Monday, April 27, 2015


Dave Zeltserman's Shelves

             What books are currently on your nightstand?

             Border Town Girl by John D. MacDonald
             Firebreak by Richard Stark
             Who is your favorite novelist of all time? 

             Joseph Heller
             What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?

              I doubt I have a single novel that would surprise anyone familiar with my writing. I    guess I'll go with my complete E. C. Seger Popeye volumes.

              Who is your favorite fictional hero?

              Continental Op 

              What book do you return to?
              Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett

Dave Zeltserman is an award-winning noir, mystery and horror writer. His latest book, about demon hunting in Newton, Massachusetts, “The Boy Who Killed Demons,” is out now. Two of his crime novels, “Small Crimes” and “Outsourced,” are currently in film development and both are scheduled to go into production this summer.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Stan Kenton, Berlin, 1953

How I Came to Write This Book: Alex Azar

Growing up, while most kids my age were watching Thundercats and Voltron, I was watching those as well. However, I also found myself gravitating to my father's VHS collection, more specifically the black and white mysteries. I remember watching "The Thin Man" starring William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles, and loving every minute of every joke I was too young to understand. That movie, along with "The Maltese Falcon" and "The Big Sleep" led me to reading their respective literary influences and the other books by Dashiell Hammett, and Raymond Chandler.  Maybe not so naturally, reading those books led me to H.P. Lovecraft and his weird world of Cthulhu Mythos, and from then on I was hooked.  I crafted Detective James S. Peckman's world with influences from each of those authors, and countless others, while still trying to make it unique to my view.  That's why I have the detective take on all manner of bizarre cases, and this is why much of the book takes place in my home state of New Jersey, which I'm not afraid to admit I'm proud to be from.

Nightmare Noir opens the casebook of Detective James S. Peckman, taking us into the underbelly of a world where true evil exists. After his wife and daughter died under supernatural circumstances, Peckman left the police force to pursue the monsters most believe exist only in nightmares. Now, Peckman and his partners take the cases that cannot be explained in the world we think we know.

Alex Azar is an author born and raised in New Jersey. He made the courageous decision to leave the glamorous life of an electrical engineer student behind and concentrate full time on his life long passion of writing. He is now a happily struggling author. This is his first full length publication.

TJ Halvorsen has worked for many of the major comic companies as a penciler, inker and background artist. TJ attended the Joe Kubert School for Cartoon and Graphic Design and earned his Associate's Degree in Graphic Design from the University of Colorado.

Amazon link:

Friday, April 24, 2015

Louis Armstrong: When the Saints Go Marching In

Friday's Forgotten Books, Friday, April 24, 2015

Over the next two-three weeks we will be moving and will be without Internet, among other things, from time to time. Todd is handling the next two weeks of Forgotten Fridays. I probably can't respond readily to much.

If you need to contact me, use my email address rather than the comment section on here.

Today, I am off to physical therapy. I will be back around 9:30 to add any latecomers.

Adam and Eve and Pinch Me by Ruth Rendell
(Review by Deb)

Published in 2002, Adam and Eve and Pinch Me (the title is from a childish joke that results in an innocent foil getting pinched) is much more in the tone of the books Ruth Rendell publishes under her alternate pen name of Barbara Vine than Rendell’s (now completed) series of police procedurals featuring Detective Inspector Reg Wexford.  The book is full of Barbara Vine tropes in which peoples’ lives are restricted by both internal decisions and external factors.
I think it was Stephen King who praised Ruth Rendell’s brilliant use of “malevolent coincidence” in describing how the confluence of fate and personality work in the lives of her (often) mentally-, socially-, and/or financially-limited characters.  Events that would seem far-fetched, even preposterous, in the hands of lesser writers are readily accepted in Rendell’s work because they proceed organically from the characters’ established habits, desires, and frames of mind.  Here are some examples of these coincidences in Rendell’s Adam and Eve and Pinch Me:

·         A ne’er-do-well man makes a spontaneous decision to see an afternoon movie, unaware that a mentally-fragile woman he has previously fleeced is also there and armed with a knife.
·         A closeted politician inadvertently leaves an important file in his lover’s apartment.  When he surreptitiously returns to retrieve it, he is left without an alibi for the time during which his wife’s ex-husband was murdered.
·         A married couple, each with significant health issues, decide to spend an afternoon walking on an isolated heath.  They, too, are left without an alibi for the time of the murder of their neighbor’s fianc√©—a man they both dislike.
·         A woman forgets to bring her lunch to work.  Returning home to retrieve it, she encounters a repairman who she mistakes for someone else, with tragic consequences.
In Adam and Eve and Pinch Me, Jerry Leach (aka Jerry Leigh aka John/Jock Lewis) has long ago left his wife, Zillah, and their two children for the greener pastures of a serial progression of single women, all of whom own their own homes and have healthy bank balances.  Jerry (changing or adapting his name as it suits circumstances) lives on these women (often promising them marriage, although he is actually not divorced from Zillah) until they get tired of him or he meets a likelier prospect.

One of those prospects is Minty Knox, a character familiar in the Rendell/Vine universe:  a woman the reader can clearly see is mentally ill but who manages to conceal the extent of her condition from the people around her (who do not have the readers’ advantage of hearing Minty’s inner monologues or observing her compulsive cleaning and dietary habits).  When Jerry leaves Minty (somehow convincing her that he has died in a train accident), she does not chalk it up to experience and move on; instead, she dwells obsessively on her life savings--money she gave to Jerry.  The thought of this money and what she was planning to do with it (install a new shower in her bathroom) haunts her almost as much as the ghosts she sees and voices she hears:  her late aunt, Jerry, Jerry’s mother, and others.  The voice talk to—one might say, hector—Minty continually until she resolves that drastic action is the only way to make them stop.

Another of Jerry’s conquests is Fiona, an investment banker, who is devastated with grief when Jerry is found murdered.  In her misery, she inadvertently casts suspicion on her neighbors in the unsolved case.  Then, when a similar murder takes place, it is Fiona who finds herself a possible suspect.

Meanwhile, Jerry’s wife Zillah has entered into a “marriage of convenience” with a gay Tory politician, neglecting to mention to him that she is still married.  Rendell paints this politician—a dreadful snob with the double-barreled name of James Melcombe-Smith—as the nastiest character in the book; not because of his sexuality, but because of his hypocrisy in espousing the anti-gay positions of his Conservative Party base in his ambition to climb the ladder of politics.  He too will be hoist on his own petard when Jerry’s death is discovered.

A number of other characters, secondary but fully-fleshed out (including Minty’s vibrant and kind-hearted neighbors, Zillah’s older-than-her-years daughter, and a tough-minded journalist who just happens to be one of Jerry’s ex-flings), populate the book—each with their part to play as events and the main characters’ reactions to them spin intricate webs that trap and confine.  Some of these webs are the characters’ own creations and some are due to our old friend, the malevolent coincidence.

(from the archives)
IN THE LAST ANAYSIS, Amanda Cross (Carolyn Gold Heilbrun)

Amanda Cross wrote 14 books about Kate Fansler, an English Professor who solved crimes and cogitated on the issues of the day: feminism being foremost in her mind.

In this her first novel, a student, referred by Professor Fansler to a psychoanalyst friend, is found stabbed to dead on his couch, his fingerprints on the knife. Fansler solves the murder with the help of her friend, ADA, Reed Amhearst. All of Cross' books take place in an academic setting and she uses it well to explore the issues of the day that concerned her.

Heilbrun, the mother of three children, was the first woman to receive tenure at Columbia University although it was not for writing this series, something that was looked down on by her colleagues.

Heilbrun committed suicide at the age of 77. She was not sick but perhaps feared illness or the loss of independence. She also believed fervently in the right to decide when to end one's own life. You can find more out about her last day here. 

Sergio Angelini, AND NONE SHALL SLEEP, Priscilla Masters
Yvette Banek, HOLIDAY HOMICIDE, Rufus King
Les Blatt, THE MYSTERY OF HUNTING'S END, Mignon Eberhart
Brian Busby, THE THREE ROADS, Kenneth Millar
Bill Crider, THE HEIRS OF ANTHONY BOUCHER, Marvin Lachman
CrimesintheLibrary, THE GENESIS SECRET, Tom KNox
Martin Edwards, WHO IS SIMON WARWICK Patricia Moyes
Ed Gorman/Fred Blosser, THE MOPPER UPPER, Horace McCoy
John Hegenberger, THE SECRET OF SAM MARLOW, Andrew Fenady
Rick Horton, ENGINE SUMMER, John Crowley
Jerry House, DICK TRACY AND THE NIGHTMARE MACHINE, Max Allan Collins and Dick Locher
Randy Johnson, TOUCHFEATHER, TOO, Jimmy Sangster
Nick Jones, A Gaggle of Graphic Novels
George Kelley, THE DAW SCIENCE FICTION READER, Donald Woolheim
Margot Kinberg, THE HANGING SHED, Gordon Ferris
B.V. Lawson, THE YELLOW TURBAN, Charlotte Jay
Evan Lewis, CONAN THE INVINCIBLE, Robert Jordan
Steve Lewis, A WREATH OF STARS, Bob Shaw
Todd Mason, GALAXY OF GHOULS, ed. Judith Merrill
Patrick Murtha, THE WRECKERS, Bella Bathurst
J.F. Norris, A HOUSE POSSESSED, Charity Blackstock
James Reasoner, RIVER RANGE, L.P. Holmes
Peter Rozovsky, MAN ON THE RUN, Charles Williams
Kerrie Smith, DEATH IN ECTASY, Ngaio Marsh
Kevin Tipple, LAKE CHARLES, Ed Lynskey
TracyK, THE MALTESE FALCON, Dashiell Hammett
Prashant Trikannad, GLADIATOR, Philip Wylie

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Count Basie: One O'Clock Jump

Kieran Shea's Shelves

QUESTION: What books are currently on your nightstand?

ANSWER:  Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon,  A Mencken Chrestomathy: His Own Selection of His Choicest Writing by H.L. Mencken,  Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It by Maile Meloy, The Prone Gunman by Jean-Patrick Manchette, and Treatise on Tolerance by Voltaire.

QUESTION: Who is your favorite novelist of all time?
 ANSWER: Thomas McGuane

QUESTION: What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?

ANSWER: Guerrilla Warfare by Che Guevara, Letters to a Young Contrarian by Christopher Hitchens, and
Peterson Field Guides to Eastern Birds (4th Edition) by Roger Tory Peterson.

QUESTION:  Who is your favorite fictional hero?

ANSWER:  Thomas Skelton, the protagonist in Thomas McGuane's 92 in the Shade

QUESTION:    What book do you return to?

 ANSWER: Moby Dick

KIERAN SHEA’s fiction has appeared in dozens of venues including Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Thuglit, Dogmatika, Word Riot, Plots with Guns, Beat to a Pulp, Crimefactory, and Needle: A Magazine of Noir well as in some beefy-looking anthologies most of which will make you question the tether of his shiny, red balloon. To his self-deprecating astonishment he's also been nominated for the Story South’s Million Writers Award twice without sending the judges so much as a thank you note. He co-edited the satiric transgressive fiction collection D*CKED: DARK FICTION INSPIRED BY DICK CHENEY and his debut novel KOKO TAKES A HOLIDAY is out now from Titan Books. Kieran divides his time between 38°58′22.6″N- 76°30′4.17″W and 39.2775° N, 74.5750° W. KOKO THE MIGHTY is out next.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Benny Goodman: Minnie's In the Money

If You Only Read One Book by this Writer, read this one.

I thought this might be fun to play now and then. You can choose their first book, their best book, the book that is most indicative of their body of work. Whatever makes sense to you.

Let's take Donald Westlake today.

If you only read one book by Westlake, read THE AX. The action in this one never lets up; it reflected cleverly a phenomena of the time it was written; the protagonist is evil and yet you can sympathize with him enough; it is an awful lot of fun. It may not be typical Westlake, but if you only read one, I doubt you will have any more fun than THE AX provides.

Which Westlake do you choose?