After posting my comments on Charles Einstein after his death, I mentioned to Bill Pronzini that as I remembered it, he was the one who’d told me to read Einstein’s first crime novel, The Bloody Spur. We’re speaking 30 to 35 years ago, mind you. Here’s Bill’s reply:

   Re Charles Einstein: I may in fact have recommended The Bloody Spur to you; I’ve been known to champion it. Really excellent novel made into an equally excellent film. Nowhere to Run, the film made from Blackjack Hijack, is surprisingly good for a made-for-TV flick; Marcia and I watched it recently and were impressed by the quality of the script, the depth of characterization, and the performances. David Janssen, in one of his last films, is outstanding.

   Re the Mike Shayne movies: I have a VHS tape of The Man Who Wouldn’t Die. Haven’t watched it a while, but as I recall, the story is only loosely based on Rawson’s No Coffin for a Corpse, using some of the novel’s trappings and plot elements but not the clever “impossible” gimmick. It’s not among the best of the celluloid Shaynes: too talky, too wisecracky and silly, though it does have some effective H’wood atmospherics (howling storm, weird old house, grave-digging in the dead of night, etc.) “Gus, the Great Merlini” does indeed make a brief appearance; the character runs a magic shop that Shayne visits for information.