Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Larry Block’s retirement has been somewhat exaggerated

Last time I saw Larry Block was when we all gave him a standing ovation at Bouchercon 2008 in Baltimore, where he was presented with a lifetime achievement award for his contribution to the crime / mystery genre. To list all his accolades would fill this page ten-fold, for Lawrence Block has had all the awards that litter the genre, including recognition from the industry associations such as PWA [Private Eye Writers of America], MWA [Mystery Writers of America] and the [Crime Writers Association] CWA.

So with his ‘A Drop Of The Hard Stuff’ unleashed this month in the UK from Orion Publishing and Hardcase Crime / Titan Books “Getting Off” in February 2012, and now we have a long awaited collection of Matt Scudder stories ‘The Night and the Music’ – so Larry Block’s retirement has been somewhat exaggerated.

I received this note from Larry Block which I’d like to share -

I've been writing novels about Matt Scudder since the early 1970s, and he's turned up in novelettes and short stories for almost as long. THE NIGHT AND THE MUSIC contains the nine stories I've published over the years, along with two new ones; "Mick Ballou Looks at the Blank Screen" appeared only as the text of a 100-copy limited broadside, while the elegiac "One Last Night at Grogan's" was written this summer, specifically for inclusion in this volume, and has been published nowhere else.

When I told my friend Brian Koppelman about the book, he immediately volunteered to write an introduction. Brian's a screenwriter and director ("Rounders," "Knockaround Guys," "Solitary Man," Ocean's Thirteen"), and I think you'll be touched by his account of discovering Scudder at age 15. I know I was. And the book closes with (what else?) an author's afterword, detailing some of the circumstances of the writing and publication of each story. I'm genuinely excited about this book, not least of all because I'm publishing it myself.

The good people at Telemachus Press have done the heavy lifting, making sure it's perfectly formatted and professionally put together, but it's my baby. It's available as an eBook, for sale on all major platforms: Kindle, Nook, Apple, and all those served by Smashwords. The eBook price is $2.99. It's also offered as a Print-on-Demand paperback @ $14.95. A handful of select mystery booksellers will be able to furnish signed copies, and I'll also offer signed copies at my website bookstore.

Otto Penzler loved the book, and he'll be doing it proud, with one of his deluxe leather-bound hardcover first editions, limited to100 signed and numbered copies, for sale (while they last) @ $150. When I read THE NIGHT AND THE MUSIC all the way through, it struck me that it's very much of a piece with the seventeen novels, so that it could fairly be considered the eighteenth book in the series—one I began writing in the mid-1970s and just completed this summer. Because "One Last Night at Grogan's" brings Scudder's story up to date, one might see it as a coda to the series. Will there be more stories? More novels? I really don't know. It's never been given to me to know what I'm going to write next, and the several times I thought I was done telling Matt's story I turned out to be (like Bogart in Casablanca) misinformed. So we'll have to let time tell.

If you are new to Lawrence Block, you have a lot of catching up to do, but you have some wonderful novels and stories to look forward to all from a legend in the crime / mystery genre.

More Information from -

Incidentally Brian Koppelman writes with fellow screenwriter and PWA Shamus Nominated author David Levien [‘City of the Sun’ and ‘Where the Dead Lay’]has his third Frank Behr Investigation on the bookshelves now entitled “The 13 Million Dollar Pop

Photo © 2008 Ali Karim “Lawrence Block and Justin Scott at the PWA Shamus Awards held at Westminster Hall Baltimore"

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Bodies in the Library?

Agatha Christie expert John Curran will be visiting Bristol’s Central Library on Wednesday 21st September, joining thriller writer Tom Harper as they explore crime writing past and present.

John Curran is the world's foremost expert on Agatha Christie and author of the acclaimed Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks. In his new book, Murder in the Making, he leads the reader through the six decades of Agatha Christie's writing career.

Crime Writers Association award-winner Tom Harper is the author of a number of crime thrillers, including Book of Secrets and The Lazarus Vault. A master of historical fiction, his latest book Secrets of the Dead blends ancient and modern in a gripping race against time.

The two writers are being brought together for this unique event by the organisers of Crimefest, Bristol’s international crime writing festival. Tickets cost just £3 and can be purchased from any Bristol Library. For more information contact Andrew Cox, 0117 9222180.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Bouchercon Shifting into gear!

So the first two days of Bouchercon are over! It has been such good fun. The panels have had a constant buzz about then with a lot of the conversation spilling out onto the signings. The book room is also full. There were around 100 walk ins on Thursday.

The panel Passengers fasten your seatbelts…. was full but it was not unexpected since the panel was comprised of most of the guest of honours. It was a freewheeling panel, which was moderated by Oline Cogdill. It was also clear that all the panel members were not only got on well with each other but were friends as well. The questions were wide ranging and the one on where the authors got their inspiration from received the best response from them all especially Val McDermid’s explanation.

I also managed to attend the Unnatural Vices – Comics and Crime Fiction panel that was not only amusing but also interesting. The panel members were Max Allan Collins, Gary Phillips, Jonathan Stantlofer, Jason Starr and Duane Swierczynski who also moderated the panel instead of Cullen Bunn who unfortunately could not be there.

There were other panels that took place but unfortunately I was unable to attend some of them. The other big event that took place on Thursday evening was the opening ceremony and reception where the Macavity Awards and Barry Awards were to be given out along with a number of Crimespree Awards as well.

Crimespree Magazine awards that were given out were as follows –

Best First Novel- Do Some Damage by Hilary Davidson

Best Novel – Expiration Date by Duane Swierczynski

Ali Karim was also honoured as the first recipient of the David Thompson Award for Special Services. Luckily, I got to say a few words about him before he was given the award and it was quite nice to see him taken aback for a change. Congratulations Ali! The award was well deserved. The David Thompson Award for Special Services was named after the late David Thompson of Murder by the Book in Houston who was an enthusiastic and supportive about crime fiction author and everything about the genre.

The winner of the Barry and Macavity awards are as follows –

Barry Awards -

Best novel – The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton

Best first novel – The Poacher’s Son by Paul Doiron

Best British Novel – The Woodcutter by Reginald Hill

Best Paperback Original – Fever to the Bone by Val McDermid

Best Thriller – 13 Hours by Deon Meyer

Best Short Story – The List by Loren D Estleman

Congratulations to all the winners but especially to Val as this is her third Barry Award!

Macavity Award -

Best Mystery Novel – Bury your Dead by Louise Penny

Best First Mystery – Rogue Island by Bruce Da Silva

Best Mystery Non-fiction - Agatha Christie's Secret: Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making by John Curran

Best Mystery Short Story – Swing Shift by Dana Cameron

Sue Feder Memorial Historical Mystery – City of Dragons by Keli Stanley.

Congratulations to all the winners!

After the ceremony Harper Collins publishers gave out copies of books of some of their authors. I got asked to help out and so I spent part of the evening helping Val McDermid and Laura Lippmann give out copies of their books to various people. Luckily for me despite the fact that I was busy working I managed to get hold of a copy of Laura Lippman’s new book The Most Dangerous Thing, Alafair Burke’s standalone novel Long Gone and Jonathan Hayes Novel A Hard Death.

I also managed to get away and attend the Atlantic Monthly Press and relaunch of The Mysterious Press cocktail party. I did not however stay up too late as I was due to be on a panel the following morning at 8:30am.

There has been such a buzz at Bouchercon and of course the bar has been full at all times. One cannot fully express how wonderfully run this convention has been. It has been superb. From the hospitality suite that is constantly in use to the large number of volunteers that are on tap to help out or answer questions, to the book room that is not only vast but also wants you to spend the whole day there. I can only say that Ruth and John Jordan along with Judy Bobalik have put on a wonderful event.

Friday morning started with a bang for me as I had a panel at 8:30am. However before then I attended the Librarian breakfast, which was held in the magnificent Crystal Ballroom on the 20th floor of the hotel. The event was hosted by the mid-western chapter of the MWA and had tables, which were sponsored by a number of authors. It was good way to start the morning and there were very few speeches. Colin Cotterill said a few words and Charlaine Harris gave a wonderful speech on her love of libraries and the books that influenced her.

My 8:30am panel was entitled Bad BloodCelebrating Agatha Christie. My fellow panel members were Carolyn Hart, G M Malliet and Val McDermid. The moderator was Ted Hertel. It was a good panel and a large number of people turned up to listen to us talk about all things Agatha Christie including her legacy, did we consider her to be a cosy writer? The answer was evidently not!, whether or not Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple were given an appropriate send off, we all thought that they had not. What did we think of her most controversial novel The Murder of Roger Ackroyd? Had she played fast and loose with the reader? What did we think of her two main characters? And of course what were our favourite novels or short stories by Agatha Christie? As can be expected we all trooped into the book room for signing and I was rather amazed to see that not only had a signing desk been allocated to me but I also had a number of people come up and ask me to sign their programme!

One of the off site events that had been arranged as part of Bouchercon was a charity bowling event that took place at the Flamingo Bowl. Everybody had a wonderful time and I was part of the Crimespree Wrecking crew. I understand that $500 was raised for the St Louis County Library. However as a result of this I had to miss a number of the interviews that were taking place at the same time and this included the Toastmaster Ridley Pearson being interviewed by Jeff Abbott and Robert Crais being interviewed by Gregg Hurwitz. One of the good things about this Convention however is the fact that all the panels are being recorded.

The Shamus Awards were also given out on Friday evening at a dinner that was held off site.

The Hammer Award – Sara Paretsky for V I Warshawski

Lifetime Achievement Award – Ed Gorman

Best Hardcover – No Mercy by Lori Armstrong

Best First Novel – In Search of Mercy by Michael Ayoob

Best Paperback – Asia Hand by Christopher G Moore

Best P I Short Story – The Lamb was Sure to Go by Gar Anthony Haywood.

One of the highlights of every Bouchercon is the live auction. This year so far over $17,000 was raised. The auctioneers for the event were Laura Lippman and Mark Billingham. The auction had been organised by Crimespree’s film and comic guru Jeremy Lynch who did a magnificent job. I mean who would not want mementoes from Robert Crais character Elvis Cole? The highlight of the auction was the $7,000 paid by Laura Lippman to be a named character in the final Sookie Stackhouse book by Charlaine Harris. She piped Karin Slaughter (who was voting by proxy) to the post.

Friday night at the movies was also arranged and the films that were shown included a documentary about Derrick Raymond and Salvation Boulevard by Larry Beinhart.

So what is up for the last full day of Bouchercon?

I have a panel at 11:30am which I am moderating. My panel members are Megan Abbott, Daniel Woodrell, Paul Dorion, Thomas H Cook and Paul Gaus. Sarah paretsky is going to be interviewed by Kevin Guilfoile and Val McDermid by Jen Forbus. For those that are a lot more energetic there will be a basketball game as well.

More later……

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Bouchercon is up and running!

Bouchercon well and truly starts this morning (Thursday) here in St Louis. However, Tuesday at St Louis was spent doing last minute things, which included unloading two u-haul’s full of boxes and over 1500 book bags. It took us over 16 hours to fill all the book bags and load the trucks but luckily due to the large number of volunteers which also included some panel members it only took us 1 ½ hours. Rather sadly since it started raining the movement of all the boxes and other related matters took place in the rain.

The booksellers also started to arrive and set up in the book room, which is massive. As indicated in yesterday’s blog post there were a number of pre-Bouchercon events taking place last night. By all accounts they went very well indeed. I spent the day helping the organisers with various things whilst meeting and saying hello to various people which included Sara Paretsky, Reed Farrell Coleman, Daniel Woodrell, Matt and Denise Hamilton, Jason Pinter, Jason Starr, Adrian Muller, Steve Hamilton, Pete Rozovsky, Martyn Waites, Robert Crais, Colin Cotterill, Catriona McPherson, Jan Burke, Charlaine Harris, Christa Faust and Yrsa Sigurdardottir and CWA short story winner Sean Chercover to name a few.

Jeremy Lynch has put together a wonderful and huge amount of gifts for the silent auction. If you are around you must go up and have a look at the stuff and be prepared to bid! Some of the stuff is amazing especially the items donated by Sara Paretsky and Robert Crais.

To say thank you to all the volunteers who have given up their time and have been helping with the event they arranged a dinner at the famous “Pappy’s Smokehouse”. It was an incredibly fun evening and the food was fantastic. I got to spend sometime catching up with two of the guests of honour Sara Paretsky and Val McDermid and also spend time with the extremely lovely Jen Forbus.

As one can be expected everybody congregated in the bar after and it heaving! I am not sure that they had seen so many people in the place.

The panels well and truly start today at 8:30am and it is going to be very interesting and difficult trying to sort out which of them to attend. The programme organisers have done a fantastic job. A number of them have already wetted my appetite. The only one that I know that I am going to certainly make sure that I have a front row seat for is Passengers – Fasten your Seat Belts….. I mean it is not often that you have all your guests of honour on one panel. It is in my opinion inspired programming.

The opening ceremony and reception takes place this evening as well and I am sure that it will be a lovely event. PS – For those of you that are here and reading this blog don’t forget to complete your Anthony Ballot! The box to submit your ballot can be found at the registration desk! The closing time for submitting your ballot is 5pm on Saturday evening!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Bouchercon here we come!!

This is the first of what will hopefully be my blog about Bouchercon. How frequent it is going to be I do not know.

Bouchercon does not exactly start until tomorrow but pre-Bouchercon stuff has been fun already. Thanks to Jon Jordan so far I have managed to go to a baseball game and saw the St Louis Cardinals beat the Atlanta Braves along with the ever delightful Ruth Jordan (Mrs Crimespree), Kirstie Long and Paul Jordan. At the same time the St Louis Rams were playing the Philadelphia Eagles and I have to say that despite the fact that I was at the baseball game I was also keeping my eye on the football results. Why you may ask? That is because I support Philadelphia Eagles so it was nice to see the results and realised that they beat the Rams! I have had a trip round the City Garden and have seen the wonderful sculptures and the pink flamingos! If you have chance to go to the City Garden then one should do so as it is a delight.

Since mid-morning Monday people have already started to turn up. I finally got to meet the wonderfully delightful Jen Forbus. Hi Jen! Adrian Magson and his wife Ann were amongst the first Brits to arrive (aside from myself and Kirstie long) who have been in St Louis since Saturday. Also renewed my acquaintance with Ann McNulty whom I last saw at Baltimore and also B G Ritts. Also met Kat Tromp again, John Purcell and Emily Bronstein (whom I last saw at Crimefest last year!). It was also lovely to see again after such a long time McKenna Jordan who owns Murder by the Book in Houston and Crimespree’s comic and film extraordinaire Jeremy Lynch along with his lovely wife Jill and his mother. Of course the place to be is the bar!

Pictures © Ayo Onatade

Yesterday evening (Tuesday) a lot more Brits started to arrive. My fellow Shotsmag colleagues Mike Stotter and Ali Karim flew in with Roger Ellory, Lauren Henderson, CWA Chairman Peter James, and Guest of Honour Val McDermid and rather later on Tuesday night (sans luggage) Russel McLean. Even though things have not really started today (Wednesday) is going to be rather busy. Trucks to unload with all the book bags and the stuff for registration, which should start @3pm this afternoon. The book bags are stuffed full of wonderful books and I dare anyone to complain! There will also be a swap table set up so if people want to leave books and or swap them there. It will be interesting to see how the hotel manage to cope with the large influx of people that are no doubt due to turn up today. I am sure that they will be fine as they have been excellent so far. So, if you see me wandering around the hotel at some stage during Bouchercon please do come up and say hello, give me a hug as I am sure that I may not remember to do so or I might be distracted and I would not want anyone to think that I was ignoring them on purpose.

There are also a lot of pre-Bouchercon activities taking place as well today. Noir at the Bar will be starting at eight PM, will be held at Meshuggah Café 6269 Delmar Boulevard Saint Louis, MO 63130 (314) 726-56626269. Admission is free, but bring money for drinks and books. Food is also available. Subterranean Books and Bouchercon present Charlaine Harris and Laurell K. Hamilton in an intimate Q&A to benefit the St. Louis Public Library, at Christ Church Cathedral, 1210 Locust Street (across from Central Library, two blocks from convention hotel), Wednesday, Sept 14 6pm (Doors at 5pm). This is a ticketed event and your ticket price gains you admittance to the one-hour event and gets you a signed copy of Harris' SOOKIE STACKHOUSE COMPANION or Hamilton's HIT LIST.

Tickets available here

St Louis County Library presents “Suspense Night 2011” on Wednesday, September 14, at 7 p.m. at Library Headquarters, 1640 S. Lindbergh Blvd. The free event brings together seven suspense authors from across the country. The authors are Megan Abbott, Reed Farrell Coleman, S J Rozan, Peter Spiegleman, Steve Hamilton, Lisa Lutz and Christa Faust.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Phil Rickman - Merrily Watkins deals with the Secrets of Pain!

Today’s guest blogger is Phil Rickman who is the author of the Merrily Watkins series. The Secrets of Pain is the 10th book in the Merrily Watkins Series. He has won awards for his television and radio journalism. Music is often a theme in his novels as well and they range from the fictional to the real. He also presents the Radio Wales book programme “Phil the Shelf”.

Ten books. Wow. Surprising how quickly that happened. A whole series. And ten books does seem like a complete series. Certainly the point at which some crime writers I could name (but obviously won’t) began to run out of ideas.

So, obviously I had a decision to make. Was it Reichenbach Falls time for Merrily Watkins?

I mean, I never really wanted to write about a vicar. I knew from the start what would happen, and it did. Readers of grittily realistic crime fiction turned away with a knowing sneer. Clerical mysteries... yeah... right. While readers of so-called clerical mysteries often reacted like the Amazon reviewer who wrote:

I bought this book in error. I was looking for a murder mystery. Unfortunately this is not the type of book I like to read. The book is set in a village where there is an undercurrent of darkness throughout. The theme is evil/superstition/darkness and is not about solving a murder. Most of the characters seem to be disturbed. The church element only seems to be there to add some sexual fantasy. I was not comfortable with the book and the more I read the more I felt it would be wrong to carry on reading. Having turned to the end I realised that I most definitely was making the right decision to stop reading and I deleted the book from my Kindle and pc.

You can read it in full on Amazon under The Wine of Angels. While a touch blinkered, it’s undoubtedly the best one-star review I’ve ever had and must have attracted quite a lot of those readers who normally would turn away with a knowing sneer. But you get the idea: this series was unlikely to be an overnight success. It was rarely what anyone expected... least of all me.

Clerical mysteries undoubtedly have their place in the annals of crime fiction but they are, to an extent, fantasy. Very few vicars nail killers… well not more than once, anyway.

And fantasy was the last place I wanted to go. True, I’d started as a writer of supernatural thrillers but, after a few years, I was backing off in horror at the direction the genre was taking: whole armies of vampires - fairy stories, essentially. I needed some reality, a discipline. So it had to be crime. I always loved crime novels, especially procedurals.

Yet I didn’t want to leave the paranormal behind. I’m interested in anomalies, always have been, and find Richard Dawkins dispiriting in every conceivable sense of the word. But ghost-hunters, real and fictional, can be irritating too.

And if I was looking for a credible professional.... well, there was only one kind, and it opened a big can of worms.

Exorcists had rarely been dealt with, in an authentic way, since William Blatty’s masterpiece in the 1970s. And that was about Catholics priests. I needed a woman.

I knew that every Church of England diocese had at least one exorcist. But what did they actually do - here in Britain, in the third millennium? And how would it be possible to write about one without coming over as some kind of disturbed religious zealot?

Talking to working exorcists, you discover that, in these cautious, secular times, they’re often appointed for their scepticism. You learn how few of them have ever encountered a convincing case of demonic possession. How the dividing line between the psychic and the psychological is continually being stretched and blurred. I even found one who didn’t believe in ghosts. And the C of E doesn’t called them exorcists any more, they’re deliverance ministers or consultants. Personally, I prefer exorcist, but you have to go with what you’re given.

What’s interesting is that it isn’t unusual for their paths to intersect with criminal investigations. It was only because of a particularly horrifying domestic murder that the Church of England decided to replace the term exorcism with the less-sinister deliverance. And the politics were fascinating, it seemed the darker recesses of the Church of England had more in common with Le Carre´s Circus than it might care to admit. It soon became clear that I was into something extraordinary which could be the basis for an entirely new approach to crime fiction.

The theme is not about solving a murder. Mrs Amazon one-star certainly got that bit right. I never wanted a super-sleuth.

Merrily Watkins, Deliverance Consultant for the Diocese of Hereford, is the single mother of a teenager who’s more into paganism. Merrily smokes. She isn’t feisty, makes mistakes, and lives with insecurity. In the early days I used to get scary emails like the one that said, ‘I’m very disappointed. I wanted her to be God’s Warrior in the Battle Against Evil!’

In your dreams. And, OK, very occasionally, hers. And then she wakes up and it just isn’t that simple. For a few dismal years, Merrily Watkins inhabited the no-readers-land between the horror shelf and cosy crime. I got very tired of the term ‘clerical sleuth’ being applied to a woman who rarely solved anything and was constantly deconstructing her belief-system. And I didn’t do cosy.

So, at first, not many people got it. Then, gradually, as readers began to adjust to the idea of a decent woman trying to handle a medieval job in a scornful world, the series accumulated what I think is called ‘a substantial cult following’ - i.e. you don’t get rich but you do acquire serious fans.

At first, I expected the clergy to hate Merrily. But then, there were some things about the clergy that I didn’t understand. ‘Thank God,’ one said. ‘We might finally be saying goodbye to the Derek Nimmo Factor.’ I also had an early email from a diocesan exorcist who said, the low-key approach is exactly right.

The Deliverance ministry operates in a netherworld of weirdo’s, misfits, the paranoid and the disturbed. Most times the disturbances have a rational explanation. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes you see a crack of strange light under a slightly open door. Momentarily, and then it’s gone.

But it continues to lure me back. Ten books is only a complete series when the characters and the locations have stopped talking to you.

Anyway, I took a year off to write something different - an historical thriller - just to prove I could. Without the baggage of a backlist, it sold surprisingly well, and even signalled a new direction. But I couldn’t lose the suspicion that the Merrily novels were more important. Also, they allowed me to have more fun with dialogue and to explore my obsession with folklore and a sense of place: how the history and atmosphere of a location sometimes can condition behaviour. Psycho-geography is the current term for the connections made when you study a location in depth.

In The Secrets of Pain, the main location is Credenhill, a few miles outside Hereford, where a massive Iron Age hillfort glowers over an area of the Wye Valley where the Romans built a town, long vanished, called Magnis. William Wordsworth, who often stayed here, mentions it in a poem in which ‘the men that have been reappear.’ Wordsworth is remembered at nearby Brinsop Church, where St George is said to have killed the dragon. A mile or so away, two Roman roads enclose the quiet spread of buildings, which is now the headquarters of the Special Air Service, Hereford’s finest.

The SAS, according to Tony Geraghty in his definitive history of The Regiment, Who Dares Wins, ‘is not afraid to declare its own mysticism.’


This is a crime series. Other elements remain on the periphery. They affect behaviour, they don’t affect the result. Evil is human, no solutions are revealed in dreams. Nevertheless, it’s another dimension to the crime novel, and if it’s going to work it has to take place against an authentic background and contemporary issues - in this case mass-immigration from Eastern Europe and the growth of rural organised crime.

So it’s Easter Week, and savage murder has come to Hereford. A farmer has been hacked to death in his own yard above the Wye Valley and two young women have died in a back street of the city. Merrily Watkins, meanwhile, is concerned about an old colleague, Syd Spicer, who clearly has something on his mind, something he can’t talk about because it concerns his old regiment. She’s not too concerned, obviously, because the SAS can take care of themselves. The SAS know how to deal with fear and pain all its forms.

Well, almost all...

Watch the video of The Secrets of Pain and listen to Phil Rickman talk about the book.


Friday, 9 September 2011

Hardcase Fashionista

It is getting rather exciting for the British Publisher TITAN BOOKS re-launching Charles Ardai’s Hardcase Crime.

Charles was recently featured in an interview at The Rap Sheet with Editor Jeff Pierce -

JKP: We’re used to Hard Case Crime titles coming out in old-fashioned mass-market size. Yet I see that your new paperbacks are all in larger, trade size. What gives?

CA: I always intended to stick with mass-market, but the reality of the publishing business right now is that the mass-market business is imploding--it’s almost impossible not to lose money at it, except maybe if you’re publishing the sort of brand-name million-copy sellers that do good business in supermarkets and at Wal-Mart, which our books just aren’t. John Grisham, Nora Roberts, Dan Brown ... fine. But anything below that level (and we’re several notches below), it just doesn’t work.Meanwhile, trade paperbacks are handsome, give a little more room to showcase our cover art, allow us to make the type size a bit larger (which I know some of our readers will greatly appreciate), and so far it looks like we’ll be able to keep the price point fairly modest--just $9.95, rather than the $12.95 or $14.95 or $17.95 you generally see trade paperbacks going for.So, while the change might have been forced on us by a changing market, it’s actually one I’ve come to feel quite positive about. Feels a little weird, like the first time you switch from glasses to contacts (or vice versa), but the result’s nothing to complain about.

Read More Here

Meanwhile as many consider Hardcase Crime “the best dressed paperbacks on our racks today”, so it came as little surprise that it Hardcase Crime are taking their first steps on the catwalk -

Fashion designer Hally McGehean will be premiering her first wearable art collection during New York Fashion Week in a two-part fashion event in the Meatpacking District and SoHo. Among featured designs of the show, McGehean will debut her Hard Case Crime dress. The Hard Case Crime dress is made out of nearly 1,000 miniature reproductions of covers from the award-winning Hard Case Crime line of retro-styled paperback crime novels. The skirt features every cover ever published in the series, including works by writers like Stephen King and Mickey Spillane, while the daring backless top is composed of interleaved copies of the cover of BABY MOLL by John Farris, whose cover was painted for Hard Case Crime by the legendary illustrator Robert McGinnis (whose other work includes the movie posters for “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” and the original Sean Connery James Bond movies in the 1960s). The outfit’s oversized belt features another McGinnis original, his rare horizontal cover painting for LOSERS LIVE LONGER by Russell Atwood.

Photo Credit Chip Miller


Hally McGehean - Pop Up Pop Art Fashion EventMonday, September 12, 2011
Part One: The Highline Runway Walk, Gansevoort Plaza, Gansevoort & Washington Sts., 5pm

Part Two: Boutique Showing of Collection, SoHo Loft Gallery, 180 Lafayette St, 6th Fl 7-9pm

In other news, our line's big relaunch begins in less than two weeks -- GETTING OFF by Lawrence Block and QUARRY'S EX by Max Allan Collins hit stores on September 20, and THE CONSUMMATA by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins and CHOKE HOLD by Christa Faust arrive on October 4.

Read More Here

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Darkly Dreaming Crime-Fiction

Shots eZine are delighted to feature a guest blog by US Law Student Marie Owens discussing the subject of true-crime and the writing process.

Writers are known for their ceaseless imagination. Whether it be a screen-writer or a novelist; authors are constantly required to come up with endless ideas in order to create a prolonged and successful story. Can creativity make an author go a little too far however? People thrive through the art of storytelling, but what can be more intriguing is the background work that authors do in order to make a story well written for its audience.

Criminal stories told through books, television shows, and movies is one of the most popular forms of storytelling and also one of the most important genres in order to maintain fact more than fiction within the work. The book series Dexter by Jeff Lindsay is a great example. “Dexter” is the story about a man, named Dexter, who works as a blood spatter analyst for the Miami Police Department. Dexter is a serial killer who satisfies his uncontrollable impulses to kill by murdering only culprits who have escaped the criminal justice system. Just Dexter's job alone in the show must be difficult to portray accurately by using correct forensic jargon and creating realistic cases for his character to solve. Portraying Dexter's personality must also be changeling. Dexter is a sociopathic serial killer, so it is important to have his character talk and act like one. This isn't common knowledge so how does the reader know whether a criminal writer has a background in criminology such as having a criminal justice degree or has trustworthy expertise in the field?

It's important for a criminal writer to have a knowledgeable background in the stories that they are trying to create because not only does it give their work credibility, but it gives the author the opportunity to teach their audience important and interesting facts regarding the real world of crime.

It is crucial for criminal writers to make sure the facts in their story are as accurate as possible because it will help the story appear more realistic to the audience. How many times have you watched a film or read a book in which an action that the character had done or a scenario created was so completely inaccurate that it made you scoff because you knew it could have been easily portrayed accurately if the author just did a little bit of research? Even the simplest mistakes can lead a fan to stop reading your work all together or not believe you to be a credible author. Creativity is the most important part of storytelling, but it shouldn't drive you to be incorrect. In order to be a credible criminal author one doesn't necessarily have to have a law degree or be the chief of police, but it is important that you take the time to understand the field.

Writing with credibility also gives you a chance to teach your audience interesting facts about dark subjects in crime such as murder. One of the main reasons why people read criminal mystery novels or watch crime shows is because they have a fascination with the subject and want to learn more about it. In fact, New York University Professor Auora Wallace compares criminal television shows to macaroni and cheese “They are enormously comforting. This is the comfort food of television.” This is mainly because people hold a dark fascination for stories outside of their normal lives. Through reading and watching crime television, it’s comforting for people to understand and learn from a dangerous experience that they would never desire in reality. By filling your writing full of accurate situations and characters, people are more likely to appreciate your work and become more intrigued to learn more about the subject you are engulfed in writing about.

All in all, it’s crucial to not depend on just your imagination alone when writing a story. Research and accuracy are just as important. An audience is more loyal when the work is not only credible, but when it also includes accurate facts that they can learn from. Whether you choose to become knowledgeable about law and crime through school, work experience or basic intensive research, its important to know that as a writer you not only need have an extraordinary imagination, but a precise one as well.

Marie Owens is a prospective law student in Washington state with a particular interest in criminal law and gender issues. She writes to promote criminal justice education, and teaches martial arts in her spare time and can be contacted at :

Photo of Jeff Lindsay being interviewed by Peter Guttridge © 2008 Ali Karim from Crimefest 2008 Bristol, England

Monday, 5 September 2011

Dunn in Holland

You may have noticed my recent enthusiasm for ex-MI6 field operative’s debut thriller Spartan [aka Spycatcher US title]. Following an interview at The Rap Sheet, speaking to the mysterious Dunn some of you may wish to know what this ex-Intelligence man looks like in the flesh, so I was delighted to see this little clip from Dutch TV where Dunn speaks about the recent Libyan situation, being well versed in geo-politics.


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Though the program is in Dutch, Dunn’s section is in English with Dutch Subtitles, and a good insight into the man behind the most interesting political thriller I have read this year.

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