Sunday, June 22, 2014

Some e-books I read during the trip: Allan Guthrie, Peter Brandvold, Paul Levine, Gerard Brennan, J. David Osborne

That's a long subject line, isn't it?

We were on a smallish trip earlier this week: we went to Denmark, where we've never been. We visited Legoland, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (highly, highly recommendable) and the vintage Tivoli entertainment park in the centre of Copenhagen. It was a fun trip, for most part, but I'm not going to write about it. Instead, in the spirit of this blog, I'll say something about the books I read during the trip. I had nothing with me but my Kindle. I download only free e-books, since I don't have a credit card with which I could buy e-books, so I'm dependent on what comes free. Even with this approach, I've managed to accumulate a pretty good selection of new noir and hardboiled writing, with some westerns and horror thrown in. Mentioned should also be some classic noir stuff that's coming from publishers like Prologue Books.

Okay, to the books. Peter Brandvold's better known as a western writer, but I've never read any of his books in that genre, but they seem quite good. I read his short novel Paradox Falls that I think is mislabelled as horror. It's more like a suspense thriller, with a possible serial killer hunting some hikers in the Colorado mountains. The book reads pretty fast, but the ending is a bit abrupt. There was also some interesting stuff on being a writer that seemed a bit autobiographic, as the main character, a sympathetic young man yearning for his early love affair, makes his living writing sex westerns. Paradox Falls could've been published as a cheap paperback in the early eighties, and I mean this as a good thing.

Allan Guthrie's Kill Clock was even a shorter book, a novella-length tale of Guthrie's occurring character, Pearce. Guthrie tells his brutal tale with short sentences, but also manages to make Pearce a sympathetic character in all his bruteness and tendency to sudden bursts of violence. Kill Clock also has a good plot for a novella. Recommended quite highly.

Paul Levine's Last Chance Lassiter is the first Jake Lassiter story I've ever read, as I'm not very keen on courtroom thrillers. But this one was so funny and entertaining I'd be willing to try more of Levine's work. Very fluent writing, very smooth plotting, some quite funny wisecracking.

J. David Osborne runs Broken River Books that's a very interesting crime and horror fiction outfit specializing in edgy and bizarre neo-noir. Osborne's own short story collection Our Blood In Its Own Circuit is full with, well, edgy and bizarre stuff that's not easily labelled. I read the first three stories on our flight back, and two of them were very strong: the titular story is about Mexican cops who bathe in the blood of chickens, and the western story "Amends Due, West of Glorieta" is full of shocking violence and characters straight out of a Cormac McCarthy novel. Check out this free Broken River Books sampler!

I also started Gerard Brennan's novella The Point, a brutally realistic story about two brothers whose life goes to hell when they move to a small town on the seaside and the other one starts dealing stolen cars. The plot could be more original, but Brennan's clipped style makes it interesting. I'm only halfway in the middle, so there might be some surprises coming.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Me and my new book

Pulpografia Britannica just came from the printers! Here's me with a happy smile and my first book, Pulpografia that came out in 2000 and deals primarily with American crime pulpsters and paperbackers. You can see it's a worn copy. Hopefully this new book comes just as handy.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Patricia Abbott's short story collection – in Finnish!

Just when I finished my book on British crime paperbackers, I was notified that another book was ready to be picked from the printers. It's Patricia Abbott's Merenneidot (meaning "Mermaids") short story collection I edited and published with a small print run. The book collects six of Abbott's insightful, clever, cruel and empathetic crime stories, most of them are in the flash fiction length, but the longest story in the book is about ten pages long.

The stories are: "Mermaids", "My Hero", "How to Launder a Shirt", "Johnny Jinx", "Hole in the Wall" and "Initiation". Most of these were originally published in the web, but some were print publications. Most of the stories came out in Finnish in my magazines Isku and Ässä, but "Mermaids" and "How to Launder a Shirt" were translated for this book and were never before published in Finnish. "Johnny Jinx" and "Hole in the Wall" were translated by my friend Lotta Sonninen and I'm sure their translations are better than my attempts!

The cover is by Aapo Kukko as are my usual mini books. See the Ray Banks book here and the Ed Gorman book here. (Seems like I haven't blogged about the Gorman book, but it's a translation of his "Scream Queen".)

Most of the copies I'm selling are going to the libraries here in Finland, but this is also available through me for a measly three euros!

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Pulpografia Britannica to the printers

Just sent my Pulpografia Britannica to the printers. Here's the cover by Ville Manninen who did spectacular job.

It was a 15-year work. This at least should prove I'm no ADHD person, even though the idea crosses my mind every once in awhile.

Here's the list of authors tackled in the book:

Ray Alan
Eric Ambler
W. Howard Baker
John Boland
David Brierley
Jonathan Burke
Peter Cave
Johnny Cello
Peter Chambers
Philip Chambers
Leslie Charteris
James Hadley Chase
Peter Cheyney
Hugh Clevely
Basil Copper
John Creasey
Paul Denver
Adam Diment
Rex Dolphin
John Drummond
F. Dubrez Fawcett
P. A. Foxall
Stephen Frances
Pete Garroway
Tudor Gates
John S. Glasby
Berkeley Gray
Sean Gregory
Leonard Gribble
Angus Hall
Roger Hamilton
Rex Hardinge
Edwin Harrison
Jack Higgins
Harry Hobson
Hartley Howard
John Hunter
Warwick Jardine
Hank Janson (the pseudonymous efforts of the unknown authors)
George Joseph
Harold Kelly
Arthur Kent
Bill Knox
H. L. Lawrence
Brian McDermott
Arthur MacLean
Wilfred McNeilly
James Moffatt
Stanley Morgan
James Munro
Victor Norwood
Flann O'Brien
Peter O'Donnell
D. J. Olivy
Anthony Parsons
Bryan Peters
John T. Phillifent
Hugh C. Rae
Desmond Reid
Colin Robertson
Angus Ross
Kenneth Royce
Jimmy Sangster
Julian Savarin
Frederick E. Smith
Gordon Sowman
James Stagg
Jack Trevor Story
Rosamond Mary Story
Frank Struan
Martin Thomas
E. C. Tubb
Walter Tyrer
Gerald Verner
John Wainwright
Vernon Warren
Ronald Wills

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Some problematic Sexton Blakes

I've been posting some bibliographic puzzles here on Pulpetti for some time now. I'm finally getting my book on British crime paperbackers to print (hopefully at the end of the next week), but there are still some things I'd like to be more sure of. I have several Sexton Blakes translated in Finnish in the early sixties for which I haven't been able to find the original publishing info, as I don't have an access to original English stories.

Here's a lowdown, with the Finnish titles translated literally back to English (but do note that the English titles don't match any known Sexton Blake stories):

Edwin Harrison: "The Green Spider" (published in 1963): someone is coming to meet Sexton Blake at his office, but is hit by a car just in front of Blake's building and gets killed.
Edwin Harrison: "Spanish Blood" (1963): a matador is poisoned by syanide.
Anonymous (only Sexton Blake published in Finnish without the author's name): "The Disappeared Author" (1963): the promising writer of a great book gets lost.
Desmond Reid (a house name): "The Avenger from Dartmoor" (1962): the authorities let a a prisoner escape so that he can revenge and take out his former allies who let him down
Desmond Reid: "The Woman Is Dangerous" (1962): takes place in fictional state of Costa Barria, features also Huxton Rymer, but is still clearly from the post-WWII era
Desmond Reid: "The Trumper Killer": a jazz player makes extra money killing people
Desmond Reid: "The Angel of Death": an early story on animal rights movement, some young people are fleeing the circus animals
Jack Trevor Story: "Gold Means Death": Splash Kirby looks into the world of Italian immigrants and is kidnapped and taken to Italy
Jack Trevor Story: "Death Before One's Eyes": now, this is interesting: Blake is a first person narrator (the only time in the history of Sexton Blake?) and is approached by a former lover who asks Blake look into a mystery
Jack Trevor Story: "Love Under the Gallows": Sexton Blake vs. the teenage gangs

And also, is Jack Trevor Story's Invitation to Murder about someone killing models?


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Kenneth Royce

Of all the British pulpsters and paperbackers I've been covering in my forth-coming book, there have been only a few writers whose work I've really been fond of. I don't know why this is, but it's something I've been noticing for the past dozen years: I like American stuff more than British, and this is the case even with films and music. Give me The Sonics anytime over The Rolling Stones or The Dead Kennedys over The Sex Pistols!

But there are indeed some British crime writers whose work I really like. Kenneth Royce is one of them. He writes in clear prose that keeps the story moving, he creates interesting characters with just a few lines, they are likable even though they are not heroes, his plots are unpredictable and original. Too bad he's not very well known these days. I'm not sure if he's known at all. He does have a Wikipedia page, though. He's had three Finnish translations, all in pulpy paperbacks and with not interesting covers (see below).

Of the two translations, the first two have Royce's serial character, Spider Scott, as the hero. He's a former master burglar, who's gained his nick name with his skills in climbing. He climbs any wall. In the beginning of the first Spider Scott book, The XYY Man (1970; Ansa ilman muuta in Finnish; the original name comes from the "fact" that most of the male criminals have an extra chromosome). Scott is lured by some secret organization to break and entry the Chinese embassy or his brother's career in the police force is threatened. Spider Scott doesn't want that, so he complies - and has to kill the Chinese ambassador in order to stay alive. And now he has to flee everyone. This is a very intriguing thriller, to the last page.

In the second Spider book, The Miniatures Frame (1972; Tie murhaan in Finnish), the plot is even more original. Spider is taken into a committee that's supposed to make the prisons better places for the prisoners. The head of the committee is a rich asshole who collects art and antique. Spider is lured by the man's teenage daughter into a secret chamber the man has in his house and Spider spots two extremely valuable miniature paintings he's stolen ten years ago! The man threatens Spider with the jail, but Spider fights back. Spider Scott was developed into a TV series, but I've never seen it.

The third translation, The Stalin Account (1983; Tappavat varjot in Finnish), is an interesting spy novel the plot of which starts in the 1920s and the attempt of the Soviet bolsheviks to turn Brits into communists and then spies for the Soviet Union. What follows is a tragic love story between a Soviet spy and a young British girl. The thing comes again alive in the early eighties when the woman of the love story dies almost entirely alone, nurtured only by her nephew. When the elderly woman dies, her diary also goes missing. It all ties around the story of Stalin's son, Jacob. It's a very interesting spy novel with believable characters and believable history.

I haven't read any other books by Royce, but I come across them, I'll be sure to take a look. George Kelley says in his entry for Royce in The St. James Twentieth Century Crime and Mystery Writers that some of Royce's best books are The President Is Dead (1988), Fall-Out (1989) and 10,000 Days (1981). The last one should prove interesting as it's about the ending of oil.

Everybody Lies and other crime stories

Apart from finishing my book on British pulpsters and paperbackers, I've also been compiling and editing the book that will hopefully come out later this year. It's a collection of the new crime stories that came out mainly in Isku, but also in Ässä and Seikkailukertomuksia (Adventure Stories), all mags I published in 2003-2011. Here's the lowdown:

Ed Gorman: Tauko (Layover)
Allan Guthrie: Rakkain terveisin Rex (Love, Rex)
Patrick Shawn Bagley: Vielä yksi sotku (One More Mess)
Bill Crider: Ilta Carlin kanssa (Evening Out with Carl)
Lawrence Schimel: Pudotus (Falling)
David Terrenoire: Tulipalo (The Fire)
Harry Shannon: Langanpätkiä (Loose Ends)
James Reasoner: Kaikki valehtelevat (Everybody Lies)
J. A. Konrath: Ihmisen paras ystävä (Whelp Wanted)
Duane Swierczynski: Munakello (Eggtimer)
Kevin Wignall: Kuolema (A Death)
Anthony Neil Smith: Clive tunnustaa (Clive Confesses)
Vicki Hendricks: West End (West End)
Keith Rawson: Veri, sirpaleet ja kaikki muu (The Blood, the Shattered Glass and All the Rest)
Pat Lambe: Lemurian portto (The Whore of Lemuria)
J. D. Rhoades: Satanen (The Hundred)
Jason Starr: Viimeiseksi valittu (The Last Pick)
Pearce Hansen: Halvaantunut tappajasimpanssi (Paraplegic Killer Chimp)
Sandra Ruttan: Ihana tapa kuolla (To Die For)
Ed Lynskey: Isoveli (Think Pink)
Michael Wiecek: Lahja veljeltä (A Brother's Gift)
Molly Brown: Tähti (Star)
Sandra Scoppettone: Lihamureke (Meatloaf)
Patricia Abbott: Aukko seinässä (Hole in the Wall)
Christa Faust: Anna tulla (Hit Me)

The book will be titled according to James Reasoner's story. It will also have a short preface by Tapani Bagge and a longer preface by me. There's no cover yet. I think that's a mighty good table of contents, don't you?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Michael AKA Mike Hervey, pt. 2

I promised to say something about short story writer Mike Hervey's short stories. I covered what I know of his life in this post. It's not much and lots is mere speculation.

Same goes for his short stories. I can't say I read them carefully, many I only eyed lazily. Lots were translated in Finnish and published in mags in the late fourties and the fifties. As you remember, he had a magazine to his own name in Australia, called The Mike Hervey Detective Monthly Magazine. The Finnish magazine called Salapoliisilukemisto (Detective Digest; see photo) seems to have taken its stories from that magazine, since it had issues that contained only stories by Hervey! And many were straight from the Australian magazine.

Hervey was as prolific as hell, writing over 3000 short stories in a span of ten years. That must show in the quality of his stories. Many are pretty simple, focusing on the twist at the end, as in the story "Death of a Widow" (1953). There's not much description of the scenery, nor is there much character development. Most of the characters are what's usually called stock characters: detective, police officer, career criminal, deceitful babe, disappointed wife, etc. In "Nick to the Rescue" (1953) that's almost of a flash fiction length we get both the career criminal and the deceitful babe. There are some variations, though. "Death on Wheels" (1953) is about a race driver who's forced to win in a race. If he loses, he'll be killed.

Some of the stories are science fictional, for example in the story called "In the Year 2500" (I don't know the original title, and I don't even know what really takes place in the story). "You Can't Deceit Faith" (the original title missing, probably from 1953) is about foreseeing the future and clairvoyance.

I realize this isn't much, but it's a start! There's not much info on Mike Hervey in the web.