Apr 112014
 
The Modesty Blaise series started as a British comic strip written by Peter O'Donnell and drawn by Jim Holdaway. But I didn't know that when I discovered the Modesty Blaise novels, also written by O'Donnell, in the mid-Sixties. All I knew was that they were marketed as secret agent adventures (which they really aren't) and had sexy covers, which meant that whenever I came across one of them I
Apr 072014
 
No doubt hoping to duplicate the success of the long-running MIKE SHAYNE MYSTERY MAGAZINE, in 1966 Leo Margulies launched another digest magazine featuring a lead novella about a famous private eye, backed up by various mystery and crime short stories. Unfortunately it didn't work as well with SHELL SCOTT MYSTERY MAGAZINE, which lasted less than a dozen issues. But they were good issues! This
Mar 282014
 
Who would be your dream mash-up? (For instance, Sherlock Holmes thrown together with Stephanie Plum.)

By Paul D. Marks

(I think I understood this week's question a little differently. I thought mashing it up was teaming two detectives together, rather than merging them into one. So, on that basis, here goes.)

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In this corner we have Kathy Mallory, Carol O'Connell's tough as her long, red fingernails, NYC police detective. And in this corner, we have Mickey Spillane's violent and brutal PI Mike Hammer. What a team.

If you're a bad guy you better watch out if these two are coming at you.

Hammer has frequently been labeled a psychopath and Mallory has been called a sociopath...by her own author, Ms. O'Connell. These two would be the solve it or kill 'em Dream Team. And any bad guy's worst nightmare as they tag-teamed them into submission.

Not only would Mallory and Hammer hammer on the bad guys, they would probably hammer on each other. And given each one's characteristics, I'm not sure who would come out on top.

Mike Hammer and Kathy Mallory – old school, brutal misanthrope vs. cold analytical not-give-a-damn-and-want-to-do-things-her-way-or-the-highway NYPD detective. Hammer is reminiscent of Dirty Harry (or vice versa as Hammer came first). Of course, now that I think about it so is Mallory. Mallory is sort of like a cat going after a mouse. She is beautiful to look at but cold and ruthless, without any remorse. Efficient and cool in pursuing her prey. She's relentless, a computer expert, who digs in deep and finds things no one else finds, sees things no one else sees, robotic in her efficiency. Somewhat emotionless, though one gets the idea that there are emotions she won't always admit to going on under the surface.

And Hammer makes Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade and most other classic detectives look like kids playing cops and robbers in a playpen. For Hammer, the law is just an obstacle standing in the way of justice – or at least justice as he sees it – and one that can be gotten around by pretty much any means necessary. The end justifies the means. He has his own code and he will enforce that code, since the actual statutes and codes often let the badguys off. He doesn't give a damn about little things like laws, Miranda Warnings and other niceties. All in all you might say – and this is being kind and gentle – that Hammer is a thuggish, sexist, sadist, misanthrope. But probably a fun guy to have a beer with...

If Raymond Chandler thought of Marlowe and other detectives as modern knights errant, Spillane's Hammer is the tarnished knight, maybe the Black Knight, but he's no Darth Vader. He hasn't gone over to the dark side – he just uses dark side methods to help those who can't help themselves or who society is slow to help, if at all, find some semblance of justice.

Some readers have asked for a kinder, gentler Mallory. And the badguys would certainly like that. But O'Connell states in a Publishers Weekly interview: "PW: "Mallory’s drive remains as intense as ever, and she’s still lacking in warmth." Carol O'Connell: "Sometimes readers ask for a kinder, gentler Mallory. I explain that if I do that, I’ve got no book. These are character-driven novels, and I like the way the lady drives. In that respect, she has a vehicular-homicide way about her: always a challenge to go through a red light before it can turn green. I suppose I could try to warm up her image by giving her a dog, but the dog would be frightened all the time."

And if the question of a kinder, gentler Hammer was ever posed to Mickey Spillane I'm sure he would have thrown his drink in the questioner's face and laughed him out of the bar.

Some men, the good, the bad or the ugly, would be intimidated by Mallory. I don't think Hammer would. On the other hand, I don't think she would be intimidated by him. Wonder if they'd even find a little romance, if Hammer could tear himself away from Velda and Mallory could act human for a change.

The question I'm left with is would Mallory and Hammer beat the bad guy to a pulp or each other? Now that's a mash-up.
~.~.~
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And I'd like to congratulate Catriona for winning The Bruce Alexander Memorial Historical Mystery Award for Best historical mystery novel at Left Coast Crime last weekend for "Dandy Gilver and a Bothersome Number of Corpses." She gave a terrific and very moving and touching acceptance speech.





~.~.~


Had a great time at Left Coast Crime last weekend. The conference was fun and interesting. Met lots of new people and reconnected with old acquaintances. And Monterey and the drive up and back is nothing short of stunning.
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Mar 272014
 
Dev Mallory has been a Secret Service agent, a detective, and a cowboy...which makes him the perfect man for the job of protecting a British nobleman's Thoroughbred race horse and saving the U.S. government from embarrassment. But there's more going on than sabotage, as Dev's beautiful redheaded partner is kidnapped and Dev finds himself up to his neck in murder, lust, and intrigue.Critically
Mar 102014
 
On a stormy night in Nebraska, a beautiful young woman in a nightgown runs out in front of a pickup driven by ex-cop and current bar owner Chance Smith, and that sets in motion an action-packed series of events in Wayne D. Dundee's new e-book STARLESS MIDNIGHT. Throw in a couple of troubled marriages, a wealthy older man feuding with his son, an outburst of violence, some sultry sex, and
Mar 032014
 
I'm trying in this series to concentrate on issues that have some personal meaning to me. In this case, MSMM was certainly important to me, although about twenty years later. But this is the first issue, and as it happens, I once had a copy of this one. Notice that it's called MICHAEL SHAYNE MYSTERY MAGAZINE, rather than the tougher and more laconic MIKE SHAYNE MYSTERY MAGAZINE. The first six
Feb 242014
 
THE GIRLS OF BUNKER PINES is the third adventure of Jack Laramie, the Drifter Detective, in what has become one of my favorite current private eye series. Jack, as you may recall, is the grandson of legendary Old West marshal Cash Laramie, but he's a very different sort of character. He wanders around Texas in the mid-1950s, living out of a horse trailer and scrabbling for a precarious living
Feb 102014
 
This is the first issue of the iconic crime fiction magazine, and it's also an issue I used to own. I read it about twenty years ago. And what an issue it is, with part one of a serial by Mickey Spillane and stories by William Irish (Cornell Woolrich), Kenneth Millar (better known as Ross Macdonald), a Shell Scott story by Richard S. Prather, Evan Hunter, and Frank Kane. Oddly enough,
Jan 222014
 
THE INCIDENT OF THE HARROWMOOR DOGS is the first thing I've read by Daniel Abraham, who's becoming well-known as an author of science fiction and fantasy under his own name and a couple of pseudonyms. This is a novella featuring a couple of characters who have appeared previously in some of Abraham's short stories. Balfour and Meriwether (we don't find out their first names) are a pair of tough Englishmen in the 1880s who carry out dangerous assignments for a secret intelligence agency headed by a nobleman who reports directly to the Queen.

This time they're asked to track down a fellow agent who has disappeared while investigating the case of an explorer and war hero who is locked up in a sinister sanitorium after suffering a breakdown of some sort. It seems that this unfortunate patient has been having nightmares that somehow reveal information the British government would prefer to keep secret.

Balfour—whose weapon of choice is knives—and Meriwether—who carries a brace of pistols and is good with them—pursue different lines of investigation that ultimately lead them to the same place, a warren of tunnels under the English countryside that contain a horrifying secret.

THE INCIDENT OF THE HARROWMOOR DOGS is a well-written, very entertaining blend of mystery, espionage, adventure, and horror. There's a little Conan Doyle, a little Robert E. Howard, even a little Robert Louis Stevenson. There's a late twist in the plot that seems a little forced to me, but hey, it's Abraham's story, not mine. And overall I had a fine time reading it.

The earlier Balfour and Meriwether adventures are available here. I liked this one enough that I've already bought them and look forward to reading them.

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