Chills

Here are a few cool  titles we’re looking forward to.

[click on covers for more info]

crow girl

cabin 10

You Will Know Me

Harrow

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loney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AND watch for our reviews of  Peter Lovesey’s new novel and a prequel to Cara Black’s popular series.

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Lost and FOUND!

I hope you’ll forgive a bit of self-promotion here,  as this has been a long time coming.

I’ve been on the missing persons list for a few months, putting the finishing touches on my book MISSING MYSTERIES: A PICTORIAL HISTORY OF NONEXISTENT MYSTERIES. I began this massive satirical reference back in 2011 and it has finally launched—in a shiny,  full-color, large format paperback edition from Black Scat Books.

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I might as well let the blurbs speak for themselves because—frankly—I’m pooped.

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“Derek Pell is quite mad, in rather a brilliant way.”Lawrence Block

“Pell’s satire doesn’t lack for sharp edges. His twisted humor is sure to appeal to crime-fiction lovers.”J. Kingston Pierce, THE RAP SHEET

“This book is a lot of fun!” —Steven Heller

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Copies are now available worldwide on Amazon. CLICK HERE TO ORDER

Summer Mysteries

What would summer be without a good crime novel, noir, or whodunit?  An empty hammock, as far as we’re concerned. So here’s a round-up of titles that’ll keep you awake nights this summer.

sleepingThe Spike Sanguinetti series by Thomas Mogford is new to me, and I didn’t know what to expect when I started reading SLEEPING DOGS, just released by Bloomsbury. The opening is so good I dare anyone to put the book aside once they’ve opened it. Murder on Corfu, perfect.

signwaveHot off the press comes the thriller SIGNWAVE by Andrew Vachss (Pantheon Books), part of the popular “Aftershock” series. Vachss has made quite a name for himself (even if it looks like a typo) and for good reason. He knows how to make the reader jump. Assassins and murder abound in SIGNWAVE.

LOCKEDIf you’re in the mood for short stories packed with puzzling scenarios, I again recommend THE BLACK LIZARD BIG BOOK OF LOCKED-ROOM MYSTERIES edited by Otto Penzler (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard). It’s loaded with genre luminaries: Dashiell Hammett, Agatha Christie, Stephen King, Lawrence Block, Erle Stanley Gardner, Dorothy L. Sayers, Georges Simenon, and many others. There’s even a locked-room tale by P.G. Wodehouse — “Death at the Excelsior”— holy Jeeves!  Bet you didn’t know the esteemed humorist began his career writing detective stories. I didn’t. Since this book is 900+ pages, you probably won’t be lugging it to the beach. Instead, keep it on your bedside table.

SD NOIRIf the ‘spirit of place’ is your thing, grab one of the anthologies in the Akashic Noir Series. My favorite is SAN DIEGO NOIR edited by Maryelizabeth Hart – 15 stories and not a lemon in the bunch. If you don’t know what city to choose, try their USA NOIR —  a selection of the best American noir. Cape Cod? Yes, and also Richmond, VA and other places you might not associate with the genre. In fact, the only location that seems to be missing is Disneyland Noir, but that’s probably in the works.

GHOSTSThe one city that screams noir and mystery is, of course, San Francisco. Regular readers of this blog know my favorite series set there is Kelli Stanley’s Miranda Corbie mysteries. To date, there are three, the most recent being CITY OF GHOSTS. Not only does Stanley bring SF in the 40’s to life, her female PI is an unforgettable character — you’ll fall in love with Miranda. So here’s the deal: buy all three and start with CITY OF DRAGONS. You’ll thank me.

oldAnd while I’m on the subject of San Francisco, I have to mention Jim Nisbet — a writer of hard-bitten noir novels that go where few writers dare travel. I recently got around to reading OLD AND COLD (Overlook Press) and let me put it this way: only Nisbet could get away with two nonstop interior monologues in the head of a homeless, schizophrenic hitman addicted to martinis. Yes, this book’s beyond “offbeat.” It has strains of black humor and enough suspense to keep you flipping through its 160 pages in a single sitting. Thumbs up to Overlook for keeping Nisbet’s seedy San Francisco within reach.

crime-lbIf you want a fab overview of American crime fiction, there’s Lawrence Block’s THE CRIME OF OUR LIVES which covers the best & the brightest Chandler, Hammett, QueenMacDonald, Marlowe, Westlake, and many more. Makes for a bracing chaser when you’re between novels.

 

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SUMMER CHILLS

SAVOYMillions of mystery lovers know the best way to beat the heat is with a Swedish crime novel—preferably a series like the Martin Beck books by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö  (available from Vintage Crime/Black Lizard). If you’re one of the few people on earth who haven’t discovered this quintessential Swedish series, you’re in for a thrill – ten books! While I’m thinking of it, let me add a  word of caution. When you get to #6,  MURDER AT THE SAVOY, DO NOT READ THE INTRODUCTION.  It’s a perfectly fine introduction, but it reveals the ending of the final book in the series THE TERRORISTS (#10).  May I suggest to the publisher this simple remedy: in the  next printing  add the words “Spoiler Alert. Readers can then go back and read the intro once they’ve finished the series.

But what does one do when – like me – you’ve read all the Martin Beck books twice?

pyramid1The answer: lose yourself in the 13 Kurt Wallander novels by Henning Mankell. All are available in paperback from (you guessed it) Vintage Crime / Black Lizard. Don’t think because you watch the popular BBC series based on the books that you don’t have to read them.  Good as the TV productions are, they only scratch the surface tension. If you want the real deal, you’ve got to eyeball the words.

I’m spending my summer vacation with Wallander and I invite you to join me with the first in the series, THE PYRAMID. (Watch this page for a future review.)

9781616956264-398x600Another sure thing for summer is Peter Lovesey’s DOWN AMONG THE DEAD MEN (Soho Crime), part of his Peter Diamond Investigations. I’ve read them all except for UPON A DARK NIGHT  but I’ll fix that soon enough. See my previous post for more on Lovesey.

mountainLooking ahead to the dog days of August, don’t miss TO THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN by Arne Dahl from Vintage Crime / Black Lizard. This novel is part of the Stockholm Intercrime series. I received an advance “uncorrected proof,”  so I’m not at liberty to quote from it. But I love the first sentence and since it doesn’t have a typo and gives nothing away, I’ll reveal it here:

‘I didn’t see anything.’

That’s what I call a hook. Now you can look forward to August.

DEADWATERAs you can see from this selection, exotic, atmospheric locations are what readers crave. Crafty escapism… a mystery that takes us away from the familiar. Two series titles that will help you “get away from it all” (except from crime, of course) are Ann Cleeve’s DEAD WATER (Minotaur Books), part of her popular Shetland singaIsland series, and William L. Gibson’s new Detective Hawksworth novel, SINGAPORE YELLOW (Monsoon Books). The former has plenty of  island atmospherics going for it, while the latter takes us back in time to Singapore and Malaya in 1892.

NEW-ANGEL-for--order-pageFinally, let me recommend a book published under an imprint of my own small press: ANGEL OF EVERYTHING by Catherine D’Avis (New Urge Editions). It’s not a mystery, per se,  but erotic suspense. If that’s your cup of tea, drink up.

Happy reading!

 

 

Alphonse Returns!

UMBRELLA-COVER

Alphonse Allais (1854-1905) was France’s greatest humorist. His elegance, scientific curiosity, preoccupation with language and logic, wordplay and flashes of cruelty inspired Alfred Jarry, as well as succeeding generations of Surrealists, Pataphysicians, and Oulipians. THE SQUADRON’S UMBRELLA collects 39 of Allais’s funniest stories — many originally published in the legendary paper LE CHAT NOIR, written for the Bohemians of Montmartre. Included are such classic pranks on the reader as “The Templars” (in which the plot becomes secondary to remembering the hero’s name) and “Like the Others” (in which a lover’s attempts to emulate his rivals lead to fatal but inevitable results.) These tales have amused and inspired generations, and now English readers can enjoy the master absurdist at his best. As the author promises, this book contains no umbrella and the subject of squadrons is “not even broached.”

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

Favorite Books of 2014

No Ten Best List this year, instead I’ve chosen a batch of the books I’ve enjoyed in 2014. The emphasis here is on fiction. I may dig deeper in December for a separate nonfiction list.

ghosts

CITY OF GHOSTS:
A Miranda Corbie Mystery
Kelli Stanley
Minotaur Books
BUY ON AMAZON

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STONE

THE STONE WIFE
A Peter Diamond Investigation
Peter Lovesey
Soho Crime
BUY ON AMAZON

***

lastgirl

THE LAST GIRL
Maeve Kerrigan Novels
Jane Casey
Minotaur Books
BUY ON AMAZON

***

sting

STING OF THE DRONE
Richard A. Clarke
Thomas Dunne Books
BUY ON AMAZON

***

rc

A MYSTERIOUS SOMETHING IN THE LIGHT:
THE LIFE OF RAYMOND CHANDLER
Tom Williams
Chicago Review Press
BUY ON AMAZON

***

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FILM NOIR: 100 ALL-TIME FAVORITES
Edited by Paul Duncan and Jürgen Müller
Taschen
BUY ON AMAZON

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USA NOIR

USA NOIR: Best of the Akashic Noir Series
Edited by Johnny Temple
Akashic Books
BUY ON AMAZON

***

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THE DARK GALLERIES:A Museum Guide to
Painted Portraits in Film Noir Gothic Melodramas
and Ghost Stories of the 1940s and 1950s  
by Steven Jacobs and Lisa Colpaert
ARAMER Books
BUY ON AMAZON

***

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THE GETAWAY CAR: A Donald Westlake Nonfiction Miscellany
Donald E. Westlake
University Of Chicago Press
BUY ON AMAZON

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EMPTY

EMPTY MANSIONS: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark
and the Spending of a Great American Fortune
by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell Jr.
Ballantine Books
BUY ON AMAZON

***

SIXTH

THE SIXTH EXTINCTION: An Unnatural History
Elizabeth Kolbert
Henry Holt and Co.
BUY ON AMAZON

***

pranksters

PRANKSTERS: Making Mischief in the Modern World
Kembrew McLeod
NYU Press
BUY ON AMAZON

***

KIP

KIPPENBERGER: THE ARTIST AND HIS FAMILIES
Susanne Kippenberger
J & L Books
BUY ON AMAZON

***

BOOKS-howtoread

HOW TO READ
Eckhard Gerdes
Guide Dog Books
BUY ON AMAZON

***

FORGET

THEORIES OF FORGETTING
Lance Olsen
Fiction Collective Two
BUY ON AMAZON

***

primordialfront

PRIMORDIAL: An Abstraction
D. Harlan Wilson
Anti-Oedipus Press
BUY ON AMAZON

***

COMA

INDUCED COMA
Harold Jaffe
Anti-Oedipus Press
BUY ON AMAZON

***

incest

THEATRE OF INCEST
Alain Arias-Misson
Dalkey Archive Press
BUY ON AMAZON

***

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THE CITY UNDER THE SKIN
Geoff Nicholson
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
BUY ON AMAZON

***

LOVE SONGS

LOVE SONGS FOR LAS VEGAS
Suzanne Burns
FutureCycle Press
BUY ON AMAZON

***

moon

MOON IN A DEAD EYE
Pascal Garnier
Gallic Books
BUY ON AMAZON

***

marg

THE ASSASSINATION OF MARGARET THATCHER
Hilary Mantel
Henry Holt and Co.
BUY ON AMAZON

***

lift

LIFT YOUR RIGHT ARM
Peter Cherches
Pelekinesis
BUY ON AMAZON

***

NEXT

NEXT LIFE MIGHT BE KINDER
Howard Norman
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
BUY ON AMAZON

***

TALI

TALIBAN
J. L. Anderson and Thomas Dworzak
Wrth Publications
BUY ON AMAZON

Editor’s Note: Taliban was originally published in 2004, but we didn’t discover it until this year. It also gets our vote for one of the strangest books we read in 2014.

Loony Toons

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”Witty and ingenious comics from the exceptionally-talented writer, musician, performer, ventriloquist, and cartoonist Doug Skinner. It’s exciting to finally have these little-seen strips available in one beautiful book. You may be reminded of Voltaire or Ernie Bushmiller while reading these meticulously drawn stories featuring utterly hapless characters, but Mr. Skinner has a style all his own.” —R. Sikoryak

“Mr. Skinner knows many terrible, terrible secrets about us. We are once again fortunate that he chooses to share them so deftly and so altruistically.”—Mark Newgarden

What is the truth behind the “Unknown Adjective”? Will Walter and Benny find the elusive batworm? What really goes on out in “Cowboy Country”? And can Dr. Docket find a cure for all that ails Mr. Pert? You’ll discover the answers to these and other burning questions in this profusely illustrated collection of comics and picture stories from the brilliant (albeit peculiar) mind of Doug Skinner. Take a look inside and see for yourself. Your daily dilemmas will soon seem inconsequential, and the laughter you hear may turn out to be your own.

Available now from Black Scat Books.

CLICK HERE to order on Amazon.