Saturday, June 02, 2012

Crimefest 2012: Author says she'll give up sin

(Photos by your
humble blogkeeper)

Anne Zouroudi, Detectives Beyond Borders' favorite surprise of 2011, writes a series in which one of the seven deadly sins (and its consequences) features prominently in each book. Naturally she gets asked what she'll do for Book Eight.

(Little Shambles, York))
Zouroudi was part of my "Passport to Murder" panel at Bouchercon 2011, and I suggested that if she wanted to use Jewish tradition, she could write about the 613 mitzvot, which would leave Sue "L is for Long-Running Series" Grafton in the dust. (Yes, Grafton was also at the just-completed Crimefest in balmy Bristol.)

But Zouroudi told a Crimefest questioner that she'll likely take up the easier theme of the Ten Commandments next, which means more adultery, murder, covetousness, and dishonoring of parents for her protagonist, Hermes Diaktoros (the same name as the messenger of the Olympian gods) to negotiate.

It will be interesting to see what Zouroudi gets up to with graven images.
*
In other news — and excellent news it is — Adrian McKinty's The Cold Cold Ground is on its way to America from Seventh Street Books (the name is a tribute to the site of the Edgar Allan Poe house in Philadelphia.)

The book is hard-hitting and funny and very human, and it paints a plausible picture of what it must really be like for ordinary folks to live through Northern Ireland's Troubles. Highly recommended to Irish Americans and non-Irish Americans (NIAs) alike.

© Peter Rozovsky 2012

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44 Comments:

Anonymous Liz said...

Great series!

June 02, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Zouroudi's, you mean? Yep.

June 02, 2012  
Blogger Kevin McCarthy said...

Great stuff! It's about time!

June 03, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

If you mean McKinty, it's past time. I'm pleased that U.S. publication will finally happen.

June 03, 2012  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Somewhat off-topic, Peter, but I've just finished reading 'Nightmare Alley' and I thought I'd toss it into the ring.

Great novel, and deserves to take its place alongside "Thieves Like Us"; "They Shoot Horses, Don't They", and, of course, "The Postman Always Rings Twice" in the first Library of America 'Crime Novels' anthology
(not sure that I'd rank 'The Big Clock' quite so highly, though).

Perhaps, fittingly, the best writing/scenes are reserved for those scenes that don't appear in the film version, particularly those scenes after the '(anti-)hero' realises he's been scammed.
The film is one of the great noirs, though, and the femme fatale is every bit as 'fatale' as I remembered her on film

Next up: Cornell Woolrich's "I Married A Dead Man"

June 03, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Off-topic your comment may be, but I'm glad you posted it. Someone, maybe you, recommended the movie version here some ago, but when I got around to looking for it, I had forgotten what movie it was I was looking for. I've since joined Netflix, whose selection is dismal, but I'll browse its selection anyway. Thanks.

June 03, 2012  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I probably recommended the movie, too; its certainly one of the darkest film noirs I've ever seen.
I doubt Tyrone Power ever gave as good as a performance as he did in that movie.

I think I might have said something along the lines of that the 'femme fatale' is the closest to a 'dominatrix' I've ever known in noir, without actually being a formal 'practitioner', and in the novel she might be even more explicitly so; in addition to being particularly devious and calculating.

Some of the later, post-scam, chapters reminded me of Jim Thompson.

I'll probably jump straight into the Woolrich: I've had this anthology about 3 or 4 years now, so these readings will have been long overdue.

I read 'The Big Clock' about 15 years ago; I might give it another read to see does it merit inclusion in this anthology: the problem is its up against some real heavyweights, and it may only have been chosen for inclusion because of the type of novel it represented, rather than the quality of its prose.

June 03, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I think I might have said something along the lines of that the 'femme fatale' is the closest to a 'dominatrix' I've ever known in noir...

I should see where Christa Faust stands on the novel and movie.

I have not read The Big Clock, but I have seen the movie. Jonathan Latimer wrote, or at least worked on, the screenplay. Seven years later he wrote a novel called Sinner and Shrouds that has a similar plot but is better than the cinematic Big Clock.

June 03, 2012  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I saw two film versions of 'The Big Clock': the original, starring Charles Laughton and Ray Milland, and the remake/re-model, starring Gene Hackman and Kevin Costner.
(called 'No Way Out')
I'm sure Laughton probably swung it in favour of the original, although I quite enjoyed the remake.

I had to look up the name of the actress who played Lilith, - the 'ff' in 'Nightmare Alley'; it was Helen Walker, and she was excellent in what was I think, for her also, an atypical role

June 03, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I saw the Laughton/Milland version. I recall it as not too bad, with a bit of over-the-top acting from Laughton. I'm not sure I'd trust my recollection, though.

June 03, 2012  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Update: currently reading the last of the LofA first noir volume and, although its early days yet, Cornell Woolrich's 'I Married A Dead Man' smacks to me of too much writing, and not enough plot.
I'm hoping I won't have to give up on it

June 10, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Find your guilt elsewhere! If you do put the book aside, you can read it again later with fresh eyes.

June 10, 2012  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Are you a fan of it, then?

June 10, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The only Woolriches I've read are It Had to Be Murder and one short story.

June 10, 2012  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Well, I've gone back to it again tonight and its starting to come together nicely.
To a great extent he's concerned about the rhythms of the language, though, although there is an intriguing mystery at the heart of it.

I liked the way the opening chapter set you thinking, and I had to check back on it to refresh myself, after the gap in reading.

I'm trying to think what it reminded me of; I think in part it might have reminded me of a quote by, I think, the poet John Donne, in the film, 'The Seventh Victim'.

I'll definitely stick with it now and hopefully finish it tomorrow night

June 12, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Hmm, Donne might have made a good noir protagonist.

June 12, 2012  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Donne quote: "I run to Death, and Death meets me as fast, and all my Pleasures are like Yesterdays."

June 13, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

David Goodis could not have said it better.

June 13, 2012  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Just finished.

Its interesting because I've just now discovered, when glancing through the biographical notes, that the novel is an expanded version of a novella called "They Call Me Patrice", which appeared in 'Today's Woman' in April 1946
Apart from my initial comments about 'too much writing, and not enough plot', I'd been thinking latterly that he'd got a helluva lot of mileage out of too few characters, and not enough plot
Even if it is a great plot, albeit with some implausibilities.

But I'd love to track down that novella; believe it or believe not but as I was nearing the finish I was thinking to myself "this would make for a great novella"

I like the tone and doom-laden mood of the novel, and the frequently-expressed thought processes of the heroine.
And there were a number of wonderful protracted scenes; which for the most part justified their length.
And a great opening passage; and great ending

I think you said you have this anthology, and I reckon this might be right up your street
(not a million miles removed from Goodis territory)

June 13, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I like the idea of fiction by Cornell Woolrich appearing in a magazine caled "Today's Woman."

June 13, 2012  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

In many respects, - not least because the heroine is far and away the major character in the novel, - its almost like the quintessential 'woman's noir', - in the same way that 'Mildred Pierce' and Max Ophuls film, 'The Reckless Moment' was

So, in that respect at least, its most appropriate that it should first see the light of day in 'Today's Woman'

btw, I've since also checked that 'Big Book of Pulps', which I see has three Woolrich stories, so I'm going to check them out, 'tout de suite'.

I've also put a reservation on a Woolrich Omnibus which resides somewhere in the Dublin library system; it includes two novels which Francois Truffaut adapted for two wonderful films: 'The Bride Wore Black', and 'Mississippi Mermaid'

June 13, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I just have trouble imagining a magazine called "Today's Woman" or anything like it publishing anything noir. Near as I cal tell from occasional glances at magazine racks, a magazine with a title anything like that is likelier to publish "positive" stories than noir.

June 14, 2012  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Perhaps it was a magazine ahead of its time.
Which may be a reason why it hasn't survived
But then aren't the majority of readers of crime fiction women?

Funnily enough, I mentioned to somebody after watching a boxing match recently, that the majority of the people who were jumping up and down at ringside and urging the dominant fighter to finish his opponent off were women!
Go figure!

Of course didn't Salome demand of Herod that John the Baptist head be delivered on a plate?

June 14, 2012  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I've already received a call from our super-efficient and friendly library service informing me that that Woolrich Omnibus is available for collection at my local library

June 14, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Just this week the CWA has released a survey that buttresses that suggestion that most crime fiction readers are women, and surveys don't lie. But I always had the idea, without having any basis for doing so, than women tend not to read the darkest of noir. Of course, some people will tell you that men don't read the darkest of noir, either.

June 14, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I should fortify myself to read some more Woolrich one of these days -- you know, grab the book, make sure I'm not to jumpy or emotionally close to the edge, and start reading.

June 14, 2012  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I was quite literally gobsmacked when a very English middle-aged lady of my acquaintance told me she was a huge Mickey Spillane fan!
(Va va va voom, indeed!)

Oh, and that reminds me, I was in London recently and when my brother-in-law's sister, who must be in her early 70s, told me she was a huge crime fiction fan I told her about Bill James
(she'd never heard of him)
She said she'd check her local library

June 14, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Who knows what all those old dears get up to at the library?

June 14, 2012  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Nice little Woolrich story in 'The Big Book of Pulps': 'Two Murders, One Crime'

June 14, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks. I read one Woolrich story in an anthology that ratcheted up the tension higher than any other story i've read. I'll look at this one.

June 14, 2012  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Have you heard anything about this: 'The Cocktail Waitress': a previously-unpublished James M. Cain novel

http://www.amazon.com/Cocktail-Waitress-Hard-Case-Crime/dp/1781160325/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1339721727&sr=1-3&keywords=james+m.+cain+novels


The title alone makes me want to investigate it further
(anyway Cain is another I haven't read in decades, never mind years)

June 14, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I know about as much as you do, namely that Hard Case is publishing the novel. I've read just Double Indemnity among Cain's work.

Speaking of books with enticing titles published by Hard Case, I've just bought Robert Silverberg's Blood on the Mink.

June 15, 2012  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Was that written pre, or post, the concerted Animal Rights campaigns against the wearing of fur?

June 15, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I think the book was written around 1960, and published then under a different title. But "Blood on the Mink" could be a pro-animal-rights slogan, too, couldn't it?

June 15, 2012  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Picked up my Woolrich Omnibus from the library today; I also ordered a Cain trilogy (of his lesser-known novels)
"Three by Cain: Serenade / Love's Lovely Counterfeit / the Butterfly (Vintage Crime)"

You might have a bit of catching up to do on my movie recommendations so, even if you put it on the long finger, 'Mississippi Mermaid', Truffaut's adaptation of Woolrich's of 'Waltz Into Darkness'
As is his other Woolrich, 'The Bride Wore Black', which is about as fine a Hitchcock homage as you're likely to see
(as well as being at least as good as most second-tier Hitchcocks, in its own right).

Got something of a shock, though, when I discovered that 'Waltz Into Darkness' is over 300 pages long (!!!).
Did Woolrich have an editor???

June 15, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

That is a surprise. One always pictures noir and pulp guys writing short.

June 16, 2012  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Perhaps serves to reinforce my initial comments of 'too much writing' about 'Dead Man'
But I'll let you know, in due course.

One of the stories in the Omnibus, 'Three O'Clock', has been described by an Amazon reviewer as being possibly the best of Woolrich's 200 stories.
I've only read one other, so I can't really challenge that assessment, but I'll at least investigate its quality

June 16, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

"Three O'Clock" is the story I alluded to above that ratcheted up the tension like nothing else I have ever read. It's hard to imagine a better suspense/crime story than that.

June 16, 2012  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

That makes me all the more eagerly look forward to it.
Did you think that he could have made it better, by making it shorter, though?

June 16, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I don't remember having any complaints about the length. All I remember is how he built up the tension.

June 16, 2012  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Wonderful story, indeed.
Beautifully paced, and modulated.

I had to cover the last page because I wanted to gradually have the conclusion unravel, line by line, and I didn't want my eyes to glance at any line, out of order, and spoil it on me.

Its the kind of story that Hitchcock might have done for his tv half-hours

I wonder is it his best story?
It would certainly be difficult to top.

But it makes me more than ever want to read the original incarnation of 'Dead Man', because I think his forte might have been in tighter, shorter stories/novellas
Like this; and, of course, 'Rear Window'

June 17, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

It was hard for me to read "It Has to Be Murder" without thinking of all the changes Hitchcock made when he created Rear Window: the romance. The comedy. Adding Grace Kelly's character and Thelma Ritters. Subtracting the janitor.

June 17, 2012  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

The cellar aspect of this story, and, to a certain extent, the ending, reminded me of a Hitchcock tv episode which I saw when a lad: about a wife who discovered her husband's previous wife had died 'in mysterious circumstances' and she begins to suspect he's trying to kill her, as she wonders about the excessive time he's been spending down in the cellar

Whatever about your reservations about Hitchcock's 'Rear Window',though, I'd still rank it in his Top Three, along with 'Vertigo' and 'Psycho'

June 18, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

My only reservations about Hitchcock's "Rear Window" are where to rank it among the greatest movies ever made. One has to admire the chutzpah of a filmmaker who would make such drastic alterations to his original material, probably even mpore drastic than the ones made to his version of "The Thirty-Nine Steps."

June 18, 2012  

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