Posts Tagged ‘Seduction of the Innocent book’

Way Down Yonder

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

This will be a brief update, and something of a teaser for next week.

As I write this on Sunday evening, May 17, Barb and I are about to visit the set of the Cinemax production of QUARRY, tomorrow. We’ll be visiting the set again on Tuesday. I hope to have some photos, but HBO is pretty careful on that front, so we’ll see. But I will report next time.

Interest in the TV series is being stoked by the efforts of Hard Case Crime, who are bringing out new editions (late this year) of the first five QUARRY novels, versions that will now be definitive, correcting problems that have existed since the very first ‘80s printings. When the books had to be offered by the sales force before photographs from the show were available for cover art, I suggested to editor Charles Ardai that we approach the great Bob McGinnis to provide paintings. See those paintings, and read more, right here.

As many of you know, we have lost another great, and another star of Hard Case Crime’s wonderful retro look: Glen Orbik. I never met Glen, but we communicated about various ideas for what became his magnificent cover of SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT. Read about more about this awful loss here.

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I am happy to report that I have completed the second book in the Caleb York saga, THE BIG SHOWDOWN, and was able to do revisions and corrections before leaving for New Orleans. I hate going on a trip, even a brief one, with only a chapter or two left to write on a novel. Really, I dislike traveling at all during the writing of a novel.

Barb and I arrived in New Orleans last night (Saturday), and have had a wonderful time here thus far, with the exception of a bizarre experience at a movie theater near the French Quarter. It’s a very upscale set-up with the dubious idea of serving meals and all sorts of cocktails and fancy this and that during the film. It’s a terrible notion even worse in execution – people are ordering food, and wait staff are taking orders in front of the screen, and instead of elegance, a kind of “everybody’s at home eating TV dinners” vibe is created, meaning even dumber, more intrusive reactions from the audience. It was very expensive, but we walked out anyway after about forty-five minutes, because the theater stank. Literally stank. A woman sitting next to me was eating pork sliders, even as she childishly reacted to every button the movie was pushing (“No!” “Oh no!”). The smell wafting off of her was only slightly worse than the ridiculously bad movie, FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD. I’d never seen the original movie, much less read the Thomas Hardy novel (I’m more an Andy Hardy man), but Barb had seen the Julie Christie version, on HBO, though had come in a few minutes late and didn’t know the title. When she realized this sub-Harlequin novel romance was what we were subjecting ourselves to (not to mention the hummus and chips that were being eaten next to her), she began sadistically reporting to me every five minutes what ludicrous plot twist was coming next (“He’s going to get left at the altar,” “The sheep are going to get sick”). Incidentally, for all of you who like hummus, please understand that hummus was only invented to make tofu seem reasonable.

Next: set report!

M.A.C.

Shamus Times Two

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014
Seduction of the Innocent

I’m very pleased to have two Shamus nominations this time around, for SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT in Best Paperback and the Spillane/Collins “So Long, Chief” in Best Short Story. I was a little surprised that SEDUCTION got nominated, and disappointed ASK NOT didn’t. But you never know about these things, and I would be especially thrilled if “So Long, Chief” won (it lost the Edgar) because it would be a nice honor for the Spillane/Collins collaborations.

This makes, I believe (math is involved, so…), 21 Shamus nominations. There are other writers who have won more times than my two, but nobody, and I mean nobody, has lost the Shamus as many times as I have. That will be me, somewhere mid-crowd the night of the awards, waving a giant rubber “We’re #1” hand.

SUPREME JUSTICE continues to do very well on Amazon. It’s #3 overall among all e-books, and #1 in both political thrillers and crime. The reviews have hit 315 as I write this, fairly astonishing when you consider that QUARRY’S EX has 14 reader reviews. We continue to get a lot of nice four- and five-star write-ups, with continued sniping from conservatives offended by what I consider to be the very mild political content. I received copies of the finished book today and it looks very nice (unfortunately, the infamous “Glock” mistake was not corrected in time – boy, do the gun guys hammer us on that one).

Not all conservative readers have tried to sabotage the book with an unfair rating or review. A good number make some passing comment about the hero’s liberal leanings, but go on to say positive things about the novel. I have to say that Matt Clemens and I never saw this coming. We really thought we’d struck a neutral tone.

But the problem comes from readers assuming the lead character of a novel speaks for the author. If that were true, then I’d be a right-wing vigilante, as the co-author of the Mike Hammer novels, and a sociopath/misanthrope based upon the Quarry novels. (Some who know me well may go along with that last assumption…).

It’s been an interesting ride, and I hope it will continue when June is over and the book is more widely available. I think it’s fair to say this is a more mainstream novel than what I usually do, although I’ve always felt that the Heller novels have mainstream appeal, but no publisher (with the exception of Amazon with the reprints) has ever played that up.

It’s odd to see myself compared to (and sometimes accused of ripping off) novelists I’ve never read, like Grisham and Balducci. Some of my mystery-writer approach seems to throw the thriller readers – Matt and I consciously have injected a mild mystery element into both SUPREME JUSTICE and WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER, with surprise villains that aren’t incredibly hard to figure out but do give the narrative a little twist. Most thrillers i.d. the villain up front. Also, some Amazon readers have complained about the “rushed” ending, which to me is just a typical picking up of the pace as we head to the resolution. As Mickey used to say, nobody reads a book to get to the middle.

But I have no intention of leaving out what I’ve learned writing mystery and suspense from any thrillers I may do…as if these labels were anything truly useful.

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My son Nate and Mrs. Nate (Abby) came to visit over Father’s Day weekend. I am still recovering from finishing KILL ME, DARLING (and my back injury), so it was a fairly low-key weekend, although we installed Roku in both my TV viewing areas (living room and office), which was fairly intense and topsy-turvy-making (in a non-Gilbert and Sullivan sense). Thank God for Nathan’s savvy about such things. The electrical hook-up in my office was similar to the one for the Christmas tree in A CHRISTMAS STORY.

We saw a very funny movie, 22 JUMP STREET, which is one of the best sequels I’ve ever seen largely because of its contempt for sequels, and for the “bromance” genre. All of us loved it, and Barb wants to see it again.

A few non-Amazon reader reviews for SUPREME JUSTICE have started to appear on the Net. Here’s one from the intriguingly named 5 Minutes for Mom site.

And here’s another from Night Owl Reviews.

This site describes the SUPREME JUSTICE “blog tour,” which is an advance look at sites where reviews and interviews will be appearing.

M.A.C.

Veronica Mars Attacks

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

This weekend Barb and I went to St. Louis to visit our son Nate (who as you may know runs this site) and his terrific wife, Abby. I finished the Spillane western novel THE LEGEND OF CALEB YORK (but for a two-day edit, which will begin today), so I could really use the break. Ditto Barb, who recently finished her draft of ANTIQUES SWAP. But the main reason for the trip was seeing the VERONICA MARS movie.

I am a Kickstarter backer of the movie. You’re welcome. But its limited run (pretty much strictly AMC theaters) did not bring the film to our area, so going to see it in St. Louis made a lot of sense, since we hadn’t seen Nate and Abby in a while, and we could do a late celebration of my birthday – Nate even sprung for the tickets. As a harbinger of senility, I forgot to wear one of the two VERONICA MARS t-shirts I received as a backer, a slip that Nate gleefully reminded me of numerous times.

Nate’s presence, despite his sarcastic nature (which I have no idea where he got), was key because – like Barb – he was a VERONICA MARS fan as well. This was an enthusiasm grown from a binge-watch, because I did not discover the show till I’d seen Kristen Bell in REEFER MADNESS and realized she was a special talent. Yes, and blonde and beautiful, but that’s just petty of you to mention. By way of prep for the film, Barb and I binge re-watched the three seasons in three weeks, and Nate and Abby did pretty much the same, though I believe it took them four weeks…a barely adequate performance, if you ask me.

As for the movie itself, as one of the producers (you’re welcome), I am biased. But all four of us loved it. I can’t be sure, but I think it will work well on moviegoers with a bent toward mystery and specially noir P.I. whether they’ve seen the original series or not. It manages to be at once a movie and a great VERONICA MARS episode. The mystery is not really the thing here – the movie is about its main character making a life/career decision – but the whodunit aspect is typically twisty and twisted in the fashion of the series.

As the co-creator of MS. TREE, I appreciate the way creator Rob Thomas (co-writer and director here) transforms wise-guy PI dialogue – and a tough guy attitude – by placing them in the mouth and body of a lovely young woman. Veronica Mars is slightly off-kilter, at least a little nuts, like Mike Hammer, Jake Axminster and Nate Heller (and Ms. Tree). The film has plenty of call-back references to the show itself, and many, even most, cast members (including non-recurring ones) turn up in a way that will tickle fans but doesn’t get in the way of the appreciation of non-fans. Working on these two levels is terribly tricky, and I admire the screenplay for pulling off something that I feared might be impossible.

Everybody is good, but Bell is remarkable – so badly or unimaginatively used elsewhere (fie on you, HOUSE OF LIES), she has a confidence and ease in this role that indicates she is well aware it’s her signature one. Her father Keith, as played by Enrico Colantoni, is equally good, and remains the heart of VERONICA MARS. Jason Dohring as Veronica’s stormy love interest does a beautiful job of taking his character somewhere new while remaining the same guy…again, not easy. In fact, the entire film and its cast does well by the passage of time, and making a ten year class reunion for Neptune High a major set piece and plot mover here is just another example of how good Rob Thomas is with this property that he clearly loves.

The film, in its limited release, had an impressive opening weekend. It’s a unique release with VOD simultaneous and a Blu-ray/DVD coming very soon. I hope that the film’s success – and it already is a success, just by existing – leads either to more features or a renewed series. As much fun as it is to see VERONICA MARS on a bigger landscape – which Thomas managed to pull off on an under-$6 mil budget – this is a story and world best served by series television.

After all, VERONICA MARS is easily in the top ten private eye shows of all time. And in my top five – at the top.

Okay, since you asked nicely:

VERONICA MARS
CITY OF ANGELS
MICKEY SPILLANE’S MIKE HAMMER (McGavin)
A NERO WOLFE MYSTERY
THE ROCKFORD FILES
Runner up: PETER GUNN

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Speaking of movies, a very nice if extremely belated review of REAL TIME: SIEGE AT LUCAS STREET market has popped up at the Bookgasm movie spin-off, FLICK ATTACK.

Here’s a nice, smart review of SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT.

Finally, here’s a terrific Publisher’s Weekly review for the upcoming ANTIQUES CON:

“In Allan’s humorous eighth whodunit (after 2013’s Antiques Chop), Brandy Borne and her quirky mother, Vivian, travel from quiet Serenity, Iowa, along with their blind, diabetic shih tzu, Sushi, to New York City, where they hope to auction their prized possession—an original Superman drawing—at a comic convention. On arrival at Bufford Con, organized by comic purist Tommy Bufford, the pair soon learn that all is not well. The old comic convention guard are none too pleased about Tommy’s new competing event, which may explain why the prize pen ends up as a murder weapon. Mysterious deaths follow Brandy and Vivian wherever they go, but these two spunky out-of-towners always manage to find crafty ways to avoid sticky situations in the big city. Tips about comics collecting add to the cozy fun. Allan is the pseudonym of Barbara and Max Allan Collins.”

M.A.C.

Christmas Royale

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Christmas here with son Nate and daughter-in-law Abby was festive fun. We open our presents Christmas Eve, where among the gifts were a MURDER SHE WROTE complete series collection for Abby, a ZATOICHI blu-ray set for Nate, Marilyn Monroe books/blu-rays/calendars for Barb, and the boxed multi-volume Hefner-written PLAYBOY history set from Taschen for me. Very cold here and we went out only a few times, including for a movie on Christmas Day (47 RONIN – more on that below).

Nate and I were both burrowed in working around and even on the holiday. He was wrapping up a BATTLE ROYALE manga translation, and I was working hard to get QUARRY’S CHOICE up and running, after a nasty bout with flu that put me behind deadline.

Nate had only recently completed the biggest (and in my opinion best) translation of his career thus far – he has done a new translation of BATTLE ROYALE, the prose novel, for Viz. It’s an enormous book, and an important one, and he’s done a fantastic job. I was the in-house proof reader and can honestly say (having read an earlier translation) that he has knocked it out of the park.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with BATTLE ROYALE by Koushun Takami, it spawned a film that was a world-wide success everywhere but America, where its plot of junior high students killing each other on an isolated island in a government-sponsored game ran smack into the Columbine tragedy, getting the work essentially banned in the USA. In the meantime, another suspiciously similar work – the HUNGER GAMES novels – came along. Whether coincidence or homage (French for rip-off), HUNGER GAMES sparked interest in BATTLE ROYALE and the BR film (and its lesser sequel) are widely available here now. For a Japanese-to-English translation, BATTLE ROYALE is about as good as it gets. I’ll let you know when it’s available.

Here’s a brief rundown of films we saw over the holidays, including quick critical takes: THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG is much better than the first entry in the Trilogy, moving much more quickly than that original, which was more slog than Smaug; ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES, a very funny ninety minute movie that is unfortunately over two self-indulgent hours long; 47 RONIN, a much underrated and visually poetic tribute to Asian films of both the samurai and fantasy genres; and SAVING MR. BANKS, a shamelessly manipulative and highly inaccurate infomercial for the dreadful “classic” MARY POPPINS, somewhat redeemed by Tom Hanks’ sincere performance.

I approach New Year’s Eve with mixed emotions: Crusin’ will be making its last regular performance as we end a five-year run of playing bars and clubs on a two- or more times a month schedule. We will be on “hiatus,” during which we will consider only event performances, such as class reunions, weddings, county and state fairs, founder’s day celebrations and the like (mystery cons definitely on that list).

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THE WRONG QUARRY reviews are streaming in, all lovely so far. Here’s one from the Celebrity Café that’s been picked up around the Net.

Here’s Books Are For Squares on THE WRONG QUARRY.

Ron Fortier, a wonderful writer in his own “write,” also likes THE WRONG QUARRY.

And here’s a late entrant among the reviews of SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT.

Finally, SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT is on this list of the best five crime novels of 2013 (that makes three M.A.C. novels this year to make such lists – ASK NOT, COMPLEX 90 and now SEDUCTION).

M.A.C.