Monday, July 06, 2015

Boys of Summer

B.V. Lawson's Bookshelf

BV Lawson’s Bookshelf

I think this photo is a fairly accurate representation of our bookshelves, which are more like book piles . . . and closets, and underbed storage containers, and plastic bins. It’s not impossible that we have over 1,500 books in our house total, enough to open our own bookstore or library. Can’t help but think of Dr. Seuss: “Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks.” Still, I would love to be able to read each and every one - if not in this lifetime, perhaps the next?

What books are currently on your nightstand?

Well, it’s more like my chest-of-drawers Towering Table of Titles, but they include Down Among the Dead by Peter Lovesey, Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbo, Perfidia by James Ellroy, The Figaro Murders by Laura Lebow, and What the Fly Saw by Frankie Bailey. (Being a book blogger means an embarrassment of book riches, thanks to ARCs). Concrete Angel is in the mail! (And really looking forward to it.)

Who is your favorite novelist of all time?

I’ve given this question a lot of thought in the past, but I really can’t nail down just one. It’s not really a cop-out because I have such diverse tastes that anyone I name today might not be the one I’d name next month. I will always be a fan of Charles Dickens and Agatha Christie, though. For pure down-the-rabbit-hole fun, I enjoy reading Jasper Fforde.

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

Nonfiction science books, and lots of them—my school science education was almost non-existent, and I’ve had a lot of catching up to do. Right now, they include Death From the Skies by Phil Plaitt and The Universe by William Kaufman. I also just bought the latest issues of Analog and Clarkesworld to catch up on some sci-fi short fiction. There’s also some Mary Stewart because I have a romantic suspense series I’m working on—a bit of research. Did I mention my tastes are eclectic?

Who is your favorite fictional hero? 

I’d have to name my own literary creation, Scott Drayco as a favorite. I plan on sticking with him for several books in this mystery series and even age him over time, so if I didn’t like him, the books wouldn’t be much fun to write. Otherwise, I could name Sherlock Holmes, because “brainy really is the next sexy,” but also because of the character’s outsized influence over almost every aspect of detective fiction. And to keep things gender-balanced, one of my earliest and most favorite female fictional heroines is Portia from the Merchant of Venice. In addition to having one of the largest Shakespeare female roles, she’s resourceful, intuitive and clever.

What book do you return to?

Since my free time is scarcer than scarce, I tend not to re-read books (except my own, for editing purposes). Life is short, and I want to cram in as much as I can, which means always trying as many new things as possible. This doesn’t mean, however, there aren’t any books/plays I would mind re-reading, including Shakespeare’s works. The hubster and I enjoy repeat listeningd of Douglas Adams’ brilliant Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (the original radio broadcast) upon which the book was based. And I re-read many favorite poets, from Dickinson to Frost, from Whitman to Cummings and more.

BIO:  Grew up in East Tennessee and earned two degrees in music. Started writing poetry as a child, which led to stories, then to novels. The debut title in my Scott Drayco series, Played to Death, was named the 2015 Indie Next Generation Best Mystery, a Library Journal featured Self-E pick, and is a Shamus finalist in the Indie P.I. category. The sequel, Requiem for Innocence, was just released. I currently live in Virginia with the hubster and enjoy flying above the Chesapeake Bay in a little Cessna. Visit my website and sign up for my newsletter at No ticket required.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Friday, July 03, 2015


is up on Crimespree Magazine.

Friday's Forgotten Books, Friday, July 3, 2015

(from the archives)
Ed Gorman is the author of THE MIDNIGHT ROOM and many other fine novels. You can find him here.

Ed Gorman: Loser Takes All, Graham Greene

I mean no disrespect when I say that I imagine Graham Greene conceived of Loser Takes All (one of his self-described "entertainments") as a film before he decided to write it as a short novella. It's big and colorful and hangs on two cunning twists that neatly divide the piece into curtain act one and curtain act two.

The story concerns the honeymoon of Mr. Bertram and his bethrothed Cary. They are planning to go on a modest short vacation when fate, in the the person of Dreuther, an incalculably rich man for whom Bertram is a lowly assistant accountant, intervenes. Bertram solves an accounting problem that nobody else in the incalculably vast corporation can figure out so Dreuther rewards him with the promise of a honeymoon on his yacht and nights of glamor in the casinos of Monte Carlo... Cary is thrilled.

Well, they go to Monte Carlo but soon learn that Dreuther has forgotten his promise. They are left to make do with their pitiful finances. They can't even pay their bills. Then Bertram, a math whiz, goes to a casino and tries out his own system for winning. And even more than that he begins to see how he can bring down Dreuther...

The rich men of the Fifties are perfect matches for the Wall Streeters of today. Their greed and lust is literally without bounds. Greene creates four distinctive scenes of black comedy when dealing with them. But even more, at the point when Cary sees her new husband change because of his winnings, Greene begins to examine the morality of greed. He also, in the midst of the action, gives us a painful subplot about adultery.

I was re-reading William Goldman's Adventure's In The Screen Trade the other and found this salute that I'd forgotten: "I think Graham Greene was the greatest novelist in English this century."

If you read Loser Takes All, you'll begin to see what Goldman was talking about.

Yvette Banek, DOUBLE FOR DEATH, Rex Stout
Les Blatt, THE HEADLESS LADY, Clayton Rawson
Elgin Bleecker, PICKUP, Charles Willeford
Brian Busby,  The Crime of Ovide Plouffe [Le crime d'Ovide Plouffe]
       Roger Lemelin [trans. Alan Brown]

Bill Crider, THE DEMON CARAVAN, Georges Surdez
Martin Edwards, THE CASE OF THE LATE PIG, Margery Allingham
Curt Evans, MURDER ENDS THE SONG, Alfred Meyers
Ed Gorman, THE HANDLE. Donald Westlake
John Hegenberger, THE HARDBOILDED DICKS, Ron Goulart
Rick Horton, THE NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS, Robert Louis Stevenson
Jerry House, FOOTSTEPS IN THE ATTIC, Stanley McNail
Randy Johnson, BLACK IS THE COLOR, John Bruner
George Kelley, TIME TRAVELER'S ALMANAC, edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer
Margot Kinberg, CALL FOR THE DEAD, John LeCarre
Rob Kitchin, THE DUNBAR CASE, Peter Corris
Evan Lewis, WILDERNESS, Robert Parker
Steve Lewis/Barry Gardner, DROVER, Bill Granger
Todd Mason, THE MEN FROM ARIEL, Donald A. Wolheim
J.F. Norris, PICTURE OF MILLIE, P.M. Hubbard
James Reasoner, TARZAN, UNTAMED, Edgar Rice Burroughs
Richard Robinson, THE GIANT RAT OF SUMATRA, Richard Boyer
Kevin Tipple, GATOR KILL, Bill Crider

Thursday, July 02, 2015

George Kelley's Bookshelf

What books are currently on your nightstand?

I’m slowly reading my way through Joseph Epstein’s A Literary Education. Epstein is one of my favorite essayists.  I also have Sixteen Short Novels edited by Wilfrid Sheed which presents works by John O’Hara, Edith Wharton, John Steinbeck, Thomas Mann, Anton Chekhov, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Albert Camus, William Faulkner, Joseph Conrad, Henry James, Willa Cather, Philip Roth, Brian Moore, and of course, Wilfrid Sheed.  And The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft.

Who are your favorite writers?
Henry James and Anthony Trollope.  My favorite science fiction writer is Jack Vance.  My favorite fantasy writer is Michael Moorcock.  My favorite short story writer is Alice Munro.

What genres do you especially enjoy reading?  And which do you avoid?
I tend to alternate between mysteries and science fiction/fantasy.  I avoid serial killer novels (I think that genre has been played out) and romance novels.  I read an occasional western.  I’m a huge fan of caper novels.

What books might we be surprised to find on your bookshelves?
Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Tom Swift, Rick Brant, and Ken Holt, all mystery series I read in my childhood.

You’ve contributed over 325 book reviews to Patti’s Friday’s Forgotten Books.  Who do you consider writers we should be reading?
Leigh Brackett and C. L. Moore.  Leigh Brackett wrote mysteries and science fiction and she ending up writing screenplays for movies like The Big Sleep, Rio Bravo, and The Long Goodbye.  C. L. Moore was a gifted short story writer.  Her best work can be found in Northwest of Earth.

What contemporary writer will cause you to drop everything and read their new book?
In science fiction, it’s Matthew Hughes who channels Jack Vance.  In mysteries, it’s C. J. Sansom whose new Shardlake novel, Lamentation, just arrived from Amazon.  In literary fiction, it’s Alice Munro and Francine Prose.

You’re hosting a literary dinner party.  Which three writers would you invite?
That’s easy: Patti Abbott, Megan Abbott, and Jane Austen.


Wednesday, July 01, 2015

WHY I WRITE DARK: Behind the Book

Why I Write Dark

The Best Whodunnit of All Time

And although I am not that big of a Christie fan, I can't think of another book that so knocked me out at the conclusion than THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD.

What books should join this as the best whodunnits?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tuesday's Forgotten Movie: THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK

Last week we went to Stratford, Ontario where we saw HAMLET, CAROUSEL and THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK. Which of course called to mind the 1959 film. It starred Millie Perkins, Shelly Winters, Joseph Schilakraut, Diane Baker and Richard Beymer and was a very respectful version of the Diary as directed by George Stevens..

As this was a very respectful version of the play.

I would like to think an updated version might seems less dated, but I fear the work is so iconic that no one can really touch it. It is probably the most powerful book I read as a child and perhaps even as an adult.

Did Anne's death two weeks before the camp's liberation do more to illustrate the horrors of the Nazis than her survival would have? Would the book have been published if she had lived? Would we treat it with such reverence? I hope so. What are your thoughts? Can the play be updated or is it untouchable? Could it be set in one of the many places where people must hide from horrific regimes?

Here is a scene from the Stratford production.