Wednesday, February 10, 2016

My third and fourth book covers as a photographer: The Year of the Orca

Linda L. Richards' novel When Blood Lies sees the light of day in April (but is available for preorder now), with a cover photograph by me.

From left: Me, Linda L. Richards.
The publishers are the good people at Orca Books, who have also just brought out Reed Farrel Coleman's Love and Fear, with a cover photograph by me. 2016: Feel the Orca.

Linda and Reed join Ed Gorman and Charlie Stella on the select but growing list of authors for whose books I have shot covers. That's a good bunch, and you should be reading all of them. 

© Peter Rozovsky 2016

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Monday, February 08, 2016

William Ard, James Ellroy, and elements of crime fiction style

"She said eight o'clock in the lobby. She said bring the hundred with me, in cash. She said good-bye."
*
"Clouds imploded. Buildings weaved. People blipped."
=======
One of those passages is from James Ellroy, the other is fifty years older, but the cadences are similar, and if you don't think cadence is important, you've never read Ellroy, at least not The Cold Six Thousand, from which the second of the passages is taken.

The first is from William Ard's 1952 novel The Perfect Frame and, two books into my career as an Ard man, I begin to realize that for all the trouble he had coming up with strong endings, the man had style. His ten hard-boiled novels about P.I. Timothy Dane appeared in the 1950s, the years when Ellroy was growing from toddlerhood into early adolescence and, while I have no idea whether Ellroy read Ard, I have no doubt that he imbibed something of the way people spoke and wrote back then.

Style is a funny thing; style to me can be mere showing off to you. And it's elusive. Dashiell Hammett was the greatest of all crime writers, but what constitutes the Hammett style? 

While you ponder that unanswerable question, try these easier ones: What is style? Is good prose style necessary to good writing? Are the two synonymous?  Who are the most distinctive stylists in crime fiction? What's distinctive about their style, and what does that style add to their stories?

(By coincidence, Dana King discusses style this week at his One Bite at a Time blog. Have a stylish day.)

© Peter Rozovsky 2015

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Thursday, February 04, 2016

DBB meets ITW: A Thrilling Interview

My former colleague Gwen Florio, who has taken up the higher calling of writing crime novels, interviews me over at the International Thriller Writers' "The Thrill Begins" Web site.

Gwen asks good questions (no surprise there; she used to be a reporter), and here's one I had especial fun with:
Q: What do you look for when you review a book? Any make-or-break issues?

A:
No make-or-break issues come immediately to mind, though I prefer novels that do not begin with prologues marked “Prologue,” especially if those prologues are about a protagonist recovering consciousness and finding her or himself tied up, unable to move, in a dark room or a damp basement, etc. And especially if the prologue is set in italic type and narrated by a serial killer.
Read the entire interview at http://thrillbegins.com/2016/02/04/an-interview-with-peter-rozovsky-of-detectives-beyond-borders/
 
Our discussion is part of a series of interviews with reviewers, critics, publishers, editors, and authors that has so far included Todd Robinson, Janet Hutchings, Carole Barrowman, Benoit Lelievre, and Kristopher Zgorski,

© Peter Rozovsky 2015

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Monday, February 01, 2016

Ard boiled crime from the 1950s

William Ard (1922-1960)  was almost a topic on the "Beyond Hammett, Chandler, and Spillane" panel I moderated at Bouchercon 2015 in Raleigh, N.C., but the panelist, that knowledgeable Canadian Kevin Burton Smith, chose to discuss Norbert Davis instead.

But I sought Kevin's advice during an Ard-shopping expedition through the convention's book room, and I wound up with The Diary, one of Ard’s ten or so novels featuring the New York private investigator Timothy Dane (Ard wrote several other series in his his short life.) Here’s some of what I’ve learned:

1) Ard would make a perfect subject for “Beyond Hammett, Chandler, and Spillane,” which I first offered at Bouchercon 2014 and which spotlights lesser-known authors of the paperback-original and pulp eras. Ard is, indeed, little remembered, to judge by the paucity of references to him online and the apparent scant availability of his books. Little or none of his work is available in electronic versions, for example, where many lesser-known crime writers of the past have found new life.

2) He was fairly prolific in a short career, turning out about thirty novels though he died before his 39th birthday.

Kevin Burton Smith
3) I like Kevin's observation that Dane is "a pretty normal guy" compared to his fictional contemporaries Mike Hammer and Shell Scott. I love Kevin's remark that
"I find Ard's work far more enjoyable than that of Ross Macdonald in the same time period. Sure, Dane's cases tend to be a tad pulpier and melodramatic than Archer's, but at the same time, Dane's a far more compelling and down to earth character." 
4) The Diary's ending conforms to Kevin's assessment about Dane's cases compared to Archer's.  Ard built The Diary around themes familiar from Hammett and Chandler: political corruption, family secrets, and wild daughters.  But he knew how to build something unexpected out of familiar P.I. set-ups, such as the shamus in his office waiting for a client or the tough guys who confront the P.I. Several times near the novel's beginning, I'd think, "I know what will happen now," and I'd be wrong. After this happened two or three times, I figured this guy Ard's a pro who knows how to hold a reader's interest.

5) Dane also wrote crime series featuring characters named Lou Largo, Johnny Stevens, Barney Glines and Mike (later Danny) Fountain plus Westerns. I haven't read them, but thanks to The Diary, I may look for them.

© Peter Rozovsky 2015

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Friday, January 29, 2016

What is the sound of a 1% interest rate rising?

© Peter Rozovsky 2015

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Monday, January 25, 2016

Thanks, Tony "3:10 to Yuma*" La Russa

Tony La Russa liked playing the long game.
I have Patricia Highsmith and Jean-Patrick Manchette on tap, but today's post is devoted to the man who may have done more than anyone else to make major league baseball almost as long and delay-ridden as an NFL game (though not quite as interminably drawn out as the last two minutes of a close NBA game, as a commenter rightly points out).

I had moaned earlier about the constant interruptions in NFL games when I realized that major league baseball has been becoming more like the NFL in recent years and decades: Tinkering with the rules to boost offense (the DH), increased specialization on the field (the DH), endless games, and so on, and I realized that baseball missed a chance to honor a man whose success did much to foster these trends.

Wouldn't it have been great if Tony La Russa had spoken for eight or ten minutes at his Hall of Fame induction in 2014, then brought someone in to speak for one minute, followed by a conference with the Hall of Fame board chairman? La Russa would then bring in a third speaker to offer a funny line because that's what that speaker is good at, followed by a specialist in touching heartfelt remarks for forty seconds, then another conference with the board chairman.

A fifth speaker, all around good at everything, would then come on, followed by another conference and, depending on how the audience seemed to be reacting, another speaker. La Russa would then bring on the final speaker, who can't talk for more than a minute but who is an absolute master at summing everything up with a memorable exit line.

La Russa's short speech would by then have swollen to forty-five minutes, and half his audience would have been asleep, but those who remained awake would have acclaimed it as one of the best speeches ever.
==========
* Box scores for major league baseball games list the amount of time the game took at the bottom in hours and  minutes: 2:16, 2:44, or, more frequently since Tony La Russa had such success with hyper-specialization and frequent pitching changes, longer than three hours. La Russa runs the Arizona Diamondbacks now, so I think Tony "3:10 to Yuma" La Russa is a hell of a thing to call him. Share if you agree.

© Peter Rozovsky 2015

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Friday, January 22, 2016

Detectives Beyond Borders on stage in Bangkok

Christopher G. Moore was the inquisitor, Edwin van Doorn captured it on video, and I answered the questions, talking about international crime fiction as my shirt exuded a weird purply glow at Check Inn 99 in Bangkok. See the interview here.

In Bangkok at the CheckInn99 on Sunday 15 November 2015 A special inaugural meet up of Bangkok Noir community was hosted by Christopher G. Moore and featured...
YOUTUBE.COM

© Peter Rozovsky 2015

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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

John McFetridge and I take down the Coens and steal Jay Stringer's lunch money

Youngish crime writer Jay Stringer commented on an online article that ranked the Coen brothers' movies. John McFetridge and I weighed in. You won't believe what happened next.
 ====================== 
Don't shoot me; my cultural
references are my art.
Peter Rozovsky: The Coen brothers are the perfect moviemakers for a smart-ass, self-referential epoch in American culture. That said, Fargo was good and their version of The Ladykillers is one of the worst movies ever made, so this list gets at least two things right. He's also right that O, Brother! Where Art Thou? has one of the great soundtracks in movie history. But the movie also may be the most overrated of my lifetime. And this guy was "riveted" by the "hysterical" story? This piece is not from one of those inferior Onion imitations that seem to be cropping up everywhere these days, is it?

John McFetridge: I want to like this many, many times, Peter.

P.R.: Say the word, and I'll post it again.

J.McF.:  I think when it comes to the Coens (much like when it comes to Quentin Tarantino), it's best to keep any comments other than unqualified praise to ourselves.

P.R.:  No, occasional criticism of Tarantino is permitted. The thing about criticizing the Coens is that it amounts to criticizing their culture and, hence, their fans. I think they appeal to an audience that is nervous that it won't get the joke, so must be told "Hey, this is just a joke!" even as it is told the joke.

Jay Stringer: I'm happy to hear the criticism. I disagree with it, but I like to hear the other side in things because I'm never afraid to change my mind

P.R.: The Coens and Tarantino are also brilliant visual stylists, which probably helps, even if the visual style is occasionally cringe-makingly arty and referential. That way, people who don't get the reference can enjoy the visual feast, and people who do get it can congratulate themselves for getting it.

J.McF.: I think there's also a fair amount of making fun of hicks in the Coens' movies. I suppose some pushback against the aw-shucks, wise man (I blame Will Rogers) is needed, but I don't like what I see.

J.S.: I wouldn't lump those two (well, three) artists together. Unless it's maybe as opposite ends of something. I think Tarantino has a conscious effort to be cool. I think the Coens have a conscious effort to be uncool. Whilst both are making that conscious effort, I think the latter leaves more room for interesting characters, stories, and, observations, whereas as 'cool' will always get in the way.

J.McF.: No, I don't think the movies have anything in common, I just find that both filmmakers have fans the way boy bands have fans. Which is fine, of course. I've come to accept that when it comes to art and culture I am pretty much universally wrong.

J.S.: John, I can agree with you on that. I see far less of that behavior among Coen fans, but then, I would, because I'm one of them.

P.R.: What about that nonsense with the hat blowing along the ground in, I think, Miller's Crossing? I think you may be right about the cool/uncool, Tarantino/Coen split. The key word in the case of both is "conscious," because it's a tiny leap from "conscious" to "forced."

J.S.: Peter, you're right, it's a very small leap from one to the other. And sometimes I think the Coens have taken that leap and made a mess (just as I think Tarantino has made one brilliant film, where he took enough of a step back) but I think they've stayed on the right side of that line for many great films

P.R.: You could be right, though I'm skeptical. I've seen just a few of their movies, but those include some that have been highly praised. Still, I don't pretend to be able to offer anything like an assessment of their career.

J.McF.: Remember your comments about "The River"? I think much of that applies here.

P.R.: When I have time, I may post later about George Clooney's performance in "O, Brother ... " Though the performance is enough to make me cringe, I can't fault Clooney because he was obviously performing in a style that had been dictated or at least indulged by the Coens, so I blame them. 

J.S.: John, I should clarify, the behavior I was saying I could see was the more 'fan' culture. But as for your point about them making fun of certain groups, I hadn't seen it, but maybe it's a fair point I can look for it in future.

J.S.: I think maybe for me, it's usually come down to it not sticking out that they single out one group, because so often EVERYONE in the film is an idiot. Burn After Reading did that (and was one of their most criticized films, but I loved it); the film is full of idiots.

J.McF.: It's probably me. People often told me the Coen brothers' movies were smart (or even that they were "for" smart people). So I probably approached them defensively (I used to struggle, being one of the least smart people in any room I was in, it doesn't bother me so much anymore), but there always seemed to be some winking about the idiots in the films. Sure, most of the characters are idiots, but we're not meant to empathize with them at all, we're meant to laugh at them.

J.S.: Oh I'd agree if that's how the films were being sold to you. Hate that in any field. "For smart people" is just another form of exclusivity to art. It's utter crap.

J.S.: But take Fargo as an example. I think what we're really being asked to laugh at in that film is pride. Ego. Self-delusion. That cuts across class and social barriers. Everyone loses in that film out of stupidity driven by one of those traits, and the only character who really has it screwed on is the down-to-earth, working, married mother-to-be.

P.R.: In re making fun of hicks, I liked Fargo, and I think most people did. One criticism I heard was from somebody from that part of the county who said the accents in the movie were bad, that people don't talk the way the Coens had them talk.

J.McF.: I think the exaggerated accents are part of it. Like George Clooney's performance in O Brother, it's an artistic decision I don't understand. I suppose it simply goes over my head, but to me the exaggerated accents draw attention to and isolate the characters, making them more other and less likely for much of the audience to relate to them. And make them easy to make fun of. Of course, maybe going through those emotions while watching is supposed to make us in the audience (who think those things) uncomfortable with our own preconceived notions and with ourselves. I'm totally in favor.
Visual nonsense from Miller's
Crossing
.
 
J.S.: I can certainly empathize with locals who don't like the Fargo accents. I get it every time I watch  Peaky Blinders. That's set in my patch, where my Miller books are set, and those weird accents drive me NUTS.

P.R.: I should make it clear that I don't remember noticing a problem with the accents; I've never been to that part of the United States. But I, in turn, can empathize with someone from Glasgow or Ireland being impatient with bad accents, since those are the sources of what are probably the most widely and badly imitated of accents in English.

P.R.: What bugged me about Clooney's performance in O, Brother... was that tag line that the Coens had him deliver throughout, something like: "Boy, that really hits the spot!" The Coens had him deliver the line in obvious imitation of a bad ham actor. If the idea was to show that George Clooney, sex symbol, was capable of light comedy, why not just have him do light comedy instead of imitating someone trying to imitate comedy? It's just one more bit of Coenish meta.

 J.McF.: Like Tim Robbins in The Hudsucker Proxy repeating, "You know, for kids."

J.S.: Can't argue. It's a fair criticism of writing being a little on the nose.

P.R.: Also in re making fun of hicks, remember those funny names that people on social media would make up about those Oregon folks who took over the wildlife refuge? The names included "Y'all-Qaeda" and "Yee-hadies" and such. Now, why is Southern speech used to mock an action led by two brothers from Oregon whose father was from Nebraska? No need to look far for an answer to that question. Vanilla ISIS is pretty funny, though.

J.S.: Yeah I didn't really like the way those people were/are turned into a joke. Not because I don't find them preposterous, but because I don't think it's the right way to address the issues. And I don't want to make jokes out of those guys, while being complicit in a media that in turn makes poor city street kids into villains and heroes.

"Peter, John & Jay discuss stuff." Should be a panel somewhere.

© Peter Rozovsky 2015

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Monday, January 18, 2016

Shtetl, with a glottal stop

Rick Ollerman, Adrian McKinty
You haven't lived until you've heard an Irishman say "shtetl." Thanks to Adrian McKinty, I can now say I've lived.

Oh, sure the audience at Sunday's Noir at the Bar in New York ate up McKinty's reading from his latest novel, Rain Dogs, and sure, his was not the evening's only good reading, but that was no shock. Hearing shtetl pronounced with a glottal stop, on the other hand, was an experience I never thought I'd have. (McKinty's wife's ancestors were from a shtetl, in case you were wondering how the subject came up.)

MC Todd Robinson
Rick Ollerman was there, too, and was too polite to correct me when I kept referring to his fine novel Shallow Secrets as Shallow Grave. Rick Ollerman: Editor, novelist, mensch.

Dennis Tafoya
The Philadelphia area's own Dennis Tafoya read from a work in progress—searing, hard-hitting stuff from one of the original readers from back when I created Noir at the Bar in 2008. (Dennis read the next year.)

New York's Noirs at the Bar happen at Shade Bar, and accolades to the bartender, Laurie, who not only mixes a good Hendrick's and tonic, but also knew my name. And thanks to Suzanne Solomon and Tim Hall, who joined forces for a two-part reading; Dana Cameron; Danny Gardner; Vincent Zandri; and Jason Pinter, who also read, and to Jen Conley, who sat quietly in the audience without organizing an event, reading a story, or announcing her engagement, all of which she tends to do at Noirs at the Bar.
Danny Gardner

Adrian McKinty, Suzanne Solomon, Tim Hall
© Peter Rozovsky 2015

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Friday, January 15, 2016

Too much of nothing: The High Window

The High Window has plenty of good stuff in it, but I know of no one who considers it among Raymond Chandler's best work. I'm part of that consensus, and here are some of the reasons, based on a recent rereading:
1) Chandler's inspiration flags.  In Chapter Four, needing to give Philip Marlowe and the reader information about the case at hand, Chandler has Marlowe call a friend who happens conveniently to be "a crime reporter on the Chronicle," a hard-boiled convention probably five to ten years out of date by the time The High Window appeared in 1942. The information is forthcoming, Marlowe and the crime reporter friend duly exchange mildly salacious wisecracks, and the reporter disappears, never to return.  The reporter's name suggests that Chandler was well aware of the scene's perfunctory nature: Kenny Haste.

2) The word nothing occurs 73 times in the novel, sometimes like a  self-mocking drumbeat: "Nothing in that, Marlowe," Marlowe tells himself, "nothing at all. Nothing for you here, nothing."  Chandler would engage in morbid crankiness in The Little Sister in 1949. Something similar may be at work in The High Window.

3) On a possibly related note, I detected what I would bet was the inspiration for Ross Macdonald's cringe-inducing pathetic fallacies in The Galton Case. In Macdonald, "Flowers bloomed competitively in the yards." In The High Window, "a small tiled pool glitter(ed) angrily in the sun." Is it fair to blame Chandler's mild excess for Macdonald's more serious sin? Maybe Chandler could be indicted as an accessory before the fact.
© Peter Rozovsky 2015

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Monday, January 11, 2016

Story and voice: A post about The Big Sleep inspired by cold mutton fat

"She had long thighs and she walked with a certain something I hadn’t often seen in bookstores."
— Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep
=======
Haunted by John McFetridge's comment about voice and story here at Detectives Beyond Borders and consumed by desire to revisit the greatest mutton-fat simile in American crime writing, I read The Big Sleep again on Saturday.

McFetridge wrote "I think voice is really important in a story but not as important as the story," which sounds at once reasonable and at odds with the wisecracking American P.I. tradition that Raymond Chandler perfected for eternity. So I kept my eye on story this time, and McFetridge was right. The pathos of the story and the depth of the Sternwood family's pride and self-delusion get more affecting each time I read The Big Sleep.

Martha Vickers as Carmen
Sternwood in The Big Sleep's
best performance.

The novel also increased my wonder at Howard Hawks' celebrated 1945 and 1946 film adaptations. Aside from minor details of hair color and such, the performers — and the cast is a strong one — are dead ringers for Chandler's versions of them. And the movie's additions either are plausible extrapolations from the novel (the racy horse-racing dialogue between Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart) or good, solid action in their own right (the end of Eddie Mars). My guess is that the former is due to the movie's writers, who included Leigh Brackett and William Faulkner, and the latter to director Howard Hawks.

Oh, and the novel's plot is less confusing than the movie's, if that matters.

© Peter Rozovsky 2015

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Friday, January 08, 2016

Modern noir, settling Bruce Springsteen's hash, and the truth about rock and roll: A discussion

Jay Stringer, Glasgow-based crime writer and rumored consumer and provider of drinks at Bouchercon, put up a post on Facebook this week about depictions of working-class life in fiction and the media, and the discussion grew from there. Here's part of what ensued:
                    ==========

Jay Stringer: “I listened to one of my favorite songwriters singing one of his most famous songs last night. And it's a tale of getting someone pregnant, getting married at 19, and that was `all she wrote.' [Ed. note: Bruce Springsteen, "The River."] And ... it just speaks to me of someone who hasn't lived that life, singing without the empathy to really understand it.

“Now, that songwriter gets it right more than he gets it wrong, and there are many other songs — particularly on the albums that followed — where he finds the empathy to deliver it.

“We either make out that it's some soul-crushing grind, that saps people’s dreams and robs them of dignity, or we mythologize it, patronize it into some noble existence full of daily wonder, where every character from that background speaks like Morgan Fucking Freeman with pearls of wisdom, and they're all just happy to be alive, thank you Guv'nor.

“We can't seem to just let it be what it is. A life. A story. A real person. … And truth can be damned entertaining. Because life ain’t one thing or the other; it's not heroic or tragic. Because on the tragic end, we have a lot of modern noir that pisses me off, because it's become a race to the bottom of misery. And that's not honest either. But it's about empathy. Not talking down or up.”

Johnny Shaw, Jay Stringer, Eryk Pruitt at
Bouchercon 2015, Raleigh, N.C. (Photo
by your humble blogkeeper)
Peter Rozovsky: "...a lot of modern noir...pisses me off, because it's become a race to the bottom of misery."

“A similar thought has crossed my mind, with the addition that a lot of modern noir and rural noir and noir with working-class characters also seems to be about how many 'fucks' one can get on the page.

“And then there are Johnny Shaw, Eryk Pruitt, Benjamin Whitmer.”

Jay: “Agreed, Peter. Those guys 'get' it. Life is all of the things. Funny, tragic, heroic, dull, epic, short, pointless, daft, numinous. It's got more that one shade.”

Peter: “Pruitt is the one of those guys I have read most recently, and one thing I noticed in his stuff is that if a character is a dumb fuck, Pruitt will show that the character is a dumb fuck. No bogus nobility here.

“As for `The River,' the `wedding coat’ line always bothered me. I think Springsteen used `coat’ because he couldn't think of anything else that rhymed with 'wrote.' Great songwriters manage to distort the rhythms of normal speech to fit music while creating the illusion that they're writing real speech. In the U.S., no one ever did that better than Johnny Mercer.

“I think Springsteen is pretty damned good as a performer and overrated as a songwriter. The man will have to answer in the next world for `Go-Kart Mozart was checking out the weather chart,’ after all. The songs of his that get cited as great noir songs or heartfelt working-class laments always strike me as a little off. `Wedding coat,’ for example, and what is the reason for the jazz arrangement and Richard Davis' bass on `Meeting Across the River’? What do they add to the song? What do they have to do with the song?

“I flatter myself with the thought that I'm a good test for whether noir with poor or rural or working-class characters works because I have never been any of those things. So if it works for me, it can't work just because it's authentic or some crap like that. It has to be not authentic, but convincing.”

Jay: “I'm growing to think narrative songs can be a trap, too. Not that they can't work, because so many of them do, but I think they're very easy to get wrong. Sometimes songwriters are trying too hard to write prose, and losing sight of what works about a song. And I think the song `The River' shows that. He's a young guy stretching very hard to find a new voice, but the work is showing. I can do things with a book that a songwriter can't do in a song. But a songwriter can do things with a song that I can't do with a book. And I think we should both lean into that. Bruce tells a story in `Racing in the Street,' for example, that's purer than a book, and plays to its strengths as a song. But when he wrote `The River' I think he lost sight of that.

“Funny you mentioned his story songs just as I was essaying about them.”

Peter: “It's hard to avoid that subject when discussing Springsteen. Those long (and I mean long) monologues before songs, complete with rising musical backgrounds of their own and delivered in a suitably throaty voice are pretty good, but make no mistake: They are showmanship, pure and simple. Nothing wrong with that, but rock and roll and the people who write about it take themselves awfully seriously. Not everything has to be a primeval evocation of an earlier America or crap like that. Sometimes a musician can just be a good showman. But God forbid anyone should write that about Springsteen. Calling him an entertainer rather than a poet or a troubadour would be so irreverent.”

Jay: “I think that's why as much as Springsteen has been one of my favorites for a long time, Paul Westerberg has always been my guy. He writes songs. He goofs off. He plays guitar and sings. He's not TELLING us that he's telling stories, he's just making us feel. And his songs find emotional truths and are relatable, but he's playing to his strengths in simply wanting to write and play songs. I'm a big believer in finding out what it is your chosen art form can do better than any others, and going for that. I like comics that do things only comics can do. Songs that are the best at being songs. Films, etc. ... If and when a songwriter wants to tell me what they're singing about, that's fine. It's their choice of course, but it adds a bit of glass between my heart and their words. Don't tell me, show me. And the BEST artists, I think, are the ones who get on with it, and don't need to tell you they're artists.”

Peter: "He's not TELLING us that he's telling stories ..."

“That gets right to the point, I think. From the mid-1960s on, rock and roll thought it had grown up, but it was really like a 17-year-old trying too hard to show it was a grown-up and not always bringing it off.”

That was all he wrote.
Jay: “Your `poet or troubadour' line also touches on what annoys me about the cult of Bill Hicks. Which isn't a knock on Hicks himself. Stand up was my first love, but I get SICK of people who want to say `Hicks wasn't just a comedian, he was a POET.’ No. He was a comedian. He was one of the best there is/was at that particular art form; don't cheapen it by saying it's something else. Bruce is one of the best showmen in rock, as you say, so why can't people let him be that, and then talk about how being that also allows him to have things to say about life? Why does Watchmen need to be a `graphic novel' and not just the very best of COMICS?"

Peter: “I remember reading a third-hand account that Springsteen would spray his face with something to create the illusion that he was sweating on stage. Nothing wrong with that if one is a hard-working entertainer, but definitely behavior unbecoming a troubadour. ... I also read, maybe in the same place, that David Bowie admitted that he never had as much sex as he liked people to think he had. One has long known, of course, that the Rolling Stones were a bunch of art school and LSE boys … Rock and roll needs someone to cast an eye on it like the one James Ellroy cast on Hollywood.

“I have a bit of sympathy with the uncomfortable English vocabulary for comics. `Graphic novel' is pretentious and arriviste, and it smacks of insecurity. But `comics' is an odd term, too, because there's nothing comical about many of the best of them. Our language has no accurate, comprehensive term like the French bandes dessinées.”

Billy Samson: "From a lurker's point of view that was an excellent conversation, well done you two! The Springsteen spray-on sweat thing was new to me, but reminded me of the old story of bottom-drawer goths Fields Of The Nephilim losing all credibility with ANY audience early in their career after a bag of Homepride flour (complete with the wee bowler hatted fella cheerily waving) was spotted behind them in a Melody Maker photo, thus revealing exactly how they obtained their deathly stage pallor.

“Obviously Bruce had more critical capital in the bank before that, so wasn't a problem. But everything in art is a pose (of sorts) to gain our trust by its very nature, and balances empathy disguised as sympathy for the artist with actual empathy (for the target audience and others). What I find interesting is how our codes for deciphering and interpreting all this have changed in recent years.”

Jay: “One of the reasons my love for [Tom] Waits grows, I think, is that the selling of the myth, the selling of the pose, is such a part of his art. He's practically winking at us the whole time. To the point that, actually, we don't even question the authenticity. And part of that is because he's a brilliant writer, but also I think because of the way he's made an act out of the act."

Billy Samson: “I find a lot of older people I know, punk-era types who grew up in way more socially aware times, take Waits completely at face value. The notion of him being more Bowie than Leadbelly is dismissed. (The notion of Leadbelly himself actually always being a bit Bowie is another step again.)"

John McFetridge: “I have to admit I don't read much noir anymore. I find I'm rarely in the mood to read about losers or about people getting screwed. I sometimes think we missed a big change in the world (in North America, anyway), and the literature got disconnected. “I've been reading a lot of what you might call '50s suburban lit lately, Philip Roth and John Cheever and Saul Bellow, the kind of stuff I had no time for in my twenties. I see now they were fully engaged in their times. Sam Wiebe brought up Norman Mailer the other day, and he's another I didn't get till I got old enough. I'm looking for that in noir, but what I see mostly is what you said about Tom Waits, a lot of winking. Not because the writers or singers aren't `genuinely working class,' but because the characters often seem to be stuck in another era when people dropped out of high school and still had expectations of normal life.

“Let me put it this way: I remember in history class being told about a shift in European culture (we were talking specifically about France) away from hunting and to fenced-in animals, husbandry, I guess. It meant there was a shift in who were the cool kids, so to speak. Being a great hunter didn't matter so much anymore but being witty in the salon started to be (or being philosophical, I guess).

“So, I guess I find a lot of noir has missed the 'revenge of the nerds' stage that we've been going through the last forty years.

Jay Stringer: “I guess for me, and this brings it right back, is that I feel a lot of modern noir is in the same place as the song I started off by taking at a pop at, except darker. And none of it feels real. We've taken `write what you know,’ and, rather than fix it to `know what you write,’ we've turned it into `pretend to write what you pretend to know. The whole thing in `The River' about the 19-year-old who gets married. Well, my first marriage was 23 (I think) ... I know lots of people who did what the song is singing about, and none of them have ended up being the guy in the song. For one thing, most marriages I've ever known start off in the right place. Not all of those people are happy, but they're not some walking working-class dead. And it's just that total lack of anything real that's bugging me. It can be done in an entertaining way, it can be funny, or dark, or hopefully a mixed bag of emotion, but make it feel REAL.

“And we're in a place — shit we've already discussed this a bunch of times — where entertainment has been separated out from having to be about anything. Something can just be `dumb fun' now, whereas entertainment used to be about things. But we're generations down the line into the misdirect. If our entertainment is no longer talking about who we are, then we forget who we are.

“I agree with you about finding the balance. Absolutely. To quote Ray Banks, "the most lasting argument is made in subtext." I think he said that, anyway. If he didn't, he should have. In fact, let's just say I said it, right there. Trouble is, I think we're in a phase increasingly where the balance has been tipped all the one way, and we're encouraged more and more to go to that, but the ideal is to do both.”

© Peter Rozovsky 2015

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Thursday, December 31, 2015

My favorite tree-and-temple photo of 2015

(Photo by your humble blogkeeper)
© Peter Rozovsky 2015

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Another one from Cambodia

(Photo by your humble blogkeeper)

© Peter Rozovsky 2015

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Detectives Beyond Borders best book of 2015: Dirtbags

Eryk Pruitt's 2014 novel Dirtbags is a tall tale, a couple-on-the-run story, a moving noir story as Jim Thompson or, especially, David Goodis might have written it, a rural roman noir, a dark comedy with a touch of Southern Gothic, and satire without hitting the reader over the head to make its point.  It's also a serial-killer story for readers who hate serial-killer stories, thanks to its blessed absence of interest in abnormal psychology.

One review calls the novel "sort of like a book about a serial murderer written by Carl Hiaasen, only a lot darker," but don't let the Hiaasen comparison stop you; this book is funny without, however, degenerating into a cheap yuk-fest.

I'm as urban and suburban as readers get, so for me, tone is all important in rural noir. The story has to take me to an unfamiliar place, full of unfamiliar, colorful characters without, however, patronizing those characters or turning them into caricatures in the name of country or Southern color. Dirtbags manages this balancing act, and that's why it's a Detectives Beyond Borders best book of I read in 2015.

© Peter Rozovsky 2015

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Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Parker project: Re-readng Richard Stark

I’m 10 books into the idea I stole from Heath Lowrance of rereading all the Parker novels Donald Westlake wrote under his Richard Stark alias. In order, I’ve reread Breakout, The Hunter, The Man With the Getaway Face, The Outfit, Butcher’s Moon, The Sour Lemon Score, Plunder Squad, The Seventh, The Mourner, and Deadly Edge.

The experience offers an impressive answer to a question I pose occasionally at Detectives Beyond Borders: How does an author keep a long-running series fresh? Stark did it by radically reconceiving the series repeatedly. The lone-avenger plot of the first three books bleeds gradually into stories of heists gone wrong, the seed of the latter sown as early as Book Two, The Man With the Getaway Face.

Once he began writing the heist books, Stark stayed constantly ahead of what his fans expected of them. Parker, the unemotional user of women? Stark got good mileage out of that motif before introducing Claire in The Rare Coin Score (1967), then making her a part of Parker's life and a driver of the plot in Deadly Edge four years later. Claire was no calculated, pro-forma addition, either. Her interaction with Parker and the hapless heist planner Billy Lebatard shows that Stark had assimilated every lesson postwar novels of nervous American masculinity and sexual jealousy had to teach. And Deadly Edge shows Stark doing a creditable job with the frightened-woman-alone-in-a-house motif even as he makes sure readers know why she so strongly loves the house and refuses to leave it.

Parker the silent? Stark laid that one to rest, giving Parker pages of nonstop dialogue in The Black Ice Score. That is easily the weakest of the Parker novels, but I respect Westlake for doing something different. And anyone who scorns the idea that Stark had a sense of humor needs to read The Score or The Seventh. The latter book especially uses humor like the minor-key variation on the main theme in an opera. The book is grim and violent, which makes the humorous touches stand out all the more.

Think of any shorthand tag by which readers and commentators refer to Parker, and the chances are that it's accurate, but also that Stark went way beyond it.

(Read all about Parker at the Violent World of Parker Web site.)

© Peter Rozovsky 2015

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Friday, December 25, 2015

A Detectives Beyond Borders best book of 2015, reissue department: Laura

Women Crime Writers: Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940a and '50s, edited by Sarah Weinman for the Library of America, is probably the year's most celebrated set of crime fiction reissues, and for me, Vera Caspary's 1943 novel Laura is the collection's novel worthiest of celebration. Here's what I wrote about the book in a review of the entire collection for the Philadelphia Inquirer:
 "And what of Vera Caspary's unclassifiable Laura? The title character of Otto Preminger's 1944 movie version is a gauzy, unattainable mystery woman who drives men to fascination, even obsession. Johnny Mercer's lyrics to the film's much-recorded theme song include lines such as `Laura is the face in the misty light' and `That was Laura, but she's only a dream.' Great stuff, but not much to do with Caspary's novel. 

"Her Laura Hunt, unlike Gene Tierney, who played her in the movie, is not especially beautiful. Rather, she is a successful advertising copywriter to whom three men — a detective, an essayist and newspaper columnist, and Laura's unworthy fiance — are attracted without her having to do much about it. Far from a temptress or a scheming femme fatale, she's a kind of maypole around whom the men dance, and she behaves, all told, with remarkable self-possession.
"Each of the three men (the fiance in the form of a police report), and Laura herself, gets a turn as narrator, the fiance the least reliable, the columnist the funniest:

 "`I have never stooped to the narration of a mystery story. At the risk of seeming somewhat less than modest, I shall quote from my own works. The sentence, so often reprinted, that opens my essay 'Of Sound and Fury' is reprinted here:

 "'When, during the 1936 campaign, I learned that the President was a devotee of mystery stories, I voted a straight Republican ticket.' "
And here's Sara Paretsky writing about Laura at the Library of America Web site.

© Peter Rozovsky 2015

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A Detectives Beyond Borders best book of 2015: Pierre Lemaitre's The Great Swindle

A jacket blurb on Pierre Lemaitre's novel The Great Swindle says something like "just as he does in his crime fiction, Lemaitre ... "  The Great Swindle tells of two epic-scale swindles in post-World War I France sparked by two especially odious murders, so why is it something other than crime fiction?

Perhaps because is at least as much a social novel about post-World War I France, about class fissures and political and business corruption, as it is about crime.  Perhaps because the build-up to the central swindles is so leisurely (and so beautifully done and so thoroughly explores the lives of its two central characters and a host of minor ones).  Perhaps because of its ending, which is atypical of crime fiction. Or perhaps because Lemaitre, a two-time winner of the International Dagger Award for translated crime fiction from the Crime Writers Association in the UK, won France's Prix Goncourt for The Great Swindle (Au revoir là-haut in its original French).

Nonetheless, The Great Swindle may remind crime readers of Dominique Manotti in its examination of corruption in France or of Daniel Pennac or Fred Vargas in its portrayal of eccentric households. And it generally avoids the twin dangers of sentimentality and whimsy when it does the latter.The villain of the piece is a weaker character than he could be, too villainous at times, a bit too thoroughly black when a bit of gray might have been called for.  The rest of the characters, even when engaged in outlandish actions, nonetheless--or perhaps because of those actions--combine to present convincing and moving picture of the messiness and the social gaps and broken promises of postwar life.

The translation's English prose is elegant and unobtrusive, a credit to translator Frank Wynne, who is not, a proclamation on his Web site notwithstanding, a terrible man.

© Peter Rozovsky 2015

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Monday, December 21, 2015

A Detectives Beyond Borders best book of 2015, reissue department: GBH

The toughest parts of Ted Lewis' 1980 novel GBH make Jim Thompson look like a bit of a wuss, yet the book is filled with the same sort of mordant, observational humor that marks Lewis' other crime classic, Get Carter (Jack's Return Home).
That Lewis maintains the humor through the novel's horrific events, building tension, and explosive conclusion is the book's most distinctive feature; call it the Ted Lewis touch.

The novel's short chapters alternate between the narrative present and the recent past; George Fowler, a ruthless gangster who makes his money from pornography, narrates both. In the "past" chapters. Fowler and his diminishing band of minions in London are desperate to find out who is betraying Fowler. In the present, Fowler has gone  to ground under an assumed name in an English seaside town. And that's where the cutting comedy comes in. Lewis is no likelier to have been hired to promote Grimsby or Mablethorpe than he would have been to tout Scunthorpe or Newcastle.

That Lewis is able to induce a certain pity or sympathy for what has to be to be the most morally bankrupt gang of characters ever assembled between covers is not the least of his magic. (In Get Carter, for example, Jack Carter is activated by the noble passions of avenging his dead brother and saving his niece, who may in fact be his daughter.  George Fowler, by contrast, wants nothing more than to save himself, no matter how many of his subordinates he has to have tortured or killed to do so.) And that's why GBH is a Detectives Beyond Borders best book of 2015/
===========
Jordan Foster discussed Ted Lewis as part of a panel I moderated at Bouchercon 2015 in Raleigh, N.C.,  called "Beyond Hammett, Chandler, Spillane, and Macdonald."

© Peter Rozovsky 2015

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Saturday, December 19, 2015

A Detectives Beyond Borders best book of 2015: Nathan Ward on how Hammett became Hammett

Nathan Ward's book The Lost Detective: Becoming Dashiell Hammett proposes that Hammett's experience as a detective for the Pinkerton Agency was a formative influence on his writing.

Ward is not the first Hammett scholar/researcher to make the connection; Richard Layman titled his 1981 Hammett biography Shadow Man. Ward, too, notes Hammett's writing about being a good shadow man — that is, being good at tailing someone without himself being detected.  One key, Hammett wrote, is to note the quarry's physical attitude. The way a person moves or wears clothes can be vastly more important in identifying one's quarry than can his or her face.

Commentary on Hammett's work as a detective generally suggests that the experience lent his stories verisimilitude, that he could write more convincingly about fictional detectives because he had been a real one.  Ward is the first Hammett scholar I can remember who suggests that the most valuable lesson Hammett learned was concision. He and other Pinkertons had to be brief and no-nonsense in their reports for the agency, a contention supported by Ward's research in Pinkerton archives, and this, Ward says, helped form Hammett as a writer.

Good prose style has never been valued less than it is now, and it does not figure prominently in discussions of authors. If you have even a passing familiarity with themes in Hammett biography and criticism, you'll know that scholars have focused on his politics, his love life, and his drinking. Ward's book is not, as reviewers and others have maintained, a biography. (Layman, on our Hammett panel at Bouchercon 2015 in Raleigh, recognized this.) Rather, it is something rarer: A book about a writer that concentrates on writing. And that's why it's a Detectives Beyond Borders best book of 2015.
============================= 

Fresh off reading Ward's book, I picked up The Maltese Falcon again, to find Hammett turning his detective's eye on Sam Spade.:
"The steep rounded slope of his shoulders made his body seem almost conical—no broader than it was thick—and kept his freshly pressed grey coat from fitting very well."
You'd know that man if you saw him again* and, having shown than he can do it, Hammett puts description to brilliant thematic use right from the start. But that's a subject for a future post.
=======
* Hammett's Spade is blond and "quite six feet tall." He looks, that is, about as far from Humphrey Bogart as it is possible for a human being to look.
 
© Peter Rozovsky 2015

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

More good words from Bill James

Thirty years on, Bill James' Harpur and Iles crime novels ("His Iles and Harpur series is magnificent," raved Ken Bruen.) may have fallen off a bit from their peak. The series was terrific from its beginning, with You'd Better Believe It (1985), then caught a thematic wave that lasted from Club (1991) through, say, Eton Crop (1999).

Commentators love the books' savage humor, occasionally invoking Elizabethan and Jacobean revenge plays.  The novels also create touching and hilarious portraits of aspirations to respectability on the part of low-life gangsters, notable the great Panicking Ralph Ember.

But James is such a good prose stylist that even the least of the books contains lines you'll want to quote to your friends. Perhaps the weakest of the novels, The Girl With the Long Back, contains one the series' very best lines. (The line concerns the title character's offer to show Assistant Chief Constable Desmond Iles her butterfly; she's a swimmer, you see.)

The latest in the series, Blaze Away, published this spring, looks so far to rank fairly high among recent entries. And, as does every book in the series, it contains the sort of dialogue you won't read elsewhere. Here Detective Chief Inspector Colin Harpur replying to a query from his informant, the shady art dealer Jack Lamb:
"‘It’s the ochre that speaks to my centre, too,’ Harpur said. ‘I thrill to that drumbeat.’ He knew Jack prized this kind of ramshackle, barmy conversation. Lamb obviously thought it made Harpur a more or less happily enmeshed associate of Jack’s brilliantly prosperous, profoundly dodgy vocation as fine arts huckster, sales online or by appointment.
Here me and Bill James. And
here's my two-part interview
with him
.
The novel also nails a voguish usage much favored by corporate executives and politicians who want to avoid scrutiny:
"They wanted all their dealings to be entirely transparent – a modish term that George found deeply unreal."
© Peter Rozovsky 2015

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Saturday, December 12, 2015

"Merry Christmas to All, and to All a Goodis Night" (An annual holiday tradition)

Turn over, baby. You’re burning up," she cooed. “Let me do your front.”

 The fat red man purred contentedly. Then he opened his mouth and screamed. He awoke from the dream jammed down the chimney, flames licking at his back. From above, a shaft of weak, sooty light and murmured voices.

 “But, Rudy, what about—”

“Leave the fat guy. I’m out of here. Who’s with me?”

“I’m in,” a voice said.

“Dasher?”

“Yeah.”

"You on, Dancer? Prancer? Vixen? Comet? Good. Let’s go.”

 Back down in hell, the fat red man shut his eyes and heard them exclaim as they drove out of sight …

— Peter Rozovsky 
© Peter Rozovsky 2014

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Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Douglas Sanderson and Canadian exceptionalism

Douglas Sanderson, a hard-boiled writer who spent the middle of his life in Montreal and set several books there, got good mileage out of turning Canadian stereotypes on their heads.

In The Deadly Dames (1956), protagonist Bill Yates sweats his way through a 100-degree Montreal summer and comments on the old joke about the American who arrives in sweltering weather with skis strapped to his car, wondering where all the snow is. "It's a story good for two laughs per summer," Yates remarks. "It makes us feel superior."

Later Yates comments on the Quebec law that forbids shorts on the grounds of indecent exposure: "When we're not feeling superior we're feeling virtuous."

Finally, he notices the gambling club that operates openly despite laws against such activity:
"The sign was large. It possessed a unique property. Officially it wasn't there. I, the cops and maybe a quarter of the city's inhabitants knew that gambling went on in the club's second floor. Gambling is illegal. We don't like it. Therefore the club doesn't exist and there's no sign. When we're not feeling superior or virtuous we're being blind."
Oh, and then there's
"We're nice, kindly, superior and virtuous, the newspapers insist. They add with a touch of pride that we're maybe drab and colorless. It's a great thing to see the kindly types kicking in each other's heads every night. Once in a while, like when they suspend the local hockey star. thousands of polite drab people go on a screaming, howling rampage twenty-hour hours of smashing and looting."
The last is, presumably, a reference to the Richard riot of March 17, 1955. Popular memory regards the riot as an example of Montrealers' love for hockey or a watershed moment in French Canadian nationalism. It's part of Canada's "heritage," that self-preening substitute for history, and I like Sanderson's knocking it off its sentimental pedestal.

(Read more about Douglas Sanderson courtesy of my landsman Kevin Burton "Thrilling Detective Website" Smith.)

© Peter Rozovsky 2015

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Sunday, December 06, 2015

Kansas City Confidential: Good, evil, and Donald Westlake

Kansas City Confidential (1952), a movie about an innocent man caught up in a heist who must then fight to clear his name, has to be an interesting case study in the conflicting pressures American movie makers faced in the 1950s.

On the one hand, its plot is as noir as noir gets: Innocent man with a blot on his past gets caught up in a heist, is arrested, is brutalized by police, loses his job, and must fight to restore his reputation. John Payne does decent work as the innocent man, fairly believable when he has to get tough. (And the movie's punch-up scenes are more convincingly tough than corresponding scenes in other movies of the time.)

On the other, the movie's love interest and redemption-soaked ending are so thoroughly unconvincing, so obviously at odds with everything else, that it's easy to disregard them and to enjoy the good stuff.   The gulf between the redemption and the evil got me thinking about, and appreciating, the balance that moviemakers of the time must have had to strike between getting their dark visions on the screen, and making them morally acceptable in a conservative age.

Neville Brand
Maybe the era's social pressure to clearly delineate good and bad is responsible for the movie's splendid trio of heisters, played by Neville Brand, Jack Elam, and a young Lee Van Cleef. These guys are like crowd figures in a Northern Renaissance Crucifixion painting. You know they're evil just by looking at them.

Perhaps the most enjoyable thing about Kansas City Confidential for crime fiction readers is spotting the bits that Donald Westlake had to have picked up from the movie: The discord among criminals. The getaway car that drives up inside a tractor-trailer after a heist.  The caper masterminded by a disgraced former high-ranking police officer, a device Westlake used to great effect in The Score.   The movie's narrative arc is also similar to those of many of the Parker novels Westlake wrote under his Richard Stark name: We see a robbery being planned, but the real action happens after the heist. I wouldn't call Kansas City Confidential a heist film, though, because the pre-heist planning part of the story is given little attention.

(Westlake was a sharp observer of and commentator on popular culture. I don't know if he wrote about Kansas City Confidential, but I do know that the first place I'd look is The Getaway Car,  that recent collection of Westlake's nonfiction from the University of Chicago Press.)

© Peter Rozovsky 2015

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Saturday, December 05, 2015

William McIlvanney is dead

William McIlvanney and me at Crimefest Bristol
in 2013. Photo courtesy of Ali Karim.
I am shocked and saddened that the great Scottish author William McIlvanney has died.

McIlvanney's three novels about Glasgow Detective Inspector Jack Laidlaw — Laidlaw (1977), The Papers of Tony Veitch (1983), and Strange Loyalties (1991) — are the answer to anyone who needs proof that literary fiction can be tough, gritty, and unpretentious, or that crime writing can be beautiful, affecting, and a portrait of its time and place that deserves to last.

McIlvanney's sympathy with his low and not so lowlife characters was heart-rending and funny at the same time, and he made Glasgow his own in a way no other crime writer has done with a city, not Chandler with Los Angeles or Lawrence Block with New York or Jean-Claude Izzo with Marseille.

And oh, how he could make the oldest of hard-boiled crime fiction clichés seem new. The protagonist waking up drunk. The murder scene narrated from the killer's point of view. The police officer who sits around feeling bleak. The angry, nervous, fretting parent of a missing child. McIlvanney could make all seem like something you'd never read before.

He was a fluent and commanding speaker on stage at conventions, and a modest and jovial presence at the hotel bar, and I know of no other author regarded with such respect and affection by his fellow writers. Here's the Telegraph's obituary and appreciation. Here's a link to all Detectives Beyond Borders posts about McIlvanney. And here are a few of my favorite bits from the Laidlaw books:
"(H)e recognized the inimitable decor of Milligan's poky flat, a kind of waiting room baroque. 
"The walls were dun and featureless, the furniture was arranged with all the homeyness of a second-hand sale room and clothes were littered everywhere. It wasn't a room so much as a suitcase with doors."
 -- The Papers of Tony Veitch

 *
 "It was Glasgow on a Friday night, the city of stares. ... There were a few knots of people looking up at the series of windows where train departures were posted. They looked as if they were trying to threaten their own destinations into appearing."
-- The Papers of Tony Veitch

*
" ... his anger was displaced. It was in transit, like a lorry-load of iron, and he was looking for someone to dump it on. His jacket had been thrown on over an open-necked shirt. A Rangers football-scarf was spilling out from the lapels.

 "Looking at him, Laidlaw saw one of life's vigilantes, a retribution-monger. For everything that happened there was somebody else to blame, and he was the very man to deal with them. Laidlaw was sure his anger didn't stop at people. He could imagine him shredding ties that wouldn't knot properly, stamping burst tubes of toothpaste into the floor. His face looked like an argument you couldn't win."
 -- Laidlaw 

*
 "I've seen it go about its business all too often — all those trials in which you can watch the bemusement of the accused grow while the legal charade goes on around him. You can watch his eyes cloud, panic and finally silt up with surrender. He doesn't know what the hell they're talking about. He can no longer recognize what he's supposed to have done. Only they know what they're talking about. It's their game. He's just the ball."
 -- Strange Loyalties
*
"`Ma lassie's missin.' 
"`We don't know that, Mr. Lawson. ... She could've missed a bus. She wouldn't be able to inform you. She could be staying with a friend.'
"`Whit freen'? Ah'd like tae see her try it?' 
"`She is an adult person, Mr. Lawson.' 
"`Is she hell! She's eighteen. Ah'll tell her when she's an adult. That's the trouble nooadays. Auld men before their faythers. Ah stand for nothin' like that in ma hoose. Noo whit the hell are yese goin' to do aboot this?'" 
-- Laidlaw
© Peter Rozovsky 2015

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