Posts Tagged ‘Skin’

Boucher Con Sked and More

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

I am frantically working to get two Heller chapters done (I’m in the middle of the first of the two) before leaving for Bouchercon on Thursday morning.

Here’s our Bouchercon schedule:

Barb’s panel (she is the moderator) is at 9.m. Friday. It’s about geriatric crime fighters: MYSTERY MATURES.

MAC’s panel (not moderating) (also not moderate) is at 11:30 a.m., also on Friday: MANFICTION (not my fault).

No room numbers, but if you’re attending, it won’t be tough to find us.

There is a new e-book from Top Suspense, WRITING CRIME FICTION, with chapters by all the members on various topics. Mine is on writing Historical Fiction. It just came out today, so snag it:

And here’s a terrific advance review of TARGET LANCER from that fine crime writer, Bill Crider.

Check out the Big Thrill’s TARGET LANCER write-up here.

And this is a really cool, smart review of the new Mike Hammer short story, “Skin.”

Finally, this nice interview with my Hard Case editor, Charles Ardai, discusses the re-discovery of the final James M. Cain novel, the recently pubbed THE COCKTAIL WAITRESS. Charles is kind enough to mention my role in bringing this important dark novel to the light.


Short and Sweet

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Very brief update today. Barb and I are still in St. Louis (on Monday) and will be heading back to Muscatine today. Nate and Abby’s wedding (and the entire wedding weekend) went beautifully and was hugely fun. We will have pics next week. Other than a couple of links I want to share, I’m giving Nate the week off from Update type duties.

Here’s a fun “Skin” review. If you’re a Spillane fan, don’t miss this short story.

And here’s a mostly good TRUE DETECTIVE review. Check out the comments, because the blogger and I have a discussion about the pros and cons of the second chapter (the historical background of Heller and his family).


Totally Recalling the Zombies

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

I am preparing to start the new Nathan Heller book, ASK NOT, which is a sequel to the forthcoming TARGET LANCER. In the weeks between novels (as you may recall I completed COMPLEX 90 shortly before leaving for San Diego Con), I tend to take care of smaller projects that have piled up. This week I’m dealing with a Dick Tracy intro, a serial novel chapter, and a radio script, among other things. Also, I’ve cleaned my office, reorganized the basement “book room” (the repository of my authors’ copies), and removed ten boxes of books from my basement library, culling and thinning, seeking room for new purchases. I also took a trip with Matt Clemens to Chicago on the Mike North project (which has stalled) and welcomed my friend Brad Schwartz and his parents into the Collins manse for a fun Sunday afternoon.

Additionally, Barb and I went into Chicago last week and saw the great British invasion band The Zombies (with key original members, singer Colin Blunstone and keyboardist Rod Argent) at the same fun nightclub, Viper’s Alley, in suburban Chicago where we saw the Vanilla Fudge a while back. The band was great, although a much more laidback act than the Fudge. Blunstone is a brilliant singer who conveys a sense of joy, even bliss, wrapped up in the songs he sings; his constant smile and his manner are sweet in the best sense. Argent as a keyboard player is clearly the best rock has to offer, and he both inspired and intimidated me. The only downside – and this happened to some degree at the Fudge concert – is the behavior of some of the Baby Boomer crowd. They get drunk and behave as if they are at a Poison concert, trying to insert themselves into the performance, whooping and standing up and making devil horns with their arthritic fingers. God save me from the inebriated, particularly the Baby Boomer inebriated.

The Zombies
Photo by Daniel Veintimilla of Creative Loafing

Barb and I have also gone to a number of movies, and of course last week I commented on the Batman movie, which the critics love and I don’t. We saw the TOTAL RECALL remake, from the director of the entertaining UNDERWORLD series, and the critics mostly hate it. Yet it’s an extremely entertaining, well-made, twisty yet largely coherent action film with some BLADE RUNNER trappings, befitting the Phillip K. Dick source material. Not a great film, TOTAL RECALL nonetheless does everything the BATMAN film tries to but actually accomplishes it. Naturally, the nerds and the critics hate TOTAL RECALL even while extolling THE DARK KNIGHT RISES as one of the greatest films of all time.

My lapse into film reviewing (a habit I have tried to kick) got Ed Gorman’s attention in this nice write-up at his great blog.

Finally, “Skin” got another good review, interestingly from a reader who had never encountered Mike Hammer before (and found the experience something of a shock!).


Friday Night Lights

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012


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.