Posts Tagged ‘King of the Weeds’

Supreme Giveaway

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

[Note from Nate: This just in — M.A.C. is on The Huffington Post with a new article (and a very cool video list): “The Case of the Aging Sleuths and the Dying Detectives.”]

Supreme Justice

Yes, the time has come to offer up a dozen advance reading copies of SUPREME JUSTICE, the political thriller Amazon’s Thomas & Mercer will be publishing in June…I mean, July…I mean…

Okay, here’s the deal as I understand it. Members of Amazon Prime will have the opportunity to select SUPREME JUSTICE from an offering of four new novels on Kindle, a month before official publication. Prime members can pick one book free and order any others of the four at a vastly reduced price. I’m very lucky to have SUPREME JUSTICE selected for this program, because books in it have tended to do very well. It sort of jump-starts them.

What this means is a couple of things. First, if you’re in Amazon Prime, you can get the book on Kindle as early as June 1. (If you aren’t, you have to wait till July 1, when “real” books become available.) It also means that reviews for SUPREME JUSTICE can appear as early as June 1, if you’ve received one of these twelve advance reading copies.

All I ask is that you post a review at Amazon if you are one of the dozen getting these ARC’s. Reviews elsewhere and on blogs are also appreciated. These tend to go quickly. [Note from Nate: And they’re gone! Thanks for your support!]

This will likely be the last of these giveaways this year. I know some people have the idea that I write a novel a month or something, but the reality is closer to four novels a year, which I admit is a fair amount. But keep in mind a number of these books are collaborations. I work from Spillane manuscripts on the Hammer novels, and with Barb on the ANTIQUES mysteries. SUPREME JUSTICE is a collaboration with Matthew Clemens, although his name isn’t on the cover (he gets a full page credit inside, however).

But because each of these books is for a different publisher, they put them out when they feel like it…and now and then a cluster of novels comes out. ANTIQUES CON, KING OF THE WEEDS and SUPREME JUSTICE are within a couple of months of each other, and THE WRONG QUARRY wasn’t that long ago, either. This tends to discourage reviewers at places like Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus, and Library Journal from reviewing all of them.

That’s one of the reasons why I have started this effort to get advance copies into the hands of readers who might post Amazon and other reviews for the books. Amazon reviews are important, as I’ve said before, because the number of reviews impacts how the books are viewed (and sold) there. Speaking of which, if you received advance copies of ANTIQUES CON and KING OF THE WEEDS and haven’t reviewed them yet, please do. Positive reviews are appreciated but not mandatory.

Also, if you are one of the unfortunate souls who don’t get a free copy and (choke!) have to actually buy one, I would be grateful to you for posting reviews, as well. I know I’m a broken record (remember those?) on this subject, but reviewing my books and those of any author whose work you enjoy is very important in this publishing environment. I talk not just of Amazon but Barnes & Noble and your own blogs.

SUPREME JUSTICE is a rare political thriller from me, although there many be more if this does well. Matt and I have a trilogy in mind for these characters, ex-Secret Service agent Joe Reeder and FBI agent Patti Rogers. We hope to do a thriller based around each branch of government. This one, obviously, is about the Supreme Court.

Advance reviews have been mostly very good, but I am sensing that my perceived liberal politics may be hurting the novel with some readers. This surprises me, because Matt and I strove mightily to keep that out of it; to hit the ball right down the center. Reeder is a sort of JFK liberal, but he spends the book trying to protect conservative justices. Where some conservative readers/reviewers appear to be having trouble comes from the novel depicting an America a few years hence in which Roe V. Wade has been overturned and the Patriot Act expanded. This was intended much less as a political statement than a plot motivation, setting up an America where something extreme might be attempted to reconfigure the Supreme Court.

First and foremost, SUPREME JUSTICE is a thriller with a modern-day Holmes at its center, and politics is the backdrop, not the point of the yarn. Now and then I get slammed over Mike Hammer’s right-wing politics from the other side of the aisle, and a writer can get whiplash that way. My politics are probably what you’d describe as center left. I say to my friends farther right and left than me: lighten up. These are just stories. And if they make you think a little bit, well, that’s just a mint on the hotel pillow, isn’t it?

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KING OF THE WEEDS continues to get some lovely reviews, like this one from Swiftly Tilting Planet.

City of Films has a nice KING OF THE WEEDS review, too.

So does Geek Hard.

And Geek Hard also interviewed me on their podcast last week.

Two weeks in a row (!) The Daily Kos “Monday Murder Mystery” reviewer has looked at one of the Disaster novels. This time it’s THE HINDENBURG MURDERS, and the reviewer likes that one, too.

Finally, a brief but nice THE WRONG QUARRY review has trailed in here (you have to scroll down a bit).

M.A.C.

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.

New Mike Hammer Novel Out Today

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014
King of the Weeds Hardcover
Hardcover:

E-book:

King of the Weeds Audio
Audio MP3 CD:

KING OF THE WEEDS, the sixth Spillane/Collins Mike Hammer novel, is available now. Those of you who received advance copies can post Amazon reviews now. (Thanks to those of you advance ANTIQUES CON readers who’ve gotten around to posting Amazon reviews.)

Also available will be Stacy Keach’s audio reading of the novel, pictured here. I haven’t heard this yet but will be listening to it very soon – hearing perhaps the most famous screen Mike Hammer read these new Mike Hammer books is a very special treat for me.

As you probably know, the Edgar-nominated Mike Hammer short story, “So Long Chief,” did not win. The MWA has always had a tough time with Mike Hammer and Mickey Spillane (don’t get me started), so I am not surprised. That’s why I didn’t attend the banquet.

Instead, I stayed home and finished another Hammer story for the same magazine (The Strand), “Fallout,” which deals with Mike Hammer and Pat Chamber getting rockily back on friendly footing after the events of THE GIRL HUNTERS. This the sixth Mike Hammer short story I have developed from shorter Hammer fragments in Mickey’s files. That leaves one left to do. These seven stories, plus “Grave Matters” (a Hammer story I originally wrote as a “Mike Danger” with Mickey’s input) would round out what I hope will be an eventual collection. What’s nice about the fragments is that they are the start of Spillane stories, and nobody every wrote better beginnings in fiction than Mickey.

J. Kingston Pierce of the essential blog The Rap Sheet several years ago did the definitive in-depth interview with me. He has returned with a similarly in-depth follow-up on the occasion of the publication of KING OF THE WEEDS. It’s in the two parts. The first part, which is entirely Hammer-centric, appears at the Kirkus web site.

Part two, which is much wider-ranging, appears at the Rap Sheet.

Here’s a brief but very nice KING OF THE WEEDS review at Singular Points.

The American Airlines in-flight magazine has done an overview of continuations of mystery and thriller characters, including Mike Hammer and a quote from me.

And here’s a better-late-than-never one of THE FIRST QUARRY.

* * *

I had my first band job of the year Saturday night. Crusin’ played for a plus-40 Singles Dance, a perfect crowd for us, and a nice crowd danced every song and applauded after every song, too.

This is part of a “hiatus” year for the band due to our drummer, Steve Kundel, having school age kids who generated lots of concerts, sports events and other literal fun and games that require something once known as “parenting.”

In addition, we were worn down by a fairly rigorous schedule for a bunch of guys with real jobs (if, in my case, writing can be called that). We played 24 times last year. This year I have scheduled five. And no bars.

It felt very good to be with the guys again and out there performing once more. I strongly considered hanging it up at the end of last year, but couldn’t face the thought of having live rock ‘n’ roll performing a thing of my past. All of us – with the exception of our young (44) drummer – are reeling in the years, and the rigor of the last five steady years of playing is best behind us. The playing itself is physically demanding – I refuse to sit down while playing keyboards – and the loading of the equipment remains a delight, if by “delight” you mean waking up the next morning in screaming lower-back pain.

I do think fulltime writers like me need to have some outside activity, and I don’t mean mall-walking. It’s nice to get out in the world and see what’s happening – even if it does include a geezer who comes up to the stage and wonders aloud, “Don’t you people do any waltzes?”

That’s right, girls, he’s single….

M.A.C.

Swap Talk & Bobby Darin

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Just hours ago, I shipped ANTIQUES SWAP off to our editor at Kensington. I say “shipped” out of habit – these days, there’s no rush to make it to a Fed-Ex drop to actually post packages. How many times did Barb and I work all day on final corrections, hoping to make it to the P.O., Fed Ex or UPS on time?

Hitting “send” is somehow not as satisfying as handing a clerk a package or shoving that package into the Fed Ex box. But I would never go back.

Barb and I spent a long day doing the final tweaks and corrections. Our standard operating procedure is that I read and revise a hard copy, using a red pen so that the corrections jump out, and she enters them. This is not just for “Barbara Allan” books, but everything of mine that’s book length.

I’m always afraid that, on the read-through, a novel isn’t going to hang together – as I go, I focus on one chapter at a time, as if I were doing a short story, and I rarely have a sense of how (or not) those chapters are coming together to make a book. Almost always I am pleasantly surprised, sometimes damn near thrilled, by how those chapters turn into something coherent and cohesive. That last read-through, for tweaks and typos, plays a key role, but it’s always nice to know that you’ve written a novel and not just a bunch of scenes.

ANTIQUES SWAP came out very well indeed. But you never know, and we both had our doubts along the way. The story starts at a swap meet and eventually deals with wife-swapping in small-town Serenity. This is delicate, even daring subject matter for a cozy, but I think we walked the tight rope successfully. There’s a scene Barb came up with where a concussed Vivian Borne thinks she’s on a USO Tour with Bob and Bing that is among our funniest.

Last week a number of you jumped on my offer of sending out signed copies of KING OF THE WEEDS for Amazon reviews. I offered 12 copies, but wound up digging into my personal stash for another five. Thanks to all of you who requested books, and my apologies to those who missed out this time. In a few weeks, there will be a similar giveaway with a dozen ARC’s of SUPREME JUSTICE. For those who haven’t noticed, these Updates go up every Tuesday at 9 a.m. Central Time.

In the next two months, we should be posting any number of interviews and reviews. This is one of those times when all my publishing worlds collide – ANTIQUES CON, KING OF THE WEEDS and SUPREME JUSTICE are all out at the same time. I’ve already done an interview for Jon Jordan at Crimespree (see below), and soon I’ll be offering a link to a very long, in-depth one for J. Kingston Pierce of the Rap Sheet and Kirkus on-line.

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In the last year of his life, Bobby Darin did an NBC series called THE BOBBY DARIN SHOW. If you’ve been following my work for a while, chances are you know that I am the world’s biggest Bobby Darin fan. How can I make such a claim? Let’s start with: I own his Gold Record for “Mack the Knife.” Next!

The Bobby Darin Show

Anyway, Darin’s series is in many respects a typical early ‘70s variety show, which is to say a weird hybrid of what was “happening,” baby, and wheezy traditions that dated to vaudeville. Darin is very good at doing sketches and production numbers, and is naturally funny, too. But those ‘70s variety shows, with the partial exception of Carol Burnett, were really pretty terrible. And the reason to celebrate the release of THE BOBBY DARIN SHOW on DVD is chiefly the moments, two or three times a show, when Darin stands on stage in a tux and sings standards and current pop hits in his sophisticated, hip nightclub manner.

Also, every episode (there are thirteen) finds Darin singing to (and with) that week’s female musical guest star. Usually the two perch on stools as he gazes at her with open admiration, in a kind of seduction ending with Darin kissing the female guest tenderly (in near silhouette). What’s most fascinating here is how Darin modulates his performances according to the talents of his partner. Connie Stevens is shockingly weak, and Darin carries her, singing softly and gently. Much the same is true with Nancy Sinatra – but she is much better with him, with his help, than in her embarrassing solo performance of a lame “Boots are Made For Walkin’” follow-up flop.

But when Darin sings with Dusty Springfield – the greatest blue-eyed female soul singer of her generation – they stand facing each other, going toe to toe, delighted by each other’s talent, holding nothing back, although Dusty may be just a little bit surprised that the “Splish Splash”/”Mack the Knife” guy has such incredible r & b chops.

It’s not overstating it to say Darin was dying when he made these shows. Sometimes he clearly feels pretty good, and other times not. He doesn’t betray that, but I can tell. He phrases differently – grabbing more air than usual – when he’s under the weather. At the end of each show, he sings “Mack the Knife” while the credits roll and then recedes into a big empty soundstage in silhouette, which now plays hauntingly. If he’s feeling good, he dances and prances; if he’s having a rough week, he does just enough footwork and body language to fool you into thinking he’s still Bobby Darin. It’s said that he took oxygen off-stage before and after these performances, and that he was like a puppet with its strings snipped till the camera came on and the orchestra kicked in, and he came – for a time – alive.

Bobby Darin was a character Walden Robert Cassoto played. The coolness of the cat, swinging his songs on these shows, is startling in contrast to the goofy humor bits he does, like when he’s in drag as “the Godmother,” or sitting on a brownstone stoop jawing with a neighborhood pal. His acting talent comes to the fore in some excellent low-key production numbers in which he enacts a scene drawn from a song he’s singing, as in “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight,” where he’s a lower-class joe entertaining a prostitute in a cheap hotel room. Fairly startling, actually.

Darin could do anything. He was Oscar-nominated for a dramatic movie role and won a Golden Globe for a comedy. He was a genuine rocker. He was easily the greatest blue-eyed soul singer of his generation. He recorded some of the first country rock and folk rock, and was a songwriter of talent and versatility (he’s in the Songwriters Hall of Fame). At the start of his career, he opened for George Burns. In the last months of his life, he was the highest paid performer in Vegas.

If you buy this DVD set, know a couple of things. There are some things missing from these shows, apparently mostly guest-star performances that couldn’t be cleared. There are comedy bits you may wish to skip, and some dreadful musical performances by guest stars. I mean, it’s the early ‘70s. We’re talking the kind of era that makes people nostalgic for THE BRADY BUNCH.

But when Darin takes centerstage, with a big band behind him, a microphone in hand, and a rapt audience before him, prepare to get chills. There are performances here, by this dying young man, that are spellbinding and mesmerizing – “Cry Me a River,” “Some People,” “Once in a Lifetime.” A rare live performances of his great hit “Artificial Flowers” (one of his many songs about death) can be found here, and so can his thumbing-his-nose-at-the-reaper signature tune “Mack the Knife” – thirteen times, each different. The most astonishing performance is, perhaps surprisingly, his moving and electric rendition of Don McLean’s “Driedel.” Worth the price of admission.

The DVD set is widely available, on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble, and featured in mail-order catalogues like Critic’s Choice.

For those of you who have no idea what the fuss is, check out this 1962 performance:

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Here’s that interview that Jon Jordan did with me about KING OF THE WEEDS and more.

Barb and I are thrilled that the Washington Post mystery review chose ANTIQUES CON for part of their round-up of new cozies.

And my old pal Ron Fortier (terrific writer his own self) had wonderful things to say about KING OF THE WEEDS.

JFK assassination expert Vince Palamara – one of my unwitting resources – has some very nice things to say about TARGET LANCER here. I can’t tell you how much it means when somebody like Vince approves of my exploration of the key crime of the 20th Century.

M.A.C.