Sunday, July 23, 2017

7/23/1965 Ed Gorman causes a riot.

July 23, 1965.  On this day there was a near riot in Black River Falls, Iowa, resulting in the town's only appearance on the news with Walter Cronkite.  It seems that Cliffie Sykes, the dumb-as-dirt chief of police decided to arrest every teenage boy with long hair.

That is the fictional beginning of Ticket To Ride, Ed Gorman's eighth novel about Sam McCain, lawyer and private eye, coping with life in the fifites and sixties in a small town in the midwest.  Before long there will be violence at a peace rally, and Sam will be defending a man he loathes at the request of the man's girlfriend - who used to be Sam's.

Publisher's Weekly said: "Besides getting the pop culture of the period right, Gorman captures the baffled frustration of provincial folk who don't want to believe that things are more complicated than they look, that it's sometimes a mistake to trust people in authority"

Saturday, July 22, 2017

7/22/1993 The Software Bomb goes off

July 22, 1993.  Today saw the publication of The Software Bomb.  It was Steve Womack's third and last novel about New Orleans PR consultant Jack Lynch. Yes, it's about malware and ransomware, back when computers were bigger, slower, and more expensive.

Publishers Weekly said that Womack "once again delivers an effective work, never too complex and not quite overburdened with woes for the ever-resilient Lynch."

Friday, July 21, 2017

7/21/1923 Charles Goodrum circulates

July 21, 1923.  Today saw the birth of Charles Goodrum.  He served as director of research at the Library of Congress's Congressional Research Service, the people who pcik up the phone when a senator needs to know about the history of Haitian gambling laws, or a congressman wants to make sure that this punchy quotation he wants to use in a speech doesn't have a dubious history, like being used to defend Stalin, or something.

But then Goodrum went on to much more important tasks.  Namely, writing book-related mysteries.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

7/20/1924 Who is Thomas Berger?

July 20, 1924.  Thomas Berger was born on this day in Cincinnati.  He was the author of many eccentric novels, most of which explored a different genre (although he said his subject was always the language, not the plot).

His western was Little Big Man, source for the Dustin Hoffman movie.  Several other movies based on his work followed.

Berger's Regiment of Women appears to be a science fiction attack on the feminist movement, but deeper down there is an exploration of sexist language.  If a successful man has a young mistress, what does a successful woman have?  A master?

In 1977 Who is Teddy Villanova? arrived.  It begins with private eye Russel Wren being beaten up because of the titular Villanova, whom he has never heard of.  Then a bunch of corpses start showing up everywhere.  Well, technically, the same corpse keeps showing up.  And the cops, all named for Protestant theologians, are filming a TV series called The Reformers.

A decade later Russel Wren returns for a case that takes him to a strange and distant land.  Nowhere is Berger's version of a utopian novel.  One memorable scene involves a coroner explaining that in this land the cause of death is always listed as heart failure.  Hey, shoot someone or cut off their head and their heart will stop. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

7/19/1993 Morons and Madmen arrive

July 19, 1993.  This date saw the publication of Morons and Madmen, Earl Emerson's third novel about small town police chief Mac Fontana.  He is asked to investigate a deadly fire in Seattle.  A female firefighter is being blamed for the death of her co-workers.  There is sexism, racism, and affirmative action involved.  And, of course, someone tries to kill Mac.

One of the highlights of Fontana books are the chapter titles.  For example, from this one
* Where you wake up in a puddle of cold sweat and your heart is pumping like a nuclear reactor with broken spokes.
* Survivors will be prosecuted
* Firefighters hiding in closets
* What to do when your head is screwed on backwards


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

7/18/1917 Agatha Christie's century of murder

July 18, 1917.  One hundred years ago today  a woman was murdered at a mansion called Styles, beginning Agatha Christie's long killing spree.  The Mysterious Affair at Styles, published in 1920, is the first of her 66 mystery novels.  Her books are estimated to have sold 4 billion copies.

Monday, July 17, 2017

7/17/2015 Greenfellas break in

July 17, 2015.  Today was the official publication date for Greenfellas, a novel by Robert Lopresti.  And here is the first review:

**** Robert Lopresti, GREENFELLAS, Oak Tree Press, $17.95. If Carl Hiassen and Al Gore had collaborated on RESERVOIR DOGS, it might have come out something like GREENFELLAS. Then again, it probably wouldn't. Robert Lopresti, whose stories have appeared in EQMM, AHMM, and THE STRAND, among others, has penned a comic crime novel in which a New Jersey mobster with a bad comb-over decides to use his resources to save the environment for future generations. The dialogue is crisp and the situations darkly funny. - Steve Steinbock, "The Jury Box," ELLERY QUEEN'S MYSTERY MAGAZINE, August, 2015.

Kings River Life Magazine named it one of the best mysteries of the year.