May
2

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Hardboiled Treasures

paperbacksLook what turned up in the mail the other day! And it wasn’t even Christmas!

The Mighty Hocking had some duplicate hardboiled paperbacks lying about (as well as another Elmore Leonard western) and generously sent them on to me. Feast your eyes upon them.

These things are usually packaged in a tawdry way, often with ludicrous back cover copy that might have sold them in the old days but don’t do much to promote them to a modern audience because you have no idea how good the actual prose inside might be. Here’s an example, from the back of Million Dollar Murder:

A living dead man, tortured beyond recognition. A suitcase crammed with a million dollars in fresh, green currency. An eerie island. A sadistic millionaire. An exotic girl who knew all the answers, but whose lips didn’t look like they had been kissed as often as her manner indicated.

That’s what Sam sailed into. That, and murder: murder and more murder.

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Apr
28

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Hard-Boiled Monday Returns

mammoth book private eyeSort of an ironic thing to post on a Friday, isn’t it?

I’ve had numerous requests for the return of the ongoing column, and I’ve spoken with Chris Hocking, my Hard Boiled Monday pal, and we’ll be getting back to it in a little while. I’ve given up trying to read stories in the order of the original list, though, and it may not be EVERY Monday. I’ll get a schedule up in a little while.

For now, I wanted to tell anyone who wanted to read along that the first book we’ll be discussing is an exceptionally fine anthology titled The Mammoth Book of Private Eye Stories. It’s considered a landmark volume and now that I’m most of the way through it I definitely see why. Arr, there be great fiction in here, matey’s! Said the pirate…. Who apparently reads hard boiled detective novels. Who are you to stereotype?!

Anyway, not this coming Monday, but Monday May 8th I hope to start discussing the very best out of this greatest hits anthology. If you like (or at least are curious about) private eye stories, this is an excellent place to go. If you’re looking for a copy, try here for paperbacks, or go to the other usual places. For once, copies seem plentiful, though I have no idea why. I can’t imagine why someone would want to part with this volume, because I definitely plan on reading from it again. It’s a great introduction to the work authors I’ve already started exploring.

Apr
26

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Max Latin

max latinI’ve been reading a lot of short stories lately. Any of you out there read some Norbert Davis? Particularly the Max Latin collection from Altus Press?

Man, there’s no one like Norbert Davis. Sly, with great elements of humor at the same time he’s delivering a strong mystery and great action.

The only thing I haven’t enjoyed about the collection was John Macdonald’s introduction, which didn’t much discuss the fiction and instead sideswiped the author a little.

You can find the book here.

Apr
24

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Field Commander Alexander

fc alexanderI spent a good chunk of the weekend cleaning and organizing various things around the house. If you’re a home owner sometimes it feels like the weekend is so busy that the week itself is more relaxing.

I did manage to get in, finally, some playing of Field Commander: Alexander, and tried to launch an expedition into Persia. I won the first time but didn’t quite get the rules right, so I tried again and got trounced, alas. But it turns out I still missed out on some rules intricacies. I’m looking forward to a re-match against those wily Achaemenidians next Sunday morning.

I’m a big fan of Field Commander: Napoleon from the same company, DVG, and I’ve been curious about this earlier game for years. Read More

Apr
21

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Private Eye

victory's knifeHere at Jones central things have been on the quiet side lately, which is nice. I’m working away on the revision of the second novel of my new series, although revision is a stretch for some portions when a lot of the middle is going to be drafted from scratch.

When not drafting, or still hacking away at the honey-do list, I’ve been reading a lot more, and returned to some of the noir volumes on my shelf. I just polished off Fredric Brown’s The Fabulous Clipjoint and ended up wishing I’d read it a lot sooner, and have been slowly working my way through some great stories in The Mammoth Book of Private Eye Stories, which I’m told by those in the know is a landmark collection. Certainly I’ve enjoyed everything in it, and a lot of it I’ve loved. Finding a lot of new (to me) writers in it I mean to explore.

I’ve also been reading my old friend Joe McCullough’s collection of swashbuckling fantasy fiction, Victory’s Knife,  in preparation for writing a proper review. I hope to have something up about that in a few weeks, and Chris Hocking and I are talking about reviving our Hardboiled Monday series. I want to at least talk about the aforementioned anthology and Wade Miller and some other hardboiled detective writers who need more love.

But for now I need to get back to writing.

Writing

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