Posts Tagged ‘Mickey Spillane on Screen’

Holiday Edition

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Santa delivered an early present to the M.A.C. household by way of an award for MICKEY SPILLANE ON SCREEN (by Jim Traylor and me), courtesy of the great movie-fan publication CLASSSIC IMAGES, for “Best Film Noir Book of 2013.” Specifically, it was given by reviewer Laura Wagner in her year’s end Book Points column. Ms. Wagner also singled out MICKEY SPILLANE ON SCREEN for one of the Best Covers of 2013 as well as honoring the book’s Photo Layout. These last two honors were shared with several other books, but the Best Film Noir Book is mine and Jim’s alone.

To help celebrate, why not pick up a copy? Yes, yes, it’s expensive, but it so happens McFarland is running a 20% off sale on not just MICKEY SPILLANE but all of their titles till December 31st. Here’s a link for those of you who didn’t blow everything on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

Big Book of Christmas Mysteries

And speaking of the holidays, my personal favorite of my short stories – “A Wreath for Marley,” my CHIRSTMAS CAROL MEETS THE MALTESE FALCON yarn – is included in the terrific new fat-as-Santa anthology, THE BIG BOOK OF CHRISTMAS MYSTERIES, edited by my jolly old friend (well, maybe not jolly) Otto Penzler. What an honor to be included with such personal heroes of mine as Rex Stout, Agatha Christie and Donald E. Westlake. I have arrived, even if I had to sneak down the chimney to do it.

A Bird for Becky

“A Wreath for Marley” features Richard Stone, a Heller-like detective in Chicago in the forties; it’s the basis for my as yet unproduced screenplay, BLUE CHRISTMAS. There is one other Stone story, “A Bird for Becky,” also with a holiday theme – Thanksgiving. It’s just come out as an e-book, available on Amazon, for a mere 99 cents. Yes, I should have promoted this in time for Thanksgiving, but since you’re full of holiday spirit (and maybe undigested turkey), maybe you’ll give it a try, anyway.

A couple of movie recommendations. FROZEN, which should be seen in 3-D, is a Disney CGI musical about princesses…hey, wait! Hold up! Come on! Listen for a second….It’s very good and often witty, incredibly well-animated, with music by the co-writer of THE BOOK OF MORMON score, and the lead – complete with excellent singing – is VERONICA MARS herself, Kristen Bell, who hasn’t been given a shot a vocalizing like this since the wonderful REEFER MADNESS TV movie. And for a completely inappropriate second feature, try HOMEFRONT, with Jason Stratham in redneck Louisiana up against that peckerwood James Franco, in a ‘70s Bronson-style melodrama from a screenplay by Sylvester Stallone (also a producer). If you trade your brains in for a bucket of popcorn before entering, you will have a fine violent time (I did).

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ASK NOT reviews continue, like this very strong one (if a bit patronizing) from Woody Haut. Seems Woody thinks it’s unlikely that Nate Heller could be involved in so many famous crimes – really, Woody? Never occurred to me….

Here’s an ASK NOT interview with a bit of a forensics slant.

LADY, GO DIE! has received a nice write-up here.

And here’s a strong review about Stacy Keach’s reading of GOLIATH BONE on audio.

Finally, you’ll enjoy this reassessment of Mickey Spillane from a reviewer who followed my suggestion to read more than just I, THE JURY before giving his final verdict. (Get it? Jury? Verdict?)

M.A.C.

Bittersweet Edgar Noms

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

The Edgar nominations were announced last week, and I was pleased to see two books I contributed essays to were chosen in the Best Critical/Biographical section: BOOKS TO DIE FOR and IN PURSUIT OF SPENSER (Matt Clemens co-authored the essay in the latter, dealing with the Spenser TV series). I admit to my disappointment that Jim Traylor and my MICKEY SPILLANE ON SCREEN didn’t get a nod. I am never surprised to be absent in Edgar fiction categories – that’s the biggest crap shoot on the planet – but I felt we had a decent shot in this smaller, more specific category. There’s always the Anthonys….

Today I doing a final pass on a Mike Hammer story, “So Long, Chief,” developed from a particularly strong ten-page Spillane fragment. It will likely appear in The Strand, and I am gradually completing enough Hammer stories to see the possibility of a collection glimmering on the horizon.

Matt Clemens and I met this week and put the finishing touches on WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU. The book definitely reflects my interest in the wave of Nordic mystery fiction, which I’m mostly familiar with via foreign TV adaptations. Barb and I watched a new Varg Veum film last night, for example, and have gone through all of the available Wallanders (as well as the Brit version). The longer TV cut of GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO is superior to the films (apparently it’s not uncommon for TV movies and series to have limited theatrical releases in that part of the world, before expanded television versions are aired). While it’s dangerous to look at a country’s output of crime fiction as a genre unto itself, I am fascinated by the Nordic mix of political intrigue and social ills. WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU doesn’t reflect the political side in a major way, but does (I think) represent a move away from the CSI-oriented forensics thrillers that Matt and I have previously explored.

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A nice review of the 2007 Ms. Tree prose novel, DEADLY BELOVED, has turned up on the web.

My friend, the fine writer Ed Gorman, wrote a very generous piece on SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT.

Here’s a so so review of SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT, a patronizing piece from my point of view. It also quotes a PW review from a reviewer who doesn’t know the meaning of the word “parody” (hint: not interchangeable with pastiche).

More SEDUCTION reviews are available at Goodreads.

And here’s a nice, insightful review of “A Little Faith,” the story Matt Clemens and I did for the anthology DARK FAITH INVOCATIONS.

M.A.C.

Bouchercon – Can You Picture It?

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Barb with our longtime friend and agent Dominick Abel.


The great suspense writer John Lutz, who presented MAC with the PWA Hammer for Nathan Heller.


Barb moderating her panel (with Allan misspelled on her i.d. placard).


MAC and Barb outside the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame (Matthew Clemens hiding his head but little else)


MAC meeting a fan at BOOKS TO DIE FOR signing (also shown: last year’s guest Crusin’ vocalist, Mark Billingham; Reed Coleman; and Michael Connelly).


At BOOKS TO DIE FOR signing, this group called “Murderer’s Row” by our editor’s significant other: Lee Child, Mark Billingham, Reed Coleman, MAC, Michael Connelly, John Connelly.


Staredown contest between MAC and Michaeal Connelly.


Barb presenting PWA “Shamus” for Best Paperback to somebody other than her husband.


MAC accepting the PWA “Hammer” Award for Nate Heller, who couldn’t attend (he’s in a Boca Raton retirement home).


Sara Paretsky, ANTIQUES series editor Michaela Hamilton (cute from any angle) and PWA found/prez, Captain Robert Randisi.

Here’s a lovely review of TARGET LANCER from my pal (and incredible writer) Ed Gorman. The cover, by the way, is the previous version with yellow that I asked to be changed to red (and it was).

MICKEY SPILLANE ON SCREEN by Jim Traylor and me gets some nice attention in both December’s issues of EQMM and ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE. On stands now. (Are there still stands?)

Here’s a great write-up describing BOOKS TO DIE FOR, the new volume in which top mystery writers discuss great mystery novels – I take a swing at I, THE JURY (what a shock).

That justly renowned comic book writer, Peter David, posted a column about my other band, Seduction of the Innocent, that you may enjoy. It was written in ‘98 but it remains fresh.

Here’s a fun if belated review of the Mike Hammer novel, THE BIG BANG. [Nate here: HUGE spoiler warning!]

Writer/blogger Mike Dennis has posted his own Bouchercon recap, including a pic with yours truly.

M.A.C.

Friday Night Lights

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS

I have lately late at night been binge-watching the series FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, which I had heard for years was excellent but just hadn’t got around to. I picked up the boxed set of all five seasons at a Half-Price Books and got caught up in what is superficially a teenage soap opera with a football background but is actually as good a dramatic series as I’ve ever seen on television. As much as I like THE SOPRANOS and MAD MEN, the good heart and skillful storytelling displayed in this sentiment-filled (but not sentimental) series reminds me how easy it is in writing to fall back on cheap-shot cynicism, snarky irony and the dark side. The naturalistic acting and the character-driven plotting show how empty and soulless are the likes of BOARDWALK EMPIRE and HOUSE OF LIES. There’s a lot of talent on display in front of and in back of the lights, with eavesdropping hand-held cameras and an evocative guitar-dominated score by W.G. “Snuffy” Walden (of the similarly excellent WEST WING).

Because the producers and writers knew that the fifth season was their last, they brought back characters from previous seasons (it’s a high school story, so characters graduate and move on) and wrapped up the entire story in a longer-than-usual episode that is my candidate for the best and most satisfying final show in a serial. Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton as the coach and his wife are responsible (along with the writers, of course) for what is the most realistic and believable marriage ever depicted on television.

One of the reasons I finally watched the show was Taylor Kitsch’s role in it – I was impressed with Kitsch in both JOHN CARTER and the surprisingly good BATTLESHIP (directed by Peter Berg, the director/writer of the film FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS and creator of the TV version). Kitsch’s Tim Riggins is a memorable creation, breathing life into the cliche of the seemingly doomed working-class high school sports hero whose glory days will soon be behind him. This is a charismatic and talented actor, who would make a fine Nate Heller. He’s in Oliver Stone’s SAVAGES (from the Don Winslow novel) right now, which I haven’t seen yet. Somehow I imagine it’s not going to be as heartwarming as FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS.

Speaking of stories that aren’t heartwarming, the Spillane/Collins novella “Skin,” available only as an e-book, continues to wrack up nice reviews, like this one.

And MICKEY SPILLANE ON SCREEN was given a nice review in Crimespree (not available on line) and a small but appreciated write up here. The Crimespree review advises potential readers that the high price of the book makes finding a library copy to read a priority. But both Barnes & Noble and Amazon are carrying it at a decent, if shifting, discount. At any given time, one of them usually has it for around thirty bucks – still stiff, but anyone interested in my work or Mickey’s will want it.

Here’s a surprise: a glowing write-up about one of my BATMAN comic book stories.

Speaking of Batman, count me among the minority who found THE DARK KNIGHT RISES the latest candidate for “Emperor’s New Clothes” status. The pretentiousness and the self-importance on display are almost as unbearable as the length of the thing, which contains more absurdities than a Dr. Seuss book (but is far less fun). What I come away with most are the unintelligible dialogue exchanges between pro-wrestler-like Bane, whose mouth is covered by a pointlessly grotesque mask, and Bale’s Batman, who talks in his now trademark low, lispy spooky Batman voice – not that any of it is worth hearing. Their muffled back-and-forth is the stuff that Riff Trax are made of. And if you like kettle drums, you’ll just love the score. Perfect for an endless Samoan war dance.

On the plus side, Anne Hathaway makes a perfectly fine Catwoman who actually injects some humor into the mix (a rarity in these dour films). And while I like Ms. Hathaway’s rear view just fine, was it really necessary to design a bat-cycle that has her riding it prone with her butt in their air? Just wondering.

M.A.C.