Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Spirit of Christmas

Just when you thought life couldn't get any better, Frank Miller comes along to lift your spirits ... literally.

Seems Miller and company will release My City Screams, based on Will Eisner's icon character The Spirit, come December.

For those of you who don't know The Spirit, he's a vigilante crime fighter, a young cop named Denny Colt who was placed in suspended animation and mistakenly buried. When he reawakened and made his way out of his Wildwood Cemetery grave plot, he went to work ridding Central City of crime. His costume of choice? Blue business suit, fedora, gloves and a domino mask (similar to those worn by the Lone Ranger and Robin of Batman fame).

Thankfully, the character of Ebony White (a woefully stereotyped African-American) has been eliminated from the mix of characters. But ... oh, those femmes fatale. It appears that P'Gell (the sexy black widow who was a recurring villain) is not in the film (although one never really knows). But there are compensations: Scarlett Johanssen as Silken Floss, Eva Mendez as Sand Serif, Paz Vega as Plaster of Paris and Stana Katic as Morgenstern.

And, since Samuel L. Jackson will play The Spirit's archenemy The Octopus, things couldn't look brighter (or is it darker?) for My City Screams. And it hits the big screen Christmas Day. Now that's the spirit.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Family affair

The Clarks, mother Mary Higgins Clark and daughter Carol Higgins Clark, each have new books hitting the shelves Tuesday: Where Are You Now by MHC and Zapped by CHC. This got us thinking about other mystery writers whose relatives also made their mark in mysteries.

Dick Francis' latest mystery, Dead Heat, was co-authored with son Felix Francis. Christopher Rice, son of Ann Rice, has several of his own books out, the latest of which is Blind Fall.

E.W. Hornung, who gave us Raffles and the Crime Doctor, was brother-in-law to Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. And while Joe Hill, author of The Heart-Shaped Box and 20th Century Ghosts, is a popular writer, his dad Stephen King is no slouch in the thriller department.

Fans of Scotland Yard’s Inspector Ian Rutledge may not know that that venernable British detective is the creation of Charles and Caroline Todd, an American mother-son team.

And Jesse Kellerman, son of authors Jonathan and Faye Kellerman, has a new book out this week also; it's called The Genius.

Some things just run in the family

Friday, April 4, 2008

The awards season continues

The Short Mystery Fiction Society has announced its finalist for the 2008 Derriger Awards. They are:

Best Story (0 to 1,000 words)
"Saved" by Keri Clark (Fall 2007,Mysterical-E)
"Dreaming of a Spite Christmas" by B.V. Lawson (Winter 2007, Mouth Full of Bullets, )
"A Woman Scorned" by Jillian Berg (Autumn 2007, Mouth Full of Bullets)
"Your New Fan" by Keri Clark (Winter 2007, Mouth Full of Bullets)
"My Hero" by Patricia Abbott (2007, D.Z. Allen’s Muzzle Flash)

Best Story (1,001-4,000 words)
"Brimstone P.I." by Beverle Graves Myers (May 2007, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine)
"We All Come from Splattertown" by Hugh Lessig (July 2007, ThugLit)
"Joyride" by Rick Noetzel (December 2007, Shred of Evidence)
"Handful of Stars" by Jack Hardway (Autumn 2007, Mouth Full of Bullets)
"In the Shadows of Wrigley Field" by John Weagly (November 2007, The Back Alley, )
"The Promise" by Camille LaGuire (March-April 2007, Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine)

Best Story (4,001-8,000 words)
"A Trader’s Lot" by Twist Phalen (from Wall Street Noir)
"Devil’s Lake" by John Schroeder (January/February 2007, Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine)
"A Private Hanging" by Herschel Cozine (Summer 2007, Mysterical-E)
"Mr. McGregor’s Garden" by Kate Flora (Still Waters)
"Growing Up Is for Losers" by Rosemary Harris (Still Waters)
"The Gospel According to Gordon Black" by Richard Helms (Fall 2007, The Thrilling Detective Web Site)

Best Story (8,001-17,500 words)
"The Bookworm’s Demise" by Beverle Graves Myers (December 2007, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine)
"Paper Walls/Glass Houses" by Eric Shane (June 2007, The Back Alley)
"The Enlightenment of Magnus McKay" by John Burdett (Wall Street Noir)
"Wasting Assets" by Mike Wiecek (September 2007, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine)
"Forget Me Not" by Clifford Royal Johns (Fall 2007, Mysterical-E)

For more information, go to:

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Books (and readers) full of surprises

As the owner of a retail store, I'm continually surprised at what books people buy ... at least in my shop.

I had expected to sell mountains of James Patterson's books, just the way the supermarket here in town sells cases of Pepsi. But I find that Patterson is anathema to my customers who much prefer works by Kate Atkinson, Donna Leon and Ross Thomas.

Meanwhile, books that I considered a hard sell have been proven to be easy.

Case-in-point: We Disappear by Scott Heim.

I knew Heim had written Mysterious Skin, but didn't discover the book until after I'd seen the movie on DVD release. When I met Heim at NEIBA last fall, I got a copy of his book and devoured it. It moved me so much that, while it isn't the traditional sleuth-hunts-down-killer scenario of detective fiction, I invited him to a signing at the store. (It will happen Saturday, April 5 at 1 p.m. for those of you in the Brattleboro, Vt. area).

I brought in some copies, put up a display and expected not to sell many until the event.

I was wrong. When I tallied up my sales last week, it was number 5 among my bestsellers. Even more surprising, We Disappear was my No. 1 seller for the month of March.

Sure, you say, but March is always a slow month. True, I say, but still...

Readers are taking to We Disappear. And while Ian Rankin and Cara Black continue to sell swimmingly, there appears to be interest out there for more eclectic titles written by authors willing to take a chance.

I'm sure Heim didn't write We Disappear with the genre of mystery in mind. He set out to write a good novel and, luckily, those of us who like a good mystery have benefited.

Note: I've just finished and fallen in love with Jennifer McMahon's Island of Lost Girls. This coming-of-age novel has all the earmarks of becoming a classic. That it's also a fine murder mystery is an unexpected bonus.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Tell-Tale Heart

Today we mark the passing of Jules Dassin (1911-2008), Connecticut-born expatriate.
While he will be most remembered for Never on Sunday, I can't help thinking about Rififi, Brute Force, Topkapi and The Naked City. I also remember fondly his short film The Tell-Tale Heart and how, as a child, it fascinated me.
That film put me onto Poe, who sent me to Conan Doyle, which led to my eventual discovery of Christie, Chesterton, Le Fanu, Dickson Carr and a host of others.