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Saturday, October 25, 2003

Cannon's Crime Column 

The biweekly Globe & Mail columnist raves about Val McDermid's THE DISTANT ECHO, very much enjoys Henry Porter's EMPIRE STATE, and also looks at the latest releases from Sara Paretsky and Dana Stabenow.

Weekend Update 

The longlist for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year has been announced.

Susanna Moore's IN THE CUT will be seen in theaters everywhere soon, with Meg Ryan in the starring role. Now she has a new book out, ONE LAST LOOK, and the New York Times presents a thoughtful review.

Seamus Heaney talks about his collaboration with Ted Hughes on a poetry project and how that affected both their lives.

The UK Edition of the McSweeneys Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales is out, and Elaine Showalter likes some of the stories--especially Sherman Alexie's--but isn't convinced by others.

The nominees for the Nero Wolfe Awards are out:

GONE FOR GOOD, by Harlan Coben (Delacorte)
THE WEEPING BUDDHA, by Heather Dunn MacAdam (Akashic Books)
IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER, by Julia Spencer-Fleming (St. Matin's Minotaur)
OPEN AND SHUT, by David Rosenfelt (Mysterious Press)
WINTER AND NIGHT, by S. J. Rozan (St. Martin's Minotaur)

The winner will be announced at the Black Orchid Banquet held in New York on December 6.

Claire Zulkey's weekly interview is with Susannah Breslin. She talks about "postmodern pornographic literature", why she killed her blog, and how to mix humor, sex and literature together.

Friday, October 24, 2003

The Takedown artist 

The New York Times Magazine has a very lengthy piece on Bad boy critic Dale Peck, who is just the kind of person that the Snark Hunters go after the most. But as it happens, the upcoming release of a collection of his infamous reviews for the New Republic, "Hatchet Jobs" signifies an end to Peck's reviewing career:

''I'm not going to write any more bad reviews. I'm publishing this book'' -- ''Hatchet Jobs'' -- ''and that's it.''

But won't he miss the commotion his reviews stir up?

''I don't like being the center of attention,'' he said. ''I don't mind, you know, being listened to, but I don't like being the center of this whole debate.'' So, wait a minute. Did that really mean we would no longer be hearing from Dale Peck the feared and hectoring critic? No more combat in the literary trenches? It was hard to imagine that strident voice forever stilled. I'd miss it. Sort of.


I'm sure Peck has his reasons--good and not so good--for getting out of the review game. The best one I could think of is that first and foremost, the man is a writer and he'd rather be known for his books, and thus his own words than for his reviews of other people's words. I suppose someone else will have to be the poster child of Gonzo Reviewing now, but as long as it isn't Laura Miller.....

(thanks to Marc for the link.)


It's all about the Pollacks 

Looks like we should expect Neal Pollack to grace the presence of the Daily Show on Thursday, not today as was evidently scheduled. (news thanks to Bookslut.) I finally snagged a copy of his new novel, NEVER MIND THE POLLACKS, and frankly, I loved it. Satirical, totally over-the-top, and very, very funny. It skewers rock criticism and inserts the older, cartoonish version of Neal in all sorts of ridiculous situations, as he is renamed by Elvis at his Bar Mitzvah, shags Joan Baez and Patti Smith, and has an unhealthy obsession with an obscure bluesman. Lots and lots of song lyrics too. My favorite is the Sex Pistols' rendition of the title track. The only quibble is that it's basically a one-joke book, and it would be cool to see Mr. Pollack tone down his abrasiveness yet keep his voice in a book that has less bravado and more ambition. But I expect that shall happen in due course. In the meantime, read this book and have a few laughs and a great time.

The appeal of the Bouchercon Bar 

April Smith was one of the many, many authors attending Bouchercon last week. I glimpsed her briefly but unfortunately never got a chance to speak to her. However, she latched on to the most important aspect of BCon, which is, of course, the bar. Unfortunately, the link's only available to subscribers, but thanks to the wonders of Lexis-Nexis (see, Elizabeth, you don't have to work for New York Magazine to get access!) I'll give you some of the highlights.

Smith asks, rightfully so, what the appeal of the bar is at such an event.

"You can smoke and drink," [Gary] Phillips said, grinning at the obvious. "It's a place to keep up an image that's not true."

Others were not as bubbly: "Nobody's picking anybody up," complained David Corbett, who received an Anthony Award nomination for his novel "The Devil's Redhead." "Everybody knows I'm a flirt," he added inconsolably. (ed.: I'll let this comment stand on its own. But Corbett's books are very, very good.)

But Jim Pascoe of Uglytown gets it right: "Bouchercon is about the bar," he insisted. "It's a worthwhile investment to come here, a chance to schmooze retailers, fans and peers. These are the tastemakers of the mystery industry. When a buzz gets around, that's priceless." ed.: He's on the money, considering one of his big books, Sean Doolittle's BURN, was the most buzzed-about book at the convention.)

And what of power brokers? Are there? The closest, perhaps, is Otto Penzler. He was in a great mood the entire time as "he was there celebrating his 2-day-old engagement to Lisa Atkinson." (ed.: for what it's worth, she's a 30something blonde who looked very, very happy. Congratulations to the happy couple.)

Then, there are the rumors. One popped up "that Walter Mosely (who does not drink and skipped the bar) had just won $700 at the tables, triggering a creative discussion on how to beat the odds." (ed.: the version I heard was that he'd won $1100, and shrugged it off as basically being pocket change. Suffice it to say there were a lot of incredulous authors once they got wind of the story.)

Finally, there was the International Guest of Honor, Ian Rankin. Clamored by everyone, Smith barely got a chance to talk to him before 2 agents swooped in to crash some parties. Quickly, though, she manages to ask for Rankin's opinion on drinking at Bouchercon and at home:

"Booze is cheaper in Edinburgh, " he mused, then paused before delivering a classic Rankin observation: "The bars are small, and dark, and full of disappointed men."

Like Smith, I too think that is one classic line.







Nuggets from the Daily News 

Rush and Molloy are on good form today:

-Robert MacNamara (Secretary of Defense during the LBJ years) and Investment guru Warren Buffett both rumored to have been involved with Washington Post doyenne Katharine Graham

-Ben Affleck's new movie killed by Disney, and everyone hopes he and J.Lo would just go away already (the US Weekly headline made me puke. They are so not eloping, and nobody cares if they are.)

-P. Diddy to run the New York Marathon, and will look sufficiently groomed as he does it

-an unnamed rock singer shopped with David Gest in the '70s for gay paraphernalia. Duh. Although I liked Raoul Felder's non-denial anyway: "I have no indication that [David] is gay." He added, "Is the suggestion that, if he went to an adult bookstore, that gives her the right to to beat him up? I don't get the connection."

-Chloe Sevigny still can't shut the hell up

-Candace Bushnell is the new spokeswoman for Seasonale, some birth control pill

Meanwhile, looks like Bruce Springsteen may well bail out The Bottom Line.

HiltonWatch 

I can't even blame him for this as my fascination/revulsion for the Hilton sisters predates the first time I ever laid eyes on that site. The media whore-ness of them, especially Paris, is a sight to behold, and the fun never stops. It seems that this football playing dude has tired of her and she has set her sights on younger boys. His biggest asset: owning a car.


This morning's news 

Canongate was once in receivership. But after the success of last year's Booker winning THE LIFE OF PI and the expected success of VERNON GOD LITTLE, things look a whole lot rosier.

In the UK, various magazine have dropped their short fiction sections. Not surprisingly, this is cause for morning, and it's just the latest in a sad trend which has led to the creation of the Save Our Short Story campaign.

Hodder Headline, the UK publishing juggernaut, won't be expanding into the US market just yet as they are waiting for Kate Swann to take over as CEO for parent company WH Smith.

Last week's links from the Daily Telegraph: Susanna Yager's crime fiction roundup, Antonia Fraser's opinion that Patricia Cornwell is becoming rather like Patricia Highsmith, and another good review for Michael Collins' LOST SOULS.

Just because the Cubs didn't make the World Series doesn't mean people don't want to read about them. PW reports on an upcoming coffee table book due out later this year. And more from PW as they look at the staggering success of 19 year old Christopher Paolini's ERAGON.

More reviews: January's take on Neal Stephenson's mammoth new novel, and another NYT review of Shirley Hazzard's new book.

Over at the Independent, John Fowles' diaries are far less warmly received than his books. They rather like Ann-Marie MacDonald's latest, but wonder if Gerry Adams is lying about his account of the Troubles.

Then the Washington Post weighs in on Nell Freudenberger's collection. Since I'm just as late on some bandwagons, I only started reading this book yesterday. One story so far and it's not bad, but it almost feels like the voice is not a naturally American one, that it's, weird as it is to say this, of somebody writing translated English. I'll read the rest, but I suspect she'll be struggling with her first novel for a while yet.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

There must be some godly meaning to this 

"Actor Jim Caviezel has been struck by lightning while playing Jesus in Mel Gibson's controversial film The Passion Of Christ."

The lightning bolt hit Caviezel and the film's assistant director Jan Michelini while they were filming in a remote location a few hours from Rome.

But that's not even the best part. This is:

It was the second time Michelini had been hit by lightning during the shoot."

What on earth is the probability of being struck by lightning TWICE while doing the same task? Yeesh, it must be fairly high. Or else Michelini is a human superconductor of electricity.....

New York Times Bestseller List, November 2 

Due to the whole drinking-with-crime-writers thing, there was no installment of this weekly staple. But we're back, and we've got comments.

Top debut, and storming the charts at numero uno is....gah. Patricia Cornwell's latest Scarpetta adventure, BLOW FLY. It doesn't matter. She's a nutjob, her writing has declined spectacularly in the last few years, the dust jacket copy was so incomprehensible that the book can't be much better (you know, kind of like when the movie is so bad they can't even cut a decent trailer out of it) but who am I to argue. Patsy Sells Books, and Many Books Galore. It would just be nice if she found her earlier form.

Enough ranting. Next debut, at #8 is Stuart Woods' latest, immediately followed by Richard North Patterson's new political thriller BALANCE OF POWER. Fairly standard, dependable Times fare. Steve Martin's novella (since it's way too short to be a novel) drops slightly to #10, James Lee Burke stays strong at #11 (a series I am woefully behind on, I should add) while Jhumpa Lahiri's THE NAMESAKE is still doing well at #12.

Newbies on the extended: Gregory Maguire's MIRROR, MIRROR at #25. His first book WICKED is now a stage musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. Damn! I knew the guy was still around but he had his first huge hits 30 years ago (PIPPIN, never mind Doug Henning's THE MAGIC SHOW.) How about that. The musical opens on Broadway next week.

Now back to the books. Stephen Hunter's new novel HAVANA is at #26, and Shirley Hazzard's THE BIG FIRE (reviewed by Mark Sarvas's fave, John Banville) is right behind at #27. Peter Straub's new one is at #32, followed by the inexplicability that is Jerry Jenkins' SOON (or, Dude, Where's My Apocalypse?)

Just ekeing its way on the Extended list at #34 is....VERNON GOD LITTLE, the Canongate version. Wow those guys must be platzing bigtime, having won the Booker last year with THE LIFE OF PI and now this. Very cool. Canongate, it must be said, is a very cool publisher. Some of the other books they have include Louise Welsh's THE CUTTING ROOM, Michel Faber's THE CRIMSON PETAL AND THE WHITE, and Tony Bourdain's crime novels (want some seriously sharp, noir fare? Go get his collection of stories, BOBBY GOLD. I've reread it 4 times and it hasn't lost its edge in the slightest.)

Tune in next week to see if Ms. Cornwell can hang on to the #1 position, or if some interloper takes the top spot away. It's all fun and games (like sands through the hourglass, of course) on....The NYT Bestseller List!

When Tell-alls attack  

A friend of mine IMed me last night about this but I hadn't realized it had actually been cause for frenzy at the Frankfurt Book Fair, but so it is. Justin Timberlake is shopping a tell-all about his life, his philosophy, and most importantly, his relationship with Britney Spears. (link from Bookslut.)

Seven figures? For what basically amounts to a kiddie relationship? I mean, unless there's kinky stuff* or lots of mud-slinging, who cares. And even then. Justin is 22 years old. I have been around 22 year old boys, and they are just that. Boys. For the most part, still in dire need of development.

*Not high on the kinky scale but still funny: back when Groupie Central was still around (god, I miss that place), they used to report on groupie encounters with various celebs, as they were wont to do. For some reason, this being 1999/2000, the boybands du jour were the #1 most talked about on the site, and Justin rated pretty high. As quaint as it seems now, there was still much debate as to whether he and Brit had actually done the deed. Anyway, a girl wrote in to say that after a gig, she'd "spent some time" with Justin (infer what you like) and asked him the very question.

His response: "Well, her mouth ain't."

Something tells me that if the book deal comes through, those kinds of responses will be par for the course.

What "real writers" do 

TMFTML (or as Elizabeth calls him, "Jack") links to yet another vapid Tina Brown piece . Like him, I goggled at the quoted comment that "Real writers are usually sitting in a chaotic farmhouse somewhere with a five-day growth of beard and a stained T-shirt in an onanistic trance at their computers, or else trying to kill themselves like Sylvia Plath. They don't like to be disturbed."

Funny, I just spent several days in the company of a great many writers. None of them were sitting in chaotic farmhouses, although I do know of a few that shut themselves up in cabins or writer's colonies to get some work done. None wore stained t-shirts, but to be fair, there were nights I didn't stay in the bar long enough to see some of the shenanigans going on. And there were no suicides. Writers, at least those who write crime fiction, tend to be a fairly even-keeled bunch, because they are getting all their insanity down on paper.

Although almost all of the "real writers" I know like to drink, some in excess, some not so much. But spend several months in front of a computer and then meet up with peers and fans, and there's only one way to celebrate....

Death to The Bottom Line? 

It looks increasingly likely that the downtown club will be closing its doors, as they owe $180,000 in back rent. Damn. It had an unusual layout, with all the seats cafeteria-style but I saw some great gigs, including the Klezmatics. I'm not the only one that hopes it can stick it out till its 30th anniversary in February.

Understatement of the year 

Robert Durst testified yesterday that he "must have been out of my mind" when he ran away to Galveston, donned a wig and posed as a mute woman. Never mind killing Morris Black, his wife, and who knows who else.....

News, reviews, interviews and more 

PW offers a short report on this past Bouchercon. Awards are listed here, as is a streaming video of the Shamus Awards which were presented on the 17th of October.

Clare Morrall may not have won the Booker but she's reaped many benefits, including a US deal with HarperCollins and a Canadian deal with McLelland & Stewart.

RIP Book Magazine, which ceases publication with the November/ December issue.

Michiko comments on the growing trend of celebrities writing children's books. She's a little cranky about this.

The Goncourt Prize in France was evidently announced two weeks early, raising some eyebrows. Seems there's a lot of jockeying between various literary awards in that country and the Goncourt judges wanted to get theirs out first. Ah, intrigue....

Steven Zeitchik wonders about Michael Moore's huge popularity in Germany. (link from Mobylives.)

Robert Birnbaum's latest fascinating interview is with Arthur Kempton, the author of Boogaloo, a new book on American popular music

And in totally frivolous news, Carrot Top showed up at a gay bar but his publicist denies he's anything but hetero. And I'm the Mata Hari.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Talk about prescient 

I've just been alerted that Andrew Taylor has, indeed, won the 2003 Ellis Peters Historical Dagger Award, given out tonight by the Crime Writers Association. A heartly congratulations to Mr Taylor on a well-deserved win.

Changing the Title 

The Literary Saloon comments on how Andrew Taylor's latest novel, THE AMERICAN BOY will have a different title in the US when it is released early next year. Although I agree that it's thoroughly annoying that the title will be changed, from a marketing standpoint, unfortunately, it makes some sense.

I haven't read the novel, which is shortlisted for the CWA's Historical Dagger and currently favored to win, but as I said earlier, it looks to be my kind of book. Yet the first thing I thought of when I saw the UK title was the old radio serial Jack Armstrong, All American Boy, a staple of my father's childhood and something I'd heard of as a child (yes, this is what happens when you're a twentysomething with parents born before the baby boom. It makes for strange cultural references.) The point though is that the title wouldn't make a reader think of crime or mystery, but of adventure and teenage rambunctiousness. In context, the title makes perfect sense, as it is structurered around the young Edgar Allan Poe, an American boy living in London and mucking about all sorts of intrigue. But I'm sure the marketing people at Hyperion saw this and knew the book wouldn't sell.

Which is why titles get changed all across the pond. Carolyn Parkhurst's THE DOGS OF BABEL is called LORELEI'S SECRET in the UK, which confused the hell out of me when I saw it in bookshops over the summer because I thought Parkhurst had magically written two books in a short period of time. PJ Tracy's "debut" (since the mother of the team has written romance novels under another name) MONKEEWRENCH has the (much better) title WANT TO PLAY? in its UK edition. If the title is going to grab a reader's attention, it must be able to then hook the reader into picking the book up and buying it. What works on one continent doesn't necessarily work in another.

I only wish there was some synchronicity because readers can be a savvy lot. They don't always wait for the US edition if the UK edition is available. That's why there's Amazon UK or independent bookshops to sate their cravings.

Getting back to Taylor, unlike the Saloon lot I think the title change will likely do the man good. Up till now he has not been a big seller in the US, but judging from the marketing plan for this book, Hyperion has high expectations. A Dagger win will solidify these expectations even further. Publishers keep looking for a successor to the megaselling THE ALIENIST, and Hyperion has deemed Taylor's new book to be it for them. Whether it will be, of course, remains to be seen.

Tales of a dysfunctional marriage 

So David Gest is suing Liza Minelli for 10 million bucks because he claims she beat him up during the course of their sham 16 month marriage. I guess the "cruel and unusual punishment" divorce defense wasn't enough....

The missing marketing blitz 

Julie Hecht's first novel, THE UNPROFESSIONALS, was released on September 3. Unfortunately her publisher forgot to get any copies to Barnes & Noble. Now she's pissed, and Sara Nelson sheds more light on the story. There are many nuggets here but in the end, there's a bottom line:

"[...]the ugly reality of the business today—downsizing publishing conglomerate or no—is that you have to sell to be a star."

Whether it's the right way or not, whether it means that good books will get lost in the shuffle--you bet this is the reality of publishing. I'm already on record as optimistic and--yes, I dare say it--naive about the business but it's only because I truly believe that good books will make it out there. But there are too many horror stories of publisher sabotage, disinterest and pecking order that it lessens my optimism deeply. However, let it be said that a writer cannot expect the same kind of marketing plan if he or she writes a very carefully defined genre book as opposed to something with depth or a broader appeal. And they shouldn't expect promotional opportunities if the book won't sell beyond a certain narrow base. There are no easy answers, even if the business has some very deep chasms.

Jules and Jim this ain't 

So Pamela Anderson can't seem to shake her exes, so they'll just have to share her. I can see how they will be one big happy family.

The morning's news 

Gordon Williams was nominated for the Booker and a thriller he wrote became the basis for Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs. Then he disappeared. DJ Taylor finds out what happened.

Jessa links to the chick lit article I posted yesterday. Although I agree that there's still a stigma about buying the books, it's nowhere near as bad as for those who want to buy actual romance novels. Though I stopped reading those some years back because I like stories that have a plot and move.

Hit this link to see the winners of the Barry, Anthony, Macavity and Shamus Awards that were handed out over the course of Bouchercon. There were a lot of repeats, as Michael Connelly won for Best Novel twice (Barry, Anthony), Julia Spencer-Fleming won for First Novel three times (Anthohy, Barry, Macavity) and SJ Rozan took the Macavity for Best Novel along with the Edgars awarded earlier this year. I'm especially happy that Eddie Muller won the First Novel Shamus and Daniel Judson won for Paperback Original. These guys deserve to be writing novels for years to come.


Tuesday, October 21, 2003

I was three months early for this 

Elton John (or Sir Elton, if you will) has just inked a three year deal to headline at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas starting in February. He has promised to put on an elegant, subdued show for the masses, and especially promises that no tigers will be involved in any performances whatsoever.

The power of word of mouth 

No matter how hard publishers try to market books, whether by making up new plans, bombarding newspapers and magazines with ads, using television, radio and internet promotions, in the end, a book gets into a reader's hand because somebody--be it a reviewer, a bookseller, a sales rep, an editor, an agent, a fan--tells someone else that this book is the one to read, to enjoy. What makes things interesting is that it's not just anyone who can be the one to spread the words. For whatever reason, some people are listened to more than others, their judgements valued above everyone else's. Malcolm Gladwell's THE TIPPING POINT went into much detail about the epidemic nature of buzz and word of mouth, and it was a fascinating read because in the end, it's true.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Bouchercon heralded the arrival of many authors and many new books, but only a select few were considered "buzz worthy." Based on how quickly the copies sold out and were replenished, the top buzzed-about book was Sean Doolittle's newest from the gents at Uglytown, BURN. It was such a pleasure to see the things that happened. Friday morning in the book dealer room, I ran into one of the main crime fiction editors at a UK publishing house as he scanned the book racks of one dealers. I asked him what book he was looking for after he'd said he didn't see it on the rack. "Something by Sean Doolittle?" was the editor's response.

As I had just picked up my own copy of the book the previous day, I expressed a good amount of enthusiasm, in part because I'd loved Sean's previous book and because people I trust had been extremely positive as well.

"Oh yeah," he said, "Everyone's been talking about it and telling me to pick up a copy." So I knew what to do.

I ushered said editor to the dealer which had a single copy of the book left, and soon after brokered an introduction between editor and said author.

Then more things happened. An agent I know mentioned he was looking for authors to represent. In due time another introduction was brokered. A rising star heavily promoted in the UK and only starting to gain ground in the US picked up a copy and after 30 pages found it hard to put down. Things like that.

A few days later, as Bouchercon came to a close, I sat by the pool to get some R&R and read my newly acquired copy when an editor from a different publishing house came by to do much the same thing, except she held a manuscript in her hand and had proofreading to do. We said hello and spotting the book, asked what I was reading.

"I must write that down, so many people have been telling me about this book," she said.

I gave her some more information and duly noted, we both went back to our respective reads.

But this isn't about me. All I do is tell people when I love a book, or help out when I know others love a book and I think I will as well. And I love to be proved right.

I finished BURN on the plane ride home and it's everything it is cracked up to be. This is a book about a murder, but it's more than that. It's a book about a missing brother, an arsonist running from his past, and a health fitness empire on the road to ruin, but it's more than that. It's about family and loss and love, the ties that bind yet also are horribly frayed. It's about redemption and friendship and rage and tragedy. There's so much packed into this 380-odd page novel but it moves so fast that instead of feeling padded, felt far too short. I'll be thinking about this book for a long, long time.

I'm sure you all will as well.


The afternoon roundup 

Publishers Weekly has a long article about the state of Chick Lit in the US. Although the backlash has already begat a backlash, there are still many new titles being published in a variety of subgenres--my favorite is "bridezilla lit."

Ayelet Waldman wears many hats. She's the wife of Michael Chabon, part of the McSweeney's posse, author of the Mommy Track mysteries, and has just stepped into the literary fiction fray. Her new novel Daughter's Keeper is reviewed at January Magazine.

Interesting publishing anecdotes: Grant Stewart spotted VERNON GOD LITTLE in the slush pile. Although a struggling writer and battling chronic fatigue syndrome, he didn't keep quiet. The rest, of course, is history. Meanwhile, David Little is an unpublished writer who can't get his books out there to save his life--even though his brother is J.K. Rowling's agent. Then there's Giles Gordon, a top literary agent of authors such as Vikram Seth and Peter Ackroyd. His daughter has just written a book about the suicide of Gordon's son, and though he wishes the book well, he's not so happy about it.







And in total BSP 

I was the second place winner of the Arnold Schwarzenegger Inaugural/Chan Marshall's Muff Limerick Challenge, outdoing the masses and Choire too. (though his made me laugh hysterically.) I eagerly await all prizes and sundry.

The Latest from Lunch 

Unlike Old Hag, I'm not going to break down the deals that interest me into like and dislike, just add a comment where necessary.

"Adam Fawer's IMPROBABLE, a "thinking man's thriller" based on probability theory and quantum physics, about a brilliant mathematician suffering from epileptic seizures who gains the ability to "see" into the future by gauging the consequences of his actions and the probability of various outcomes, called "A Beautiful Mind meets Michael Crichton," to Mauro diPreta at William Morrow, in a good deal, in pre-empt, by Ann Rittenberg (world English).

This could be amazing or total crap, although my instinct leans more towards the former. What's interesting is that Fawer has the same agent as Dennis Lehane and now they have the same publisher as well.

Robert Heilbrun's next two Arch Gold legal thrillers, to Carolyn Marino at Morrow, for six figures, by Amy Rennert (world).

The first book, just out this month, has received much buzz, so good to see that rewarded.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and novelist William Dietrich's ATTILA: THE SCOURGE OF GOD, a historical novel based on Attila the Hun's furious assault on the West and his final battle at Chalons, focused on the tale of a young Roman who journeys across ancient Europe and plays an instrumental role in thwarting the Hun warlord, to Mike Shohl at Morrow/Avon, in a good deal, by Andrew Stuart at The Stuart Agency (world).

So this would be the Thrilla of Attila? Sorry, couldn't resist that one.....

Former Orion and Heinemann fiction editor Kirsty Fowkes writing as Kirsty Crawford's OTHER WOMEN, the story of three women whose lives become entangled when they find themselves occupying the same property, to Jane Wood at Orion, in a good deal, for two books (world).

A former Orion editor sells to one of the senior editors at the same house. Interesting, although at least at the crime end of the publishing company, Jane has very good taste.

Thomas F.Monteleone's BENEDICTION, a global thriller about a Vatican plot to clone Jesus Christ from DNA obtained from a religious relic, to David Hinchberger at Overlook Connection Press, in a very nice deal (US).

I blame Dan Brown for this.

R.H.Weber's HOMELAND, a political thriller, literary novel, and indictment of the current US administration, set in 2008 where we meet one man on his way to his own death, and two who are held against their will: one at JFK airport and the other in Guantánamo, Cuba, and LAST ISLAND, in which a
woman becomes ensnared by an old-money Boston family and observes, from the vantage point of another class, the disintegration of her good friend's life and the fall of her friend's intensely egocentric family, for publication in spring 2005, to Stacy Hague at Other Press (world).


The first book seems to have too much going on, but I guess we'll see how it actually turns out.









Robert Crais lawsuit 

As taken from his latest email missive:

"A video game titled TRUE CRIME: STREETS OF LA was recently brought
to my attention. The creators of this game have admitted it was
patterned after my Elvis Cole/Joe Pike novels. Those of you long
familiar with my work know that I guard Elvis and Joe closely. You
know that I have turned down well over thirty offers to sell the
film and television rights to these characters and books. They are
not for sale. They may not be used without my permission.

To quote a character from THE MONKEY'S RAINCOAT, where it all began:
"He accepts the duty of protecting what is his."

To that end, I have engaged Bruce Van Dalsem and Henry Gradstein of
Gradstein, Luskin & Van Dalsem to help in the effort. Requests from
journalists are forwarded to them. Legally, I can make no comment
upon the case so long as we have a pending action. I look forward to
sharing my views with the jury."


I've been a regular at Crais's forum for several years now, and recall that someone had posted news about this. I didn't think much of it but obviously, it's quite a big deal, so much that when news broke a few days ago the forum had to be shut down due to a sea of vitriolic messages. Crais has worked so hard to keep Elvis and Joe off film and TV that it seems rather strange that it would be a video game that breaks this embargo. We'll have to see how this is resolved.


Catching up on the news 

Manuel Vazquez Montalban , the author of several crime novels (mostly published in English by Serpent's Tail) died over the weekend.

The premiere issue of Bullet Magazine is out now. It's a new crime fiction magazine devoted to short-short stories. Ten appear here, including one by Noir Original Allan Guthrie.

Various Washington Post reviews include one for Stephen Hunter's Havana by David Morrell and Patrick Anderson's take on Frederick Forsyth's latest.

Over at the Guardian, Mark Lawson likes Stephen Bochco's debut novel, and there's far too much on Patricia Cornwell. The jacket flap alone from the latest book had me shaking my head. But naturally it'll do fabulously on the bestseller lists as readers clamor for the next installment in the Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Super Kay...oh wait, that's a totally different book.

Roger Simon offers up his Best Movie list as a reaction to the BBC's Big 100 Books List.

New York Times: There's Janet Maslin's long review of J.M. Coetzee's ELIZABETH COSTELLO, and a few days late is Stasio's new crime column. In a nutshell: positive for Sara Paretsky, a rave for Peter Straub, she has some issues with Jim Fusilli's new one, but likes Barbara Cleverly's.


Monday, October 20, 2003

Loathing Las Vegas 

Bouchercon is now a fading memory. More comments tomorrow, perhaps, when I'm less jet lagged and cranky and sulking about enduring the insanely long lines for clearing customs. One would think that with a new airport and more flights added that the people in charge could hire more people to man the booths. Or that those supervisors laughing to each other about the crowds would have been better served to speed things up.

Overriding thoughts on the last few days:

1. I wish I could hang out with my friends more. The others know who they are.

2. I found out just how much certain people would go to the wall for me and vice versa. Some were expected, others a nice surprise.

3. Ian Rankin wears the coolest shirts ever.

4. Ken Bruen only decided to show up the day before things got started, and became one of the big hits of the convention.

5. Nobody does standing in the corner misanthropy as well as these guys. Which is why I love them.

6. The hotel was a horror show, but then, so is the entire town. Slot machines in the airport? Talk about WYSIWYG.....

7. The Susan Lucci of the crime world is no longer that. Karma does win out.

8. It's really not a good idea to insult the membership on the first night of the convention. Better to wait till it's over.

9. The size of the dealer room would likely be rented for about $3000 a month in Manhattan. Which fact is sadder is still up for debate.

10. No matter what, it'll always be better next year. Something we'll all say after that Bouchercon ends, and so on and so forth.

And finally, if you didn't pick up a copy of this, this and this, you missed out on the most buzzed about books this past week.

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