Posts Tagged ‘Reviews’

Wild Dog on CW & Quarry in the Black

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

I haven’t said much about the inclusion on CW’s ARROW TV series of my character Wild Dog (co-created with my longtime pal and collaborator, Terry Beatty, currently tearing it up drawing the Sunday PHANTOM and the weekly REX MORGAN for King Features). The reason is that we are being paid little or nothing, and as yet no one from DC or Warner Bros has even approached us, telling us about this great (if non-remunerative) honor. I do understand that Terry and I are in contention this year for the “Siegel and Shuster Screwed-in-The-Ass Award.”

Still, it’s fun to see screen captures of Terry’s great costume design on an actual human being. Check these out.

Wild Dog on The Arrow

Wild Dog on The Arrow

You can catch glimpses of Wild Dog on ARROW in this trailer, courtesy of AV Club.

The free looks at the first three episodes of QUARRY on You Tube have been taken down. I will pass the baton to my son Nate, who has information on where you can watch the show elsewhere.

Nate here. This all applies to the US; I’m not sure about how it works in other countries. If you have cable, the best option is probably adding Cinemax to your current package. The only way I’ve found to watch QUARRY without a cable subscription is through PlayStation Vue, which is Sony’s streaming platform, accessible through a PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Amazon Fire, Roku, as well as iPhone and Android devices. You can subscribe to Cinemax, as a standalone channel without any other package, for $15/month. There is a seven day trial if you want to try it out. For details, click here.

Thank you, son. As for QUARRY in the world of novels, QUARRY IN THE BLACK comes out…today! Oct. 4! In celebration, take a look at this fantastic review from Bookgasm, excerpted at length below:

QUARRY IN THE BLACK
reviewed by Alan Cranis

Max Allan Collins continues to chronicle the career of Quarry, the assassin-for-hire star of Collins’s long-running series (and recently a TV series on Cinemax). The latest title, Hard Case Crime’s QUARRY IN THE BLACK, focuses on the early stage of Quarry’s hit man vocation in the early 1970s. But thanks to the overriding theme Collins make it as applicable as this morning’s headlines.

The year is 1972, and Quarry gets a visit from his boss, known only as The Broker, at his A-frame house on Paradise Lake. Quarry has only been working for The Broker for two years, so the Broker wants Quarry to know that he is free to turn down this latest assignment, due to its unusual and highly political nature.

(M.A.C.: I am omitting here a lengthy plot synopsis that wanders close into spoiler territory.)

Collins again demonstrates his prodigious research skills by effectively – but unobtrusively – establishing the time frame of the story. Popular TV and movie titles of the period, along with references to fashion styles and current events help solidify the credibility of the period.

Yet in a masterstroke of irony, the theme of racial violence that permeates the plot, along with the inclusion of Ferguson – the location of a recent incident of a potential racially motivated shooting by police – transcends the period of the story and lends the novel an immediate relevance.

This is highly unexpected for a Quarry story, but fortunately – and, again, owing to Collins’s skills as a storyteller – never detracts from the suspense that keeps us moving from chapter to chapter. If anything it adds richness to the reading experience while underscoring the enduring nature of the theme.

Along the way Collins includes a cast of completely believable characters who accompany Quarry in his mission, several scenes of intense violence and action, and unexpected plot twists that few will see coming.

In his author’s note following the conclusion, Collins observes, “An odd and oddly satisfying aspect of writing new Quarry novels for Hard Case Crime has been continuing a series that began as contemporary but is now a period piece.” While not considering these historical novels, with their ’70s and ’80s settings, Collins sees them more as a retelling of his autobiography in installments. Perhaps this is reason for the unexpected but highly enriching relevance of the theme.

Reasons aside, QUARRY IN THE BLACK is highly recommended to both devoted followers of the series and those just discovering it. It is a noteworthy addition to the expanding series, and another triumph for one of crime fiction’s most prolific and creative practitioners.

(M.A.C. again: You can read the entire review here, plot synopsis and all.)

Another great review of QUARRY IN THE BLACK from that top-notch mystery and western writer, Bill Crider, can be read here.

Here’s an interview with TV’s Quarry himself, Logan Marshall-Green.

And, finally, here’s an interview with TV’s Buddy on QUARRY (“Boyd” in the novels).

M.A.C.

My Trip to New Orleans

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

I know a lot of you want to see the QUARRY TV show but don’t have Cinemax. Well, Cinemax has (for how long I don’t know) provided You Tube with the first two episodes. Enjoy!

Here they are:

QUARRY Episode 1: “You Don’t Miss Your Water”

QUARRY Episode 2: “Figure Four”

Most fans of the books seemed to like the series, but I’ve had just a few complaints about how the show differs from the novels. Here’s what James M. Cain had to say on the subject:

“People tell me, don’t you care what they’ve done to your book? I tell them, they haven’t done anything to my book. It’s right there on the shelf.”

The Cinemax series is a long-form narrative in the manner of BREAKING BAD or MAD MEN. It’s not an episodic, procedural type of approach. Nonetheless, it clearly flows from my work, and I think honors it. I’d rather have a really good show that takes liberties than a flat-footed one that is rigidly faithful. In any event, it certainly attracts people to my stuff. That, and the checks they send me, is good enough for me.

* * *

What I should be writing about this week is my great trip to New Orleans for Bouchercon. And I did get to New Orleans, as you will see.

First, I have to warn you that this is one of those health updates that nobody really wants to read, including me, and yet I’m going to write it anyway. And this is not a veiled request for sympathy and get-well-wish postings. Really.

Here’s what is going on. For better than a month and a half, Barb and I have been battling what we thought was a bad chest cold with cough. I got it first, and Barb got it about a week later. Initially I thought I might have congestive heart failure again, which is what started all the fun and games last year; but my cardiologist said I was okay on that front.

So we settled in to ride it out.

Then I started having these fits or seizures or some damn thing where I would start gasping for breath and couldn’t breathe. It was like drowning without water. The first time I thought I was dying. When I survived, I realized it was just part of the dance.

One night a week and a half ago or so, I woke up with a gasping fit and stumbled downstairs, where Barb was sleeping on the couch, fending off her own “chest cold.” She helped me through it and then had the same kind of fit herself, even worse than mine. I called 911, but then Barb got her breathing going again, so instead of requesting an ambulance, I drove us to the emergency room, where we were given some medication and sent home. But I was swabbed for a test that, the next day, turned out to indicate a bacterial thing and not a virus. Both Barb and I were put on a very strong antibiotic.

I started feeling better. I still had the cough, but not as frequent. I should say during this period that I managed to do two band jobs that were the worst I ever experienced. I do most of the singing and it was brutal. I probably sounded like Tom Waits gargling razor blades. But I got through ‘em.

Meanwhile, Bouchercon was looming. Barb, still having the gasping fits two or three times a day, decided early on to stay home. We packed a bag for me and decided we’d wait to the last minute to decide whether I’d go. I was feeling pretty good, and then Barb went a full day without a fit. So last Thursday morning, she drove me up to the Moline airport, we had a nice breakfast, and she saw me off with a kiss, a smile and a wave.

So I flew first to Chicago, then to New Orleans. I arrived around four p.m. Something odd – kind of booga-booga odd – happened when I got there. At baggage claim, the bell sounded and the light flashed, and one lone bag came gliding down its long path. All by its little self. My bag. In all my life, I’ve never had my suitcase be the first off a plane. And everybody was staring at me, wondering why the hell I rated.

Must be a good omen, I thought, and hauled the bag off.

Right then my cell phone rang – or rather, played “Harlem Nocturne,” my ring tone. I answered and my nextdoor neighbor told me that Barb had stumbled over in the midst of what I later learned was five of those fits in a row. 911 had been called, and she had been taken by ambulance to the emergency room. The neighbor was there with her now.

I got all the info I could from the neighbor, which wasn’t much, and immediately found my way to the American Airlines ticket counter, where a very nice woman waded through my hysteria and got me on another flight back home. It was touch and go, because I had less than an hour to make the flight.

But I made it.

The flight from New Orleans to Dallas was awful. I was so frightened for Barb that I could barely keep from freaking out. When I landed, I called the neighbor’s cell and Barb was still at the hospital, getting X-rays and being well tended to. On the flight back to Moline, I was a little less tense.

Barb was home when I got there (the neighbors picked me up at the airport) and she was glad and relieved I’d come back, but beat herself up for putting me through such a long awful day of flying. I’d hear none of that, and over the weekend I nursed her through a number more of those terrible gasping episodes. She did better, having some really strong codeine cough syrup to help her out, but it was obvious I needed to be at her side.

Coming up this week we have our 50th class reunion and we are hoping she will be in good enough shape to attend. I am playing with Crusin’ for the event and hope my coughing will not still be a problem. Coughing remains a major issue for Barb and talking aggravates it. So that’s a factor. She has really been through a shit storm, but is tough and brave, and though my New Orleans trip lasted only an hour, I’m glad I made it back home that same night.

So that’s why you didn’t get your book signed at Bouchercon.

Getting back to my class reunion…I was supposed to mount a reunion of the original Daybreakers, with Joe McClean of the XL’s subbing for the late Chuck Bunn. It would have been the band’s 50th anniversary in tandem with my class of ‘66 reunion. But then the Daybreakers Curse decided to make the scene (its first appearance was my inability to participate in a Daybreakers reunion last year because of my heart trouble). Our drummer’s wife was diagnosed with lung cancer, sending the two of them into a medical whirlwind. Our lead guitarist then promptly broke his foot. Our other guitarist bailed, in part because he’s recovering from prostate cancer. And of course I had the comparatively minor problem mentioned above.

So my current band, Crusin’, will fill in, with Joe as a special guest on about ten numbers. We’re rehearsing this week, to pick up more mid-‘60s tunes and to work Joe in on his stuff. We will, assuming a plane doesn’t drop on my house, appear Saturday evening at Geneva Country Club in Muscatine.

I hope Barb will be there, too.

* * *

Here’s a mini-interview I did in support of the Mike Hammer collection, A LONG TIME DEAD.

QUARRY seen as one of the most interesting fall shows.

Jeff Pierce at Kirkus likes the complete version of the ROAD TO PERDITION prose novel.

The top ten most anticipated fall shows include QUARRY.

Director Greg Yaitanes talks QUARRY.

Finally, an interesting write-up on QUARRY here, though I disagree with the critic’s take on Logan Marshall-Green.

M.A.C.

Quarry TV Sept. 9; Mike Hammer Book Sept. 6

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

How bizarre it seems – in a sense, it hasn’t registered – that the novel I began at the University of Iowa’s Writers Workshop in late 1971 has spawned a 2016 TV series.

My instructor, William Price Fox, didn’t like it. Most of the class didn’t, either. But several smart people thought the first two chapters of QUARRY were the best thing they’d ever read in a Workshop class. Fox, a writer I admired, was spotty as a teacher. He shared some good stories about his Hollywood perils, but he also spent several classes reading his own stuff to us. The class was only two hours once a week, and I had to drive from Muscatine (forty miles) to attend. I thought then that Fox reading his own work was lazy and self-indulgent, and I still do. But he did teach me the “Indian behind a tree” concept (ask me sometime).

A week or so after my Workshop class with its mixed reviews of QUARRY’s first two chapters, I sold my first novel, BAIT MONEY, and, a couple of weeks later, I sold the second one, NO CURE FOR DEATH. Both were written at the Workshop when Richard Yates was my teacher and mentor – a great writer and a great guy. The NYC editor wanted sequels to both, so I put QUARRY aside (probably a third of it written) and proceeded with THE BABY BLUE RIP-OFF and BLOOD MONEY. I had graduated in early ‘72 by then.

Then I got back to QUARRY, probably in ‘74, and it sold in ‘75 and was finally published in ‘76 (initially published as THE BROKER).

How vividly I remember sitting in my office in our apartment in downtown Muscatine (over a beauty shop – the smells wafting up were not heavenly) and pounding away at those early books. I thought QUARRY was the best thing I’d come up with, as the Nolan books were glorified Richard Stark pastiches and Mallory was just me filtering my private eye jones through an amateur detective. QUARRY was something original. I was going places! This would, in a good way, leave a mark.

And at first it seemed it would. The editor wanted three more novels about the character, and of course I eagerly complied. By the fourth book, two things were obvious – QUARRY was not setting the world on fire, and I was having trouble keeping the black-comedy element from spinning out of control. THE SLASHER seemed to me over-the-top, or anyway a subsequent novel would have been.

That doesn’t mean I wasn’t disappointed that no more books were requested by the editor. But the QUARRY series seemed, at four entries, to be complete. I was going places, all right – back to the typewriter to try again.

But a funny thing happened on the way to obscurity – a small cult of interest arose in QUARRY. Smart people like Jon Breen, Ed Gorman and Bill Crider said nice things about the books. The series started getting fan letters. So when I had some success with the Nate Heller novels, I decided to do just one more QUARRY – and I did, PRIMARY TARGET (since re-pubbed as QUARRY’S VOTE). The book was well-received, but that was the end of it.

The end of it, anyway, till the new millennium dawned and a young filmmaker named Jeffrey Goodman came knocking, and a new publisher/editor named Charles Ardai got in touch. From Goodman’s enthusiasm for the QUARRY short story, “A Matter of Principal,” came an award-winning short film written by me, and then a feature-length version co-written by me, THE LAST LULLABY. More or less simultaneously, Ardai asked me to do a QUARRY novel for his new retro-noir line, and I jumped at the chance to give the series a real ending – THE LAST QUARRY, a novelization of my version of the screenplay of the Goodman feature.

The surprisingly strong response to THE LAST QUARRY resulted in a conversation between Ardai and me that went something like this:

“I wouldn’t mind you doing another QUARRY for us,” he said.

“I wouldn’t mind myself.”

“But you ended the series. What book can you write after you’ve done THE LAST QUARRY?”

“Why not…THE FIRST QUARRY?”

Now we’re at eleven novels – QUARRY IN THE BLACK next month – and, after a somewhat rough birth going back to 2012, the QUARRY TV series will debut on Cinemax this Friday, at 9 pm Central time.

I’ve seen all eight episodes and they are excellent. It’s essentially an extended origin story of how returning Marine Mac Conway (the character’s real name, according to the show anyway) becomes hitman Quarry. Michael Fuller and Graham Gordy, the creators of the series, initially did not reveal the character’s “real name,” but it became clumsy for the lead character not to have, well, a name. They dubbed him “Mac” after me – M.A.C. Nice gesture.

And they were smart enough to set the show in the early ‘70s. It’s a nice fit with my current approach, which is to do my new QUARRY novels in ‘70s/‘80s period. You know you are old when a series you began as contemporary is now historical.

So I hope you like the TV series. If you don’t, and are a fan of the books, pretend to, will you? If the show becomes a hit, I may get to write more QUARRY novels.

Stranger things have happened.

* * *
A Long Time Dead

Softcover:

E-Book: Amazon Nook Kobo iTunes

Limited Signed Hardcover: Mysterious Bookshop

Also this week, the Mike Hammer short story collection, A LONG TIME DEAD, will become available in print and e-book editions from Mysterious Press. This is an exciting project for me, as it represents the first collection of Hammer stories, and possibly the last, since I have exhausted the shorter fragments in the Spillane files.

My sincere thanks to Otto Penzler for publishing it. Otto, who edited and published the first three posthumous Hammer novels, has been a great friend to Mickey, Mike Hammer and me.

* * *

The advance reviews for the QUARRY TV show are strong, like this one.

And this one.

Here QUARRY is seen as one of the nine best shows of the fall season.

And here it’s seen as one of the ten best shows.

You’ll enjoy this interview with Michael Fuller, half of the creative team behind the writing of the QUARRY series.

Here’s a nice write-up on the forthcoming QUARRY comics mini-series.

Check out this terrific review of the Hammer novel, MURDER NEVER KNOCKS.

And, finally, here’s a positive review from Kirkus, of all people, for A LONG TIME DEAD.

M.A.C.

Road Coming Plus Movie Walkouts

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

The Brash Books edition of the complete ROAD TO PERDITION novel is now available for pre-order at Amazon and Barnes & Noble in either print or e-book form.

It’s something of a dream come true for me to have my original version out there in the world, after having been forced back in 2002 to cut its 75,000 words to around 40,000, in addition to be made to rewrite it substantially to make it further conform to the film. This is the definitive edition of the prose version of what is undoubtedly my most famoeus and successful work. Read more about it at Brash’s web site.

* * *

This Sunday Barb and I achieved something very special, a personal best: we walked out of two movies on the same day.

We watched forty-five minutes or so the new BEN-HUR, which I would describe as a travesty except a perfectly good word like “travesty” shouldn’t be wasted on this. Where to begin? A nothing score. Unneeded narration. Cheap-looking sets and costumes. Embarrassing dialogue. Slow pace. I felt sorry for actor Jack Huston, who was so memorable as a disfigured hitman on BOARDWALK EMPIRE. His Messala, Toby Kebbel, is an unattractive thug. The carpenter who, in the process of making a table or something, offers up some philosophy is…Jesus! Get it? Jesus.

Leaving a movie called BEN-HUR without staying for the chariot race is like leaving DEEP THROAT before Linda Lovelace gets examined by Doctor Harry Reems. But we left, scurrying across the hall with our 3-D glasses still on, to catch KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS.

Now, some of you may have seen that film and loved it or anyway liked it, and lots of reviewers are gaga over it. But none of you suffered through 45 minutes of the new BEN-HUR before starting KUBO. KUBO is visually lovely, very poetic, and its use of stop motion over computer animation is most winning. But it’s also precious and full of itself, and is nothing approaching a story, at least not in the first hour. I would think for most children under twelve it would be mind-numbing. (My son Nate, with his bent for Japanese culture, may disagree with me.) There is a monkey, voiced blandly by Charlize Theron, who wore its welcome out quickly with us. The film is from Laika, the studio that produced PARANORMAN (which I liked very much) and BOX TROLLS (which I did not, though my smart friend Terry Beatty loved it…he may love this one, too).

As regular moviegoers, we are getting very worn down. I would suspect we have become cantankerous geezers if we didn’t find so much to like on TV. We just watched the excellent second season of THE TUNNEL, the British/French take on the nordic noir, THE BRIDGE, as well as a six-part Australian JACK IRISH mini-series called “Blind Faith” starring Guy Pearce. Both of these intelligently and skillfully use the police procedural and private eye melodrama respectively in ways that seem fresh and not at all dated, focusing on contemporary themes and subjects. The JACK IRISH is available on DVD and Blu-ray in the USA, but I got THE TUNNEL from Amazon UK (the first season has just become available here).

On an entirely different note, VICE PRINCIPALS with the great Danny McBride and the also great Walton Goggins is easily our favorite series currently airing – it’s very dark and yet somewhere deep down there is a beating human heart, in a world where the teachers are far more childish than the students.

Coming soon: QUARRY on Cinemax on September 9.

* * *

Speaking of QUARRY, here is a positive UK review of the first novel, though the reviewer doesn’t quite get it….

And here’s a really great, perceptive QUARRY review from (wait for it) New Delhi!

Finally, give a listen to this interesting, interview-packed look at novelizations, featuring (among others) my pal Lee Goldberg and, well, me.

M.A.C.