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.


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


“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


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


Barthelmeville & other odd places

MISTAKEHaven’t read anything by Frederick Barthelme in ages, but  have fond memories of MOON DELUXE and SECOND MARRIAGE. Here, in his new novel, THERE MUST BE SOME MISTAKE, he’s up to his old minimalist tricks. Hard to describe what he does exactly, like grains of sand shifting under one’s feet. He captures the weirdness of the mundane, of lives hunkered in condos, and the strange way we talk when there’s nothing to say. This novel is consistently funny, strange and touching…  with an eerie ending that will definitely haunt you.

A trio of novels of suspense worth your time. I’ve already raved about Beatrice Hitchman‘s PETITE MORT which is an astounding debut.  For fans of GONE GIRL,  THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by  Paula Hawkins  is worth the ride and full of twists. And speaking of twists, Harriet Lane‘s novel HER  keeps you guessing the whole way through. It  draws you in slowly and then doesn’t let go.  It’s sure to be a hit at the beach this summer.

riverhead booksHERmort



After reading Michel Houellebecq‘s relentlessly depressing novel PLATFORM, I found myself in need of some comic relief. Thankfully I had a copy of S.J. Perelman‘s THE RISING GORGE within reach.  After devouring that, I went searching for some contemporary  sources and was rewarded by CAN’T WE TALK ABOUT SOMETHING MORE PLEASANT?  — a deliciously grim & very funny  memoir by cartoonist Roz Chast.


herbieSince Donald Westlake isn’t around anymore to satisfy my periodic craving for comic crime.  I’ll turn to Timothy Hallinan and his Junior Bender series. Right now I’m reading HERBIE’S GAME.



crime-lbOh, and I can’t forget my friend Lawrence Block who remains as prolific as ever. Just received a Kindle edition of his THE CRIME OF OUR LIVES (what a terrific title!) —a collection of his introductions, appreciations and observations on some of the genre’s greatest, from Poe to Westlake. This one goes to the top of my reading list. I’m taking Block to the beach, eat your heart out.



Finally, you’ll have to forgive me for tooting my own horn here, but I have a new book coming out May Day from JEF Books: NAKED LUNCH AT TIFFANY’S. This is a collection of parodies and satire I’ve written over the years that takes a poke at erotic literature. It covers pretty much everything from the KAMA SUTRA to FIFTY SHADES OF GREY and takes no prisoners. It also features an outrageous introduction by the one and only Nile Southern—author of THE CANDY MEN: THE ROLLICKING LIFE AND TIMES OF THE NOTORIOUS NOVEL CANDY.  I hope you’ll have a chance to check it out.



Summer Reading (mysteries / noir)



Tom Williams has written an engrossing biographyA Mysterious Something in the Light: The Life of Raymond Chandler (Chicago Review Press). In Chandler’s hands, hard-boiled crime fiction became art and this book paints a vivid portrait of the author’s life.

* * *

Two Dashiell Hammett collections provide a sumptuous fix for fans of Sam Spade’s creator. Lost Stories (Vince Emery Productions) features 21 rare tales restored to their original texts, replacing heavily cut versions. Complete with 46 photos & illustrations, plus an introduction by the late-great Joe Gores.

The Hunter and Other Stories by Dashiell Hammett
Includes the full-length  “On the Make” which was the basis for the rarely screened Mr. Dynamite (1935), plus other screen treatments. Twenty-one stories in all, making this an ideal book for spring break.

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Mastermind: How To Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova (Penguin Books) “Holmes was a detective second to none, it is true. But his insights into the human mind rival his greatest feats of criminal justice. What Sherlock Holmes offers isn’t just a way of solving crime. It is an entire way of thinking, a mindset that can be applied to countless enterprises far removed from the foggy streets of the London underworld. It is an approach born out of the scientific method that transcends science and crime both and can serve as a model for thinking, a way of being, even, just as powerful in our time as it was in Conan Doyle’s.”    Fascinating, clever and original. Mastermind is so much fun you won’t even feel your brain being sharpened.

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King of the Weeds 
by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins (Titan Books)


Baudelaire’s Revenge 
by Bib Van Laerhoven (Pegasus Crime)


The Girl with a Clock for a  Heart 
by Peter Swanson (William Morrow)



USA Noir: Best of the Akashic Noir Series 
Edited by Johnny Temple (Akashic Books)


The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Revelled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime 
by Judith Flanders (Thomas Dunn Books / St. Martin’s Press)

Somebody Stole My Rave!

Over the past few weeks I’ve  read a dozen rave reviews of Lawrence Block’s new Bernie Rhodenbarr mystery, THE BURGLAR WHO COUNTED THE SPOONS.

Well that’s fine and dandy, but what about my rave?—this rave—what the hell am I supposed to write when there’s nothing left to say that hasn’t been said already. (OK, that’s redundant.)  It would be easy if I could just  type “Love it!” —end of story. But no,  they’ve all said that.

Funny, witty, charming, LOL, beloved, tightly researched, delightful, lighthearted, comfortable, clever, madcap, amusing, etc. …   are out.

Same goes for a brief plot summary.

Do I dare  mention Barnegat Books or Raffles the cat?  Bernie’s lesbian sidekick Carolyn?

No way, the bloggers have all been there and done that and done it again.  I can’t even say I’ve missed Bernie  like “an old friend” (and believe me, I have) because—as it turns out—Bernie is everybody’s old friend. And  he doesn’t even have a freaking Facebook page.

I thought about searching my thesaurus for archaic praise, but once I stick my head in Roget it takes weeks to get it out and, by then, someone will have beaten me to the  punch bowl.

If I was still a hippie I could call the novel “groovy” and “far out” (which it is) but I’m not.

So forgive me, Larry, but I give up.  I’m throwing in the towel.

Besides, why should I have to share the private pleasure I derive from devouring a Bernie Rhodenbarr mystery?

It’s nobody’s business but mine.


Chop Shop Chops


Two new novels have arrived—each featuring a favorite series character (Burdett’s Sonchai Jitpleecheep and Leonard’s Raylan Givens), and both sharing a major plot element, i.e., the illegal sale of body parts.

How’s that for a coincidence?

Since I’m reading both books simultaneously there’s the potential for confusion, as in whose kidneys are these?

Then again, it would be impossible to mix up these author’s  unique styles. I’ll be reporting on both soon, but in the meantime here are links to the books on Amazon:

Vulture Peak


Winter’s Tale(s)

The Twenty-Year Death

Just received an advance review copy (make that way-in-advance) of THE TWENTY-YEAR DEATH by Ariel S. Winter—a name you don’t know, although I suspect you’ll be hearing a lot about him when the book is finally published on August 7th. Charles Ardai, the editor at Hard Case Crime, is thrilled to the gills over this 672-page novel. It’s an ambitious, Nabokovian experiment—3 separate novels set in three different decades (1931, 1941, 1951), all linked to reveal a tragic tale of an author whose life is destroyed by violence.  But that’s not all. The  novels are  written in the style of crime greats Georges Simenon, Raymond Chandler, and Jim Thompson* respectively. 

Admittedly that’s a lot to digest, but then an abridged edition wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable.

I’m into the opening novel called “Malniveau Prison” and it’s keeping me glued to its pages. Can the author actually pull this off? I’ll let you know when I’m done.

Looks like I’ll be with Winter until the spring.



*Or is it Josephine Tey?  Smile

Writer’s Bloch

As a kid I was big fan of Robert Bloch’s novels and short fiction. Psycho was just the tip of the iceberg. The novels Firebug and The Scarf were equally chilling and, of course, his Hugo award-winning story "That Hell-Bound Train." I thought I’d read everything but then, the other day, while browsing at Hard Case Crime, I discovered two books I’d never heard of: Spiderweb and Shooting Star. Originally published in a double-novel edition from Ace, they’re back (back-to-back) as a Hard Case reprint.


This double edition is buried deep in the publisher’s list, but worth the scroll. You can also read a sample which ought to entice you to order if you’re looking for some cheap holiday thrills. LINK