Monday, 20 February 2017

BURN COUNTY Is On Its Way!

BURN COUNTRY, the long-awaited sequel to Hammett Prize finalist SORROW LAKE, is finally on its way.

The Plaid Raccoon Press is pleased to announce that the second March and Walker Crime Novel is now entering its final production stages.

Review copies of the new novel will be available in print and eBook format before the end of March.

Stay tuned for further details over the coming days and weeks!


Wednesday, 7 December 2016

A Lost Vintage Crime Novel!

Those of you who follow The Overnight Bestseller may remember that I'm a fan of vintage paperbacks. I have a shelf in the basement filled with Ace Doubles, Dell mysteries, and Pocket Book westerns. Almost all of them are reading copies, dog-eared and chipped. In fact, I just finished re-reading And Be A Villain by Rex Stout in a Bantam Book edition printed in 1950 that is so beat up the pages have all come away from the binding and I have to pick them up one at a time to read the story. That's how much I love these books and the stories they tell.

Imagine my surprise and pleasure when I had an opportunity to review the first-time publication of The Knife Slipped, a Cool and Lam mystery published by Erle Stanley Gardner writing as A. A. Fair. This manuscript was recently uncovered and published by Hard Case Crime. It was originally intended by Gardner to be the second novel in the series but was rejected by his publisher. While I was at NoirCon 2016 in Philadelphia I had a chance to meet Hard Case Crime publisher and editor Charles Ardai. We talked about the discovery of this lost gem, and he graciously provided me with a copy of the book when I mentioned my review copy hadn't yet arrived in the mail.

Read my review of The Knife Slipped in the New York Journal of Books here: http://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book-review/knife-slipped

Enjoy!

Monday, 31 October 2016

NoirCon 2016

Over the past five days I've been in Philadelphia attending the 2016 edition of NoirCon, a festival celebrating all things noir. The panel discussions were for the most part very engaging, so allow me to give you a brief summary.

First, however, let me explain that I was there for the presentation of the 2015 Hammett Prize. I was honoured to be a finalist this year for SORROW LAKE. I'm very pleased to congratulate Lisa Sandlin on her win for THE DO-RIGHTS (Cinco Puntos Press). I had the pleasure of meeting Lisa at the ceremony, and I encourage everyone to read her book!

During the convention I enjoyed a very interesting panel discussion of Forgotten Innovators of Suspense that focused on William Goldman and Len Deighton. While presenter Warren Moore admitted that Goldman is not exactly forgotten, since The Princess Bride will likely live forever, his techniques for creating suspense in novels such as Heat, Magic, and Marathon Man are perhaps not so well known. He focused in particular on Goldman's somewhat perverse habit of informing readers that something bad will likely happen to one of his characters before long -- and sure enough, it eventually does. Meanwhile, I was surprised to hear that Len Deighton is almost forgotten as a writer of spy thrillers. Since I occasionally reread his novels, including Funeral in Berlin and the Bernard Samson trilogies, I was a little shocked to think that other people aren't doing the same thing. Time flies and tastes change, I guess.

A highlight of the convention for me was an on-stage interview of Charles Ardai, recipient of this year's Jay and Deen Kogan Award. The former CEO of Juno, an early innovative Internet service, Charles is the publisher of Hard Case Crime. This imprint revives lost paperback novels from the 1940s, 50s and 60s, as well as publishing new work. I had a chance to talk to Charles, and I think I'll devote another blog post to him rather than cram everything in here.

Finally, I'd like to thank Mary Frisque and the International Association of Crime Writers for enabling me to attend the full convention. Special thanks as well to Lou Boxer and Deen Kogan for an enjoyable event, and to their volunteers for their kindness.


Monday, 26 September 2016

An Invitation from the New York Journal of Books

Recently I was approached by the New York Journal of Books to join their staff as a featured reviewer of new Mystery & Thriller publications. I'm pleased to be joining this well-known online source of quality book reviews, whose panel includes "bestselling and award-winning authors, journalists, experienced publishing executives, tenured academics, as well as highly experienced professionals across a number of disciplines and industries."

For my review of the Swedish crime fiction novel THE VANISHED by Lotte and Soren Hammer, please click here.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

A Thorny Dilemma

We have quite a few wild apple trees on our property. None of them are really very old, but for the past few years they've been producing small, often very tart fruit that the deer and squirrels enjoy during the winter.

I've begun to trim the ones closest to the house so that they will look and behave a little more like domesticated trees than wild ones. My thinking has been that if I cap the growth of their upper branches, suckers and so on, they'll concentrate more on fruit production.

This particular tree, photographed above, has had its first summer of absolutely phenomenal production. Its boughs are loaded with bright, colourful fruit for the very first time.

Unfortunately, paper wasps chose this year to build their nest right in the middle of all that good food. In past years I've treated paper wasps as feared enemies and wiped out their nests whenever I found them. Every year, it seems, they build right around the house. We're not allergic to bee venom, thank goodness, but no one likes being stung by these nasty pests.

When I spotted this nest, my first thought was to destroy it, as I have with all the others. Then I began thinking about the changes I've noticed over the past several summers on my property. The monarch butterflies used to return to our back yard in droves to breed, but this summer the milkweed I allow to grow for their use is untouched by monarch larvae. I haven't seen a single one, caterpillar or adult. As well, I've only seen a few bumblebees and honey bees around this summer. Our ecosystem is in serious trouble, and it worries me.

So the paper wasps stayed. We learned to walk around that particular tree, rather than right past it as we usually do when we take the dogs out back. Recently I snuck out after dark, when the bees were sleeping, to try a few of the apples. Oh my, they're delicious. A sleepy warrior stuck his head outside the hole to see what was disturbing the branches around its nest. I backed away, apple in hand, willing to leave him the field of battle until another day.

I find myself now on the horns of a thorny dilemma. I'd like very much to pick all the apples on that tree before they're too soft to use, but the wasps....... 

Monday, 15 August 2016

Arts in the Park 2016

It's been a quiet summer for me this year, so I was very happy to participate in this year's Arts in the Park festival in Stittsville. After several days of steady rain a nice day squeaked in just in time for me to get out and sign a few books, chat with people, and enjoy the fresh (humid) air.

Thanks to Doug Sutherland and the Stittsville Village Association for organizing the event, and thanks to everyone who came out. I'm looking forward to seeing you again next year!


Monday, 18 July 2016

A Perfect Summer Afternoon

Yesterday was a perfect summer afternoon here in eastern Ontario to spend outdoors. I was fortunate to have a chance to participate in the celebrations marking the tenth anniversary of the Terrace Green Bed & Breakfast, a beautiful property just outside Winchester, Ontario on Highway 43.

Annette and Jim Angus, owners and operators of the B&B, threw a big lawn party complete with entertainment and a fashion show. As you can see, I was able to set up my canopy under two enormous silver maple trees. It was a perfect spot to listen to the music and chat to people about book writing, reading, and many other things.

Thanks to Annette for a great afternoon!