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.

Cutting Edge.

Cutting Edge Joyce Carol Oates

I noted in a prior post that on top of channeling book buying dollars to independent booksellers, it seems that we also need to consider ordering small and micro-press titles direct from their publishers as well. I’m game for spreading my resources around, such as they are, and will go direct to Akashic Books (akashicbooks.com) to order Joyce Carol Oates’ Cutting Edge – New Stories of Mystery and Crime by Women Writers.

Akashic is the publisher of the long running “Noir” series: Chicago Noir, New Jersey Noir, Amsterdam Noir…well, name a city or region, and they probably have a noir anthology for it. I believe the last one I talked up here at The Stiletto Gumshoe was the then just-released Milwaukee Noir. And since Akashic promotes “25% off all books every day”, I guess I’ll be back for more soon enough. After all, I can’t expect my local bookseller to stock every city/region in the Akashic Noir series.

As for Cutting Edge:

“Is there a distinctive female noir?” Oates asks in the opening line of the anthology’s introduction. I’ll confess to peeking at it online, pleased to see that the editor’s intro is no slapped together half-pager. “Is there, as some have argued, a distinctive female voice, differing essentially from the male voice?” She goes on to talk about just what mystery, crime and noir really are. “It has been noted that noir isn’t a specific subject matter but rather a sort of (dark) music: a sensibility, a tone, an atmosphere.” Certainly not a genre, and hopefully more than a mere subcategory of mystery/crime fiction, whatever ‘noir’ may be, Oates is certain that there are distinct and surely vital differences between the so-called traditional male noir world and the female. “The particular strength of the female noir vision isn’t a recognizable style but rather a defiantly female, indeed feminist, perspective.”

I was pleased to once have a story included in a hardcover anthology alongside Joyce Carol Oates (pay rate aside). Cutting Edge’s list of well-known and less familiar writers is impressive. The intro describes some very diverse settings, subject, styles and plots. I’ll be buying a lot of books this month, whether for myself or as gifts (surprise!), and I’m really looking forward to Joyce Carol Oates’ Cutting Edge – New Stories of Mystery and Crime by Women Writers.

Noiquet, continued…

Noiquet-Thriller 1984

More illustration work from Spanish artist Joan Beltran Bofill, known in the European commercial art scene as Noiquet. See a prior post for more examples of this artist’s work…

Noiquet - ThrillerNoiquet - Pavillion In St CloudNoiquet - Situation Grave Hank JansonNoiquet -- Second StringNoiquet - Second String 1963

Noiquet.

Noirquet--1974

Spanish painter Joan Beltran Bofill (1939 – 2009) was best known in fine arts circles as a contemporary Impressionist, his sumptuous light-filled paintings recognized for nostalgic settings and lush, swirling brushwork. But, like so many artists, Joan (don’t be confused, Joan’s a man’s name in this case) juggled both fine art and commercial art careers, and was also a popular European paperback and digest cover illustrator, particularly in the 1960’s and 70’s.

Noiquet - Beltran

Beltran Bofill came from Barcelona, studied at the Casa Lomja (Picasso had been a student there) and the Sant Jordi Fine Arts School. In an effort to keep the easel painting and illustration work separate, the artist worked under the name ‘Noiquet’ for various series of children’s books, Zane Grey westerns, and a number of standalone mystery/crime fiction novels and series, including Hank Janson and Agatha Christie books, Earle Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason and saucy Carter Brown series. You’ll see hints of American illustrators like Robert McGinnis, Victor Kalin and others in Noiquet’s work, most of them excellent period pieces showcasing a real 60’s/70’s/80’s feel.

Noiquet 1974

Rooting around, I see many covers or even original illustrations questionably credited to Noiquet, some of which simply don’t look at all like the artist’s style, or lack his distinctive and usually prominent signature. Tempting as it may be to show them here, I’ll pass, but this post includes several examples of the artist’s work from the early 1960’s through the mid-80’s. A follow-up tomorrow will include some more…

Noiquet - FBI Series 1968

Noiquet

Noiquet

Delayed Gratification

Crime Fiction

Pestering local bookstore clerks is becoming a hobby. Maybe the owners are pleased, but I think the staff behind the register cringe when I start to pull out my notes, printouts and crumpled scraps of paper with lists of books I’m after. Hey, it’s not my fault they don’t – or won’t – have everything I want. Here’s a few of the mystery/crime fiction titles just ordered or reserved, whether they’ll be in-hand in a few days or, in some cases, not till January (!):

Crime Fiction – A Reader’s Guide (above) by Barry Forshaw, which has been teasing me from multiple blogs, sites and e-newsletters and will finally be on my bookshelves where it belongs. I special ordered the UK edition, since the US book won’t be out till Summer 2020, and I don’t think I can wait.

Under Occupation

Under Occupation by Alan Furst, whose books you can consider military fiction, espionage novels or WWII-era thrillers. Screw the categories. I’ve never missed one of his novels, and none have let me down.

Script For Scandal

Script For Scandal by Renee Patrick, the third Lilian Frost & Edith Head Mystery. ‘Renee Patrick’ is actually the husband and wife team of Vince and Rosemarie Keenan, Vince being the new editor of the Film Noir Foundation’s Noir City magazine.

The Sundown Motel

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James. What I’ve read online has me drooling. This is one of those books I’d surely impulse buy for the cover art alone, so I’m glad I read about it, just in case I never spotted it on shelf in a store.

Shamus Dust 2

Shamus Dust by Janet Roger…another beautiful cover that’s a real credit to the graphic designer (sometimes subtle is best). Oh, and a nod to the author for her handsome and chock-full-of-stuff website/blog at janetroger.com. That’s one heck of an author site! Check it out.

Janet Roger Com

We’ll skip the non-mystery/crime fiction books ordered or reserved. But I do read other things, y’know)

3 Days To Kill

3 Days To Kill

Luc Bresson’s 2014 3 Days To Kill was Kevin Costner’s movie, but sometimes it’s not the film’s lead that sticks with you. And though talented actors like Connie Nielsen and Hailee Steinfeld co-star, it’s Amber Heard’s portrayal of lethal CIA assassin Vivi Delay that really lingered with me.

3 Days TO Kill 1

Costner plays aging CIA agent Ethan Renner, skilled but no longer at the top of his game, especially when he misses the chance to take out a ruthless international arms trafficker. Diagnosed with a terminal disease, Costner hopes to use his remaining days to reconnect with his wife (Connie Nielsen) and daughter (Hailee Steinfeld) who’ve never known the truth about his dangerous double-life, only that their husband and father was never there for them. But Heard’s Vivi Delay presents Costner with a bargain: A potentially life-saving experimental drug in exchange for his help to finally take down the criminal arms trafficking network.

3 Days To Kill 3Fun action-thriller chases, shootouts and explosions ensue, with Costner’s wife and daughter in jeopardy, all leading to a climactic kill-the-bad-guy scene…that chore finally falling to Heard’s Delay. Once the dust settles, it looks like Costner’s reconciled to spending his final days making amends with his wife and daughter. But Heard’s Vivi Delay looks on as he receives the final dose of the life-saving drug.

3 Days To Kill 4

Silly stuff? Sure it is. But 3 Days To Kill managed to make money even though it was far from a critical favorite. It’s not a ‘big’ film and employs many bigger-budgeted action films’ setups and tricks, and it may even leave you wondering where Liam Neeson is.

3 Days To Kill 5

But as I noted, it’s Amber Heard that stuck with me, even if I’m not exactly sure what made CIA assassin Vivi Delay who she is. Heard’s dedicated trainee, then cool and methodical operative, then decadent femme fatale and, finally, lethal killer (but with a soft spot?) sports various looks and sometimes may not make a lick of sense. But each of her character’s personas were a treat to watch, for me at least, and thus, so was the film, critics be damned.

3 Days To Kill 63 Days To Kill 73 Days To Kill 8

Got A Wrench?

vogue miami 1975

Sometimes you just have to get your hands dirty. Overalls might be better suited to the task, but it’s not as if they’re doing a lube job. Let’s just assume that someone’s really going to be surprised when he turns the ignition key. Serves him right for driving a station wagon.

Vintage Helmut Newton from a 1975 Miami photoshoot.

Helmut Newton

What Do You Wear To A Break-In?

Rianne ten Haken 1

A sleek black jumpsuit, soft sole shoes and hair tucked under a knit cap would seem like optimal cat burglar attire. Of course, if your name’s Selina Kyle, you could go with night vision goggles and cat ears instead. Couture frocks, patterned hose and heels might be a suitable ensemble for a boutique clerk’s job, but destined for ruin if burglary’s your trade.

Rianne ten Haken 2

Not so for Rianne ten Haken, apparently, who’s shot here by photographer David Burton in a 2012 Elle Russia photo suite. Maybe Haken’s adhered to that old saw about dressing for the position you aspire to, not the one you’re currently in. And who knows? Maybe she’ll have her own opulent digs…once she fences all that loot, that is.

And don’t ask what the editorial’s title is. I don’t speak Russian.

Rianne ten Haken 3Rianne ten Haken 4Rianne ten Haken 5Rianne ten Haken 6

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