Books Noted


   Scheduled for publication from Stark House Press in March of next year:


   The strange island story utilizes island locations to examine human society and human nature, taking the reader on a journey into the weird, the bizarre, and the unsettling. Nineteen classic tales from Arthur Conan Doyle, Julian Hawthorne, Jack London, H. P. Lovecraft, M. P. Shiel, John Buchan and more; plus one new story from the editor himself!

DASHIELL HAMMETT – The Big Book of the Continental Op. RICHARD LAYMAN & JULIE RIVETT, Editors. Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, softcover, 28 November 2017. 752 pages.

    “Now for the first time ever in one volume, all twenty-eight stories and two serialized novels starring the Continental Op — one of the greatest characters in storied history of detective fiction.”

    What else do you need to know? I’ve been waiting for this book for almost 60 years. And now here it is, at last, all but three stories appearing first in Black Mask magazine, and all reprinted as they first appeared.

                    

Dear Steve,

   I remember with delight the correspondence between my late husband, Dennis Lynds, AKA Michael Collins, and you and Ed Lynskey that went into creating the wonderful Dan Fortune page on Mystery*File. It’s an outstanding analysis and resource.

    “Dan Fortune is the sort of guy you’d like to strike up a conversation with late at night or in a bus station. He stays a choice friend from book to book.” Ed wrote that, and I’ve never forgotten it. Ed succinctly and vividly captured the essence of the series.

   With that in mind, I’m thrilled to tell you Dan Fortune is back. The entire 17-book series of private eye novels are available again, for the first time in Kindle and trade paperback. We hope a new generation of readers will discover Dan, and that long-time fans will enjoy rereading the classic tales.

   In addition, we’re offering a $1.99 sale for the Kindle version of the first book, Act of Fear, which won the Edgar Award, to help get folks started. Take advantage here.

   Last week I sent out a newsletter readers might find interesting. Here’s the link.

   Who is Dennis Lynds? A raconteur and Renaissance man, he’s considered among the most important and influential writers of private-eye stories in the past 50 years. Beginning in the late Sixties, he changed the mystery form and along the way created iconic private detectives who won the hearts of readers and the awards of critics. His books remain not only entertaining but relevant, while giving vivid life to the eras in which he wrote.

   And finally, here’s his new, revamped website: www.DennisLynds.com

   Thank you so much for letting me alert readers, Steve. You make many contributions to our industry, and I am grateful.

                  All best,

                     Gayle

          www.GayleLynds.com

   

   I’ve asked Chuck Harter, the author of the following book to tell us more about it. He’s most graciously agreed:

CHUCK HARTER – Mr. Novak: An Acclaimed Television Series. Bearmanor Media, hardcover, softcover and eBook, illustrated, 15 October 2017.

   This book is a comprehensive look at a classic dramatic television series that aired for two seasons in the early 1960’s. It was filmed at the MGM studios, aired on the NBC network and showcased life at a typical American High School.

   The program starred James Franciscus as teacher John Novak with first Dean Jagger then later Burgess Meredith as the Principal of the school. Mr. Novak was the first series that portrayed teachers and students in a realistic dramatic manner.

   Previously there had only been sitcoms which didn’t reflect the lifestyles of the real students of America. The series featured top quality scripts, actors and production and won over 47 awards during its run including the prestigious Peabody Award for excellence.

   Many of the awards came from academic institutions which praised the show for its portrayal of the educational community. Such was the impact of the production that it prompted many to become teachers and many existing educators to improve their skills.

   The book traces the evolution of the series from development to the pilot’s production and acceptance by NBC. It then covers the filming and airing of the first season to great acclaim.

   The second season, which was fraught with controversy and discord is then examined with the result being cancellation.

   The legacy of the principals involved with the series is examined along with comments by those that continue to be interested in this vintage classic dramatic series of superior values.

   The book contains exclusive interviews with over 40 actors including Ed Asner, Frankie Avalon, Diane Baker, Beau Bridges, Johnny Crawford, Tony Dow, Sherry Jackson, Tommy Kirk, Walter Koenig, Martin Landau, June Lockhart, Beverly Washburn and many others. There are 243 illustrations and an index, including a complete episode guide with full credits, plot descriptions, vintage interviews, and new appraisals by the author.

   There is also an extensive appendix with a list of the awards Mr. Novak won, Producer E. Jack Neuman’s writer’s guide for Mr. Novak, An advice column for High School graduates by star James Franciscus, Principal Vane’s (Dean Jagger) speech to the new teachers, the Mr. Novak board game and more.

   The Introduction of the book is by A-List Director Richard Donner: “I’m so glad Chuck Harter is brining the Mr. Novak experience to a wider audience…read his detailed behind-the-scenes account.”

   The Foreword is by the late Martin Landau: “Chuck Harter has produced a superlative book that is both fascinating and informative.”

   The Afterword is by Star Trek actor Walter Koenig: “You don’t have to be an actor…just a student to appreciate the skillful way in which Chuck Harter unfolds the stories behind the cameras.”

   Mr. Novak was a television series of exceptional quality and the amazing thing is that when episodes are viewed today — they are not dated or corny but are still relevant to modern times.

   The book is also available at Amazon.com, while the Official website is https://mrnovakbook.com/

ANNOUNCEMENT : Warner Home Video is going to release the first season of Mr. Novak (30 episodes) in a DVD set in 2018. They will be struck from the original 35mm camera negatives and should look pristine.

   I’ve asked Dick Etulain, the author of the following book to tell us more about it. He’s most graciously agreed:

RICHARD W. ETULAIN – Ernest Haycox and the Western. University of Oklahoma Press, hardcover, illustrated, 2017.

   This book attempts to resurrect writer Ernest Haycox as a major figure in the development of the fictional Western. It is not a biography; Haycox’s son, Ernest Haycox, Jr., does that in his smoothly written book On a Silver Desert: The Life of Ernest Haycox (2003). Nor is it primarily a work of literary criticism. That book is available in Stephen L. Tanner, Ernest Haycox (1996).

   Rather, my book is a work of literary history, tracing Haycox’s literary career from its origins in the early 1920s to his death in 1950.

   Born in 1899 and reared in Oregon, Haycox contributed to high school publications and then to college outlets at Reed College (1919-20) and the University of Oregon (1920-23). By graduation, Haycox had published several stories in pulp magazines. Hoping to establish strong links to fictional outlets in the East, Haycox traveled to New York City, where he met editors important to his career in the 1920s. Meeting Jill Marie Chord (also from Oregon) on the train east, they married in New York City but soon returned west to Portland, which would be the Haycox home for the remainder of his life.

   By the end of the 1920s, Haycox was a steady contributor to many pulp magazines, including such stalwarts as Adventure, Short Stories, and Western Story Magazine. In 1928, he published his first full-length serial, which appeared the next year as Free Grass, his first novel. In the opening 1930s, Haycox made his first appearance in Collier’s and remained a steady contributor for almost twenty years.

   Hoping to move to the top of writers of Westerns, Haycox experimented with several new wrinkles to chosen genre. He created reflective protagonists (“Hamlet heroes”) and dark and light heroines (passionate and reserved women).

   Even more important, he began to turn out historical Westerns, infusing his lively fiction with historical backgrounds such as building the transcontinental railroad, fighting Indians in the Southwest, and settling Oregon. His most notable historical Western was Bugles in the Afternoon (1944), a fictional recreation of Gen. George Custer and the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

   Immensely successful, Haycox was nonetheless dissatisfied with the restrictions of the Western and entered a period of revolt in the last half-dozen years (1944-50) of his career. Abandoning lucrative serial markets, he set out to write first-rate historical fiction. His best historical novel, The Earthbreakers (1952), appeared two years after his death.

   Talented, ambitious, and driven, Ernest Haycox became a major figure in popular fiction written about the American West. Haycox’s continuing growth, gradual but steady, amply demonstrates an author determined enough to defy popular demands and honest enough to write novels consistent with his changing literary beliefs.

COMMENTS BY BARRY GARDNER:


WILLIAM F. NOLAN – The Black Mask Murders. Black Mask Boys #1. St. Martin’s, hardcover, 1994. No softcover edition.

   There’s probably no one better suited to do a novel featuring Dashiel Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Erle Stanley Gardner as detectives than Nolan, a Hammett expert of the first order and [editor] of The Black Mask Boys (1985), a homage to the pulp. This, the first book in a projected series, is narrated by Hammett, and plans call for the narration to rotate among the three in future volumes.

   I’m not going into the plot any more than to tell you it involves gangsters and a maguffin, as I didn’t enjoy the book enough to finish it. Though obviously a labor of love on Nolan’s part, I couldn’t reward it with the same feeling.

   It isn’t badly done, I just don’t particularly care for the type, and using mystery writers for the characters didn’t change my feelings as I’d thought it might. Nolan’s a competent writer, and if you like Kaminsky’s Toby Peters books I think you’d like this too.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #13, June 1994.


             The Black Mask Boys series —

The Black Mask Murders (1994).
The Marble Orchard (1996).

Sharks Never Sleep (1998).

BASIL HEATTER – Virgin Cay [+] A Night Out. Stark House, trade paperback; 1st printing, July 2017. Includes Virgin Cay (Gold Medal, paperback original, 1963) and A Night Out (Popular Library, paperback original, 1956). Introduction by Steve Lewis.

   The book actually needs no introduction, not if you’ve read my reviews of the two paperback novels that comprise this just published reprint of both, here:

http://mysteryfile.com/blog/?p=47342

and here:

http://mysteryfile.com/blog/?p=47173

   Of course, you could go back and read both reviews and then buy the Stark House combo, which not too surprisingly, if you think about it, I do recommend.

           

A Book Note by DAN STUMPF:


ROBERT BLOCH – The Scarf. Dial Press,. hardcover, 1947. Avon #211, paperback, as The Scarf of Passion, 1949. Gold Medal d1727, paperback, 1966.

   Movie-makers aren’t the only ones who commit violence on books. Toward the end of October I was reading a 1966 reprint of Robert Bloch’s first novel, The Scarf. It’s a first-person serial-killer tale, and it’s creepy enough that it probably worried Bloch’s friends and family at the time and still packs a chill or two. And while I was reading this late-40s novel, I came upon a reference to Bob Dylan.

   That got me curious, so I looked up the passage in an earlier edition, and found it had been considerably re-written, either by Bloch himself or by some talented hack at Fawcett who could ape his style. And so it goes throughout the 1966 edition: a train trip becomes a plane ride, a radio is rewritten as a stereo, and there’s even a reference to dancing the Frug. (Ah, who could forget the Frug?) All of which were no doubt intended to make The Scarf pass for a contemporary novel in ’66, but now seem oddly quaint.

BILL S. BALLINGER – The Spy in the Java Sea. Signet D2981, paperback original; 1st printing, September 1966.

   Book five of a five book paperback spy series from the same publisher who made a lot of money printing the James Bond stories. Joaquin Hawks, son of a Nez Perce Indian father and a Spanish mother, is the leading character in each, all I believe taking place in Southeast Asia just before the war in Vietnam.

   The descriptions of the at-the-time exotic locales are done in detail and done well, but if this final tale in the series is an example, the stories are straight-forward, told without any verve I could see, and filled with cliches. In Java Sea, a malfunctioning CPU unit on a new US nuclear submarine has it stranded immobile somewhere at the bottom of the ocean, and both Moscow and Peking are close on Hawks’ trail as he hopes to find it.

   The result? Nowhere nearly as good as James Bond, and it pales completely in comparison to the Quiller spy adventure I read recently. I skimmed ahead to the end of the book to see if anything happened that I didn’t foresee happening. It didn’t, and I basically abandoned this one on page 46. In all honesty, I wasn’t a big fan of these knockoff spy novels back in the 60s, and I guess I’m still not now. You may enjoy this one more than I did.



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