Ray Banks's The Big Blind (Point Blank 2004). Very nasty little book, in the vein of Irvine Welsh: Scottish lowdown people running scared and doing what's not supposed to be done. In this one, a guy gets beaten to death and dumped into water. It's about a salesman of my age, who's accomplished nothing in life, but amounting to the said event. Banks writes like he's boxing in an illegal match. The novel could have more plot, though. I was expecting more twists and turns. But I'm not complaining.
I'm currently reading Whiskey Sour by J.A. Konrath. I don't especially like serial killer novels, since I think they are only upgrades of the puzzle crime novels of Agatha Christie and others, with criminal masterminds planning the crime for so long it's a wonder they get it done.* I thought I'd give this a shot, since it's been compared to Elmore Leonard and other writers of my liking. And I really liked Konrath's short story "Whelp Wanted" that is available in PDF in his blog, hmm, umm.. yes, somewhere there. I can't seem to find anymore, but I downloaded it and have Konrath's kind permission to use the story in a forthcoming issue of Isku.
Konrath's humour is quite heavyhanded, though, and he overwrites some scenes and makes them feel pretty lousy. There are some quite nice ones, though, especially the one in which the serial killer stalks the hero, Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels, in her bedroom. Konrath seems to be hitting big in the US soon, so watch out. (And remember that you read it first here. I mean the Finnish folks.)
For the first time in my life, I watched J. Lee Thompson's Cape Fear (1961), the original from which Scorsese later filmed his overhyped version. I liked that, when I saw it in, what, 1991, but it's clear Thompson's version is much better. You just gotta admire Robert Mitchum doing the quintessential baddie in the lead - you just don't want to meet him, never.
I haven't read the John D. MacDonald novel on which the movies are based, but if it's anything near this, I'll be liking it more than any other MacDonald I've ever read. (Saul Bass's credits in the Scorsese film are spectacular. If not anything else in the film, they are the reason for it to exist.)
I also had a chance to watch The Lady in Red by Lewis Teague. I mentioned this earlier, but with a wrong title. It's Teague's second or third feature film, but that's not important. It was John Sayles's second script, after Piranha in 1978, and it shows clearly: the film is very pro-feminist, pro-worker, very class-conscious and shows in the climax how a poor woman, a black man, an old man and a young guy who has no hope in life can work together. It's a film set in the late twenties' gangster world, with John Dillinger and Thompson machine guns and all that, but Sayles's script is what makes this important. (I think Sayles is one of the two bank clerks in the climax, but I'm not sure.) Teague directs really crisply, though. Later on he directed Romancing the Stone, if you remember that one.
I've more or less stopped working for the year, but here's an update:
I'll finish the PI novel early next year. There's some 20 or 30 pages still to come and then I'll have to do the editing pretty fast, since it's going to a contest with the end of January as a deadline.
Then I'll possibly get back to my mainstream novel that's been in a hiatus this Fall. I'll be writing it in a train, on my way to shoot the TV show. (We actually shot an almost real one a week ago, a test pilot with three interviewees. It went quite well and I was very satisfied with how I looked on the tube!)
The pirate Isku is still coming out, but I don't know whether it will make it before Christmas. Here's hoping - they are quite busy at the printers.
I started writing another Joe Novak story. It came from remembering a line from a novel (which one, I forget) in which someone walks around a room and touches things. In this Novak is sitting in an empty hotel room, not knowing who really invited him there, and moving around and touching things he finds in there. It's set in the mid-sixties, so my hero is already past 40 in it.
* Luis Buñuel has a nice one on this in his fifties' film, Rehearsal for a Crime aka The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz. In this, a young guy, bored with his life, plans murders, but someone else always makes them before he has the nerve to do them.