Merry Murder & Mayhem.

Criem Reads Xmas

So many Christmas-themed mystery novels are ‘cozies’ to one degree or another. No surprise, since starry nights, blankets of snow, roaring fires and evergreen bedecked rooms are all pretty…well, cozy. Seriously, kitty-cats, caterers, country cottages all fit in with the spirit of the season a little better than dark urban alleys, sleazy cocktail lounges and drug dens. Still, there’ve been — and continue to be — a lot of holiday themed novels and stories that sidestep the overly cute.

Crime Reads Christmas

Paul French offers up a group of Christmas themed novels and short fiction for our consideration in his 12.9.19 Crime Reads article “ The Crime Novels Of Christmas – A Merry Rundown Of Crime Fiction Set During The Holidays”, which lists writers as diverse as James Ellroy, Lee Child and George Pelecanos to Anne Perry, Tasha Alexander and W. Somerset Maugham. Now I can’t imagine Ellroy’s Perfidia making anyone feel all warm ‘n cozy, much less brimming with good will towards their fellow man, but the fun of Christmas themed mystery and crime fiction is the contrast of all the murder and mayhem with the merry time of year. Follow the link to French’s Crime Reads article and see if you don’t want to book a little non-wrapping/caroling/shopping/baking time beside the tree for some serious reading.

https://crimereads.com/the-crime-novels-of-christmas/

John Watkiss: Master Painter

JW 5

John Watkiss’ website (johnwatkissfineart.com) calls him a “Master Painter” and I can’t imagine a more appropriate label. Now many know Watkiss from his cinematic collaborations with cult filmmaker Derek Jarman. Others, from his design and animation work in Hollywood for Nickelodeon, Fox Animation Studios and most importantly, on multiple Disney productions, or as a key frame concept artist for the visually stunning Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow back in 2003 and for the 2009 Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes, or even more currently on AMC’s The Walking Dead. Yet still others will point to Watkiss’ work in the comics field for both DC and marvel, including Sandman – Mystery Theatre, Legends Of The Dark Knight and Conan The Barbarian.

JW 2

All notable credits, but I’ll just ogle his dark and stunning artwork. John Watkiss earned his BA in Fine Art & Illustration at Brighton Polytechnic and started out as a storyboard artist at Saatchi & Saatchi advertising, where a regular paycheck financed his personal painting and a studio space in an eclectic Regents Park arts complex. It was while working there in the mid-1980’s that his career took off. Now I can’t date the works shown here, or even pinpoint which might be easel paintings and which could be film concept art (though some are clearly Sherlock Holmes pieces). But I can say it’s been a while since a contemporary artist’s work caught my eye like Watkiss’ has.  More of John Watkiss’ work follows in a post tomorrow.

JW 1johnwatkissfineart dot com

The Annuals.

2020 Writers Market

I actually haven’t bought Writer’s Digest’s annual Writer’s Market in a couple years. Not that it isn’t an indispensable writer’s book, but only because I don’t write much short fiction, submit to magazines or enter contests. Well, not much (not saying never). But my 2020 agenda includes paying more attention to short stories, so I’ve added it to my to-buy list. Which is a long list, as you can surmise.

I do normally buy Writer’s Digest’s annual Guide To Literary Agents, even though I assemble most of my to-be-queried agent list from Publishers Weekly reviews. Just seems sensible to monitor which agents are actually selling books, not just accepting submissions.

I was actually relieved to see the release of the 99thAnnual Edition of the Writer’s Market 2020, because it confirmed that Writer’s Digest’s books hadn’t vanished in the aftermath of the magazine parent company’s (F+W Media) bankruptcy. Writer’s Digest the magazine was acquired by Active Interest Media and continues publication. The Writer’s Digest book brand was acquired by Penguin Random House LLC. No news on which book titles will still be available or if new titles will be forthcoming, but it would’ve been tragic to see so many invaluable writers’ how-to and special interest books disappear, to say nothing of their comprehensive annual directories. Whew!

Guide TO Literary Agents

Girls With Guns: Marie Windsor

marie windsor the narrow margin

One of the 1940’s – 50’s many “Queen Of The B’s”, Marie Windsor (Emily Marie Bertelsen, 1919 – 1980) would’ve turned 100 today, December 11th.  Her film and television resume is a mile long, including her share of crime melodramas and a couple key noir films: Force Of Evil with John Garfield in 1948, and one of her best (and a personal favorite or mine), The Narrow Margin from 1952 (a publicity still from that film shown above) most of which takes place on a train, with Windsor playing a murdered mobster’s widow…or is she? (She’s much, much more.) Naturally athletic and considered tall for her time at 5’9″, she often had to stoop or do scenes sitting down when paired with height-challenged male co-stars.

Happy Anniversary…To Me.

Paper Anniversary

So, I see that the traditional one year anniversary gift is paper. Well, wedding anniversaries, at any rate. Which I guess means that I can treat myself to a ream of 20 lb. bond at Staples.

I don’t know the precise date I originally launched The Stiletto Gumshoe site at Tumblr (short-lived as that was) but I do know that later I re-launched things at WordPress on December 10th, 2018. So a happy one-year anniversary to me, and a big thanks to the many visitors, browsers, lurkers, readers and especially the followers (both here and at Tumblr). I never expected to hook very many followers. Just as well, since I really haven’t, though I cherish each and every one. In fact, as of yesterday, I acquired as many at Tumblr in only four+ months as I have here at the main site in a full year (not counting the many suspicious followers with empty blogs or eyeball-melting porn posts).

For several months now, I’d promised myself that at the one-year mark I’d learn to relax a bit with a more leisurely posting pace. Not out of laziness, but only to allot more time for ‘real’ writing activities. I have an aggressive 2020 agenda in mind on that front. But the WordPress and Tumblr blogospheres will be no worse off for me skipping a day here and there.

So again, a sincere thanks to everyone who’s popped in to ‘The Stiletto Gumshoe’ for a peek or a visit, and especially to those of you who linger to root around the archives and to become followers…and a Happy Anniversary to…well, me.

In A Man’s World.

The Innocent Bottle

Lucy Beatrice Malleson (1899 – 1973) wrote general fiction under the Anne Meredith pen name, but more famously as “Anthony Gilbert”, with over 70 mystery novels to her credit, most of those featuring the somewhat groundbreaking (kind of hard-boiled and vulgar) London lawyer Arthur Crook, that long running series beginning in 1936 and continuing to the last novel in 1974, released after the author’s death. Several of Malleson’s Anthony Gilbert novels were adapted to British films in the 1940’s, as well as a 1963 Alfred Hitchcock Hour episode, and two of her short stories were Edgar Award nominees.

Breaking into the crowded field of what many consider the ‘golden age’ of both British and American crime fiction, Lucy Malleson decided to adopt a male pen name and stuck with it, apparently quite successfully…going so far as to pose for her author photo dressed as a man.

Anthony Gilbert Books Montage

I first spotted her re-released Orion Publishing memoir Three-A-Penny — In A Man’s World: The Classic Memoir Of A 1930’s Writer, with a new introduction by Sophie Hannah, at the Crime Fiction Lover blog’s e-newsletter. It looks like the UK edition comes out before Christmas, though a U.S. trade paperback isn’t due till April, 2020. Not sure I can wait till Spring for this one. Methinks some bookstore clerk’s going to be pestered once again this week.

Three-A-Penny

 

PW’s Book Shopping List.

PW

A mid-November issue of Publishers Weekly was stuffed full of interesting things, particularly two special features on mysteries, thrillers & true crime in, “Out Of The Shadows” by Michael J. Seidlinger, and “Open Wounds” by Bridey Heing. The thrust of those two meaty multi-page articles: Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl has sold nearly four million copies in seven years, during which time the mystery/crime fiction/thriller marketplace might feel overtaken by a glut of domestic thrillers helmed by similarly imperfect narrators. But the genre, its subsets and offshoots are an incredibly rich and diverse landscape of distinctive voices, inventive plot devices and milieus, so both Seidlinger and Heing showcased a wide selection of now-debuting and soon-to-arrive novels and true crime titles that aren’t necessarily Gone Girl derivatives (or even include ‘Girl’ in the title, which so many new releases have been doing). I was pleased to spot some I’d already ordered, reserved or even had in hand. And, just as pleased to see more in Seidlinger and Heing’s articles and the adjacent ads for books I mean to get, including:

After All -

After All by Robert Arthur Neff

Are Snakes NecessaryDouble Feature

Hard Case Crime’s Are Snakes Necessary by Brian DePalma and Susan Lehman, and Double Feature by Donald Westlake

Bonita Palms

Bonita Palms by Hal Ross

That Left Turn At Albuquerque

That Left Turn At Albuquerque by Scott Phillips

The Wrong Girl

The Wrong Girl by Donis Casey: ‘The Adventures Of Bianca Dangereuse’

The Beauty DefenseAnd for some non-fiction, The Beauty Defense – Femmes Fatales On Trial by Laura James

 

 

Death on The House.

Dime Detective June 1947

Adapted from Peter Paige’s “Death On The House” opening two-page spread, which appeared in the June 1947 Dime Detective magazine, as seen at the always excellent pulpcovers.com site. I really wish the pulps credited the interior artists. Pulp experts are usually able to ID the cover artists, but the countless stunning (and sometimes, not-so-stunning) B&W interior spot illustrations are mostly doomed to anonymity.

Give this cocktail lounge coquette a simpler hairstyle with bangs, put her in a pair of plain pumps, and this illustration could almost be a new ‘Stiletto Gumshoe’ avatar.

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