PW’s Book Shopping List.

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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

 

 

The Ice Harvest

ice harvest poster

Loved the book, though I read it after I saw the movie, and not all that long ago at that. Loved the movie too, a particular holiday time favorite of mine, which for some dark and twisted reason always feels especially Christmasy, despite the sleazy settings, crime and murders.

ice 6

Scott Phillips debut novel came out in 2000, and Harold Ramis’ film in 2005. The Ice Harvest takes place almost entirely on Christmas Eve 1979 in Wichita Kansas, where wearily cynical mob lawyer Charlie Arglist (John Cusack) and crooked business associate Vic (Billy Bob Thornton) embezzle two million dollars from the mob and understandably need to hightail it out of town before their theft is discovered by local mob boss Bill Guerrard (Randy Quaid). But a nonstop ice storm and one complication after another have them corralled in town: Charlie’s drunk pal Pete (Oliver Platt) who’s now married to Charlie’s ex-wife, a side trip to locate incriminating photos of a troublemaking politician, a determined mob gunsel on their tail, repeated run-ins with the local cops and Charlie letting love (or lust, more likely) for local strip club manager Renata – played with beguiling charm by Connie Nielsen as one of neo-noir’s better femme fatales – almost be his undoing.

ice 5

Make no mistake. Virtually everyone in this film is rotten to the core. But you’ll be rooting for Charlie Arglist till the end, and the suburban Chicago locations that fill in for Wichita, Kansas make for strangely and authentically festive scenes. Being a noir-ish Noel of a film, though, those scenes are mostly sleazy strip clubs, cocktail lounges, gas stations and desolate roads. I missed this one this Christmas season, but I may not wait till December 2019 to give it another viewing. Crooked embezzler John Cusack, buddy Oliver Platt and even scheming Connie Nielsen are like my neo-noir elves.

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