Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Quick Welcome to Ellery Queen Readers

I just received my December 2010 Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine in the mail today, and was surprised and pleased to see my new story "The Docile Shark" inside, with an illustration, no less. In the little bio blurb, the editors were kind enough to refer to my blog -- that is, this blog. So I thought I would just say hello, encourage you to read my story (and feel free to comment here, of course), and explore the blog, which is mostly a commentary on crime/mystery fiction (and also film and lately, some war books).

I've had a couple of other stories published: "Wilson's Man" in the January 2008 issue of EQMM; and "Fire Lines" in the 2002 collection Measures of Poison. I have a completed novel in manuscript (Jailhouse Pale) and an agent, so please cross your fingers for me. I recently joined Facebook (and its etiquette is new to me), but if you like what you read here and want to hear if I have anything coming out (or what I'm reading), subscribe to this blog or friend me on Facebook ( Thanks.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Westlake Shorter Fiction

In 1998, Donald Westlake (under the infamous name, Richard Stark) brought back his heister Parker after a 23-year (or so) absence. By then, I had read all the Parker novels (tracking some of the hard-to-find titles by interlibrary loan).

I never took to Westlake's comic heister Dortmunder in the same way, though I have read and enjoyed several of these books. For me, Dortmunder (and maybe humorous crime fiction more generally) works better in shorter form. The Dortmunder stories, Thieves' Dozen (11 stories!), are pretty great. Dortmunder also appears in a strong (and less slapsticky) novella, "Walking Around Money," in Transgressions (edited by Ed McBain).

Westlake also wrote a series of linked stories about a morose cop, Levine. This collection -- bittersweet, world-weary, bracing -- is really worth reading.

I'm still on my war literature campaign (just read The Thin Red Line -- thumbs up), but I took a break and read Enough, which Westlake called a "two-reeler" (and both "reels" loosely deal with the film industry). The book includes one short novel, A Travesty, and a novelette (?) called "Ordo," which was reprinted in The Mammoth Book of Pulp Fiction (edited by Maxim Jakubowski). A Travesty is a fun, humorous lark about a crime-solving, murderous film critic who is unfairly framed for a murder he commits (think about that?!). "Ordo" is pulpy in its way -- featuring a sailor protagonist and an underage wife (and later starlet) -- but it also has what I might call existential resonance. (And now I've just discovered a French film adaptation, 2004, after I wrote the word "existential." Hmm.) In other words, more Westlake worth reading.