Posts Tagged ‘The New Adventures of Mike Hammer’

From The Basement It Arises

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011
The Comedy Is Finished

A lost Donald E. Westlake novel, THE COMEDY IS FINISHED, has been announced by editor Charles Ardai at Hard Case Crime. My involvement was played down in the news release, but it came about when I told Charles about the existence of an early ‘80s Westlake manuscript in my possession. Don had pulled it from the market when publishers asked him to make it “funnier,” not understanding it was not meant to be a “funny” Westlake. He shared it with me and we were discussing some revision notions; the plan, as I remember it, was to take it out to market under a shared pen name. We were in the early stages of this when the film “The King of Comedy” emerged and shared the novel’s premise (accidentally, I think, although Don did do some things with Martin Scorcese). At this point, Don killed the project.

When Hard Case announced MEMORY as the final unpublished Westlake novel, I scurried down to my basement and found the moldy carbon copy in a drawer of Westlake materials. Re-reading it, I didn’t feel it needed my input at all – a terrific book, but not a funny one (wasn’t meant to be, obviously). I told Charles about it, he responded eagerly and had me send him a photocopy. I was supposed to write an after word for the book, discussing the novel’s origins and my relationship with Don. Since then, I’ve been told that Don’s representation prefers that the book stand on its own, and I respect and understand that. The media releases on this novel won’t tell the full story, because the public might misunderstand and think this was a novel that Don hadn’t been able to sell – no, it’s a fine novel that Don wasn’t willing to revise into a comic one. I’m proud that I had something to do with bringing one of Don’s novels into publication – he was a great friend, mentor and inspiration to me. Here’s how the public was informed, last week, of this rediscovered unpublished novel.

There’s a brief but nice Stacy Keach interview about KISS HER GOODBYE and other Mike Hammer audios here.

I have the idea that YOU CAN’T STOP ME is doing better on e-book than as a “real” book – this week Matt Clemens and I got a great review for the novel at a Kindle blog.

Mallory continues to receive more love, with another brief but nice write-up for the series in general and NICE WEEKEND FOR A MURDER in particular.

A while back I quoted from Dick Lochte’s terrific Mystery Scene review of the audio novel THE NEW ADVENTURES OF MIKE HAMMER VOL. 3: ENCORE FOR MURDER. Here is the full text (you will see a rejected cover for the release for your trouble).

You might enjoy this very interesting review of the film “Slightly Scarlet” from James M. Cain’s LOVE’S LOVELY COUNTERFEIT. It begins my referencing my commentary track from the VCI DVD release.

I will be going off to Hollywood for several days of meetings on various film/TV projects later this week. Wish me luck, or break a leg or whatever.


Jon Breen And J. Kingston Pierce

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Two of my favorite reviewers had major news this week.

First, Jon Breen – who has been one of my biggest boosters for thirty years – is stepping down from his post at EQMM – The Jury Box. For my money, Breen is the best reviewer/critic of his generation. It’s a sad day for me to see Jon leave reviewing behind – from a selfish standpoint, since he’s a reviewer who usually likes my stuff – but I congratulate him on an incredible run. Further congrats are in order, because Jon is a fine mystery writer himself, one of the best traditionalists around, and this will give him time to get back to tending his own literary garden. He promises two columns per year at EQMM, discussing short stories and classic reprints.

Jon’s last regular column graciously singles out a dozen of his favorite writers including yrs trly, by way of a nice mention of the QUARRY reprint series from Perfect Crime. He even calls the first novel, QUARRY (aka THE BROKER) a “landmark” work. Yup, he showed excellent taste to the very last….

Second, J. Kingston Pierce (that’s Jeff to me) is the auteur behind the great crime-fiction blog the Rap Sheet (part of January Magazine). He is, thank God, not stepping down; in fact, he’s stepping it up, taking over the Kirkus crime-fiction blog, too. This may take some getting used to for me, since Kirkus has generally lambasted my work during the same thirty years that Jon Breen praised me. In fairness, Kirkus liked one of the dozen Hellers (NEON MIRAGE) and have been keen on the Spillane/Collins Mike Hammers, so far.

Anyway, Jeff has posted his first blog and he too has graciously included me as he discussed his favorite “comfort food” authors. This does not mean that my work resembles meatloaf with gravy and mashed potatoes and corn (well, some corn), rather that I am a dependable entertainer. Read about it yourself.

The first dual review of the two J.C. Harrow “Killer TV” novels has appeared, and it’s a doozy. Gotta check this out.

David Burke did nice little write-up at Matt Clemens’ hometown paper, the Quad City Times. A fun read. You’ll note that the headline refers to Matt as my “friend,” a downgrade from the Yahoo piece that credited him as the sole author of the CSI novels. (Matt – I told you there would be a reckoning!)

I can’t explain it, but according to this website, YOU CAN’T STOP ME is one of the ten bestselling novels of 2011 so far. I’ve heard we’re high on the Amazon UK lists, too. Back those trucks of money up to the house any time, guys!

We had some nice coverage, including a You Tube review, of THE NEW ADVENTURES OF MIKE HAMMER VOL. 2: THE LITTLE DEATH. The reason last year’s release is getting precedence over the current one is LITTLE DEATH’s Audie nomination.

We also received an outstanding review from Dick Lochte on ENCORE FOR MURDER in the new Mystery Scene. No link available, but it says in part: “Expect a lot of action, snappy patter, much of it gleefully non-PC, and several nice plot touches, including a clever method of cleaning dirty money, all smoothly presented by a full cast.” He also says the CD presentation resembles “a particularly well-written three-part episode” from the Stacy Keach TV version of Hammer. I will note, however, that the only time Stacy has appeared as Hammer in presentations actually derived directly from Spillane material is on THE LITTLE DEATH and ENCORE FOR MURDER.

Finally, I’m pleased to report that ANTIQUES KNOCK-OFF made the top 50 hardcover mysteries list at Barnes and Noble (#40).


The Big Year

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, this will be a big year for me, and for my collaborators Barb, Matt and Mickey.

Some of this has to do with publishers holding onto books a while before publishing; some of what is seemingly a big output has to do with my working with those gifted collaborators I just mentioned. My big fear is that some of this work – all of which, I think, finds us at the top of our collective game – may slip through the cracks. Those of you who follow these updates are encouraged (well, actually I’m begging) to support this stuff, and tell your friends, write about the stuff on blogs, and post Amazon and Barnes & Noble reviews.

Encore for Murder

Writers who are at all prolific suffer – we “grind” out and “crank” out books. People who use that kind of phrase really don’t know much at all about writing. But expect to hear that sort of thing said about me this year. Now, the Hardest Working Man in Show Business is okay. That’s fine. I am still rock ‘n’ rolling, after all.

This week we are sharing with you the first look at the terrific cover of THE NEW ADVENTURES OF MIKE HAMMER VOL. 3: ENCORE FOR MURDER. This was about as fun and rewarding a project as you could imagine. Working with actors like Stacy Keach, Tim Kazurinsky, David Pasquale, and Mike Cornelison is a dream come true. As I’ve mentioned before, Tim is one of my favorite Second City/SNL talents, and Pasquesi is a great stand-up who shared the stage with Jeff Garlin and Fred Willard at the Second City Reunion last year. And Mike Cornelison is probably the best Pat Chambers ever. The previous Hammer audio, THE LITTLE DEATH, was adapted from a screenplay; but ENCORE FOR MURDER was written specifically for the audio novel format, and I’m really proud of it. Like Sinatra said after listening to a playback, “If you don’t like that, you don’t like ice cream.”

Also coming up in the Big Year are:

ANTIQUES KNOCK-OFF, Kensington hardcover, March. Both Barb and I think this is the best of the Antiques novels, both in terms of mystery and funny, and it presents a conclusion to the story arc of the first five books. Best cover we’ve snagged.

NO ONE WILL HEAR YOU, also Kensington but a paperback, and also March. This is the second J.C. Harrow novel by Matt Clemens and me, and we both think it’s superior to the first one (which was well-received, and which we like, but there was room to improve…and we did). It’s a satire on reality TV and features two really scary serial killers. We went for broke on this one. Frankly, if this doesn’t do well, there won’t be another. Please support this one. Here’s an idea: buy thousands, go up in a plane, and dump them over your town. Just a thought.

KISS HER GOODBYE, Harcourt “Otto Penzler” hardcover, May. This was a particularly strong unfinished manuscript from Mickey, circa 1975, and I am hugely happy with the results. I think it’s at least as good as THE BIG BANG. I had great material to work with. Thanks, Mick!

BYE BYE, BABY, Forge, hardcover, August. The first Nate Heller novel in ten years. This was delivered in 2009, and faces the clutter of the other M.A.C. novels out there this year. Marilyn’s murder, solved. Find out what really happened, and see if Heller at age 58 is any less violent or randy than he was back in the ‘30s and ‘40s. (Hint: he hasn’t mellowed.)

QUARRY’S EX, Hard Case Crime, trade paperback, August. Postponed from last year. Made some “best book of the year” lists in 2010 without being published. Good trick, even for Quarry.

THE CONSUMMATA, Hard Case Crime, trade paperback, October. The long-awaited sequel to THE DELTA FACTOR by Mickey with me batting clean up. Cubans, bondage, and Robert McGinnis!

RETURN TO PERDITION, DC Vertigo hardcover, October. Graphic novel. The final chapter in the PERDITION saga, with MS. TREE artist Terry Beatty coming on board. This may not be the final PERDITION novel or even graphic novel, but it is guaranteed the last chronologically. Terry is doing his best work.

In addition, I am close to signing an agreement that will bring all of the Nate Heller books back out in trade paperback and e-book, including two new collections of short stories and novellas. The Ness novels are already out, as are the early Quarrys (though not yet on e-book), and likely Nolan will be next. Also, trade paperbacks of the Barbara/Max Collins collaborations REGENERATION and BOMBSHELL are on the horizon (with e-books), as well as short story collections of both authors. Look for Barb/Max titles to appear as “Barbara Allan” works.

After our exchange of views on his review of an early Quarry novel, David Rachels asked me to contribute to his regular feature “Five Quick Questions” at his always interesting Noirboiled site. Despite the brevity of the format, some new things came up. And David, who teaches Japanese lit, e-mailed to say he had ordered Nate’s book, SUMMER, FIREWORKS & MY CORPSE!

Both QUARRY’S EX and THE CONSUMMATA are nicely showcased in the latest news release from Charles Ardai about the return of Hard Case Crime. It appeared lots of places, but this link takes you (appropriately enough) to the Violent World of Parker site.

Similarly, the news release about the e-book-oriented Top Suspense Group (of which I’m a member) got wide cyber attention, but here it is at my pal (and fellow TSG member) Lee Goldberg’s great website.

Jeff Pierce of Rap Sheet fame has a wonderful site about sexy covers of tough mysteries, and he went nicely nuts over the McGinnis cover of THE CONSUMMATA.

Did I mention that 2011 is my 40th anniversary in the writing game? BAIT MONEY sold in December 1971.


Getting A Big Bang Out Of Quarry

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Big BangThe Big Bang UK edition

Some nice stuff popped up on the M.A.C. front this week on the web.

We’ve had lots of really great reviews for THE BIG BANG, but this one from top UK critic Mike Carlson, who really knows his stuff, is probably my favorite. Mike was not a big fan of THE GOLIATH BONE, so getting this rave from him means a great deal.

Jedidiah Ayres has been reading the new Perfect Crime reprints of the first five QUARRY novels (available on line at Amazon and Barnes & Noble), and he’s talked about them several places. Check out his Barnes and Noble column, and this blog entry.

I am getting great comments from readers about these new QUARRY reprints – everybody seems to find them really handsome books and Terry Beatty’s covers are getting a terrific response. Even if you have the other editions on your shelf, you’ll find these worthwhile. Plus, my new intros are worth the price of admission! Well, not really, but you’ll probably enjoy them….

Jeffrey Goodman, director of the Quarry-based film THE LAST LULLABY, showcased the new Quarry reprints on his blog.

Another of those lists of “great movies that you didn’t know came from comic books” popped up, and had this nice write-up about ROAD TO PERDITION. We seem to be number one on the list.

And THE NEW ADVENTURES OF MIKE HAMMER: VOLUME TWO, THE LITTLE DEATH, has been named one of the best audio books of the year by AudioFile Magazine (in the “Full Cast” category).

Over at the Top Suspense Group web site, we are starting a publication of a round robin story (two 250-word installments each), featuring me, Vicki Hendricks, Ed Gorman, Bill Crider, Harry Shannon and Dave Zeltserman. Check it out.