Posts Tagged ‘Covers’

Hardboiled Vs. Cozy

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Quarry's CutThis week’s Quarry cover is QUARRY’S CUT, originally THE SLASHER – the final of the first four in the series, published in the mid-‘70s by Berkley Books. It’s the darkest of the first four, the most overtly a dark comedy of any of the novels, and is one of my periodic, probably ill-advised attempts to do an Agatha Christie-style closed environment mystery in the hardboiled style.

I seem to be one of the few mystery writers who likes Christie as much as Hammett, who likes Stout as much as Spillane. Someone recently was putting down cozies, assuming I’d agree, when I had to say, “Uh – I write a cozy series with my wife.” I find things to like in every variation on the fictional sleuth – for example, Barb and I spend much of our leisure time watching British mysteries. We are currently preparing ourselves for withdrawal pangs over the upcoming departure of John Nettles (Inspector Barnaby) from Midsomer Murders (Nettles is leaving after a record number of episodes, though it’s continuing without him). As I mentioned here previously, we recently blew through the wonderful boxed set of Ellery Queen starring Jim Hutton, father of Archie Goodwin, I mean, Tim Hutton.

I don’t understand the hostility between fans of the variations on the detective story – it makes as much sense as the old Marvel Comics/DC Comics rivalry. What I notice most is that people who dislike a writer like Christie or Spillane generally haven’t read them much if at all. Some tried them as kids and had a knee-jerk reaction and never went back and tried again as adults.

The take on Christie is that her characters are cardboard – not true; in fact, the solutions to her mysteries almost always hinge upon psychology. She is also a great dialogue writer – she was, after all, a hugely successful playwright.

Spillane is supposed to be a woman hater, yet his women are remarkably strong with Hammer’s P.I. partner, Velda, a prime, pistol-packing example. The key to enjoying Spillane is understanding that he is not Chandler just as Chandler was not Hammett. Mickey gets dissed over his politics, but there’s nothing really political about that lunatic urban knight Mike Hammer – true, Mickey was a conservative of sorts (as a Jehovah’s Witness, he did not vote), and I am a liberal; but that has had zero impact on the Hammers I’ve co-written.

By the way, if you are unemployed, and you voted for the Republicans – you know, the party that wants to end your unemployment benefits? You are about to get exactly what you deserve.

I read very, very little contemporary crime fiction. I kid on the square that I don’t like to encourage the competition, but the real reasons are (a) my reading time is taken up by research, and (b) the mystery I am “reading” is the one I am writing.

So, instead, Barb and I watch British mysteries on TV, and other mystery series old and new (from Johnny Staccato to Leverage) (Tim Hutton again). And we listen to audio books when we travel. We are heading into our fourth trip through Rex Stout, having listened to Agatha Chritie’s entire body of work twice. If I am doing a Spillane collaboration, I listen to a Spillane audio book.

I can still learn from the classics. I am well aware that some very good people are writing right now. And I do read a handful (chiefly pals like Ed Gorman, John Lutz, Bob Randisi, and a few others). But I doubt anybody’s writing right now who could teach me things I couldn’t learn from Hammett, Chandler, Cain, Spillane, Thompson, Westlake, Stout, Gardner and Christie.

One of these days I am going to discuss the definition of “noir” here. It seems to be a fairly controversial subject. Recently, though, my friend Otto Penzler declared all private eye fiction outside the boundaries of noir. Otto is, of course, one of the most knowledgeable guys in the field. He is also wrong.

But that’s for another update.


You Only Blog Twice

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

This week’s Quarry cover is QUARRY’S DEAL. Another great Terry Beatty cover. Ordering info here.

Quarry's DealNate has been in Japan for several days now, and he’s doing a blog (daily, so far). He is posting beautiful pictures and great, often very funny commentary. He is a very talented young man and his father (me) is proud of him. So you get two blog entries this week; this one from me, and this one from Nate.

Because Nate is in Japan, I’m working a few days early on this update, to give him plenty of room to get it put together and posted. So it’s October 30 in Muscatine, Iowa, a beautiful fall day with lots of color in the trees and chill in the breeze. Tonight is the “official” local Halloween night, and I’ve carved the pumpkin (I’m damn good at it – ask Nate) [Nate:It’s true!] and Barb is putting a bunch of scary stuff on the porch…ours is one of the houses the neighbor kids flock to, although some of our goodies are getting long in the tooth (we had to throw away a talking skeleton head after years of noble service).

We’ve been watching horror movies, and Barb – who for decades didn’t like them – is now a fan and catching up. We watched the very funny RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD from the late, great Dan O’Bannon. Our favorite Halloween movie, though, is TRICK ‘R’ TREAT, and if you haven’t seen that wonderfully dark, funny anthology movie, put it on Netflix for next Halloween season. It looks great on Blu-Ray. (So does RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, which features my old pal Linnea Quigley, with whom I almost did a comic book project some years back).

This weekend I am zeroing in on the conclusion of RETURN TO PERDITION, and next week (now, as you read this) I’ll be writing the next DICK TRACY introduction. Nice to have a connection to TRACY again. Next up is THE CONSUMMATA, the DELTA FACTOR sequel by Mickey Spillane that I am completing for Hard Case Crime.

Next year is going to be a big M.A.C. year. Barb and I have ANTIQUES KNOCK-OFF (by “Barbara Allan”) coming out in March, and that same month from the same publisher (Kensington), Matt Clemens and I have NO ONE WILL HEAR YOU out. In May the third of the Mike Hammers appears – KISS HER GOODBYE (do not miss this one) – and in August BYE BYE, BABY, the first Nate Heller novel in ten years. Some time next year, QUARRY’S EX will come out, as well. And from DC/Vertigo, RETURN TO PERDITION.

This will no doubt initiate a bunch of “when do you sleep” questions (and putdowns), but the fact is BYE BYE, BABY has been done for well over a year, and three of the titles are collaborations. RETURN TO PERDITION is something I’ve been working on for a year and a half. QUARRY’S EX, of course, was supposed to come out this year and was postponed. What I fear is that some or maybe all of these titles will get lost in the shuffle because there are so many of them. And that drives me crazy, because each of these books is really strong. I get beaten up and sometimes ignored because I am seen as “prolific.”

But I have no intention of slowing down. At 62, I am not fooling around – I have stories to tell. I even have band jobs to play. Next year will mark the 40th anniversary of my first professional sale of a novel – BAIT MONEY to Curtis Books. The following two years will mark the 40th anniversary of me as a published professional (BAIT MONEY came out in December 1972 but was a January 1973 book).

So if any of you connected to writer’s organizations (the MWA has had enough yearly dues out of me to afford to make a statue of me for their lobby, if they had a lobby) or mystery conventions or mystery magazines (attention: Kate Stine) are interested, 2011 is a perfectly good time to start the career tributes and to book me as a guest and to just generally make a fuss. I’m available. I’ll even bring my rock band along.

For a price.

Here’s a fun fan review of my Batman graphic novel SCAR OF THE BAT. Nice to see something from a few years back get noticed now.


The Rising Son

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

My son Nate, who – as regulars here well know – runs this web site will be in Japan for a month (he’s there already as you read this). So he’ll be putting up these weekly updates from Japan, and I don’t think there will be any glitches, but (just in case) I thought I’d mention it.

Quarry's ListWe will continue to showcase the upcoming QUARRY reprints. This week it’s QUARRY’S LIST, and another of Terry Beatty’s terrific covers.

I usually post quite a few links to news stories and reviews, but this week, I’m all over the web and it’s one story endlessly recycled…but it’s very good news, so I’ll repeat it here, even though you probably already have Charles Ardai’s press release memorized by now.

Hard Case Crime is moving to the great UK publisher Titan (they are distributed in the USA by Random House). Titan is one of my favorite publishing houses, and publisher Nick Landau is one of my favorite publishers…favorite people, actually. Titan is the house where we will very likely be doing collections of a certain Collins/Beatty title, and another key property I’m involved with may be moving to Titan, as well – I’ll share more when I’m able).

Anyway, one of the first (if not the first) titles Hard Case will be doing at Titan is the postponed (but very well-reviewed) QUARRY’S EX. There is no contract for another Quarry yet, but Charles and I are talking. What is much more firm is another Spillane/Collins collaboration – a non-Mike Hammer, but the sequel to one of Mickey’s best bestsellers. And to make that news even more exciting, Robert McGinnis will be doing the cover.

I do have one link for you, a very nice write-up about an hour-long internet/radio interview I did, and it includes a link to that interview. I know you’ve heard and read plenty of interviews with me, but I was in a weird mood that day and spilled a bunch of new beans. So it may be worth your time.

Nate, have fun in Japan! And everybody reading this needs to read the book that paid for the trip, and the link is right here.


Now Hear This

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

No One Will Hear YouHere’s an advance look of the second J.C. Harrow novel, NO ONE WILL HEAR YOU, by me and Matthew Clemens. We thought Kensington did a fine job on the cover of YOU CAN’T STOP ME, but this one really knocked our socks off. I’ll let you know more later about this one, which both authors think tops the first book by a country mile.

Matt and I have been working on a proposal for the next Harrow for several weeks. We had a sample chapter ready and were tweaking the proposal when a better idea came up – not completely different, but a compelling alternative – and we junked what we had and started over. We have work meetings at the Muscatine, Iowa, Applebee’s, where our discussions of grotesque homicides routinely raise eyebrows and drop jaws. Matt and I are also working on several jigsaw puzzles – we did an NCIS and NCIS: LA not long ago, and are set to do a MENTALIST puzzle, as well. These are short stories that accompany a puzzle image, which contains the clues to a mystery (we did a number of CSI puzzles for this same client, a few years back).

Nate and his girl friend Abby (and Nate’s wonderfully crazy blue heeler, Toaster) visited over the weekend. We mostly watched the SHERLOCK BBC series on Blu-Ray (second go-round for Barb and me) and went to the entertaining if mindless RESIDENT EVIL 3-D movie…fun, but no PIRANHA 3-D (no kidding, that one’s terrific – almost Russ Meyer level over-the-top).

Nate and I continue to explore the e-book notion. Right now we’re thinking of doing new books of old material – i.e., a collection of my horror stories, a Barbara Allan short story collection (every story Barb and I have written together), two-fers of various novels (like two Mallorys to a book), etc.

Cop, writer, all around great guy Paul Bishop has one of the coolest web sites around – BISH’S BEAT – and recently he wrote what may be my favorite review yet of THE BIG BANG.

The film version of ROAD TO PERDITION has made it onto a very hip “best 10 mob movies” list. I am thrilled to be on there with some of my favorites, like GET CARTER and PRIME CUT.

I will be writing more RETURN TO PERDITION script this week and also doing my draft of the sample chapter for the next Harrow novel (assuming Matt Clemens delivers his draft soon).