Posts Tagged ‘New Releases’

Mike Hammer Returns…and Another Book Giveaway!

Tuesday, March 19th, 2019

Hardcover:
E-Book: Amazon Google Play Nook Kobo
Audiobook (digital): Kobo Audible
Audiobook (MP3 CD): Amazon Nook
Audiobook (Audio CD): Amazon Nook

The day this post appears is the pub date for the new Mike Hammer novel from Titan, Murder, My Love.

I am offering ten copies to readers who are willing to post a review at Amazon and other sites, such as Barnes & Noble and Goodreads. We also have eight Advance Reading copies of the new Barbara Allan, which is not out till April 30, Antiques Ravin’. And five more Advance Reading copies of Girl Most Likely. When you enter, list your order of preference for which book to receive (and let me know if you already have a Girl Most Likely or if there’s one of these three titles you simply aren’t interested in).

With Antiques Ravin’ and Girl Most Likely, you will need to wait till pub day to review at Amazon. Elsewhere you should be good to go.

You need to be in the USA – foreign mailings are expensive – and you must send me your snail mail address (even if you won in the past).

Send requests to macphilms@hotmail.com.

As you may have noticed, if you follow the comments section, there has been misunderstanding about the reader reviews that are the point of these books being sent out. They are not being sent out of the goodness of my heart. They mean to generate positive reviews and nice star ratings at Amazon.

For that reason, I’ve made it clear that anyone who wins a book in one of my giveaway from me, and winds up not liking the book, need not feel obligated to review it. I don’t mean such readers should lie and say that liked the book, just that they not slag it at my expense. These book giveaways are an expensive and time-consuming undertaking. The one Barb and I are launching here will run me around $150.

This is why I suggested that if you win a book, and can’t at least give it a mixed but predominantly favorable review, you just don’t bother. That you chuck it in the circular file or take it to Half-Price books and earn yourself a dime or so.

I don’t think this is unreasonable.

On the other hand, review copies sent to readers for honest reviews by Amazon or the publisher’s PR reps can say whatever they please – obviously. Ditto for book giveaways at Goodreads. An honest bad review is a perfectly acceptable response in that kind of giveaway.

Just don’t ask the author for a free book and then trash it in public.

Now, I admit to being annoyed with the First Read reviewers who get free books from Amazon and then savage them. But I can’t do anything about it except bitch.

A few words about Murder, My Love.

This is the first Mike Hammer novel that contains no Spillane prose – strictly Collins. Every single novel of the dual-byline Spillanes that preceded had at least a chapter or two by Mickey, although I always expanded and manipulated that material to extend the Spillane influence and his sound. This time I did, however, work from a fairly detailed synopsis of a novel he intended to write, although it may have been a synopsis of Mickey’s for a Mike Hammer TV movie for Stacy Keach and producer Jay Bernstein (my introduction explains my reasoning and sets the novel’s place in the chronology of the series).

The next Hammer novel, which I haven’t started yet, does have some Spillane prose in it, though it too is mostly a synopsis.

For those who have wondered, I will likely be converting some non-Mike Hammer material – two screenplays and several starts on novels – into Hammers, if Titan moves forward with another contract (or two).

I think Murder, My Love came out rather well, and it certainly feels like authentic Hammer to me. I’ll be interested in your opinion.

* * *

One of my favorite crime writers is the late Ted Lewis, whose novel Jack’s Return Home (1985) became the great Brit crime film, Get Carter (1971). I wrote about Lewis in an introduction to the Jack Carter prequel novel in 2014, Jack Carter’s Law, originally published in 1978.

Recently I read a solid bio of Lewis by Nick Triplow, Getting Carter: Ted Lewis and the Birth of Brit Noir, published in the UK in 2017 by No Exit Press (it’s also available here). Lewis is an interesting but sad, even tragic figure, another artist taken down by self-doubt and alcoholism. I was fascinated (but not surprised) to learn that Lewis had been heavily influenced by Spillane and by Richard Stark’s Parker novels, to which Lewis had been led by the film Point Blank…because that was exactly the case with me. So Nolan and Quarry grew out of the same influences as Jack Carter.

But something strange and oddly wonderful, at least in my view (Small World, Dept.), popped up late in the book, in a discussion of Jack Carter’s Law, the very book I would one day introduce and praise. Triplow had difficulty finding any contemporary press reviews for that novel, with the only one turning up coming from the Carroll Daily Times Herald, the “Iowa Book Shelf” by reviewer R. Choate, who praises the book as offering a “realistic background of the London criminal element,” but says it’s “not recommended for those with squeamish stomachs.”

In the very next paragraph of the bio, Triplow talks about what I had to say of the same novel in my 2014 introduction. He of course doesn’t mention I am also from Iowa, and perhaps doesn’t know.

Here’s what had my jaw dropping: “R. Choate” is almost certainly Richard Choate, at the time a Des Moines area actor who was one of Michael Cornelison’s best friends. Do I have to tell readers of these updates that Cornelison was also one of my best friends, and that he had major roles in every one of my indie films and narrated both of my documentaries? That his one-man show of my Eliot Ness: An Untouchable Life is streaming on Amazon Prime right now?

I met Richard through Mike, and it’s entirely possible that Mike – knowing of my interest in crime fiction and film – made Choate aware of the book called in America, Jack Carter and the Law.

Richard Choate – who I haven’t seen since the public tribute to Mike, where I spoke – was originally going to have a major role in my indie film, Real Time: Siege at Lucas Street Market (2000). In fact, I wrote the part for him (he’s a wonderful actor), but a last-minute unexpected conflict with his day job made it necessary for me to re-cast the day before we went into production.

So what? (you might reasonably wonder).

But I ask you to put yourself in my place, innocently reading a book about one of your favorite authors and then having the coincidence of those two adjoining paragraphs gobsmack you.

To put it in some kind of less than ridiculous context, it was likely the one review Lewis got came from my talking up Get Carter to Mike, which likely led to him mentioning it to Richard, who then gave the prequel novel its only known review, until I wrote that 2014 introduction….

Cue Rod Serling and the music.

Two postscripts.

I believe Richard is in Oregon now and still involved in theater, and also in addiction treatment and counseling.

Also, Carter himself, Michael Caine, has a book out (Blowing the Bloody Doors Off) that is wonderful reading, not an autobio exactly (he’s done several of those), but reflections on his acting career and how what he’s experienced and learned can be translated to other professions. Much of what he says can easily be transferred to the writing game.

But, interestingly, he says little about Get Carter and doesn’t seem to particularly value it as anything special. This is odd because in Great Britain it is widely considered the best UK crime film of all. I would rate it Caine’s best, even above The Ipcress File and The Man Who Would Be King. I do agree with him, though, that the third Harry Palmer film, The Billion-Dollar Brain, is woefully underrated.

* * *

If you read this the day it’s posted (Tuesday, March 19, 2019), I will be appearing in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, at an event for writers dedicated to the memory of my late friend and great writer, Ed Gorman – a free 7 p.m. presentation in Sinclair Auditorium at Coe College in Cedar Rapids.

Here is an article – which is among the better in depth articles written about me ever, by the way – with the details.

And here is a terrific article about Ms. Tree (and the upcoming series of collections from Titan) at the generally terrific Stiletto Gumshoe site.

Finally, here’s where you can get a signed copy of Girl Most Likely. (Not a giveaway!)

Inspiration, Perspiration and Exasperation

Tuesday, January 29th, 2019

Paperback:
E-Book: Amazon Google Play Nook Kobo iTunes

USS Powderkeg will be available on February 1. You are unlikely to find it in a bookstore, so go to Amazon or Barnes & Noble or BAM! iTunes has it, too – read about that here.

Info about the book itself is available at Brash Books.

We have used the cover before, but this book – finally under my preferred title with my revised text – is important to me and will require some effort on your part to lay hands on it. This is the novel based on my late father’s experiences in World War II as one of a handful of white officers on an ammunition ship whose crew was otherwise African-American.

After shrugging off our disappointment at Scarface and the Untouchable not getting nominated for an Edgar – my “shrugging off” included expressing how pissed off I was, on Facebook – my co-author, A. Brad Schwartz and I are digging in to make some corrections and additions to the upcoming trade paperback edition (June 4).

This will include a new preface as well as bonus material (in the style of DVD extras) that will focus on the newly discovered case file of one of the Untouchables, which serves to underscore and further verify our conclusions about Ness and how he and his team have been underestimated and short-changed by history.

We are also prepping for a visit to the Mob Museum in Las Vegas over Valentine’s Day, about which more will appear here next week. Brad has also been out on the stump by himself somewhat, as I have been burrowed in, here in very cold Iowa, working on novels. Yesterday day I completed the new Quarry novel, Killing Quarry – although I will be re-reading it and tweaking it and such for a few days this week.

Anyway, among Brad’s adventures in promoting our book (did I mention the criminal overlooking of this major tome by the MWA true crime committee?) included this fine interview.

Speaking of the MWA committee’s neglect, someone I trust has suggested the intimidating length of the book probably put some or all of the committee members off. I suspect some truth might be found in that opinion. Having served on MWA committees, I know it’s a fact of life that the committee members are swamped with books to read in full. On the other hand, the advance notices (particularly the fine mini-review from Grand Master Sara Paretsky) should have encouraged them to do so, anyway.

What can you do to help make the pain go away? Well, if you attend Bouchercon this year, you can vote for Scarface and the Untouchable in the non-fiction Anthony Awards category.

I know I plan to.

Hey, I realize this is undignified and sour grapes and boo-hoo-hoo. I have a love/hate relationship with awards, anyway (love to be nominated, hate not to be, and also losing). But awards as respected as the Edgars bring new readers to the nominated works and especially those that win. They have importance only in that regard, because otherwise it’s just a bunch of subjective nonsense.

I feel much the same way about reviews. I want good reviews not because I need validation, but because more readers will come to the books. I would be lying if I said bad reviews don’t matter to me, because they do, and not just in the sense that they discourage readers (sometimes, oddly enough, such reviews don’t always work that way). But it hurts to have something you’ve put hard work into savaged and/or dismissed, particularly when a smart reviewer nails you for something you’re guilty of.

What hurts about Scarface and the Untouchable is the work, and the years of research, that went into it. I am less angry about this for myself and more for my co-author, whose research (building on my original research in Heller and Ness novels) has upended conventional wisdom about Capone and his tax woes, and Ness and the lack of respect and credit he gets, from those who resent how Hollywood portrayed him. Brad did a stellar, mind-boggling job.

He deserved better.

* * *

As I mention, I finished Killing Quarry yesterday, and will dig into minor revisions throughout the rest of the week. I have a particularly full plate this year, which is why I have written three novels in four months – Murder, My Love with Mike Hammer; the Caleb York novel, now entitled Hot Lead, Cold Justice (my original title, The Big Die-Off, deemed too obscure); and now Killing Quarry. Very shortly I will begin serious work on Girl Can’t Help It, the prequel to the forthcoming Girl Most Likely, a task for which I’ve allowed several months. This will be followed by my draft of Antiques Fire Sale (Barb’s working on her draft now), which I have allowed another month for.

This is, of course, insane. Why do I work so hard? Why is somebody who has five doctor’s appointments with specialists this month behaving like this? Should I slow down? Barb thinks I should.

But I like doing this. I really do. And – while I feel fine and all my reports so far (the dentist today) have been positive – when you are 70 and in a month or so will be 71, you sense that maybe you don’t have all the time left in the world to tell your stories.

And I came here to tell stories.

All of which is prelude to what I want to discuss today. Would you agree that everybody has bad days? Various kinds of bad days, of course – from the simple out-of-sorts day to the depressed-about-bad-news day (not getting an Edgar nomination for a ground-breaking book, to just pull an example out of the air) to the nothing-is-going-right day to…you get the idea.

Now I’m not talking about a sick day (in my business, cold and flu generally don’t count – open-heart surgery does) or a day when tragedy has struck a loved one or friend. Nothing like that. Your favorite aunt dies? Take the day off with my blessing!

No, just that typical terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

When you are writing on a six-day-a-week schedule, with a deadline bearing down, you write anyway. Writer’s block is not allowed, and I never have it, anyway. Recently I thought I had finally encountered this mysterious, possibly mythical beast – I could not get a single workable thing on paper. I always start with a rough draft, knowing that I’m creating the clay for me to shape into sculpture. But this time, I couldn’t get anything on paper worth building on.

Why?

Well, turned out I was effing exhausted! Just flat-out fried. So I took a two-hour nap, as elderly folk are wont (and permitted) to do. When I got up from my snooze, the words flowed. Maybe not like wine, but definitely Coca Cola.

During the writing of Killing Quarry, I had perhaps three bad days – one of them Edgar-related, which of course I won’t go into. Ironically, one of that sorry trio was the last day of the process – the day on which the crucial last chapter was written.

Knowing I was facing a key part of my story, I considered taking the day off – it was Sunday, after all – and just letting my batteries recharge. But I hadn’t run this race to goof off just shy of the finish line. Plus, all of the plot stuff was filling my brain and assembled into good order – I knew exactly what needed doing.

So I did it.

It was something of a slog. I usually do three drafts of every chapter, then give it to Barb, who gives me notes, and I make minor corrections and revisions (sometimes they’re major – Barb has great story sense), and I’m done till the final read-through. Yesterday I did three drafts, took an hour nap, then came back and did another draft. Barb did her read-through and I made a few revisions and corrections from her notes. If you’re keeping score, that’s an additional draft or pass on the chapter.

Now, here is the lede I’m burying (why is it spelled “lede” not “lead”?) (and why don’t I just Google that and not bother you about it?): how does inspiration figure into a working fiction writer’s process?

I would imagine all of us have bursts of inspiration, sometimes entire work session-long ones. Maybe some writers feel inspired for days or even weeks – trust me, they don’t feel like that all the way through a project. Everybody has bad days, remember?

There are two kinds of writers – the ones who can only write on their inspired days, and who navel-gaze on their (many) off days; and the writers who are thankful for the inspired days that God or luck or somebody or some thing grants them, and who on their bad days soldier on. March through the mud to victory, or at least the end of the work day.

Now here is the real dirty little secret about inspiration – the inspired work and the struggle-to-get-through-it work are always of the same quality. When you go back and read through your story or novel, and recall the passages that came easily as if by automatic writing, those passages won’t be any better or worse than the stuff that came hard.

Or anyway those passages shouldn’t be.

Inspiration is just the days the work is going well. If you are any good at all as a writer, you will develop standards that you will not allow yourself to fall below, before you press on. You stay at it till the work you had to work hard at reads just as well as the work that came easy.

* * *

This story about Black Panther’s Oscar nominations mentions a certain other comics-derived film that once-upon-a-time received five nominations (hint: Road to Perdition).

A cry goes out to reprint the Marshall Rogers Batman comic strip. Who was it wrote that again? (Hint: me.)

Finally, Scarface and the Untouchable made Otto Penzler’s Mysterious Bookshop best of the year list, as chosen by the staff – see “Mike’s Picks” on page three.

M.A.C.

Pop the Clutch!

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019

Hardcover:
Paperback:
E-Book: Amazon Nook Kobo

For those of you who might wonder whatever happened to the Max Allan Collins/Matthew Clemens writing team, this answer is…here’s a new story by us in a great new anthology with a killer line-up of writers.

It’s a visual feast of a book, as the cover itself tells you. But every story has a great illustration, and that includes ours – Steve Chanks did a great job, and I’ve shared it here with you.

Here’s the press release:

Welcome to the cool side of the 1950s, where the fast cars and revved-up movie monsters peel out in the night. Where outlaw vixens and jukebox tramps square off with razorblades and lead pipes. Where rockers rock, cool cats strut, and hot rods roar. Where you howl to the moon as the tiki drums pound and the electric guitar shrieks and that spit-and-holler jamboree ain’t gonna stop for a long, long time . . . maybe never.

This is the ’50s where ghost shows still travel the back roads of the south, and rockabilly has a hold on the nation’s youth; where lucky hearts tell the tale, and maybe that fella in the Shriners’ fez ain’t so square after all. Where exist noir detectives of the supernatural, tattoo artists of another kind, Hollywood fix-it men, and a punk kid with grasshopper arms under his chain-studded jacket and an icy stare on his face.

This is the ’50s of Pop the Clutch: Thrilling Tales of Rockabilly, Monsters, and Hot Rod Horror. This is your ticket to the dark side of American kitsch . . . the fun and frightful side!

Table of Contents includes:

“The Golden Girls of Fall” by Seanan McGuire
“Sea Lords of the Columbia” by Weston Ochse
“Tremble” by Kasey Lansdale and Joe R. Lansdale
“The Demon of the Track” by Gary Phillips
“Outlawed Ink” by Jason Starr
“We Might Be Giants” by Nancy Holder
“Universal Monster” by Duane Swierczynski
“Draggers” by David J. Schow
“The Starlite Drive-In” by John M. Floyd
“Dr. Morbismo’s InsaniTERRORium Horror Show” by Lisa Morton
“Hot Babe” by Bill Pronzini
“The Prom Tree” by Yvonne Navarro
“I’m with the Band” by Steve Perry
“Mystery Train: An Arcane Investigation” by Max Allan Collins and Matthew V. Clemens
“Lab Experiment Turf War” by Jeff Strand
“The She-Creature” by Amelia Beamer
“Fish out of Water” by Will Viharo
“I Was a Teenage Shroom Fiend” by Brian Hodge

* * *

This is one of my shorter updates, because I am working on the new Quarry novel, Killing Quarry, and doing my best to get it done before the upcoming Mob Museum appearance in Vegas by Brad Schwartz and myself, having to do with celebrating a certain day in February (think about it). More, much more, about that very soon.

For now I’d just like to reflect on how interesting it is to me when I see which topics I explore cause a lot reaction and comments, while others – including ones I thought would spark controversy or at least talk – get no reactions at all. At least not in writing.

The two updates that really caught your attention lately were, first, the discussion of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” and second, my twelve favorite film directors. I get a real kick out of how my choices of the latter frustrated and irked some of you. As I said in my comments last week, there’s a big difference between a “favorites” list and a “best” list.

I would be remiss not to include, say, Kurosawa and Kubrick (to name a couple K’s) on a best directors list. But I have every right to prefer watching Don Siegel or Joseph H. Lewis movies over theirs. Favorite is personal taste – one would hope somewhat informed taste, but personal. My favorite color is green.

Wanna fight?

* * *

Getting back to Pop the Clutch, here’s a nice review of it.

And here, in addition to Amazon, is where you can order it.

M.A.C.

The Max and Brad Show Goes to Chicago

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

My co-author, Brad A. Schwartz, and I will be appearing at the American Writers Museum in Chicago next Monday evening, from 6:30 till 8:30. The address is 180 N. Michigan Avenue, and we will give an informal talk and answer audience questions as well as sign (and, I hope, sell) copies of Scarface and the Untouchable: Al Capone, Eliot Ness, and the Battle for Chicago. For more info go here.

* * *

Paperback:
E-Book:Amazon

You can now advance order the graphic novel version of Mike Hammer: The Night I Died from Amazon. [Note from Nate: I’m also seeing pre-order pages at the usual suspects, and the collection is also available digitally through ComiXology/Kindle. Links are below the cover.]

You may be able to find this at your nearest Barnes & Noble store, but based on Quarry’s War, it looks like they only stock a copy or two. So an Internet order might be worth your trouble.

This is, of course, the collected version of the serialized comic book version that appear in four separate issues not long ago.

* * *

Barb and I have seen three worthwhile movies that you might also enjoy.

Hunter Killer, directed by Donovan Marsh from a screenplay by Arne Schmidt and Jamie Moss (adapted from a novel), is frankly something we settled on when the movie we went out to see wasn’t available yet. We took a chance on this one and it’s a very traditional (and very good) submarine movie crossed with a commando raid flick. The cast is strong – Gerard Butler, Gary Oldman, Common (a rapper I assume), Toby Stephens, Linda Cardellini, and in what must be his last role, the great Michael Nyqvist. It’s one of those Tom Clancy-like affairs that are believable enough due to the research to sell you on the ridiculous story itself.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web is a continuation of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series based on one of the sequels not written by Stieg Larsson, whose death stalled what had been projected as an ongoing series, with a new writer hired to take over when materials Larsson left behind became ensnared in estate battles. The reviews have been fairly terrible, but this is a state-of-the-art action film with Claire Foyle excellent as Lisbeth Salander, for whom a resonant back story is created. The excellent score by Roque Baños and cinematography by Pedro Luque serve director/co-screenwriter Fede Alvarez well in creating a 21st Century James Bond feel. The Rotten Tomatoes score is 44%, which is nonsense. Any suspense/action/espionage fan will enjoy this, and if the reviewers manage to sink this reboot, they should be ashamed.

The weakest – but still worthwhile – of the three films we saw recently is Overlord, which has an 81% score from Rotten Tomatoes, reflecting how poor movie criticism has become in this country. We saw it on Veteran’s Day, which got some dark laughter out of us, because this is a movie about how on D-Day a little ragtag group of GIs made the invasion possible by blowing up the place where a mad Nazi doctor (insane, not pissed) was creating super-soldiers by shooting up French villagers with super-serum. I can always have a good time watching Nazi soldiers get shot up (by bullets), and the GIs were well-portrayed. Beginning with the horror of war and segueing into horror film territory is something I can get behind, and the filmmakers largely pull it off. But there are problems of tone here. The unpleasantness of the violence could have used a touch of dark humor. Evil Dead minus humor is just a gore fest, after all. While I liked this movie with reservations, I came away with the opinion that Rotten Tomatoes has become a worthless resource. They give Hunter Killer a 38% Fresh score, by the way.

M.A.C.