Posts Tagged ‘New Releases’

Jimmy Leighton Lives!

Tuesday, October 26th, 2021
The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton, without text, trimmed
E-Book: Amazon Purchase Link
Trade Paperback: Amazon Purchase Link

The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton by Dave Thomas and me goes on sale today in both Kindle and physical book form. It’s quite reasonably priced – on sale at $3.99 for the e-book and $8.99 for the “real” book.

As I am still working on the Spillane biography, I am again making the Jimmy Leighton/Dave Thomas entry in my literary memoir, A Life in Crime, the major piece this time around. Link to it here.

For reasons not entirely clear – I believe the technical term is “screw up” – the physical book went on sale a couple of weeks early. Because of that I’ve had some nice e-mails from people praising the book – completely unbiased types like Terry Beatty – and I’m starting to feel a warm fuzzy glow about it.

Now I will get down on my figurative knees and beg (can’t pull that off easily with my literal knees these days): if you read and like this book, please give it an Amazon rating and write at least a brief review. We’re starting to get some nice media attention – Dave and I are recording Gilbert Gottfried’s podcast this evening – but the book will almost certainly be ignored by the mainstream publishing trades (Publisher’s Weekly and so on). We did not make the necessary three- to six-month lead time to get review copies to them. (See explanation of technical term above.)

So, more than ever we need your reviews. The physical book is only available at Amazon – not in bookstores and not even at the Barnes & Noble site, at least not yet. And the e-book is strictly for Kindle. I hope to do a book giveaway soon to prime the review pump, but don’t have copies in hand yet.

This book – I mentioned this last week – is not a novella, like Fancy Anders Goes to War. It’s a 90,000-word novel, a contemporary crime novel/s-f hybrid. We had originally signed up with Neo Text to publish it in three novella-length parts. But – and here is where Dave and I did our part to help screw things up – at the last minute we decided we preferred it to be published in a single volume.

I really love The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton. It’s a type of story I’ve long wanted to tell – in the vein of It’s a Wonderful Life, Ground Hog Day, Here Comes Mr. Jordan and A Christmas Carol. The closest I’ve come previously is the novella “A Wreath for Marley.” If you generally like my work, I would be astonished if you didn’t like this. In fact, I guarantee that will you like – stopping short of the “your money back” part.

* * *
Dune Promo Photo

Dune is the first new movie we’ve streamed at home that Barb and I kinda wish we’d seen in a theater. I almost like the wacky David Lynch version of this material, but found it mostly silly. I was surprised to like this serious take on the s-f classic so much; Barb liked it, too. Even in an age where we take CGI for granted, this one is visually stunning, transporting you to a world unlike our own (except for the politics).

It’s not called Dune, actually – it’s Dune and then, in the kind of fine print usually reserved for contracts they don’t want you to really read, Part One. Lynch had squeezed the whole book into a couple of hours and change, which is partly why it’s such a rough ride (inherently quirky, Dune hardly needed David Lynch to make it more so).

Be forewarned: the new and improved Dunecomes out of the gate slow, or anyway leisurely. There’s a lot to process and time is spent grounding the viewer. Lynch did an endless opening narration that had your head spinning before the film really started.

* * *
A Return to Salem's Lot Blu-Ray Cover

I’ll make a Halloween recommendation.

I had never seen writer/director Larry Cohen’s A Return to Salem’s Lot(1987). At the time, the barely released, sort of sequel to the Salem’s Lot mini-series (Cohen did a script for that but it was rejected) was savaged by most critics. But Cohen is consistent about only one thing in his filmmaking: he doesn’t care what you think. This is his version of Our Town but with vampires.

It has one of the oddest and in my view coolest casts ever, starting with Michael Moriarty, who combines sincerity and confusion in a unique mix, his seriousness as an actor relieved by a puckish sense of humor. Playing rather ancient vampires are (get ready) Evelyn Keyes (from Here Comes Mr. Jordan!) and June Havoc (“Baby June,” Gypsy’s sister!), with Andrew Duggan (Bourbon Street Beat) as the folksy town patriarch. Playing a sort of senior-citizen sideick to Moriarty is Samuel Fuller – you heard me! The great director, cigar in his mouth, charges into the last third of the movie and just takes over; it’s an incredible, fearless performance. Also featured are lots of blood, gnarly special events and some of the least convincing rubber monster masks ever committed to film. It’s the kind of film that just skips narrative steps and plants exposition in the mouths of characters to apply spackle over your questions. When it bothers to.

I couldn’t have had a better time.

* * *

This is a rather wonderful dual interview with Dave Thomas and me that ran in the Edmonton Journal, conducted by the sublimely named Fish Griwkowsky.

Here’s one of those announcement type posts about Jimmy Leighton, with a great look at Fay Dalton’s wonderful cover art.


Fancy This – A “Life in Crime” Link and Farewell to Non-Fiction

Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

Fancy Anders Goes to War comes out today.

I haven’t seen the print version yet and will report my reaction when I have, but I encourage you to take a risk — the paperback is a modestly priced $6.99 at Amazon and it’s only $2.99 on Kindle. NeoText has been great on this and the forthcoming Dave Thomas project, The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton, so I hope you’ll support what is frankly an experiment with your hard-earned dollars.

This week the meat of the update is again an installment of my ongoing literary memoir A Life in Crime, which focuses on Fancy Anders and how it/she came to be written. Additionally the essay/article discusses female detectives of fiction who impacted Fancy’s creation as well as ones I’ve created, including the Borne “girls” of the Antiques series I do with my wife Barb.

There’s also a stunning gallery of Fay Dalton’s artwork, including but not limited to her illos for Fancy Anders.

Illustration from Fancy Anders Goes to War
E-Book: Amazon Purchase Link
Paperback: Amazon Purchase Link
* * *

All the copies of Bombshell by Barb and me have gone out in the latest book giveaway. If you’ve never read it, this new Wolfpack edition is a very attractive way to do so.

I am currently working on the Mickey Spillane biography with my collaborator James Traylor for Otto Penzler’s Mysterious Press. My office looks like a hurricane hit, a result of my gathering all of my Spillane material – articles in magazines and newspapers, personal correspondence, print-outs of web stuff – in one place. This is an accumulation that began, literally, about 1962 when I was too young to be reading Mickey Spillane.

And because I move fast – this is common with the Heller books, too – material is tossed here and there, hither and yon, and my office becomes a mess that requires a day of cleaning at the end of every project. Yesterday I finished a chapter and decided, though I was at the midpoint not the end of the bio, I would clean my office and get things re-ordered and file away material I wouldn’t need at this point.

In doing so, I ran across a stack of clippings I’d overlooked that gave me information that, if I could motivate myself, could be used to improve the chapter I’d just finished. Make that “finished,” because I bit the bullet and rewrote the chapter.

I have decided I will never write non-fiction again. I haven’t done much, but projects like The History of Mystery, the Elvgren and other pin-up books, the men’s adventure magazine book with George Hagenauer, two previous Spillane non-fiction works with Jim Traylor, and the two Eliot Ness biographies with Brad Schwartz, were just too punishing for me to consider doing non-fiction again at this stage and age. The Spillane bio is going to be something very good, I think, and will make an excellent capper to this niche of my career.

This does not count historical fiction, by the way. Much more of that to come.

* * *

I’ve done several interviews – both print and podcast – in support of Fancy Anders Goes to War, mostly in the comics realm because of the great Fay Dalton artwork. Hoping this doesn’t sound patronizing or ass-kissy, I want to say how pleased I was by the experience – these comics fans are smart and articulate and had done their homework. I was impressed.

In the crime fiction area, however, Crime Reads gives you a sample chapter (the first) and a look at many of those illustrations.

Here’s what strikes me a strong interview from ComicXF.

This Geek Vibes Nation is a good one, too.

Finally, though I was totally incompetent in my Luddite way before we got things figured out, this is a video podcast I really enjoyed doing.


Hear This! John Sand and Quarry, Too

Tuesday, September 7th, 2021

I am happy to announce an audio book of Come Spy With Me by Matthew V. Clemens and myself. Neither of us have listened to it yet, but both have sampled it and like what we hear.

We were actually given an opportunity by Jake Bray at Wolfpack to choose between two narration styles – basically, American or British. Being no fools, we chose the latter.

There’s a reasonable expectation that audios of Live Fast, Spy Hard and To Live and Spy in Berlin in our John Sand series will appear in the coming months.

Matt and I went out on something of a limb, writing three books one after another in a series that hadn’t proven its legs yet. That sound you hear is either that limb being sawed off behind us or all of you nice readers applauding and/or lining up to buy the books…or at least this groovy (it’s a book set in the ‘60s) audio book.

Come Spy With Me Audiobook Cover


Purchase on Audible: Audible

* * *

As has been the case with the previous two updates, this week the main event is an installment of my Life in Crime literary memoir at Neo-Text, who will be publishing both Fancy Anders Goes to Warand The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton in October.

This week I discuss the history of my Quarry series, right here. Profusely illustrated with book covers and also a photograph of the real Quarry.

* * *

Re-reading my essay on Quarry got me thinking (always dangerous).

Don Westlake always said that he became Richard Stark when got up on the wrong side of the bed (also said he became the comic Westlake when the sun was out and Stark when it rained). I know the feeling.

Quarry allowed me – still does, actually – to display my darkest feelings about humanity and specifically Americans. That’s a function of the first novel growing out of the Vietnam war and how it impacted me and my wife Barb and our friends. I was a college student dreading having to go to Vietnam. Ultimately I did not have to, but plenty of my friends did and it changed them. In some cases that change was death.

It gave me a misanthropic side. Like Westlake, I have a sunny side, too. But it sure has been raining a lot.

Now and then the clouds part and a terrific review like this one turns up, for the forthcoming new Quarry novel, Quarry’s Blood.

Quarry's Blood cover
Trade Paperback: Indiebound Purchase Link Bookshop Purchase Link Amazon Purchase Link Books-A-Million Purchase Link Barnes & Noble Purchase Link Target Purchase Link
E-Book: Google Play Kobo
Quarry’s Blood
Hard Case Crime, $12.95 trade paper

MWA Grand Master Collins’s fine, action-packed 16th Quarry novel (after 2019’s Killing Quarry) brings the series to a fitting close. In 1983, Quarry, a former hit man who now goes after hit men, returns to the seedy club on Mississippi’s Biloxi Strip where, 10 years earlier, he murdered the owners. Luann, his humorless former sweetheart who helped in the killings, has since taken over running the club. Quarry has been following a hit man whose target appears to be Luann. His subsequent execution of the gangster behind the hit, Alex Brunner, leads to unforeseen complications. While raiding Brunner’s safe, he comes across two computer disks containing evidence of bribery incriminating Dixie Mafia biggies, cops, and politicians—evidence of local corruption that could put dozens of people in jail. He leaves town. Not until 2021, when a bestselling true-crime author tracks down the 69-year-old Quarry in the Midwest, does he discover what became of Luann and the floppy disks. Intriguing backstories, crafty revelatory connections, tongue-in-cheek humor, and blistering present-day battles make this entry sizzle. Noir fans will be sorry to see the last of Quarry. Agent: Dominick Abel, Dominick Abel Literary. (Nov.)

Is it the last of Quarry?


Fancy Anders, Nic Cage, A Suspenseful Release and More

Tuesday, August 17th, 2021
M.A.C. and Barbara Collins holding Suspense - His and Hers
E-Book: Amazon Purchase Link
Trade Paperback: Indiebound Purchase Link Amazon Purchase Link Books-A-Million Purchase Link Barnes & Noble Purchase Link

Suspense – His and Hers (subtitled Tales of Love and Murder) is available now, both in Kindle e-book and a handsome trade paperback. It collects stories by Barb and me both individually and together. Two Quarry short stories are included (“Guest Service” and “Quarry’s Luck”) and a rare Ms. Tree short story (the Edgar-nominated “Louise”). It’s a pleasantly plump collection (almost 300 pages) and I think you’ll like it. Wolfpack did a marvelous job on the cover.

Fancy Anders Goes to War: Who Killed Rosie the Riveter?
E-Book: Amazon Purchase Link

Speaking of marvelous covers, feast you eyes on Fay Dalton’s cover for Fancy Anders Goes to War, which is available now for pre-order at $2.99 in Kindle form. There will be a trade paperback edition as well, but that isn’t up for pre-order just yet. This is the first of three novellas I’ve done for NeoText about Fancy, who is a 24-year-old (obviously) female detective in Los Angeles during World War II. The subtitle is Who Killed Rosie the Riveter? The fantastic Ms. Dalton has, in addition to the cover, provided a full-page illustration for each of the ten chapters.

If you like to read on Kindle, an advantage is that Fay’s artwork is presented in color (well, a couple were intentionally left black-and-white for film noir reasons) whereas only the cover art will be in color in the trade paperback. These are short novels (hence the term novella) but longish ones, running 30,000 words each. They will make nice additions to the shelves of Luddites like me who prefer “real” books.

It is my intention, my hope, that the three Fancy Anders novellas will be collected in one book with the Fay Dalton art properly showcased. (The Fancy Anders trade paperbacks are POD and only the cover will be in color.) I had a wonderful time doing these stories and hope more of Fancy’s cases will find their way through my fingers to the pages of books. These may not be as hardboiled as Quarry or Nolan or Hammer, but then what is? Fancy is like a younger Ms. Tree and is not shy about taking bad people down violently.

* * *

My classic rock band Crusin’ will be performing at the Muscatine Art Center’s Ice Cream Social this coming Sunday. Details here.

Right now this is the final scheduled gig of our short season. I had hoped to line up a few more, but with the surge in Covid the better part of valor for Crusin’ is to fade into rehearsals for our much-postponed CD of original material. Rehearsing and recording that CD is our winter project. It was supposed to be last winter’s project, but….

Here is a link to a video of the second set of our recent Sunday Concert series performance. I warn you that the instrumental is waaaaay back – you can barely hear the keyboards and the punch of the guitar is dialed down from the actual event. That’s because this is a sound board recording and you get mostly vocals.

I’m providing this because I do think it captures the casual intimacy of the event, which is quite different from working a larger venue. Thanks to Chad Yocum for shooting the video and providing the link.

* * *
Nicolas Cage in Pig (2021)

As I may have mentioned, my son Nate and I are fans of actor Nicolas Cage. It’s odd to be a Nic Cage fan, because you never know whether the film at hand will be gold or dross, or something in between.

Some time ago Cage began taking (apparently) any job that comes his way if his price is met, and that price must not be sky high considering how many jobs he takes. This practice began some years ago when he had a tax problem that sent him spiraling from A-list to Direct-to-Video.

Cage was always quirky and for some an acquired taste. But here’s the thing: Nic always gives 100%. The film can be utter shit (and occasionally is – a few have caused even the loyal Collins boys to bail) but you never know when something really special is going to crop up.

Willy’s Wonderland, with the sublime premise of a defunct Chucky Cheese wanna-be restaurant becoming a haunted house for its mechanical animal musicians, has Cage giving a full-bore eccentric performance that almost elevates it to something special. Not quite, but for some of us, essential viewing. Primal is terrible, A Score to Settle rather good. You never know. A Cage movie is the surprise package of cinema.

Now and then, however, Nic and his collaborators knock it out of the park. Often he does extreme action and/or horror stuff – common among low-budget indies – and Mandy is something of a masterpiece. It’s sort of The Evil Dead without the laughs (except very dark ones) or the zombies. I would recommend it wholeheartedly to any even mildly adventurous movie fan.

But the current Pig (streaming for a price at the moment) is a reminder of just how great an actor Cage can be when a director handles him well and the material is strong. On the surface, it seems to be a revenge story, but that’s an assumption you’ll make that will prove wrong. It has tension and one violent scene, but it’s not an action movie. The premise sounds fried even for Cage: a hermit in the forest survives on the truffles he and his truffle pig find, which are sold to a city-boy hustler regularly; somebody beats Cage up, steals the pig, and Nic goes to the big city (Portland) to get his pig back.

If this sounds like you asked somebody to imagine a movie that even Nic Cage would reject, you’d be very, very wrong. It’s a wonderful movie and about all sorts of things, but revenge isn’t really one of them. Unexpectedly it becomes about being a chef, as opposed to a hermit, but really it explores loss and father-son dynamics. Pig centers on (get ready for it) an understated Cage performance that is Oscar worthy, and includes one of the best scenes you’ll ever see in any movie – what is that scene about? The hermit makes a chef cry in the latter’s trendy restaurant.

You can dismiss me as a crazy hermit who lives in Iowa if you like, but the loss will be yours.

* * *

Here is a delightful review of Antiques Carry On from Ron Fortier’s Pulp Fiction Reviews. But…it isn’t written by Ron! Suspense killing you? Read on…

A Trash ‘N’ Treasures Mystery
By Barbara Allan
Severn House
Guest Reviewer -Valerie Fortier

Ron isn’t into Cozy mysteries and when this one arrived in the mail, he dropped it on my desk top with the suggestion I give it a go. Months later it’s still sitting there and I decided to give it a try. As a Mom myself, I totally get the mother-daughter dynamics. Sometimes they gel, other times they are nothing but oil and water.

I would recommend you take time to meet Vivian and Brandy. The mother-daughter team that never misses a chance to inject humor and fun while investigating a new mystery. I really enjoyed the book; especially the great twist at the end in regards to who done it. Just when you think you’ve got it solved, there’s more to be revealed.

The book offers up a truly wonderful cast of characters to “cozy” up by the fire and share some time with.

Final note – This is the start and end of my reviewing career. Thanks, Ron.

* * *

Finally, here is an interesting, in-depth look at the film of Road to Perdition.