Posts Tagged ‘Podcasts’

Gilbert Gottfried, Get Back and Sondheim

Tuesday, November 30th, 2021
M.A.C. and Dave Thomas on Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast with Frank Santopadre

I haven’t heard much of it yet, but my appearance with Dave Thomas on Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast with Frank Santopadre – in support of The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton – is available now. Check out the podcast web site here.

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The Beatles: Get Back

The Beatles: Get Back, the new three-part documentary streaming on Disney Plus, may be destined for as much controversy as the original Let It Be (1970), which at the time Ringo Starr described (rightly) as “joyless.” The director of that previous documentary, Michael Lindsay-Hogg, is revealed as a vapid, unimaginative baby who substitutes a cigar for a rattle.

Already reviews have called the nearly eight-hour documentary both “aimless” and “riveting,” and it is admittedly as exhausting as it is exhaustive. But only the most casual of Beatles fans would not be engaged and moved by spending unfiltered time with these four young musicians who were – and are – so pivotal to worldwide popular culture.

Peter Jackson is a master filmmaker – this is the guy who made the great Meet the Feebles and Dead Alive, after all – and his storytelling via cutting and choice of image is as purposeful as it might seem random. He uses reaction shots – culled not necessarily from what is happening at the moment – for glue and to underline character, a technique that might seem dishonest but is vital to making something like this flow and achieve coherence.

The most basic aspect of Get Back is its immediacy – John Lennon and George Harrison are alive, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr are young men, and the right-now-of-it is startling. It doesn’t take long to realize these are real people, interacting in flawed, personal ways, and anyone who has been in a band will recognize at once the conflicts and alliances within this world of four humans.

These aren’t just any four humans, of course, although their Liverpool-lad humanity comes through – these are consequential humans. Laugh if you will, but this is something like having behind-the-scenes footage of the making of the Constitution, with Jefferson and Franklin on camera.

Perhaps the most fascinating and startling aspect is watching songs that have become a familiar part of our lives created before our eyes and ears. McCartney and Lennon struggle to find the right lyrics, Paul looking for something natural, Lennon something surrealistic – Ringo at a piano playing just the opening of “Octopus’s Garden” and Harrison leaning in and helping him take it further…all very casual.

Primarily it’s a character study although it’s in the context of ticking-clock suspense – Ringo has a film start coming up and the band has only a few weeks to write the new album and perform it live for a TV special. A lot of compromises and rescheduling accompanies the band’s apparent inability to do much more than screw around in the enormous movie studio they’ve been burdened with. But they get down to work (although a lot of warming up and goofing off follows) with the goal shifting but staying essentially similar. The documentary aspect of the TV special evolves into a feature film, but the pay-off – where to hold their first live performance in three years – remains elusive. Lindsay-Hogg has spectacularly bad ideas about where that might be shot – he is a one-man reminder of how dead-on This Is Spinal Tap was.

The doc shows a band in free fall. They have reached a point where all of them – even Ringo – need to go off on their own. The real, largely unspoken question is whether or not breaking off for solo albums and individual projects can stay in the context of the Beatles – can they be individuals and group members at the same time. This is the issue they haven’t faced.

In Part Three, Harrison – who quits the band in Part One, which becomes a major dramatic turning point – rather timidly suggests that maybe since he only gets a couple of songs per album he might want to do a whole album of his own. Lennon reacts favorably, but with a bit of surprise, as if that possibility had never occurred to him.

In Part One, McCartney tries hard to be the leader, to get things organized, and throughout he’s focused – really, obsessed – with having a goal, expressed as the documentary paying off in some way (likely a live concert). Lennon seems rather passive-aggressive – he’s not a problem, just less than enthusiastic and showing up late, with Yoko Ono sitting close beside him. While she is not disruptive, her presence changes the dynamic. Harrison quitting brings McCartney and Lennon together, in an effort to coax George back into the band, which (obviously) they do. By Part Three, McCartney swaps roles with Lennon, becoming vaguely passive-aggressive, often off by himself developing melodies and lyrics – his own engine now, not the band’s.

Still, Lennon and McCartney are working together, smiling, laughing, creating. You see, right before you, their spark. Their magic. And you understand why Harrison feels left out. Strangely, they are always accepting of each other’s music but rarely offer a compliment. Harrison comes in with several now-familiar songs, wonderful things, that receive nods and little smiles, but not much else.

Ringo, perhaps realizing the trouble he’s caused with his looming film start, says very little – he just does his job. Now and then that wonderful smile flashes, but mostly he seems melancholy, as if he alone knows the Magical Mystery Tour is nearly over.

And it’s almost frustrating, if fascinating, to hear such now-familiar songs as “Get Back,” “I Dig a Pony,” “The Long and Winding Road,” and “Two of Us,” refusing to come together. Even when an actual song emerges, they rarely get a take that satisfies them or longtime producer George Martin, a quietly looming presence. When the idea of a rooftop performance as the pay-off comes up, the shaggy shape these songs are in is almost frightening.

The Beatles, rooftop performance

And then the Beatles are on that rooftop and their performance is tight, dazzling, classic – definitive versions that made it onto the Let It Be album. And Lennon and McCartney are smiling at each other, grinning. Ringo smiles, too; even the reluctant, remote, jealous Harrison, is having fun. When they play “One After 909” – a formative Lennon/McCartney composition dating back as early as 1957 – their sense of the journey they’ve been on is palpable.

And joyous.

But it’s also the very definition of bittersweet – there they are, alive and well and playing their hearts out. We try not to linger on what we know that they don’t – death by gunfire, lung (and breast) cancer – and revel in their living presence.

Their undying presence.

* * *

When someone dies at 91, I suppose you can’t call it a tragedy. But losing Stephen Sondheim is a loss nonetheless. For many years he was somewhat off my radar – Company, A Little Night Music and Sunday in the Park With George seemed (from a distance) arty, the kind of thing New Yorkers get excited about…and I admit I am still not a fan of Sunday in the Park with George, which has an unsympathetic protagonist and a weak second act.

I got on board the Sondheim train by way of Sweeney Todd, thanks to a laserdisc of the Broadway production. I was (as the British say) gobsmacked, the tuneful darkness of it hitting me in the same spot that had turned me into a Bobby Darin fan at age 10, thanks to “Mack the Knife.” I found a laserdisc of Into the Woods and loved it, too – fairy tale fun in the first act, something Grimm in the second.

In 2001, with son Nate along, we witnessed a wonderful, intimate production of Pacific Overtures at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. This was the first time we’d seen a live, professional performance of a Sondheim musical, one of his best shows. At the same theater in 2007, we took in Passion with SNL’s Ana Gasteyer (so wonderful in the film version of the musical of Reefer Madness); a much undervalued show with a James M. Cain feel.

In 2003, Barb and I saw Bounce, Sondheim’s last produced musical, in Chicago (it was also known as Wise Guys, Gold!, and Road Show). It was a troubled show that never quite came together despite seemingly endless rewrites; but it was an opportunity to see a new Sondheim musical. The hilarious Richard Kind starred.

The only time we saw a Sondheim show on Broadway was a revival of Into the Woods in 2002 starring Vanessa Williams that was unfortunately dumbed down for tourists (like us?). The film version is good, but not a patch on the Broadway production (available on DVD and Blu-ray); same is true of Sweeney Todd – an interesting Tim Burton take on the material, but the original with Angela Lansbury can’t be beat (also on DVD and Blu-ray).

I came to realize I’d been a Sondheim fan long before Sweeney Todd – I just didn’t know it. But he was the co-lyricist of two musicals I liked very much – West Side Story and Gypsy – and he had written the music and lyrics for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

Stephen Sondheim

Sondheim appeals to the writer in me for his attention to language and character; the musician in me admires the way he does so while still coming up with memorable melodies. Some say he wasn’t a good man with a melody, but I’ve had too many Sondheim ear-worms for that to be true.

No question he’s on my short list of Broadway musical composers with Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart, Oscar Hammerstein, Lerner & Lowe, Frank Loesser, and Newley & Briccuse (Briccuse recently passed as well).

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We also saw an excellent TCM bio: Dean Martin: King of Cool directed by Tom Donahue. A star-studded (if somewhat alarmingly elderly) group of celebrities reminisce about Martin, who seems to have been something of an enigma even to those closest to him.

It’s a lovely piece, a little hard on Jerry Lewis, though Jerry probably has it coming – still, I loved seeing him and Dean together. Martin was an extremely shrewd, instinctive performer who knew his weaknesses and his strengths and could play off both. He was a singer in the Sinatra/Crosby mold until Jerry Lewis turned him into a straight man, and Martin was instantly one of the best. When he and Lewis broke off, he became a movie star, landing a straight role in The Young Lions – astonishing everyone with his ease in front of the camera…as if he hadn’t just starred in a blockbuster sixteen Martin & Lewis films.

When he needed a new nightclub persona, he crafted the well-known slightly inebriated version of himself, using Joe E. Lewis as a model. Reportedly his on-stage glass was filled with apple juice.

He resisted Sinatra’s insistent carousing, preferring to watch westerns in his hotel room. He relished his family life (though remained somewhat distant) and probably avoided extended social interaction with Hollywood royalty knowing his uneducated Steubenville, Ohio, background wasn’t up to it. He played a lot of golf and made his TV series accommodate his schedule and whims.

It’s sad to have to watch his decline, leavened by his truce with Lewis, but scarred by the loss of his son. The filmmakers, interviewed after the doc by TCM’s Ben Mankiewicz, make an interesting observation. Figures in popular culture like Martin – and the Beatles and Stephen Sondheim – are human beings who decline and eventually die like the rest of us. But once they are gone, they snap back into place at their peak – their best – and John Wayne becomes the star of Rio Bravo and The Searchers and not a frail shell of himself, dying of cancer as he receives an honor. In their prime again.

They live on in the way we want them to. The Beatles’ music has already lasted over half a decade. Sondheim’s musicals will be presented as long as there are stages. Dean Martin will charm and serenade us, just as he and Jerry are still able to crack us up.

But I am at an age when I find myself tearing up at the damnedest things.

Like four lads from Liverpool playing “One After 909″ on a rooftop while clueless bobbies try to shut the music down.

* * *

Titan Books celebrates 40 years, and my Mike Hammer editor Andrew Sumner says nice things! You’ll have to scroll down, but on the trip pause when you see an interesting book, even if I didn’t write it.

Finally, there’s a good review of Quarry’s Vote here, if you scroll down; too bad the reviewer expected Quarry and me to be “woke” thirty-six years ago (I got knocked down a “star” for that!).


Spillane, Soho & Jimmy Leighton

Tuesday, November 9th, 2021

The last book giveaway of the year – our biggest – is still underway – we have three copies left. If you want either The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton by Dave Thomas and me, and Fancy Anders Goes to War with Fay Dalton illustrating my novella, you still have a shot.

As usual, write me at and provide your snail-mail address (even if you’ve won before) and your preference between the two books (if you don’t want a specific title, say so please). You pledge to write a review for Amazon – where both books are exclusively available – unless you hate what you read and don’t want to.

Amazon reviews and ratings are always important, but with these NeoText titles – unavailable in brick-and-mortar bookstores, and issued too late for the trade reviewers – they are crucial. If you like one or both of these books, please leave a review (and it can be short, a line or two). You can even rate them without posting reviews.

There are a bunch of links below to interviews Dave Thomas and I did together, but first you may wish to check out these links to sample chapters from The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton.

And at Crime Reads.

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If you’ve been following these updates of late, you know that I have been deferring somewhat to the serialized chapters of my literary memoir in progress, A Life in Crime at the NeoText site. The first ten chapters have appeared and now the memoir goes into sleep mode. I will post more of these when new books come out that can use some background (and a push).

The plan was two-fold – the chapters allowed me to promote both Jimmy and Fancy, and – as I wrote the chapters well in advance – provide me time to work on the Spillane biography. I have completed that, or will very soon – my co-author Jim Traylor is going over the manuscript now.

It’s a big book and I hope will be perceived as a major one – it’s over 100,000 words, the complete life of Frank Morrison “Mickey” Spillane with all of his novels discussed, as well as the film and TV adaptations. The bio itself is 85,000 words, the remaining 15,000 (“The Spillane Files”) consisting of bibliographic material and odds and ends…sort of deleted scenes, like little essays about Spillane and Ayn Rand, the gangster named Mickey Spillane, and the possibility Mickey wrote as “Frank Morris” for the pulps.

With luck, the book will be out from Mysterious Press in about a year as part of the 75th anniversary of Mike Hammer celebration.

This one really is years in the making. Just short of a decade and a half ago, Jim Traylor spent weeks in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, digging through Spillane’s letters and other papers. Over the intervening years he interviewed numerous Spillane friends and family – obviously, Mickey’s contemporaries were getting up there and Jim spoke with any number of them who are now gone. He did several passes on the manuscript over the years. We interrupted the work on the bigger book to do Mickey Spillane On Screen for McFarland in 2012. We’ve worked hard not to repeat ourselves, having done One Lonely Knight: Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer decades ago.

While a lot of critical ground is covered in the book, I took the approach of making a linear story out of Mickey’s life, which was a colorful one to say the least. I gathered material I had collected on Spillane – magazines, newspaper articles, books – since I was in junior high, and my office floor looked like I was expecting the film crew from Hoarders to arrive any minute.

I considered suggesting the title The Mystery of Mickey Spillane as I began to realize that all of his disparate material provided puzzle pieces that could be assembled into the picture of a man. I knew the man in his later years, but I never met the young or even middle-aged Spillane. Many revelations emerged in the intense three-month process of writing the final draft.

Immodestly I will say I think Jim and I have written a major book on the most interesting figure in mystery fiction. In a year or so, you’ll be able to see if you agree.

* * *

Barb and I, regular filmmgoers (usually once-a-week) for many, many years, have gone out to the movies only rarely since Covid hit. Even though we are now triple-vaxxed, we are still careful – for one thing, our six year-old grandson Sam has asthma and Barb has been sitting with him and his three year-old sister in the afternoons while son Nate and their mother Abby work from home.

Barb is, of course, an amazing human being. She writes in the morning and then afternoons plays with those kids Monday through Thursday at my son and his wife’s house half-a-block up the street, and then we entertain the two kids Friday afternoons here. Sam and I generally watch a 3-D movie together.

Things are changing as Sam’s sister Lucy is now in Day Care, and Sam is going to get his Covid shot this afternoon. In a matter of weeks, he’ll be fully vaccinated and we can return to something more like normal. Or anyway the new normal.

Barb and I have only attended a handful of movies in a theater over these last vaccinated months – I believe Wrath of Man, Black Widow, No Time to Die and now Last Night in Soho are the only cinematic excursions we’ve made. We tend to go at off-times – yesterday, for example, we went to a 5:10 pm show. Only three other people were in the theater.

One Night in SoHo poster

That didn’t surprise me, really, because few people seem to be attending Last Night in Soho, and let me tell you (as Bob Hope used to say) it’s their loss.

I might have waited until this one was streaming if my Ms. Tree co-creator Terry Beatty hadn’t written me to say Last Night in Soho was “the best Brian DePalma movie Brian DePalma never made.” Now, Terry and I were at one time stone DePalma freaks, based upon Sisters, Obsession, Blow Out and especially Phantom of the Paradise. Most early and mid-period DePalma rated high with the Collins/Beatty team.

I lagged, and I think Terry did too (but I can’t speak for him), when the likes of Snake Eyes and Mission to Mars came along. But Terry’s description of Last Night in Soho resonated – I knew I had to see it in a theater.

Also, the writer/director Edgar Wright is sizing up as a major filmmaker. We’re talking Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Baby Driver. And I think Last Night in Soho may be his best work yet, though it’s difficult to discuss without spoiling it, because it takes a number of surprising and yet satisfying turns, delighting here, disturbing there.

Here’s a little bit of plot for you. A shy young woman – beautifully played by Thomasin McKenzie – from the sticks gets accepted into a fashion school in London; she has an affinity for tuneful 1960s music – the soundtrack swims in the stuff – and when the realities of modern Soho disappoint, she finds herself dreaming or fantasizing or possibly even time traveling to the area in the mid-sixties, where she begins to identify with what seems to be a fantasy projection of herself played by the dizzyingly charismatic Anna Taylor-Joy of Queen’s Gambit fame. There are strong hints that this Alice through the looking glass has had mental problems in the past, and we know that her mother was a sensitive, troubled soul who took her own life.

I loved No Time to Die, but it pales next to the thrill of seeing the young woman at the heart of this tale walk into a Soho landscape where a gigantic looming marquee for Thunderball glows in the night like a neon memory. That moment alone is worth seeing Last Night in Soho on a big screen. In a theater.

I’m not sure this movie is for everyone. It helps to have a feel for ‘60s music (anyone who considers what’s been happening for the past twenty years in music, at least in mainstream popular music, may be bewildered by things like an actual melody attached to accessible poetic lyrics). And you have to be willing to take the ride, a ride that doesn’t always go where you expect it to (what an effing pleasure)!

A lot of movies try to create the feeling of a dream, and this one accomplishes that, including the shifts in time and place and the feeling of being at the center of a dream and watching it at the same time. And yet you sense there’s a grounded story underneath all the questions being raised and the moods being bumped up against each other. But you have to be patient.

Not a movie for stupid people. That’s why you’ll like it.

* * *

Dave Thomas and I have been getting some nice attention for The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton.

Here Dave and I are on Sci-Fi Talk.

Here’s a wide-ranging, long Jimmy-centric interview with me at Word Balloons.

Here’s Dave on a Canadian news program, starting with his Bob Hope impression and winding up with Jimmy Leighton!

Finally, here’s a great print interview with Dave that really lets you know what Jimmy Leighton is about and talks about how the collaboration came to be.


Mommy Streams, Backlist Bubbles, We Binge

Tuesday, May 12th, 2020

Both Mommy and Mommy’s Day are now streaming on Amazon Prime. (Links: Mommy; Mommy’s Day) How long they will be there I can’t say (Eliot Ness: An Untouchable Life has disappeared, though some other streaming services have it). If you’re a Prime member, it’s included.

[Note from Nate: Eliot Ness: An Untouchable Life is currently on Tubi, free (with ads?)]

So if you haven’t seen both or either of these films, now’s your chance. If you have the earlier full-screen versions, this is an opportunity to see the widescreen versions that Phil Dingeldein and I recently labored to create. I do warn everyone not to expect HD quality (despite being streamed as HD) – the picture (particularly on Mommy) is rather soft. But it’s probably the best either one is going to look.

As I’ve said, compromises were made to be able to afford the wonderful casts.

remain proud of these films, and the Blu-ray double-feature release has received mostly good to great notices. People seem to understand where these little movies were coming from – which is to say blackly humorous melodrama, and a tribute to The Bad Seed and to Patty McCormack herself.

Mommy and Mommy’s Day are streaming on Fandango, too, for a couple of bucks. It may show up elsewhere (I am not kept terribly well in the loop by the distributor). (Links: Mommy; Mommy’s Day)

The novel versions will be coming out again one of these days, part of a package I am negotiating with a major e-book publisher for the seven remaining novels on my backlist (Amazon has most of the rest, Dover has the first two Jack and Maggie Starr novels).

We are also discussing a group of collections of my short fiction (and Barb’s), reprinting Blue Christmas, Too Many Tomcats, and Murder – His and Hers, plus a follow-up to that last title, a collection of my horror stories, and two collections of the stories Matt Clemens and I have done together.

Pulling these stories together has been a big job. They go back to the nineties in many cases, and were written using the word-processing program (wait for it) WordStar, and then converted to now nearly obsolete versions of WordPerfect maybe twenty years ago, and finally to Word. So while I have most of the files in some form, the dizzying array of conversion glitches causes twitches.

For the horror collection I decided to include the radio scripts of “Mercy” and “House of Blood,” written for the Fangoria radio show, Dreadtime Stories. I had adapted a number of my short stories for producer Carl Amari, but had two indie movie ideas I wanted to get up on their feet, and that’s how the two scripts above came to be written. The scripts were in a format (basically a very narrow strip of copy, maybe four inches wide, that required hours of work transforming them into more standard pages of text that wouldn’t bewilder or annoy readers. Fortunately, I have a staff to do such scut work. No, wait – I don’t!

Ultimately, though, it will mean the vast majority of my work will be available in e-book (and real books), with only a handful of things lost to the mists of time.

* * *

What have Barb and I been watching lately? Now that we don’t go to the movies anymore?

We finally got around to Ozark, which had been recommended to me by smart people, who were right. It’s a terrific show, very well-acted and full of twists and turns. Several people had told me that somebody (or somebodies) at the series seemed to be fans of mine or were influenced by me, and I think that might be the case. If so, it’s flattering. If not, it’s not the first time I’ve been deluded.

But there’s a hillbilly family reminiscent of the Comforts from the Nolan novels, a character called Boyd (Quarry’s partner in those novels), and a major villain in the first of the three seasons so far is played by the actor (Peter Mullen) who was the Broker in the Quarry TV series. And the good man doing bad things to keep his family afloat is Road to Perdition 101. Maybe half a dozen times I turned to Barb and said, “At least somebody’s reading me.”

The series itself is obviously something that wouldn’t exist without Breaking Bad, and it challenges you (in a Quarry-like way) to root for and identify with people who are making really poor choices. I don’t mean to overstate any debt anybody owes me, because (a) I owe plenty of debts myself, and (b) I may be full of shit about this.

The Guardian describes Ozark thusly: “Ozark follows the misadventures of Marty Byrde (the perpetually clenched Jason Bateman), a financial adviser forced to relocate from Chicago to Osage Beach, Missouri, where he launders money on a scale that would give Al Capone a cluster migraine.”

Bateman uses his standard glib, slightly put-upon persona to nice comic effect initially, and you are slightly amazed at first by how well that persona works in a dark melodrama. But as that melodrama grows darker, and the consequences ever more dire, Bateman’s performance deepens. Other mesmerizing performances come from Laura Linney, as Bateman’s even more glib wife, whose sunny smile delivers manipulative self-interest in such a “helpful” way; and Julia Garner’s Ruth, the most original and unique character in Ozark, a hillbilly girl with a good heart and a crushed soul, capable of kindness and murder, when either is called for.

I like the series and I think you will, too.

We also have recently enjoyed the surprise gift of a second season of Rick Gervais’ After Life, the touching drama/comedy (you don’t think I could ever type the vile word “dramedy,” do you?) that explores the road back for a husband consumed by grief over the loss of a wonderful wife.

The very special thing about After Life is its signature combination of mean humor and genuine sentiment. It’s a show about a man so depressed that suicide is an understandable option, and it’s often frequently hilarious.

I am a Gervais fan and have been for a long, long time. This little series isn’t much talked about, but it may represent his best work.

On the film front, we have watched a lot of British comedies of the late ‘40s and 1950s – such Alastair Sim gems as our perennial favorite, The Belles of St. Trinian’s, but also Laughter in Paradise and School for Scoundrels; and Alec Guinness in All at Sea, The Captain’s Paradise and Last Holiday.

And the most current season of Midsomer Murders, a favorite comfort food of ours, seemed particularly strong after a few missteps the season before.

* * *

Bookgasm, which is a book review site you should be regularly visiting, has posted a wonderful review of Girl Can’t Help It that’s been picked up all over the place, and I provided a link last week. But in case you haven’t seen it, I’m going to share it here, right now:

Notoriously prolific author Max Allan Collins has added a second entry to his Krista Larson series, GIRL CAN’T HELP IT. It’s also a stretch back to Collins’ past (and present) as a rock and roll musician. True! I didn’t know this either but Collins apparently wrote the song “Psychedelic Siren” recorded by The Daybreakers in 1968 (here, watch it on YouTube). In the author’s note, he states this is the first time he has mined his rock and roll experience for a book. Well dang it, more of this please. Mr. Collins.

The first book in the series, Girl Most Likely, features Krista Larson as the Chief of Police in Galena, Illinois. She is assisted by her able staff but also by her father, a retired cop from the Dubuque Police Department who does invaluable detective work. In this second work, Girl Can’t Help It, the Larson duo is back on the job.

The book title refers to a song title recorded by local Galena band Hot Rod & The Pistons. They scored a huge hit with the song in the 80s when retro rockabilly hit big (think Stray Cats). They managed two albums and then faded away. But after their election into the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, they’re set for a reunion gig and maybe even a little tour. The town of Galena is excited and creates a special musical festival to kick off the whole thing. All well and good.

Until one of the members is found dead of a heart attack in a bathtub. Oh well, old guys do die. But then a second band member commits suicide and his apartment has been ransacked. This hits the Larsons as fishy, and they’re fairly convinced that both deaths are murders.

Of course, we the readers know these are murders because we have chapters written from the point of view of the murderer. The crimes continue to escalate and it’s a battle between the murderer and the police department to see who will come out on top and if the entire lineup of Hot Rod & The Pistons will be killed off one by one.

Everybody knows Max Allan Collins by now. He has multiple series in place, writes another successful series with his wife (the duo goes by Barbara Allan) and is one of the solid bricks in the pyramid of genre writers over the past 40+ years. A lovely, smooth and polished style coupled with a brisk pace makes for quick reading short chapters, believable characters, behaviors and dialogue. If you like any of Collins’ works, you’ll like GIRL CAN’T HELP IT. I think this series has real promise. Recommended. —Mark Rose

Get it at Amazon.

A fun podcast about books, The Inside Flap, was kind enough to give Do No Harm and Nate Heller some attention. The Do No Harm stuff happens a bit after the hour mark. You’ll hear one of the participants wish that I would have Heller solve the JFK assassination (guess what books I sent along to them).

The great blog Paperback Warrior is posting their all-time ten favorite posts, and the one focusing on The First Quarry is #4.

Here’s a great interview with my buddy Charles Ardai, touching on our projects together.

The fantastic Stiletto Gumshoe site talks about Mike Hammer and Masquerade for Murder, and provides some links to things you may have missed.

This nice review of Antiques Fire Sale is a little quirky – doesn’t like all the talking to the reader, and thinks referring to Vivian as “Mother” is disrespectful – but some nice insights are on hand, as well. Loving us is preferred, but liking us is just fine, too.

Finally, check out this terrific Mystery Tribute piece about Mike Hammer and Masquerade for Murder.


LIVE Podcast Tonight

Monday, August 29th, 2016

M.A.C. has a live podcast where he’ll be discussing his recent and upcoming books (and the QUARRY TV show). Check it out live tonight (Monday August 29) at 9 Eastern / 8 Central.

Here’s the Facebook event page: Link

And where to listen (the archived episode will also be later available): Link

You can call in during the show at (347) 633-9609.