Posts Tagged ‘The Last Lullaby’

Mike Hammer Under Cover

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

I’ve mentioned in previous updates how pleased I am with THE LITTLE DEATH, the MIKE HAMMER audio novel I wrote for producer Carl Amari, which Blackstone will be issuing momentarily (Amazon lists it as already in print, but I haven’t seen a copy yet).

As you may recall, I got to go to Chicago and watch Stacy Keach and a gifted cast (including Second City veteran Tim Kazurinsky) bring my script to audio life. This is the second volume of THE NEW ADVENTURES OF MIKE HAMMER, but I didn’t write the first (which was two short stories as opposed to one novel). I based it on material Mickey had prepared in the fifties for both a radio version and a television one; I had adapted this during Mickey’s lifetime into the short story “The Night I Died.” And about ten years ago, I had developed it as a screenplay for Mickey and his longtime partner, Jay Bernstein, for a TV or possible theatrical movie. But a film never happened.

Now it’s a reality, as an audio “movie,” and Carl and Stacy really hit the ball out of the park. Anybody with even the slightest interest in either Mickey’s work or mine will love this. Interestingly, it marks the first time Stacy has ever played Hammer in a piece directly derived from a Spillane story.

There was a nice response from my behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the cover of the forthcoming Spillane/Collins HAMMER novel, THE BIG BANG. So I thought you might enjoy seeing the several versions of the audio cover.

Here was the first try from Blackstone’s terrific art department:

The Little Death First Revision
Image copyright 2009, Blackstone Audio

I liked this pretty well, but Stacy Keach objected to using his image so directly. He felt it made this brand-new project look like some kind of re-release of his HAMMER material from several decades ago. Carl and I agreed, and so the artist at Blackstone listened to various suggestions from all of us. I sent along attachments of the early HAMMER paperbacks, which never really showed Hammer dead-on, creating a man of mystery.

The Little Death Second Revision
Image copyright 2009, Blackstone Audio

Everybody liked this better, but Stacy (and all of us) felt Hammer could use with a better-looking “babe.” Not that this model was unattractive, but Stacy wittily pointed out that she belonged on a Jane Austen cover, not Mickey Spillane. Also, a bearded, cigar-smoking Hammer was a no go—we asked that the mustache be kept (this is the Keach HAMMER, after all) and the cigar go away, Mike being strictly a Luckies kind of guy. The final version that the artist came up is terrific.

The Little Death Third Revision
Image copyright 2009, Blackstone Audio

We had a nice turn-out at Mystery Cat Books in Cedar Rapids, despite being up against an Iowa Hawkeyes game (tough competition in this part of the world). We dined with Ed and Carol Gorman and had a great time, as Ed and I tried to top each other’s publishing horror stories.

Work continues on the graphic novel RETURN TO PERDITION, and Terry Beatty has turned in his first, finished pages—and they are knockouts. I predict this will be our best work together, at least until next time.

Quarry continues to attract fine reviews. Rod Lott at Bookgasm used his knowledge of the Quarry novels to write a particularly insightful review of THE LAST LULLABY.

And another knowledgeable Quarry fan, crime novelist Tom Piccirilli, has a Quarry-centric interview up at his blog that you may get a kick out of.

Happy Thanksgiving! For those of you in Eastern Iowa, we’ll see you at Plamor Lanes on Saturday night for our first Crusin’ gig at this venue.


Quarry Racking ‘Em Up

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Barb and I are signing at Mystery Cat Books this Saturday (details above). We’ll have both QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE and ANTIQUES FLEE MARKET available, and many rare out-of-print M.A.C. items will be on hand, as well. It’s possible Ed Gorman may drop by, which provides a sighting opportunity second only to Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster.

More wonderful reviews are coming in, some for QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE, others for the Quarry movie, The Last Lullaby.

Craig Clarke, long a booster of my work and a knowledgeable Quarry fan, provides a really smart, insightful review at his Somebody Dies website.

And writer Ron Fortier (he collaborates with Gary Kato on the fun comic Mr. Jigsaw — Gary assisted Terry Beatty on Ms. Tree back in the day) has provided another sharp-eyed review of The Last Lullaby.

And the Author Magazine website has posted a great review of QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE.

Battle Royale

Coming out this week from Viz is the novel BATTLE ROYALE, the wonderfully fried modern classic that was the basis of the cult film. The film is very well-known for one too controversial to ever get traditional American DVD distribution — high school kids on an island play Survivor with lethal weapons, winner take all. I wrote an introduction for this edition (tying it to the original Death Race 2000), and Nathan translated an afterword by Koushun Takami, the author of the novel, plus an interview with Kinji Fukasaku, the director of the film. (Nathan may be doing a major translation project for Viz very soon — stay tuned for a much more detailed announcement.)

We are seeing the paperback of ANTIQUES FLEE MARKET, with its festive new Christmas cover, displayed face-out at the big chain stores, sometimes in the mystery section, sometimes with Christmas-themed books. The perfect stocking stuffer. Barb continues to work on her draft of ANTIQUES KNOCK-OFF (ANTIQUES BIZARRE will be out in the Spring).

Matt Clemens and I have been working on the synopsis for the second novel in the series that begins with YOU CAN’T STOP ME. After a false start on a different idea, Matt and I (at Bouchercon in Indianapolis) pitched editor Michaela Hamilton of Kensington what we all think is a really strong, wild idea that she liked…and which I will not share with you here. I’ll say, though, that this series attempts to take the approach Matt and I developed for the CSI, BONES and CRIMINAL MINDS novels into something of our own that has an element of social satire (having to do largely with reality TV) that serial killer novels often lack.

People are constantly asking me about the film version of ROAD TO PURGATORY, and I can only say that it remains very much alive, and I hope to have news for you soon. In the meantime, I am working on the graphic novel conclusion to the saga, RETURN TO PERDITION, doing my best to stay out in front of artist Terry Beatty.


Quarry Keeps Coming

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

The QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE reviews kept coming in. Here is a particularly insightful one, I think, from old pro Mel Odom’s excellent Bookhound site.

And here’s a great new review of the Quarry film, The Last Lullaby.

If you haven’t gone to to buy your copy of the limited edition DVD, do so at once.

In the meantime, here’s a couple of upcoming events here in Eastern Iowa:

On Saturday, November 21, Barb and I will be doing a signing in support of the mass-market paperback reprint of ANTIQUES FLEE MARKET and the new Hard Case Crime title QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE at Mystery Cat Books in Cedar Rapids.

It’s a lovely used bookshop, cozy in the best sense with lots of first editions and cool collectible vintage paperbacks, and few bookstores have a better stock of my novels. The address is 112 32nd Street Drive, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52402. 2 to 4 pm.

On Saturday, November 28, Crusin’ will be performing at the Bar (actually a nice little club) at PlaMor Lanes in Muscatine from 8 pm to midnight. 1411 Grandview Avenue, Muscatine, Iowa 52761

Nathan has been visiting for a week now and will go back to St. Louis tomorrow. He’s mostly been burrowed in working on translation jobs, but we’ve had some fun — notably Saturday night, taking in the live performance of the Broken Lizard comedy troupe at the lovely Englert Theater in downtown Iowa City. These are the hilarious guys responsible for the films SUPERTROOPERS, CLUB DREAD, BEERFEST and the upcoming SLAMMIN’ SALMON. They interspersed stand-up with sketch comedy and audience-participation improv, and had a typically drunk Iowa City college crowd in the palms of their hands. We met them afterward and they were friendly and easygoing, very approachable.

Nate and I also have been working our way through a five-film Criterion DVD boxed set of Japanese noir in preparation for my next Asian Cult Cinema column.

I am still recovering from the intensity of writing the Nathan Heller novel in record time, but did manage to get the research done for the next fifty pages or so of RETURN TO PERDITION.


The Last Lullaby DVD Premiere

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

Welcome to our new and improved website! It’s more like a blog, and you can comment and everything.

This time, our UPDATE is not from me, but director Jeffrey Goodman with exciting news about THE LAST LULLABY.

Take it away, Jeffrey….

Quarry was introduced in 1975 and now in 2009 we have the first feature film about Max’s popular, innovative hit man character. After a tremendous festival run (eighteen film festivals from Oregon-New York, with stops in Malaysia, The Bahamas, and Canada in between) and ten weeks in theaters, The Last Lullaby marks its DVD Premiere, October 19th.

The Last Lullaby

This first run, limited edition DVD (in other words, just the movie but no special features) will be available from the film’s website. And for the first month of the release, we are offering several great promotions. First off, anyone who buys the DVD will be entered into a drawing to win several film-related prizes. Also, if you join our Facebook group, our monthly e-mail update list, our Lullaby blog, or follow us on Twitter AND we attain certain numbers by October 19th, each person in these groups will receive a coupon for a 20% discount on the DVD. For more information on these promotions, please visit the following link:

It’s been a great pleasure working with Max and bringing his tremendous story and character to the screen. Quarry’s longevity is a testament to Max’s special talent. His (Quarry’s) first feature is also my first feature, and a true labor of love. I hope you all enjoy.

Jeffrey Goodman

Thanks, Jeffrey. I like this film very much and anybody who enjoys my work should, too.

Speaking of Quarry, here’s our second print review for QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE and it’s just as good as the Library Journal rave:

When Collins decided to bring his hit-man hero Quarry back after a three-decade hiatus, he gave us The Last Quarry (2006), seemingly stamping paid to the series. But then, devilishly, he produced The First Quarry (2008). Naturally, we now have Quarry in the Middle—that’s “middle” both chronologically, in the sense that the events described here fall more or less midway between First and Last, and thematically, in that Quarry is caught in the middle between two gangsters vying for control of a potential gambling-and-vice mecca on the Illinois-Iowa border (the action is set in the mid-1980s, with legalized gambling on the horizon). No longer a paid hit man, Quarry is freelancing, tailing his former associates, determining their targets, and offering his services to the potential victims for a hefty price. This time that strategy backfires, and Quarry finds himself the target. Collins, a consummate craftsman, dipsy-doodles his way through the plot machinations like Earl the Pearl dribbling in traffic, and he’s equally dexterous at balancing Quarry the emotionless killer against Quarry the knight errant. Perfectly emulsified pulp pleasure.

— Bill Ott, Booklist Online

Also, CRUSIN’ is appearing live this weekend—9 to midnight at the Pearlview Ballroom at the Hotel Muscatine, 101 West Mississippi Drive, Muscatine, Iowa (More info: