Category Archives: Book News

THE TAINTED ARCHIVE: Donald Westlake all new novel gets the Hard Case treatment

TheComedyIsFinished-COVERNews from The Tainted Archives and Hard Case Crime, via The Rap Sheet.

A bit of exciting Hard Case Crime news this morning: we’re going to be bringing out a never-before-published novel by the great Donald E. Westlake. 
Don began work on it in the late 1970s, but ultimately decided not to publish the book after Martin Scorsese released his movie "The King of Comedy" since Don was apparently concerned that the premise of his novel and Scorsese’s film were too similar.  He shouldn’t have worried — aside from both having to do with kidnapping a television comedian, the two are completely different.  But he did, and the result is that there’s a Westlake novel that’s been sitting unpublished in manuscript form for the past 30+ years.
The title is THE COMEDY IS FINISHED and it’s going to be our lead title for 2012 — only the second book ever to be published in hardcover by Hard Case Crime.

THE TAINTED ARCHIVE: Donald Westlake all new novel gets the Hard Case treatment

Hard Case Crimes First Hardcover Release will be GETTING OFF by Lawrence Block, which comes out on September 20. Block was a long time collaborator and friend of Donald Westlake.

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A real life film noir: Dashiell Hammett and the case of the missing manuscript : KALW

"You may be right," he said, hesitantly. "About pain and death being the things men fear. But in one form they might frighten him beyond reason, while in other forms, he might be able to face them quite calmly. Fear isn’t a reasonable thing, you know." ACTOR (reading from "So I Shot Him")

It’s terse. It’s polished. There’s crime.

It’s never been published — until now.

Fifty years after Dashiell Hammett’s death, a national mysterymagazine is about to publish a long-lost story by the father of the hard-boiled-detective novel, and fans are giddy with excitement.

The story, "So I Shot Him," is one of about a dozen of the San Francisco writer’s pieces that were never printed anywhere. Word is that, unlike many works authors choose not to publish, this 12-page thriller is high-quality and complete.


Hammett Lost Stories

Hammett died of lung cancer in 1961 at the age of 66. But as in any good mystery, but his story doesn’t end there.

ANDREW GULLI: It was in a way unlike anything Hammett had ever written.

That’s Andrew Gulli, an editor at the Michigan-based mystery magazine The Strand. Back in the fall, Gulli was going through the author’s papers at the University of Texas at Austin, where they’re archived, when he came across 14 unpublished Hammett pieces.

GULLI: I was amazed that I’d found 14 pieces of fiction that were written by Hammett that had never before been published before.

And, Gulli says, there was one that particularly caught his eye: a completely polished gem.

GULLI: A lot of Hammett’s stories have clear-cut endings. With this story the ending’s not so clear-cut. You could almost describe it as a psychological thriller.

The Strand is publishing the story under the title "So I Shot Him." And now, half-a-century after the author’s death, the revelation has crime fiction fans on the edge of their seats.

JULIE RIVETT: We’ve known those stories are there. They’ve been kind of a secret treasure trove stashed away in Austin, Texas.

Dashiell Hammett’s granddaughter, Julie Rivett, met recently with members of the author’s society to celebrate the release of "So I Shot Him." They went to John’s Grill, one of Hammett’s favorite haunts in San Francisco’s financial district.

The Hammett Society gathered in a dining room flanked by dark brown oak-paneled walls, a black foot-tall statuette of the Maltese Falcon perched regally before them.

RIVETT: The general public has never had access to this material. So we’re really excited to provide another little nugget of Hammett gold.

San Francisco book publisher Vince Emery was one of the first to preview the story.

VINCE EMERY: It’s a very good story.

Emery published the book Lost Stories in 2005. It’s a collection of 21 up-to-then unpublished Hammett stories. He says Hammett’s writing packs a wallop.

EMERY: He’s a writer’s writer. Other writers admire his writing style, which is like a school of martial arts, which believes that the correct hit is invisible. Your opponent should fall without you seeing his hands move. That’s the way Hammett writes. You have an emotional impact and you’re not quite sure why or how.

RIVETT: It’s a credit to the power of literature to see people are still so excited to see this stuff coming out so far after his death.

Again, Dashiell Hammett’s granddaughter Julie Rivett.

RIVETT: It makes us as the family very happy and I hope it’ll make the readers happy too.

Maybe happy, maybe intrigued. As they lean back to read it in a dusky corner of a forgotten office somewhere in San Francisco, a ceiling fan turning slowly above, a small bottle of gin in a drawer and half a pack of Lucky Strikes on the table. That’s the hard-boiled stuff of Dashiell Hammett. And it’s back in business.

A real life film noir: Dashiell Hammett and the case of the missing manuscript : KALW

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The Rap Sheet: It Was the Best of Crimes: Critics’ Choice

Over on The Rap Sheet, they have compiled a list of the 100 best crime novels of the past 100 years. The list has a decidedly British bent, being compiled by H.R.F. “Harry” Keating who dies this week, and Mike Ripley, but it does include a number of American Crime Fiction writers i.e.: Dashiell Hammett, Kenneth Fearing, Raymond Chandler et al. But I was disappointed by the exclusion of some notable titles. For instance, Mickey Spillane’s , I, The Jury   I The Jurywhich sold 6.5 million copies with the combined total of the 1947 hardcover and the Signet paperback the next year, in the U.S. alone. There are many more I’d have liked to see on this list, even if it is compiled by two British Critics, but it did remind me of some classics that I haven’t read in awhile. Take a look at the list and let me know who you think is missing.

It Was the Best of Crimes: Critics’ Choice

In the summer of 2000, British critics H.R.F. “Harry” Keating and Mike Ripley were commissioned by the London Times newspaper to conduct a survey of the best crime novels (mysteries/spy stories/thrillers) of the 20th century, choosing one per year, 1900-1999. This, said the two critics, couldn’t be done so neatly, but what they would do was select 100 books to represent a century which began with the recall of Sherlock Holmes and ended with the death of Inspector Morse.
In the end, Ripley cheated a bit by nominating 101 titles to include Keating’s own The Perfect Murder from 1964, which modesty had forbidden its author from suggesting.
The survey, with a brief justification for each title, was published in a 16-page supplement to The Times on Saturday, September 30, 2000. The basic list of titles selected is republished here for the first time as a tribute to author and scholar Harry Keating, who died earlier this week at age 84. (Titles and years are as when published in the UK.)

The Rap Sheet: It Was the Best of Crimes: Critics’ Choice

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