Posts Tagged ‘Reviews’

Bam! Pow! Zap!

Tuesday, July 20th, 2021

To Live and Spy in Berlin received a nice boost from BookBub. The new release price is $3.99 for the e-book; it’s $14.99 for the “real” book.

And on Wednesday the San Diego virtual Comic Con link with my panel with the great Andrew Sumner of Titan will be available. The discussion includes the upcoming Titan Ms. Tree third volume, the Nolan reprints from Hard Case Crime, and the Mike Hammer 75th anniversary publications from various publishers…and more.

The trade paperback edition of Eliot Ness and the Mad Butcher, the non-fiction work by A. Brad Schwartz and myself, is available now. It has a slightly different, tighter subtitle, at my urging: Hunting a Serial Killer at the Dawn of Modern Criminology. The info is here.

It looks like both Mommy and Mommy 2: Mommy’s Day are available for streaming on Roku.

Getting back to Live and Spy in Berlin, the indefatigable J. Kingston Pierce at the definitive mystery fiction web site The Rap Sheet said the following about John Sand:

I read and enjoyed both Come Spy With Me and Live Fast, Spy Hard, Max Allan Collins and Matthew V. Clemens’ initial two John Sand espionage novels, though I haven’t yet had a chance to write about them. And now the pressure to do so is even greater: Collins writes in his blog that the series’ third installment, To Live and Spy in Berlin, is due out on July 14, from Wolfpack. That makes three fast-paced, James Bond-ish adventures published in just nine months! No wonder I can’t keep up. “Will there be more John Sand books?” Collins asks. “That’s up to you. We have left something of an incredible effing cliffhanger [in book three] that needs resolving, so it’s on your conscience not ours if sales don’t justify that resolution.”
* * *

Barb and I took in Black Widow this weekend and I’m happy to report it’s a good film. It concentrates on espionage and action/adventure, and character interaction, particularly between Black Widow and her sister, well-portrayed by Scarlett Johansson and a scene-stealing Florence Pugh. There’s a surprising amount of humor and the Marvel-style, sometimes wearying action sequences don’t really get out of hand till the last half hour.

I could not help, in watching Black Widow, but flash onto a complaint a reviewer had recently about To Live and Spy in Berlin, specifically that John Sand was not a realistic character but rather a “cartoon.” While I would prefer the more exact “comic strip character,” I don’t argue with that designation.

Ever since I began also being a writer of comics, my novel writing has frequently been the target of reviewers who (rather lazily I think) remind potential book readers that I am a lowly comics writer. This has happened less post-Road to Perdition, which was a key component of the new attitude toward comics, i.e., graphic novels.

But I used to have reviewers who would look at, say, Nate Heller and write, “Bam! Pow! Zap!” in regard to my prose writing – sometimes in a kidding way, others in a more dismissive manner. The idea that anyone would look at Nate Heller and think “comics character” is absurd, but these reviewers knew I was writing the Dick Tracy strip and took a predictable cheap shot.

I think generally – and again, Road to Perdition played a role in changing attitudes in and about the field – readers mostly now understand that the comics form accommodates everything from over-the-top superhero to grimly realistic real life and everything that falls between. It’s a storytelling form with as many, actually more, capabilities than most others.

When the comics label on a writer is used, however, it’s almost always disparaging – meaning the writer is producing kid’s stuff or ridiculously over-melodramatic junk.

So is John Sand a comic strip character in the sense that his adventures are unrealistic and run to outrageous melodrama? I would say yes to that. And it’s intentional. But that does not mean (as a few detractors of the series say) the John Sand novels are spoofs. I’m getting a bit tired of having to say this, but Austin Powers, Derek Flynt and Dean Martin’s Matt Helm are spoofs. John Sand is an homage to Fleming’s Bond (and the early Bond films) and something of a pastiche with a dollop of my historical fiction approach. Bond, by the way, was in addition to novels a long-running comic strip signed by Fleming and pre-dating the films (Connery cast, in part, because he resembled the James Bond of the UK comic strip).

James Bond UK Comic Strip

The problem I run into – and those of you who drop by here frequently are aware of this – is the reader who likes one or two of the series (or one-shot novels) I write, and is confused, irritated or even angered by others. Of course, sometimes it’s easy to tell which Max Allan Collins is performing today – no one is likely to confuse Antiques Fire Sale with Killing Quarry or G.I. Joe with Nate Heller in Better Dead.

On the other hand, most – actually, much – of what I write is melodrama. Kitchen-sink realism interests me not a whit. My technique, which may or may not always be successful, is to layer a believable, even realistic surface on a story that is larger than life (“over the top,” in the view of detractors). That’s common to Antiques Fire Sale and Killing Quarry. No apologies.

I realize it can be confusing. Mike Hammer is more in the vein of John Sand (not surprisingly, since Bond was a British take on Hammer, largely) but would seem to be more along the lines of Quarry or Nate Heller. But my responsibility is to do the best job I can whichever road I go down on a given project.

And I am a professional writer. This is how I make my living, how I keep the lights on around this joint. This means I write for various markets and even multiple audiences. I admit it’s a frustration when a reader gets mad because, say, Girl Can’t Help It features people-next-door protagonists in a small-town setting. That’s actually a pretty good example – I do run into Antiques readers who love the Girl books, but would likely be appalled by Quarry.

Another aspect of course is the need for me to stay engaged. When I come to Quarry or Nate Heller after doing books that aren’t about them, I do so with renewed energy and interest. Robert B. Parker and I started out about the same time. You may have noticed he did just a bit better than I did in the world of publishing. But had one of my early series taken off – Nolan or Quarry specifically – I might have spent the bulk of my career writing chiefly about one of them…and going quietly nuts. Rich, but nuts.

I like that I have created a bunch of things, written over 100 books about a bunch of different protagonists in different settings and even eras.

Here’s an example of my approach, and it will demonstrate why some readers embrace my work and others don’t like it at all. The Caleb York books grow out of an unproduced screenplay Mickey Spillane wrote for John Wayne in the 1950s. When I was asked to write a series about York, I decided to approach it (and the first book, The Legend of Caleb York, a novelization of Mickey’s screenplay) as if I were doing a 1950s western movie that might have starred Randolph Scott or Audie Murphy.

In other words, the Hollywood Myth of the West, which had little to do with the actual Old West. I did this unashamedly and with a certain amount of delight. But at the same time, the world Caleb and his cast are plopped down in is a rather realistic one, with a lot of research brought to bear. York will shoot it out in the kind of Main Street gunfight that almost never really happened, but if he goes into a hardware store in the 1880s, by God it will be an 1880s hardware store. A bad guy right out of High Noon will have his roots in Quantrill’s Raiders. It’s a mix.

It’s trying to provide a recognizable realistic surface and undercarriage to a tale that is mythic, larger-than-life.

One of the things I try to do here is let you know what I’m up to with whatever my latest book is. I think I’ve made it clear than To Live and Spy in Berlin is neither Austin Powers nor John le Carré. Matt Clemens and I knew damn well we were over the top. But we did it with a twinkle in our eye but, while we were in the middle of the writing, a conviction in the reality of our fairy tale world.

* * *

The Wild Dog controversy raged on for a week but has cooled somewhat. I have nothing more to say about it, right now anyway.

However, one earnest soul reminded everyone that I had killed Moon Maid almost right out of the gate when I took over the writing of the Dick Tracy comic strip in 1977. This point was made, apparently, to show I had little respect for what had gone before. The Earnest Soul asked, “What did Chester Gould think?”

Well, here’s the thing. Chester Gould was still signing the strip with me and his assistant Rick Fletcher. Chet was consulting on a regular basis and knew, and understood, that the Tribune Syndicate wanted us to remove all remnants of the moon era from Dick Tracy. He had already dumped most of it himself.

So what did Chester Gould think? He may have been reluctant, but he went along. And, as I say, put his name on the strip…above mine.

* * *

Here’s a nice write-up about To Live and Spy in Berlin from our pal Sean Leary at quadcities.com.

M.A.C.

Sand Number Three and Wild Dog Goes Number Two

Tuesday, July 13th, 2021
To Live and Spy in Berlin cover
Paperback: Indiebound Bookshop.org Amazon Books-A-Million (BAM) Barnes & Noble (B&N) Powell's
E-Book: Amazon

The third in the John Sand Trilogy – To Live and Spy In Berlin – comes out tomorrow, Wednesday July 14.

Both my co-author Matthew Clemens and I consider this the best of the three, although we are proud of each one individually and more so collectively.

As Matt and I have often expressed, the John Sand novels reflect our love of Ian Fleming’s Bond novels and the movies they spawned, particularly the first six (five of which starred Sean Connery). There’s been some confusion from people thinking we’re doing spoofs when homage is more like it. Possibly pastiche, although I think we go beyond that.

The books imagine John Sand as the “real-life” spy the world’s most famous fictional spy was based upon. Sand has a new wife, Stacey, and is working for a new international espionage organization. We put him – them – in an historical context, so a few famous faces turn up in each novel. And in the first three, John F. Kennedy has chosen Sand as his go-to spy.

We pulled this off in a short period of time, and while we hope to do more Sand novels, we admit to being bushed. We plot them together, share the research, stay in constant communication while Matt writes a rough draft, after which I write my draft, still staying in touch with my co-author. It is as genuine a collaboration as you are likely to find, rivaled only by Barb and me on the Antiques series.

I refer to this as the John Sand Trilogy because whether it goes beyond that number of entries is wholly in your hands – yours and whatever readers otherwise stumble onto what we think is a very entertaining series.

No book giveaway yet, but stayed tuned.

* * *

My panel on Ms. Tree, Mike Hammer and Nolan for the virtual San Diego Comic Con is at 12 PM to 1 PM on Friday, July 23. Info here.

* * *

Some of you may be aware of the fuss regarding Wild Dog that was splashed all over the Internet last week (and still going). This is how CBR.com related it, relying on Bleeding Cool:

Wild Dog co-creator Terry Beatty slammed DC Comics for its upcoming Suicide Squad: Get Joker series, which depicts Wild Dog as being one of the insurrectionist who took part in the January 6th Capitol Insurrection.

Bleeding Cool posted a number of panels from the upcoming Brian Azzarello and Alex Maleev project, which shows the Suicide Squad paired with Red Hood to hunt down the Joker to finally make him pay for his crimes, and Wild Dog is available to be part of the Suicide Squad because he was in prison after being arrested during the Capitol Insurrection.

In the leaked panels, Wild Dog even brags about defecating on the desk of the Speaker of the House. He also says stuff like, “Garbage that’s been happenin’ in this country…it’s all fucking lawless…all the while we’re being regulated to think.”

Beatty, who co-created Wild Dog with writer Max Allan Collins, shared his displeasure with this new take on his creation on his Facebook page, “This is not the Wild Dog Max Allan Collins and I created. We are both angered and appalled at this offensive and out of character reworking of our hero. Yes, he was a vigilante. Yes, he was a gun nut.* But he wasn’t a conspiracy theory idiot or leader of a mob. This blatant disregard and disrespect for the creators’ intent is a slap in the face to both of us.”

Beatty referenced the CW version of Wild Dog, portrayed by Hispanic actor, Rick Gonzalez, as being a reason the artist thinks that this is a particularly bad idea, “It seems additionally insulting, considering the positive portrayal of Wild Dog as a POC on the CW ARROW TV series. To now make him the leader of a mob of racist, violent, moronic goons pretty much destroys any possibility of future use of him as an actual hero — vigilante or not.”

Wild Dog was introduced by Beatty and Collins in a miniseries for DC in 1987, as an urban vigilante who takes on the mob after his girlfriend is murdered. He later appeared in a series of stories by Collins and Beatty in Action Comics Weekly.

Beatty ended his missive by noting, “As the co-creator of Wild Dog, I need to say loud and clear, that what DC and Azzarello are currently presenting is not my Wild Dog, and neither Max nor I approve.”

Since then Terry has had more to say on his Facebook page (some of which has been quoted elsewhere). I was asked for my take on the matter by Bleeding Cool’s Rich Johnston.

Here’s what I wrote (with a title that was not used):

DOG POOP
Max Allan Collins

My first reaction at discovering Wild Dog had been recruited into the Suicide Squad as the leader of the Jan. 6 Insurrection as a defecating Proud Boy-style seditionist was bewildered shock. Basically, “Huh?”

That quickly grew to rage, expressed mostly as, “Fuck DC,” and “Fuck the writer.” I shared these sentiments with Wild Dog’s artist/co-creator, Terry Beatty, and he basically tried to calm me down. But, obviously, it gradually worked him into a rabid lather, too.

For me, it’s settled into disappointment and disgust. Wild Dog was conceived as a home-grown costumed hero. No cape, no cowl, just what could be put together out of such items as a hockey mask (with its Jason resonance) and body armor and real-world stuff from a hardware store and a home workshop. The usual “what if” all fiction writers operate from – “what if” somebody decided to actually be a costumed hero?

The results were not always beneficial. When Wild Dog found himself confronted by a would-be Bucky to his Captain America, despite our hero’s best efforts to discourage the Pup’s participation, the child is nearly killed. Terry and I pursued this with Ms. Tree – she was a vigilante, too, but wound up both in jail and in a mental institution. I might add in the Ms. Tree feature, Terry and I explored such then-current (and still current, unfortunately) topics as date rape, abortion clinic bombings, and gay bashing.

Some defenders of what we see as a perverted use of our creation dismiss it on the grounds that Wild Dog is a minor, forgotten character. Well, tell that to DC, who have used the character in at least three other comics, most recently as a cast member of the Cave Carson comic book, and to the CW network, where Wild Dog was a recurring character on Arrow.

Wild Dog debuted in a four-issue mini-series, had a regular slot in Action Weekly, and a “Special” double-length one-shot. In addition Terry is an Eisner-winning Batman artist, and we were Eisner nominees for our Ms. Tree work at DC. I wrote a year of Batman as well as two Batman graphic novels and was the initial writer of the Tim Burton-era Batman newspaper strip. My graphic novel (with Richard Piers Rayner), Road to Perdition, generated an Academy Award-winning film that is often cited as one of the best comic book movies ever made, and the graphic novel itself appears on many “Best of” lists. As recently as 2011 Terry and I did Return to Perdition for DC.

So what?

So Terry and I both have long relationships with DC and might have expected better where one of our creations is concerned. Yes, DC owns the rights to the character, but simple courtesy and common decency might suggest going down this path with Wild Dog was ill-advised – and that at least the creators should be warned. After all, invoking the Jan. 6 riot was bound to attract attention and controversy – shock value was the point, after all.

Of course we weren’t informed, just as we were not told about Wild Dog being used on the Arrow TV show. We weren’t paid for that (one of the few things our contract gave us) until that fact went public. I have worked with many terrific people at DC, but DC itself remains what it’s always been – a corporation built on the bones of two Cleveland teenagers.

As for Brian Azzarello, who I have never met, I have to wonder what kind of writer uses the creation of another writer in such a reckless, disrespectful manner. Azzarello is one of a generation of comics writers who owe a certain debt to our Ms. Tree, the first successful crime comic book in decades when it appeared in 1981. Still the longest running private eye comic book of all time (50 issues plus specials), it paved the way for everything that followed. We might have expected better thanks than this.

DC owning Wild Dog doesn’t stop it being characterized as my work – the fame of Road to Perdition guarantees I will be mentioned in the context of a character who is tied to a political movement I abhor.

But a modicum of consideration from the publisher, and some respect from the writer, is too much to expect from the company and talent who ignore Bill Finger’s Batman in favor of Batman fingering Catwoman.

Wild Dog
* * *

The Bleeding Cool story on Wild Dog, with more Terry Beatty responses and a lot of comments (where I weigh in here and there) can be seen here. Most of the comments are supportive; some are asinine.

Here is a wonderful Mike Hammer write-up with a focus on Complex 90.

Here’s a favorable if slightly patronizing Bookgasm review of the new Antiques Carry On.

Finally, Atomic Junkshop serves up a swell look at the Caleb York series with a great art and wonderful words.

M.A.C.

Don’t Bug Me, Baby

Tuesday, July 6th, 2021
Crusin' at Proof Social 2021
Crusin’ at Proof Social, l to r, M.A.C., Steve Kundel, Bill Anson, Scott Anson

The gig Saturday, July 3, at Proof Social in Muscatine went very well, especially considering it had been two years since Crusin’s last outing.

This was the first public performance with bass player Scott Anson (our guitar player Bill’s son). Scott filled in for Brian Van Winkle at the last performance – a private function in 2019 – before Covid sidelined us and everybody. He is a terrific bass player and a real asset to the band. Of course, it was bittersweet without Brian, whose premature, unexpected passing remains hard to accept.

We had a number of my fellow classmates of ‘66 Muscatine High School grads who came out for a kind of unofficial 55th reunion. But the performance on the patio outside the club (the same patio where we performed a number of times in past years for the Second Sunday concert series) enjoyed both nice weather and a standing room only crowd reflecting a broad demographic. My old pal from early Crusin’ days, Charlie Koenigsaecker, brought a group down from Iowa City. Charlie ran sound for us for back in the day and is a popular dj with great taste in addition to working at the Iowa City Library.

Another old friend, Doug Kreiger, came up to me and – once we’d kidded each other for a while – thanked me quite sincerely for all the music and stories I’d shared with my hometown (and beyond) over the years. It was a nice moment and an unexpected expression of sentiment.

I do find myself reflecting on all the years of music, knowing that the road ahead is limited in that regard whereas storytelling is less so. The loading in and out – as I mentioned last time – is so onerous that it calls into question whether or not it’s worth the effort. The day after, as I write this, I feel like I was hit by a truck. That was always the case after a band job, for the last three decades anyway, but now it feels like a bigger truck.

Gigs are unpredictable, always, and after a nice evening with weather cooperating, darkness fell and bugs attracted to the lights illuminating the band swarmed us, like Pappy Yokum getting assaulted by hordes of locusts as he tried to protect the turnip crop. These were tiny bugs, unidentifiable but similar to gnats, though they weren’t biting, just turning my keyboards into a gummy, sticky runway and clinging to my exposed flesh the same way. This didn’t happen till the last set, toward the end, and we limped through fifteen minutes of absolute insect invasion…and toward the end the notorious “fish bugs” joined the assault. They tell me fish bugs have only a 34-hour life span, and that’s way too long.

I’ve played in bands since 1965, frequently out of doors, and never had this happen before. And today I spent an hour cleaning the two keyboards of crushed bug carcasses, also a new experience.

Did God send the little devils to tell me I’d been doing this long enough?

* * *

On our recent trip to Minnesota for a family reunion, which centered around the graveside service of Barb’s mom, Barb and I went to a movie in Minneapolis. And I think I may be seriously out of step. I felt the same way this evening when I watched a movie on HBO Max.

In Minneapolis, we went to F9, as it’s being called, and it’s an appropriate title if “F” stands for what it should. I am easy to please with dumb action movies, and have seen every Fast and Furious movie in a theater and had fun. This one is sloppy and stupid, lacking both the Rock and Jason Stratham, but it did mark Barb and me officially getting back in the moviegoing swing – by walking out.

I didn’t walk out on director Steven Soderbergh’s No Sudden Move, with a cast so star-studded Matt Damon didn’t bother with getting a billing. But the only reason I didn’t walk out was because I was home. It’s a mess, incomprehensible and pretentious and frequently shot with distorting lenses that call attention to themselves. The great Don Cheadle spends the running time looking like he wished somebody had shown him the script. But the critics love it, so I am probably wrong.

F9 puts me out of step with the public and No Sudden Move puts me out of step with the critics. I’ve got all the bases covered!

* * *

Here’s a great review of Two for the Money (mostly about Bait Money but also the Nolan series in general).

And here’s a spiffy review of both novels collected in Double Down (Fly Paper and Hush Money).

Finally, here’s another Two for the Money review, generally not bad, but apparently the 22 year-old me in the early ‘70s was supposed to have better attitudes than “cringingly archaic” ones about women’s looks and tough guy prowess. You’d think I’d been writing a paperback crime novel with an early ‘70s mostly male readership in mind.

M.A.C.

Back to the Basement

Tuesday, June 1st, 2021

After fourteen months, my band Crusin’ had its first two post-lockdown rehearsals. The accompanying photo illustrating the current line-up was, appropriately, shot in my garage (though we practice in the nearby basement among thousands of books and DVDs).

Crusin' 2021 garage photo
CRUSIN’ 2021, left to right: Collins, Scott Anson, Steve Kundel, Bill Anson

We have three gigs lined up for our “season,” the first being July 4 at the Missipi Brew in the evening leading up to the fireworks. I’ll post the other dates here soon. And another gig or two may come through – we’ll see.

It was great being back with the guys – bittersweet, of course, after the passing of Brian Van Winkle, our longtime bass player. Our guitarist Bill Anson’s son Scott is our new bassist, but not all that new – Brian had stepped away from the band before our last pre-Covid gig, and Scott had been running sound and helping us load in and out for a couple of years. This is the first time we’ve had a father and son in the band, although drummer DeWayne Hopkins (who went on to be mayor of Muscatine) was followed in that role by his son, Jamie.

Both rehearsals went well, although all of us were rusty to a degree – not so much where playing was concerned, but in remembering chords and lyrics and the structure of arrangements. We had spent a lot of time in 2019 working on originals for one last CD, and were playing them on the job, but for now we’re tabling them. Without a CD to promote and sell, playing the originals seemed wrong somehow – we’re a classic rock band (a ‘60s/’70s/’80s variety) and audiences are not there to hear our originals.

We will still do a handful of our own songs this season, but next year we hope to be out there with a CD of original material, and possibly include the original songs from my movie Real Time: Siege at Lucas Street Market, which feature my late, longtime musical accomplice Paul Thomas on guitar, vocals, producing and songwriting.

In addition to being rusty, I admit to having some problems with my hands, specifically arthritis in my thumbs, which hasn’t impacted my typing (yet) but which did slow me down at the organ keyboard…my brain kept asking my fingers to do things to which my fingers replied, “Are you effing kidding?”

This leads me to suspect that next year – assuming I’m here and so is everyone else in the band (uh, I’m no longer the oldest person in Crusin’) – will be our farewell mini-tour with a CD the jewel (or jewel case, anyway).

Funny thing. I did not personally rehearse at all during those fourteen months. I have a Roland keyboard in my office and I occasionally played it, usually when I was watching a laserdisc of some vintage rock group (New Wave the newest) and wanted to see if I could figure out (or remember) the chords. But I stayed out of the band room in the basement, other than to retrieve a DVD. I had something akin to a mental block about it and I can’t explain why.

That Roland keyboard in my office I had ordered when I was recovering from my heart surgery with my right hand essentially useless after the operating-table stroke I suffered. That keyboard, in addition to Physical Therapy exercises and such, was my savior. Very early in the recovery process I realized I had enough minimal strength in my right hand and fingers to type on a computer keyboard, which can tolerate a very light touch. Hardest thing about that was my usual hammering-away left hand needed to cool it some to have both hands work effectively in tandem.

But it was playing the Roland keyboard that largely got the use of my hand back – muscle memory, I guess. But we had it set on the dining room table like an oddly-shaped meal and I would play it several half hours a day, just doing improv things, like the “Light My Fire” and “Evil Ways” leads.

As for why I didn’t rehearse during those fourteen months, I can’t explain it. I often thought about going downstairs to practice, but I never did. I do know that I have never been one to “jam” – I like the structure of playing a song. My late uncle Mahlon Collins was a terrific trombone player who in his retirement years lived in Los Angeles and played in some big bands out there with top players…people who backed Sinatra-type top players (also with Chris Christensen of Seduction of the Innocent!). And Uncle Mahlon said he was the same way. He admired the soloists but he read charts. He liked structure. Songs.

I’m not exactly that way, because my ability to read music is limited and mostly I know chords – an organ player, not a pianist. And I do solos all the time – a Hammond B-3-style organ is great for improv and for more structured solos, too. If anyone cares, my favorite keyboard players are Rod Argent, Mark Stein and Alan Price. (I play a Nord that works well as a B-3 clone and the new version of the VOX Continental, for combo sounds.)

But just playing to play – again, getting together to jam – is not my…jam. I don’t write songs unless there’s a project – an indie movie of mine that needs songs, a CD we’re doing, even the time my father asked me to write a song for him to dance with my mother at their 50th wedding anniversary (it was called “Patricia,” which was her name, and was a pretty good tune). I wrote a Christmas song for a concert my dad was doing with his men’s chorus one year.

However…without a reason, an assignment, I would never sit down and write a song just for the hell of it, the way real musicians do. My guitar player Bill Anson writes songs all the time and he worked diligently in his home studio rehearsing Crusin’ (and other) material all through those fourteen months. I haven’t written any songs since I wrote my half dozen or so for the CD (the rest will be by Bill, except for one we wrote together, called “Crusin’” for some reason, which we performed at the 2018 induction concert for the Iowa Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame).

I will say that – other than my arthritic thumbs protesting – I had no problem after fourteen months picking up where we left off. I always say – where my keyboard playing is concerned – I never knew enough to forget much.

* * *

Our first two-part Book Giveaway went very well – Barb and I sent out two boxes of books on Saturday. A few people got two books as we had some Antiques Fire Sale paperbacks left over.

We will probably have another giveaway next week.

I’m not trying to smother you people in pulp, it’s just that I have no control over publication dates. When a book comes out, I do a giveaway. Which means there may be several in the same month or two, or six months or more may pass between ‘em.

But I thank all of you who participate in these giveaways and we’re grateful for your reviews.

* * *

For some reason this video, in support of Scarface and the Untouchable by Brad Schwartz and me, has resurfaced. It’s on Fox Nation. [Photosensitivity warning: flashing lights]

Here is a swell review of Two for the Money, the Hard Case Crime combo of the first two Nolan novels, Bait Money and Blood Money.

And finally here is a fantastic review of Shoot-out at Sugar Creek from Bookgasm and Alan Cranis.

M.A.C.