the indie comics involved in the famous Friendly Frank’s comic book shop bust that in 1981 got its store owner a sentence of one year (later overturned) in Illinois. That issue of MS. TREE was objectionable because of nudity – of course, that nudity was a statue in the hall of the Justice Department in D.C. (This is explained in text that accompanies the cover – each cover pictured has a paragraph on why I chose it.) George Hagenauer helped me on the slide show, and between us probably a work day went into that; I spent another work day on the article itself. I got paid exactly nothing – it was part of the publicity for my new book. That’s how it works – you do a free article, you get some PR. Huffington Post put a slightly inaccurate headline on my piece, making it look like I had chosen these as the “most” controversial comic books of all time. Among assorted comments, many good – but many from readers who objected to my choices of covers, having clearly not read the article (“Where’s PREACHER?” “Where’s THE LEATHER NUN?”) – came the following:

“I feel this a legitimate question. How can you allow article authors to pompously include their OWN work in the top list? Isn’t that self-promotion and editorially questionable? I feel its a fair question for people to address. Unless this author is really that self-absorbed that he believes his work is that worthy. This is a valid question, please post it.”

Okay, a little shrill, but a valid question I guess, and immediately answered by another reader who understands how the Huff Post trades PR for free copy. But the same day I received the following e-mail from the same individual:

“Nice article in the HuffPost.
Do you realize how shameless and self-aggrandizing it is, to include TWO of your own comic books on the list? Not to mention, how it perverts the integrity of said article?
How can anyone take you seriously?
I’m surprised you didn’t put Wild Dog on the list as well. Or just fill it with ALL of your comics.
You’re a narcissistic putz, who has no original stories, just totally derivative from everyone else.
Even your look is stolen, Mr. Elton John.
Ha ha ha ha ha.
p.s. You’re little blonde is even more derivative.”

I am probably am something of a narcissistic putz – most entertainers are. And I am derivative of those who came before me, as are almost all genre writers, although I think I’ve put my own spin on the ball. There was only one of my covers used (Huff Post tagged on the cover of the novel I’m promoting.) Still, these opinions are valid enough, if rudely stated. But then the writer, who is blessed of a literary style derivative of the letters Jack the Ripper wrote to the London police, takes a shot at my appearance – making him the ten thousandth person to notice my unfortunate resemblance to a singer whose music I don’t particularly like – and I’m a big boy, so it comes with the territory.

Then he takes a shot at my wife. And he cc’s my son. All while hiding behind a fake name (of a Charles Bukowski character). I may be all the things this guy says I am. But I am not a cowardly prick, nor am I a rat bastard who attacks the family of someone he dislikes.

Though I am 65, and this is the point in the action movie where the aging lead says, I’m getting too old for this shit…and then goes right on kicking ass, till the end of the movie.


“The Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory,” Penny Arcade

Here’s the Huff Post piece my “fan” loved so much (the subject of his e-mail was “KUDOS”):

And here’s an article on how I came to write SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT.

I am dizzy from doing interviews, but I salute my questioners, who came up with their own unique angles on the book and its subject (and author). Here’s one from 8 Days a Geek.

And one from the wonderfully named blog Death, Books and Tea.

Here’s one at Fanboy Comics.

And at Speak Geeky to Me.

Here’s one at My Bookish Ways. Love these blog titles.

Another at Too Busy Thinking About Comics.

And at the UK site, SHOTS.

One at the Geek Twins.

And at Comic Buzz.

More UK attention at the wonderful site Crimetime.

The reviews, I’m pleased to say, have been very favorable. Check out this one at Jildy Sauce.

Here’s a combo article and review at Gnnaz.com.

Tony Isabella, a great comic writer himself, knows plenty about the subject, so it was great to get this terrific review from him.

Here’s a solid review from (wonderful name) Unleash the Fanboy.

And another at Swiftly Tilting Planet.

Also at (another name I love) 8 Days a Geek.

There’s an excerpt at Daily Dead.

And a review at Popcorn Reads(another fantastic title).

Speaking of pop, here’s one at Popcults.

And one at Bullet Reviews.

Finally – stop the presses – it’s an early review for the new Mike Hammer, COMPLEX 90, due in May.

M.A.C.

Write and Wrong

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

I will be tweaking THE WRONG QUARRY today, doing final rewrites, and I hope “shipping it” (i.e., e-mailing it) to editor Charles Ardai) today. It was written largely in two frenzied weeks, although my fourteen-day-no-day-off stay in the bunker was preceded by a week of prep and plotting, and now a day (or two) of tweaks and rewrites.

A writer my age should probably not undertake to write a novel in this fashion, working till 1:30 a.m., rising at 7:30 a.m. and starting in again, before going down for orange juice and English muffin. But I have always written Quarry novels in two to three weeks (with the exception of the first one, which took six months) because they are stream-of-consciousness affairs that require me to live inside the story (and Quarry’s head) for the duration.

The story is set in the early ‘80s, and falls into the Quarry sub-category of our hero helping the target of a hit contract. It takes place in a small town in Missouri, during the off-season of its tourist industry. This may sound like a fairly ordinary Quarry set-up, but I assure you it’s wilder than Mr. Toad’s ride. In fact, Barb gave me the best Quarry review ever: “Who is this twisted man I’ve been sharing my bed with?”

This will be, since I obviously have work to do, a brief update. Barb and I saw SIDE EFFECTS, the Steven Sonderbergh thriller starring Jude Law, Rooney Mara (American GIRL WITH THE DRAGON etc.), and Catherine Zeta Jones. Very good twisty piece of work, sort of like ‘70s DePalma but slightly less overt in the sex, violence and style department. Like PARKER, a throwback to kind of grown-up genre piece that the theaters used to regularly offer.

My anti-Super Bowl rant last week got some interesting comments, particularly Mike Doran aptly pointing out that my lack of interest in pro sports may be related to my living outside a metro area. No big sports franchises in Iowa. Good point. The U of I’s Hawkeyes are worshipped in this state. My father fetishitically bought black-and-gold everything, including a Cadillac once.

Odd postscript to my sports “bloviating” (as one commenter termed it): I often love sports movies and sometimes books. Mark Harris’ Henry Wiggins novels are among my favorite novels. DAMN YANKEES is high on the list of my favorite movie musicals. And I’ve already written here about TV’s FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, one of my favorite shows.

Ah yes, I am an enigma wrapped in a riddle. If an occasionally bloviating one.

Here’s a terrific early COMPLEX 90 review from Ron Fortier, an excellent writer his own self.

And here’s a terrific review of my new collection (as complete as possible) of the MIKE HAMMER comic strip.

My friend (and great excellent crime writer) Ed Gorman was kind enough to post this generous review of SPREE, the final Nolan (to date, anyway).

Just in time for the publication of the third Jack and Maggie Starr (SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT), here’s a nice review of the first one, A KILLING IN COMICS.

Speaking of which, here’s a fun review of SEDUCTION from a gaming site.

And to celebrate finishing THE WRONG QUARRY in 2013, here’s a good review of the 1976 Quarry novel, QUARRY’S LIST.

M.A.C.

Downton Abbey Bowl

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

You want to know how secure in my masculinity I am? While other supposedly redblooded American males were watching the Super Bowl Sunday evening, I was watching the last two episodes of the third season of DOWNTON ABBEY on Blu-ray.

DOWNTON ABBEY is much better this year than last, but I am not here to praise that very popular series (actually, not near the top of my UK list but a fun show), but to brag about never having seen a Super Bowl game. I never have enjoyed watching sports, with the exception of boxing, and my interest in that has waned. I can abide basketball, particularly in person with good seats. Baseball to me is Chinese water torture with hot dogs.

I played football in high school. I viewed it as an opportunity for a bookworm with glasses to hide behind a protective helmet and dish out punishment on bigger, dumber kids. I was pretty good at it, and had scholarship offers. I was smart enough not to take them, because I would have been decimated by actual football players.

My point is, I don’t have to watch football. I played it. And I don’t find overblown half-time shows and commercials directed by modern day Caligulas any more entertaining than watching steroid-happy hired goons give each other brain damage. Nor do I relish the thought of guacamole-engorged cholesterol-ridden middle-aged men pursuing their homo-erotic fantasies by watching younger men collide at high speed.

But that’s just me.

I actually understand the bonding men and for that matter women (though most are pretending) share in their enthusiasm for college and professional sports. I have marginally more tolerance for college sports, though the fact that when I was at the University of Iowa there were maybe two guys actually from Iowa (way down on the bench) slightly undercuts whatever rooting interest I might have.

The best I’ve seen this bonding portrayed, in a funny, slightly dark but almost heart-warming manner, is the film SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK. I almost envied the father/son bonding and the joy the friends with a similar enthusiasm shared. That’s a really good movie, by the way. I avoided it because I get enough mental illness at home, but it’s a unique and entertaining romantic comedy.

For my readers who are into sports, please know that the above rant was satire. I don’t really believe any of it. I think you guys are absolutely not out of your minds. Really. Honest. So forgive me, would you?

And pass the guacamole?

——

Those who haven’t bailed may be interested in a video interview (an audio version is available) posted here. It’s about SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT, among other things. Caveat: I couldn’t figure out how to play the video, though I did figure out the audio. Non-Luddites will do better.

Another interview appears here at Comic Book Resources. A decent one, I think.

Here’s a review of TWO FOR THE MONEY, the Hard Case Crime combo of BAIT MONEY and BLOOD MONEY. Insightful and, when critical, fair. I continue to find it weird seeing forty year-old stuff of mine reviewed currently.

Jeff Pierce at his cool Killer Covers site did a nice write-up on the excellent new Disaster Series covers from Thomas & Mercer.

You might enjoy this lively discussion of Bob Goldsborough’s Nero Wolfe novels – I pitch in, as a fan of Bob’s.

The second collection of DREADTIME STORIES on Audio is reviewed here. I only have one radio play, “Mercy,” but it’s my favorite of the series.

What I believe is the first COMPLEX 90 review appears here. Pretty good, but it mistakes Titan for Hard Case Crime.

Finally, I will confirm here that I am indeed writing a new Quarry novel, THE WRONG QUARRY. That should help to explain my anti-Super Bowl rant above, but understand I am currently in full Quarry mode. I hope to be able to report exciting news about a potential Quarry TV series for cable. Stay tuned. In the meantime, I have to take a call from Bill Maher, who says this week I have gone too far.

M.A.C.