Monthly Archives: April 2018

Chainsaw and Corris

So this weekend I fired up a chainsaw and wielded it for the first time. I have the power! Also, I had protective chaps and gloves and helmet and face shield.

I have been binge reading the Australian mystery writer Peter Corris. He and Lawrence Block are among  the closest modern writers I know to hardboiled. I’ve loved Block’s Matthew Scudder’s detective novels, and I’ve discovered I love the different landscape and atmosphere of the Corris novels, which are all set in Australia.

There are about 40 books, and some of them are short story collections, and I’ve probably read 10 of them now, although not all in the last few days. The mysteries are strong and he’s great with characters. So far I’ve just been reading the ones he wrote in the ‘80s rather than the ones he’s written most recently, so maybe they drop in quality. Or maybe they get even better.

The other morning I finished The Marvelous Boy and I saved this bit of prose for you as our hero Cliff Hardy is walking into a weight lifting club to seek information:


For years now I’ve been hearing about the adventure fiction of H. Bedford-Jones, a pulp historical writer famed as being one of those guys who wrote an astonishing amount of prose. Some people love him. Until now, though, everything I’ve read by the guy has been… competent, and I figured maybe that’s what you’d get out of a guy who mass produced his fiction — high competence but maybe not a great deal of characterization or sophisticated plotting, maybe a guy who recycles plots, or who doesn’t really revise much.

But after talking with Tom Roberts of Black Dog Books at Windy City, he reminded me again of that H. Bedford Jones book he’d given me a few years back, and I pulled it off the shelf — and man, does it start with a bang. It’s far and away the best thing by the writer I’ve ever read. Will it hold up as I get deeper into the book? I dunno. Are there other good stories by H. Bedford Jones? Maybe so. I wonder who’s done the digging through his immense catalog to discover which by him are the very best?

Any of you out there Bedford-Jones fans? I’d love to hear if there are other fine tales out there by him.

And here’s a link if you want to pick up a copy and read along with me.

Link Day

On link days I usually point my visitors towards a whole slew of sites, but today I’m only sharing one, Paperback Warrior. I’ve just started poking around there and already I found it necessary to comment in two of the most recent posts, most recently, Fargo, and the post before THAT on a Harry Whittington title I haven’t tried but now want to. It looks like a site just chock full of info on cool old titles.

I’m a huge fan of Ben Haas, the guy behind the Fargo books, and have written about him at length previously. Here you can find how to get to the books, and here you can get my own ringing endorsement of the writer himself.

As long as I’m discussing ringing endorsements, let me AGAIN mention how fine that Howard Browne Paul Pine collection was from Haffner Press. Dang, but those were good mysteries in the Chandler style, and DANG, but that final complete novel in the collection is one fine book. They’re all really good, but the fourth one is a masterpiece. Highly, highly recommended not just for anyone who likes a good mystery, but for anyone who likes great storytelling. Get your copy, pronto!

Windy City Recap

I arrived in Chicago on Thursday, on the way visiting my cousin Lisa from my mom’s side and my Aunt Carol on my dad’s. It had been more than a quarter century since I’d seen Lisa, and three or four years since I’d seen Aunt Carol, so it was an immense pleasure to reconnect.

The drive to Windy City was a long one, but I amused myself by listening to what had been an impulse choice from the library, the audio book Rogue Heroes by Ben Macintyre. The history of Britain’s secret special forces outfit in WWII  ended up being so gripping that once I arrived at the hotel I sat in the car for a few more minutes letting the chapter finish before I headed inside.

I met up with John O’Neill for supper. It was the first time in four or five years that we’d been in the same place, and it was a real pleasure to see him. We treated ourselves to a great sushi meal, then carried in a few dozen boxes to John’s booth in the dealer room. I looked around for my contact on the Dungeon Crawl Classics team, Deiter Zimmerman, and realized then it would have been clever of me to have gotten his phone number beforehand. Then I visited with John and I crashed in his room. I slept poorly and got up early for a little writing, a habit that continued throughout the convention. The sleeping poorly, I mean. Eventually I slept so badly I wasn’t up for much writing.

Friday Update

I’ve finished the prose part of my Windy City recap now and just have to transfer the photos in from various electronic devices. I’ve received the preliminary pass of Tales From the Magician’s Skull issue 2 and am reviewing that, and I’m addressing some final changes in my novel. I’m also getting ready to paint the ceiling of our basement.

In other words, it’s a busy week!

I wanted to point all my visitors over to some nifty things I think they’ll find of interest…

Halo For Hire

I’m still working on a lengthy convention post about Windy City. I don’t honestly know how interested people are in reading convention reports, but I always figure that if you’re not there it’s interesting to see what they’re like. Let me know if I’m wrong.

Of all the treasures I picked up, the one that called to me first was Halo for Hire, which I picked up from Stephen Haffner of Haffner Press. As I mentioned last time, it collects all four novels featuring Paul Pine, along with a short story and a novella. I know there was some speculation about who the cover had been modeled off of the last time I mentioned the book, but that’s NOT Bruce Willis. That is, in fact, Trond Flagstad, the husband of the author Howard Browne’s daughter. He makes a pretty cool looking private eye, doesn’t he?

I like Browne’s writing so well that rather than starting with the book in the collection I haven’t read I just began at page one.

Like all Haffner Press books, it’s a beaut. The spine is lettered and so is the front of the hardback beneath the dust jacket, and the paper quality and binding is top notch. It’s not the kind of book you sit down with to read in one hand while you munch your sandwich. You want to settle into an easy chair for this one.

And if you like a good mystery and good writing, you really owe it to yourself to check it out. The fourth novel in the collection, The Taste of Ashes may actually out-Chandler Chandler. Same writing style, elegantly polished, without any Chandler plot issues or digressions. The others I’ve read are quite strong as well, but The Taste of Ashes is a bonafide masterpiece. It’s about time it got the deluxe treatment it deserved. Thanks, mighty Haffner!

Windy City

Yesterday evening I got back from the Windy City Pulp and Paperback convention. It was pretty grand, if you happen to like old magazines, old books, art from both, and the people who love that stuff.

Here’s a pic of some of the treasures I returned with. Click to enlarge. I’ll summarize the events later this week. Note in the lower portion of the picture that there’s the Haffner hardback collecting the amazing Paul Pine detective stories of Howard Browne, Halo for Hire. Harder to see are the paperbacks from DMR publishing. They’re nifty little paperbacks printed on high quality paper. I picked up the first of DMR’s sword-and-sorcery anthologies, Swords of Steel, and their printings of the first collected editions, ever, of Weird Tales authors Clifford Ball and Nictin Dyalhis. Both are definitely worth a look, and a steal at the $10.00 price point. You can find them here.

While I was away, another review of Tales From the Magician’s Skull rolled in, from Morgan Holmes over at Castlalia House, He seemed to like issue 1!

Guilds & Glaives

Here’s the cover of Guilds & Glaives, the upcoming anthology I’m sharing with James Enge and a bunch of other cool folks. It’s not out yet, but it will be soon. Last week I was sent page proofs.

You can still order it if you missed the Kickstarter, by going right here.

Shortly I’m leaving my tower for the long drive up to Chicago and the Windy City Pulp and Paper convention. Hope to see some of you there!

Catching Up

Whew! What a crazy few weeks it’s been. Suffice to say it’s been a little busy.

When we moved into this house more than ten years ago we had planned on a basement remodel. Up until now the walkout basement has been bare cinder blocks, but in the last little bit it’s finally getting a makeover. We’ve hired out almost all of the work, but that doesn’t leave me as free to be upstairs writing as you’d think, because I need to check in or be checked with frequently about various little decisions, and then errands have to be run into town to procure various supplies.

Then, with that just under way, we took a vacation to North Carolina, where we hiked around some lovely mountain tops and saw some waterfalls and even reached the height of the largest mountain east of the Mississippi. My daughter and my niece actually hiked all the way up that mountain (Mt. Mitchell).