Posts Tagged ‘Mickey Spillane’

Caleb York Nominated

Tuesday, June 28th, 2022
Shoot-out at Sugar Creek cover
Hardcover: Indiebound Bookshop.org Amazon Books-A-Million (BAM) Barnes & Noble (B&N)
Paperback: Indiebound Amazon Books-A-Million (BAM) Barnes & Noble (B&N)
E-Book: Amazon Google Play Kobo iTunes
Digital Audiobook Libro.fm Amazon Google Play Kobo Chirp

I’m pleased to say that my Caleb York novel – Shoot-out at Sugar Creek – has been nominated for a Scribe award.

Original Novel — General
Patient Zero, Amanda Bridgeman (Aconyte)
Shoot-out at Sugar Creek, Mickey Spillane & Max Allan Collins (Kensington)
Debonair in Death, Terrie Farley Moran (Berkley)

Winners will be announced at San Diego Comic-Con July 22, 2022. A full list of nominees in all categories is at the IAMTW.

This is a bittersweet but much appreciated honor. For whatever reason, neither the Spur nor Peacemaker Awards from the Western Writers of America and the Western Fictioneers respectively have ever honored the Caleb York novels. (I should say we did get a Best Novel nomination for The Legend of Caleb York from the Fictioneers, but nothing since.)

I would imagine I’m viewed as an interloper, a mystery/crime novelist moving in on their territory. It’s been a fun ride nonetheless. Kensington has not asked for more Caleb York novels, and I am making no approaches to other publishers, though the York sales have been strong enough to make that possible. It’s just that my goal for Caleb York was to fashion a novel from Mickey’s unproduced screenplay, The Saga of Cali York, written for John Wayne. I only did more novels because Kensington requested them, and, hey, who am I to turn down work?

But at this stage of the game, I’m starting to question that question. I am embarking on what may be the final Nate Heller novel, the potentially massive Too Many Bullets, and will likely be spending most of the rest of this year on it. My health is fine, considering the underlying factors, but I am particular about what projects I take on at this point.

It’s hard for me to walk away from a series. I really loved writing Caleb York, as I’ve been a fan of movie and TV westerns since early childhood – admittedly less so of western fiction. But those six novels satisfied a creative itch and I’m pleased to go out on a Scribe nomination. The paperback of it is coming in October.

The Scribes honor writers of movie novelizations and TV tie-ins, as well as authors continuing characters begun by famous writers like Robert B. Parker, Edgar Rice Burroughs and, yup, Mickey Spillane. This is the first time I’ve submitted a Caleb York novel to the Scribes, as members are limited to one submission in a category, and previously I submitted Mike Hammer novels to the General Fiction category (winning several times, I’m pleased to say).

Those keeping score may recall that Lee Goldberg and I founded the International Association of Media and Tie-in Writers (IAMTW) a decade and a half ago. Lee, having more class than me, never submitted his work to the awards given by an organization he co-founded. I, of course, having no shame, have been a frequent nominee and occasional winner.

The reason why I have no shame is that the real shame goes to the writing organizations (you know who you are) that have ignored tie-in writing throughout their existence, as if the talented writers creating novels and short stories in their respective fields (science fiction, mystery fiction, horror, western) didn’t exist at all.

I know from the mail I’ve received over the years (snail and e-) that most readers don’t make that distinction. The role that Star Trek and Star Wars novels played in keeping those franchises alive during periods when Hollywood’s versions lay fallow cannot be overestimated. My publishers frequently mention that I am the author of Saving Private Ryan and Air Force One (among others) without bothering to mention they are novelizations. Until the recent Reeder & Rogers political trilogy came along, my CSI novels (written, like that trilogy, with my gifted co-writer Matthew Clemens) were my bestselling mystery/crime novels…and introduced hundreds of thousands of readers to my work.

So I am proud to be co-founder of the IAMTW, and will bear up under the shame of participating in their awards.

* * *
Sam Elliot in 1883

Speaking of westerns, among the streaming series Barb and I have been watching is 1883, which is supposedly a prequel to the very popular Yellowstone. We tried the latter and somewhere in the second season got irritated with it, so we avoided the prequel for a while. We shouldn’t have.

My love for Sam Elliot as perhaps our last great western icon in the Hollywood sense finally prompted us to watch, and it’s a fine show – tough, heart-felt, and more historically accurate than most. (Really it should be set at least ten years earlier, but apparently that would screw up its prequel-to-Yellowstone timeline.) Everyone on this series is good, but Elliot seems to sense this is a career-capper and his rock-hard surface hiding tender humanity – he is sort of the ultimate “tough love” advocate – sums up everything we admire about his work.

1883 is on Paramount-Plus, and I’m finding it the best of the handful of streaming services of which I partake. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds continues to honor the memory and approach of Roddenberry while updating it. Barb and I glance at each other every episode and at some point one of us says, “Can you believe it’s 2022 and we’re watching new Star Trek?”

And real Star Trek at that.

The Offer wrapped up very well. Having read a bit about the actual filming of The Godfather, I am aware a certain amount of sugarcoating, not to mention artistic license, is afoot here. But I was shocked by the swells of emotion I felt in the knowledge that the characters have achieved their goals and were about to go on with their lives without me. For me, Miles Teller is the standout in a cast that I would have to say is flawless (well, the Sinatra guy could have been better).

Also viewed streaming (it’s available a couple of places) is a three-and-a-half-hour Bollywood movie my son badgered me to watch – RRR. It is an absolutely bonkers action spectacle that makes Raiders of the Lost Arc look like a documentary about archeology. They fight, they sing, they dance, they romance, they make sure we know the Brits were stinkers. It’s absurd and childish and sophisticated and three hours and a half just blow by. I cannot do RRR justice, other than to say – don’t leave the planet before you’ve experienced it. (My favorite scene had to do with the massive cages of wild beasts being unleashed on a British nighttime garden party.)

You’re welcome.

* * *

One of the things about writing a weekly blog, with a specific deadline, is that everything else can get in the way.

Today I have to prep for the commentary I’m doing tomorrow morning (at Phil Dingeldein’s studio in Rock Island) for the ClassicFlix 4K Blu-ray (and 3-D) release of the 1953 I, the Jury, something I had only dreamed might one day happen. But the prep will not be easy, as there is much to discuss.

Last week I was in a foul mood and did not feel well, and dragged myself through this bloggy process. And if it showed, well, you’re not paying anything for this. Don’t bitch.

However. I performed the kind of screw-up I am well-known among my friends and associates (not mutually exclusive groups) for performing: I posted the four gigs of my band Crusin’ this summer and managed to leave out one of those dates, while thoughtfully including the times and places. You can’t have everything.

Crusin' at Ardon Creek, 2022

Before I present the revised schedule, I’ll mention that Crusin’ appeared last Friday night (June 24) at Ardon Creek Winery. It’s a lovely outdoor venue, and we were pretty good. The crowd was even better, numbering in the hundreds. A taco truck fed their tummies, and we fed their souls. It was fun, and I felt good throughout, relieved that my age had not dulled my rock ‘n’ roll skills appreciably since last year.

We had not appeared at Ardon Creek, one of our favorite venues, since pre-Covid, so it felt like a reunion. Barb was there – she helps me set up and tear down – and my son Nate, his wife Abby and their two kids Sam and Lucy came and capered on the surrounding green landscape that makes this particular venue so special.

Crusin' at Ardon Creek, 2022

I know these updates go out to readers, fans and friends all over the country, all over the world really, and what follows is strictly for Eastern Iowa and thereabouts. But here’s the rest of Crusin’s season:

Saturday July 2 we’re at Proof Social in Muscatine, from 5 to 8 p.m. On the patio, inside in case of rain.

Sunday August 14 it’s the Second Sunday Concert Series at Musser Public Library, 408 E. 2nd Street in Muscatine, IA. Sometimes it’s indoors, weather allowing outside in the parking lot. 6 to 8 p.m.

Sunday Aug 21 2022 – the Muscatine Art Center’s yearly Ice Cream Social, 1 till 4 p.m. 1314 Mulberry Ave, Muscatine.

* * *

Here’s a nice John Sand review.

This piece looks at Road to Perdition on Netflix.

You have to scroll down a ways, but this is an in depth look at several of the Nolan novels, including the recent Skim Deep. [Note: the link is a PDF-format Internet magazine. The homepage is here.—Nate] The writer is very self-confident, smart and talky, but careless (my middle name is “Allen” in the first piece, and Richard Stark, it seems, writes about “Porter”). But it’s a deeper dive (a current term I despise) than Nolan is usually given.

Here’s a Spillane WW 2-era comic book story I didn’t know about!

M.A.C.

An Essential Noir Blu-Ray, A Spillane Update and Final Episodes

Tuesday, June 14th, 2022
The Guilty/High Tide Blu-Ray Cover from Flicker Alley

My pal Eddie Muller, the guru of all things noir, has outdone himself with the latest Flicker Alley home video release from the Film Noir Foundation. Beautifully restored as usual by the UCLA Film & Television Archive, Eddie’s first double feature on Blu-ray/DVD is The Guilty/High Tide, both 1947 releases from (of all people) producer Jack Wrather of early TV’s Lone Ranger and Lassie (!) fame.

What makes the disc a noir fan’s feast are the special features, many of which are the work of film expert Alan K. Rode, including documentaries on Wrather (and his actress wife Bonita Granville, star of The Guilty), Cornell Woolrich, and director John Reinhardt. The standout special feature for me, however, is Lee Tracy: The Fastest Mouth in the West from charming, articulate noir historian Imogen Sara Smith.

Lee Tracy is a nearly forgotten movie (and stage) star of the 1930s who has long been a favorite of mine. He defined the Hildy Johnson character in The Front Page on Broadway. He didn’t play the role on screen (Pat O’Brien did) but he went on to be the prototypical fast-talking, rule-bending, hard-drinking, sleazy-but-winning media-man of pre-Code Hollywood. He is remembered, if at all, for his most enduring films, Doctor X, Dinner at Eight, and Bombshell. He made a late career comeback on Broadway and in the film version of Gore Vidal’s The Best Man (1964), playing a Truman-esque ex-president turned power broker – he got an Academy Award nomination for that. A terrific film, by the way.

His career downfall in the mid-‘30s came when he supposedly urinated from a balcony onto a passing parade of Mexican soldiers (he was making Viva Villa!). He was apparently as hard-living and hard-drinking as the characters he portrayed. For me, he’s a unique figure, fast-talking and oddly charismatic despite a face that looks like a sack of potatoes wearing a sly smile. He is pre-Code Hollywood wrapped up in one balcony-pissing package.

Eddie Muller, who participates in several of the documentaries and delivers his usual fine introduction to the films, is more impressed with The Guilty than with the Lee Tracy-dominant High Tide. The Guilty is definitely worthwhile, an Ulmer-esque exercise in making something out of nothing, budget-wise.

The Guilty is also one of the best translations of the mood of writer Cornell Woolrich to the screen. Rear Window is obviously – I’m no genius pointing this out – superior; but then so is The Window with Ed Gorman’s first cousin Bobby Driscoll and Phantom Lady and on and on. What The Guilty has, besides cannily used shabby sets, is its doomed lead actor, Don Castle – who is also in the Woolrich-based I Wouldn’t Be in Your Shoes (1948) and of course High Tide. Castle rivals Tom Neal for sad irony in his real life, ending a suicide.

I will state, at risk of losing whatever noir credentials I have, that I am not in particular a fan of Woolrich’s writing. He was justifiably famed for his ability to come up with one resonant noir premise after another; but as a writer he did not do much for me. I once was hired to write a screenplay from a novel of his (never made) and was not impressed with the craftsmanship. This is a matter of taste and I acknowledge his importance on a very short list that includes Hammett, Chandler, James M. Cain, Horace McCoy, Mickey Spillane, and Jim Thompson.

The sadness and threadbare nature of Woolrich’s life is well-served by The Guilty, but for this fan of actor Lee Tracy, High Tide (with which I was already familiar) is the gem of this rhinestone-glittering package. Like The Guilty (and I Wouldn’t Be in Your Shoes) it’s from Monogram. I once had Nate Heller say, “The night was as starless as a movie from Monogram.” But Lee Tracy must have slipped my mind. Typically, in both The Guilty and High Tide, Regis Toomey shows up as essentially the same plainclothes police inspector (he has that role in I Wouldn’t Be in Your Shoes, too, more centrally).

High Tide has a wraparound right out of Double Indemnity and a bigger budget than The Guilty (considering it’s Monogram, nothing to brag about) but it serves as a coda, or even valedictory, for Lee Tracy’s fast-talking, rule-breaking reporter, a figure recognizably American, at once admirable and shameful.

Tracy was no longer A-list in 1947 and hadn’t been for well over a decade; he was making the occasional B picture. He would soon gain a slight, tenuous hold on noir history by way of starring in the first really successful tough private eye series, Martin Kane. Surviving examples of this early ‘50s show are fascinating artifacts of live TV. But in High Tide the actor brings his trademark persona fully into the bleak world of film noir, where leads are played by the doomed likes of Castle and Neal. He fits in well but flies much higher on his way to High Tide’s splash landing.

Thank you, Eddie Muller, Alan Rode, Woolrich documentarian Steven Smith, and especially Imogan Sara Smith, for her wonderful career piece on Lee Tracy.

* * *

In the meantime, I am preparing to do the commentary for ClassicFlix’s I, the Jury release this coming September. It’s going to be really something – a package including 4K, Blu-ray and 3-D. Preparing for my work, I have watched a 3-D advance disc of the 1953 film and was again blown away by John Alton’s cinematography.

I have always liked this film – it was my first introduction to Mike Hammer, seen on a very small black-and-white TV around 1955 – and I know that some people don’t accept Biff Elliot as Mike Hammer. Mickey didn’t, and he’s not alone. But I find Biff’s take on Hammer as a young, not terribly bright combat veteran, out to avenge the guy who lost an arm to a Japanese bayonet meant for him, both appropriate and effective – burly but not a bully. The flaws in the film mostly have to do with censorship issues – the truncated striptease at the conclusion particularly, but also the lengths the script has to go to, to avoid directly mentioning prostitution and dope dealing.

I will talk more about this later, but anyone interested in Mickey Spillane and Mike Hammer…really, any film noir fan…will find the Classicflix I, the Jury on a short list of best Blu-rays of the year, including no doubt The Guilty/High Tide.

* * *

Elsewhere on the Spillane front, I am working on the galley proofs of Spillane – King of Pulp Fiction, and find myself very pleased. It was a big, hard job – Jim Traylor and I have been seriously working on this project since shortly after Mickey’s passing in 2006 – and I am relieved to find that I like the result. Jim is working on the index of the 350-page book right now.

I am thrilled that Mysterious Press is the publisher. It’s a classy imprimatur that I think this book deserves.

* * *

Our first post-Covid lockdown walk-out on a movie: Jurassic World: Dominion. The dinosaurs were believable, but the people were not. Just a dreadful, dull script with brain-numbing dialogue. I had thought this would be a nice melding of characters from the previous entries in the saga, but (for the hour-plus we witnessed) they rarely interacted.

We saw it in 3D that was barely noticeable (but for the upcharge). I was tempted to stay and watch at least some of the actors get eaten, but Barb was fed up.

I will say I thought the overhead sound conveying the prehistoric creatures grazing and grunting was effective until I realized it was just the other moviegoers.

On a more positive note, several of the limited-run TV series we’ve been watching have wrapped up satisfyingly, particularly Gaslit and (an episode to go) the delightful The Offer (I recommend supplementing the series with the behind-the-scenes Godfather book, Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli by Mark Seal). HBO’s The Staircase remained compelling viewing in its final episode, but as it’s credited with being based on the French documentary of the same name, one does wonder where material not seen in the doc came from. Some of it seems unfair to all concerned. Anyway, that owl did it.

* * *

Finally, it’s another article about that Tom Hanks movie that you didn’t realize came from a graphic novel.

M.A.C.

54 Years and Counting! (Really 56.)

Tuesday, June 7th, 2022

Barb and I took our first post-Covid lockdown overnight trip, celebrating our 54th wedding anniversary last week – specifically, on June 1st, the day of, and returning to Muscatine on June 2nd, the start of year 55.

It was a delightful trip, although two business situations back in the real world came up shortly after we arrived in Galena, Illinois (our favorite getaway spot) and reminded me how nice life was when you didn’t have a cell phone in your pocket.

Things settled down, though, and we shopped and lunched at Vinny Vanucci’s and had a lovely evening, dining at Fritz and Frites and then sharing a quiet, typically Collins evening in our suite at the Irish Cottage – see the photos as evidence.

M.A.C. and Barb at Fritz and Frites
Champagne and The Brain Eaters

You will note that I look almost giddy sharing a table with a beautiful blonde, undeterred by having spent 56 years of my life with her (we started going together in 1966). There are numerous reasons not to like me, even to hate me, but none better than my managing to hornswoggle (one of my late father’s favorite words) her into spending most of her life with me.

Obviously Barb is a beauty. But she is also funny and smart and ridiculously thoughtful. She loves the Three Stooges. She loves the Beatles. She loves the original Star Trek. She loves James Bond. She loves her grandchildren. And she even loves me.

The question we get most often is how we write together and remain married. I’ve seen other writing couples really struggle with that. My answer sounds flip but it’s true: our offices are on separate floors.

Another major factor is that we develop the idea for a story or novel together, often over lunch or on a car ride, and then she works alone on her draft, checking in with me only if she hits a rough patch and wants an opinion (rare). She does not love to write. I try to tell her that no writers really love to write, though many of us are compelled to do so, and all of us love to have written. But she entered the field basically to help me out, editing, and writing the “Mike Mist” feature for Ms. Tree after I burned out on minute mysteries.

So when she finishes a draft of a novel, she claims (believably) to be sick of it. She doesn’t care what I do with it. This is basically true, but if my draft wanders too far afield from what she had in mind, she’s very tough-minded about getting me back on track.

We just finished our short novel, Cutout, for Neo-Text. I say “finished,” but we haven’t heard back from the editor, so you never know when rewrites are requested. But it feels good and was very much an idea that came from Barb and a story that she generated. The Antiques novels are fairly loose and it’s not unusual for long stretches to be my work; but in Cutout, her writing was so tight that working on it, trying to improve on it, was like repairing an expensive watch.

So feel free to hate me for being so lucky in having this life partner. I don’t deserve her. But at least I know it.

Frankie Valli Concert 2022

We wrapped up our anniversary celebration with a concert – Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Really, it was Frankie Valli and four back-up singers/dancers, but I’m not complaining…it was a great show. Held at the cavernous and unfortunately named TaxSlayer Center in Moline, the concert featured an amazingly spry eighty-eight year-old Valli hitting all the high notes and giving a long, opening-act-free presentation of most of his many hits, without and without the Seasons. A multi-media affair, with a fantastic rocking band, it had a Vegas feel that made other oldies shows I’ve seen look and feel like the cobbled-together affairs they often are.

The event had been postponed twice, and we almost skipped it, having already had a fun but exhausting Galena trip. But we were very, very glad we saw this pop music legend in performance.

* * *
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds poster

Among the list of things Barb loves I listed Star Trek. We loved all the movies, including the one Shatner directed, and the recent J.J. Abrams reboot features, which not everyone does. We are okay with Next Generation, but every other ST series has left us cold – we haven’t ever boarded those vessels, not long-term.

I was once approached to do a Star Trek novel and was thrilled. It was to be about the newest, about-to-debut series, Enterprise, which I was told was a throwback to the original series. I watched the premiere, all revved up – it starred Scott Bakula, from Quantum Leap! But then it turned out to, well, uh…suck. At least in my opinion. And Barb’s.

I tried to get the book gig anyway, but both my tries were rejected because they resembled this episode of that Trek spin-off or that episode of this one.

Now comes Star Trek – Strange New Worlds, and we are both fans. It’s basically the series that Gene Roddenberry first intended to do, as indicated by the pilot (“The Menagerie”) with Jeffrey Hunter as Captain Christopher Pike, Majel Barrett as Number One, and Leonard Nimoy as Spock.

Strange New Worlds (streaming on Paramount Plus) is a smart, respectful prequel with a great cast. Anson Mount as Pike seems to combine the best of Kirk and Picard, Rebecca Romijn as Number One is a particularly strong presence, and Ethan Peck as Spock channels Nimoy to an eerie degree, particularly the sound and cadence of the original Spock’s voice.

The art design and special effects are stellar (sue me) and the stories so far mostly take place on the stunning Enterprise itself. The major difference is that none of the episodes to date are anything William Shatner would have put up with. Look, I love Shatner. (So does Barb.) He’s a force of nature and his Kirk is definitive. But he would never, never have allowed his episodes to focus so much on its ensemble cast. To Anson Mount’s credit, he holds the show together without flexing his ego.

This is the best Star Trek since…Star Trek.

* * *

Thanks to all of you who took advantage of the week-long 99-cent sale for the Kindle edition of No Time To Spy, which collects the three John Sand novels by Matt Clemens and me.

We did not hit number one on any of the Amazon bestseller lists (The Shrinking Island recently did) but we got into the upper reaches.

For those of you who (like me) prefer physical media, the “real” book of No Time to Spy is a fat thing of beauty.

You can get it here for $15.99.

* * *

Finally, here’s another of those “movies you didn’t know were based on comics” pieces, but not a bad one (on Road to Perdition of course).

M.A.C.

A Shameless Excursion Into Self-Promotion

Tuesday, May 17th, 2022

A reminder: today is the publication date of Stand Up and Die! (the new collection of Mickey Spillane’s novellas and short stories from Rough Edges Press, edited by me and with a Mike Hammer short story co-written by Mickey and me).

The new crime/horror novel, The Menace, by Mickey Spillane and me is $3.99 on Kindle at Amazon.

Stand Up and Die! cover
Trade Paperback:
E-Book:
The Menace cover
Trade Paperback:
E-Book:

The Menace just came out and is, as may already know, developed by me from an unproduced Mickey Spillane screenplay. If you’re not a horror fan, don’t be put off: it’s fundamentally a crime novel. It’s rather short – though not, as some have described a novella (it’s 40,000-words), but two additional Spillane pieces are included as a bonus at the back – the previously unpublished original version of his comic tale, “The Duke Alexander,” and a rare true-crime article.

For you physical media types (like me), the handsome trade paperback edition is just $9.99 at Amazon right now.

This update exists as a place for me to share views on pop culture, talk about what’s going on with me (and my wife Barb) personally and professionally. Part of that is letting you know about sales going on at Amazon (and elsewhere). There are several worth making you aware of going on right now.

On sale is Supreme Justice, the first of the political-thriller trilogy Matt Clemens and I wrote about Joe Reeder and Patti Rogers. Sales have stayed strong since its publication in 2014 – I believe it’s sold something like 150,000 copies, and the two sequels (Fate of the Union and Executive Order have done very well, too. Something like 350,000 copies of the Reeder and Rogers trilogy have been sold. Supreme Justice on Kindle is just $1.99 (till the end of the month).

Supreme Justice – the trade paper edition is $14.95 – has generated renewed interest because the plot concerns an attempt to rearrange the Supreme Court’s political slant by killing conservative members. It’s set in the near future, after the court overturns Roe V. Wade – again, it was published in 2014.

Supreme Justice cover
Paperback:
E-Book:
Audio MP3 CD:
Audio CD:
Executive Order cover
Paperback:
E-Book:
Audio MP3 CD:
Fate of the Union cover
Paperback:
E-Book:
Audio MP3 CD:

My eco-thriller, Midnight Haul, is also on sale on Kindle for $1.99.

Midnight Haul cover
Paperback:
E-Book:
Audio CD:
Audible:

This leads me into what will undoubtedly be a self-serving discussion – a shameless one at that – hoping to convince you to try novels of mine that you may have avoided. Things that may have been out of your comfort zone. Like Supreme Justice, for example.

Kill Me if You Can cover
Hardcover:
E-Book: Google Play Kobo

I have talked here more than once about the reasons why I sometimes work outside of the Quarry, Nolan, Nate Heller and Mike Hammer noir-ish area. The truth is I have readers who follow one or two of those series, but avoid the others. The Quarry and Nolan novels are books in the 50,000 to 60,000-word range and are fast and (I hope) fun reads. The Mike Hammer novels, also in that word-length range, are overlooked by some of my readers because those readers are not Spillane fans or simply don’t care for books that continue a series created by someone else. Similarly, some Spillane fans don’t try these continuation novels, even though the books all have Spillane content (some a good deal of Spillane content), because Mickey himself did not write every word. The fact that Mickey engaged me to complete his unfinished material does not convince these stubborn souls. Kill Me If You Can, celebrating the 75th anniversary of Mike Hammer’s first appearance in 1947’s I, the Jury, is a novel developed from an unproduced Spillane teleplay, and it looks at the period between Kiss Me, Deadly (1952) and The Girl Hunters (1962), when Velda goes missing. It’s Mike at his most psychotic. Pre-order it through the links on the left.

That the Caleb York novels are westerns discourages some readers, who prefer crime/mystery, and that the first novel of the six is a novelization of an unproduced Mickey Spillane screenplay does not sway them. I think they’re missing out.

And of course the cozy Antiques mysteries written by Barb and me are not the hardboiled fare many of my readers enjoy, though the humor and murder content are high. I get that this approach isn’t for everybody, but will point out that the Trash ‘n’ Treasures mysteries are the series of mine with the most entries. The new one will be out in October and can be pre-ordered through the links below.

Antiques Liquidation cover
Hardcover:

Some fans of my hardboiled books avoid the Nate Heller novels, which run in the 75,000-word to 150,000-word range, their lengths off-putting to at least a few readers. The true crime basis of the novels also discourages some Quarry/Nolan fans. The Big Bundle, coming out Dec. 6 (and available for pre-order now), will be the first Hard Case Crime publication of a Heller, and I think Quarry and Nolan fans who haven’t tried the series before will find themselves at home.

The Big Bundle cover
Hardcover:
E-Book: Kobo Google Play

Now I don’t expect any of you – except the hardier souls among you – to buy, read and like everything I put out. Over the last ten years or so, I have increased my already prolific output considerably. I understand that you have only so many hours available to devote to your reading pleasure, and that (however misguidedly) you have other authors you like to read who aren’t me.

So why do I write so much? My standard answer for that is, “If I don’t, they don’t send money to my house.” And that flip response is true enough. But I have also been aware of the ticking clock of mortality and realize that once I am dead, my output will slow considerably. You readers who outlive me will probably have plenty of my stuff to catch up on. That’s fine. It’s as close to living forever as I’ll come.

And I feel I stay fresh by not writing just one thing. I shudder to think if Quarry had taken off in the mid-‘70s and that what I would be doing right now is writing book #45 in the series.

What I’d like to do with the rest of this ridiculously self-serving column is ask you to read – to buy, actually, and then read – a few of my recent books that you may have skipped. I’ve already mentioned The Menace, which some might pass on because (a) it appears to be horror, and/or (b) it doesn’t feature Mike Hammer. I can only say that Mickey came up with a good story and I developed it into a good novel that I’m very proud of.

Here are a couple of others you may have overlooked.

Fancy Anders Goes to War is a novella available on Kindle but also has a handsome little trade paperback with a wonderful Fay Dalton cover (and interior illos). It’s a private eye story with a new heroine who has much in common with Ms. Tree but is also her own girl (it’s a ‘40s story so I can call her that, and anyway she’s young). The research is Heller level. It’s the first of three such novellas from Neo-Text. I just loved writing it (and its two follow-ups, the second of which will be out before long). On Kindle it’s 2.99 and the paperback is only $6.99.

The audio of Fancy Anders Goes to War from SkyBoat is outstanding, virtually a movie for the ears.

Fancy Anders Goes to War cover
E-Book: Amazon Purchase Link
Trade Paperback: Amazon Purchase Link
Digital Audiobook: Amazon Purchase Link

Girl Most Likely and Girl Can’t Help It are two books that have suffered a handful of bad reviews and a wealth of good ones that haven’t overcome that handful. This was my attempt to do something along the lines of an American version of Nordic noir. The detectives are a young woman police chief and her retired homicide cop father in Galena, Illinois (I had the cooperation of the town’s police chief, female). I like these books a lot but they didn’t do as well as previous Thomas & Mercer titles. Girl Can’t Help It touches heavily on my rock ‘n’ experience. If you like my work at all, give these a try. They are $4.99 each on Kindle and $10.93 and $12.83 respectively as trade paperbacks.

Girl Most Likely cover
Paperback:
E-Book: Amazon
Digital Audiobook: Amazon
MP3 CD: Amazon
Audio CD: Amazon
Girl Can't Help It cover
Paperback:
E-Book: Amazon
Digital Audiobook: Amazon
MP3 CD: Amazon
Audio CD: Amazon

Finally, one of my favorites among all of my novels: The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton, written with SCTV’s Dave Thomas. Two things seem to get in the way of my regular readership trying this one: the science-fiction aspect, and the assumption that it’s a comedy. Where to begin? This novel is as much a crime story as s-f, with an older male Black cop and a young female Gen Z partner struggling to find out who shot smalltime thief Jimmy Leighton, who is in the hospital in a coma. Meanwhile, Jimmy, who accidentally triggered a quantum experiment in the basement lab he broke into, is careening from one lifetime to another. The chapters alternate between the cops working on the crime and Jimmy’s journeying.

As for the book being mistaken for a yuk fest, my co-writer Dave Thomas was a writer and producer on the TV series Bones and Blacklist. So there.

Some have characterized Jimmy’s adventures in terms of the old Quantum Leap TV series. While there is some similarity, there’s a major difference. Dave and I, who wrote this book together during the Covid lockdown (lots of phone calls and Zoom get-togethers), wanted to avoid the notion that our traveler would find himself a jet pilot, or on a Broadway stage, or in the middle of doing brain surgery. Jimmy is encountering different lives of his – the different paths he might have taken – possible lives, not unlikely ones.

For me – and for Dave, too – this is a novel that has more to do with Groundhog Day or A Christmas Carol than Quantum Leap. And the science-fiction aspect – Dave takes his quantum science very seriously – is like the history in Nate Heller. It’s important, and it strives to be right; but it’s not the story. If you trust me at all, know that in my opinion The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton is one of the best books in my catalogue.

Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton cover
E-Book: Amazon Purchase Link
Trade Paperback: Amazon Purchase Link

Finally, for those of you who – like me – stubbornly insist on prowling actual bookstores, you must accept the fact that most of these books almost certainly will not be found in the world of brick-and-mortar. Supreme Justice and its two sequels, and the two Girl novels with Krista Larson and her dad, are mostly available at Amazon (physical copies at Barnes & Noble and others, but Kindle is Amazon). So is The Menace. Neo-Text books – Fancy Anders Goes to War and The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton – are Amazon.

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Speaking of Supreme Justice, it has made another list of the best legal thrillers.

And here’s a great review of Tough Tender, the Hard Case Crime two-fer of Hard Cash and Scratch Fever with Nolan and Jon.

M.A.C.