July 2007

   British bookseller Jamie Sturgeon has come up with two more books to add to the list of Rob Eden novels given in my review of his ‘alter ego’ Adam Bliss’s The Camden Ruby Murder. What’s more, based on descriptions of their story lines, Al Hubin has agreed that they should go into Crime Fiction IV, albeit with a dash before each of their titles indicating only marginal crime content.

   Complete bibliographic details will be available in the next Addenda for CFIV. For now, here are the titles and short synopses of their plots:

      THE WRONG GIRL, by Rob Eden

    “Trudy Vernon was only a clerk at the ribbon counter in Dana’s Department Store. But she looked like Sharon Carr, a famous dancer in a popular show.

    “Sharon wanted privacy and Trudy wanted to meet Phil Dana, who would never see her behind a counter. So she consented to pose as the dancer. She was frightened at the risk – but it was only for a week-end, she told herself. How could she, at twenty, know that a week-end could mar two lives – that her resemblance to Sharon would throw them into a whirlwind of romance, adventure and intrigue?

    “Here is a grand, up-to-the-minute story with a full quota of thrills and excitement, that rushes from country estates to Atlantic Cty beauty pageants, from millionaires to kidnappers.”

The Wrong Girl

      THE GIRL AND THE RING, by Rob Eden

    “Take one attractive young lady, wandering into an auction room simply to while away a few minutes. Take one odd silver ring with a four-leaf clover design, which she somehow found herself bidding for, and buying. Take one brown-haired, blue-eyed, pleasant-voiced young man, so interested in her purchase that he stopped Madge outside the auction rooms and offered to take the ring off her hands at ten times what she’d paid for it. Take a dash of mystery, a dash of danger, a generous sprinkling of romance. Result: Rob Eden’s latest absorbing story of human hearts.”

   The home of Dr. William Petit in Cheshire CT was invaded yesterday, and he and his family were held hostage for several hours before the attack ended in deadly fashion. As you may have read about or learned from TV or the Internet, his wife and two daughters were killed, and he was severely injured.

   A noted diabetes specialist in the state of Connecticut, Dr. Petit has been treating me for my thyroid problems over the past six years. I’ve had appointments with him only twice a year, and I did not know him personally, but I’m very much shaken by this. He’s a tall, affable man who always greeted me with a hearty handshake. As someone something like this could happen to, it does not seem possible.

NoirCon will be held from April 3rd to April 6th, 2008, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

   We all have a deep seeded need to see the “dark, bleak and lonely” side of life.

   NoirCon offers the opportunity to look behind the faces and the lives of the tortured souls captured on the canvases of Hieronymus Bosch, Peter Brueghel and David Goodis.

   NoirCon will bring to life the sins, moral failings and dark existential truths of the human condition. All of these will be set against the backdrop of a living, breathing city – Philadelphia.

   NoirCon will be a gathering of some of the brightest writers, academicians, fans, editors, publishers and movie lovers of the Noir genre today.

   Please come and celebrate the incredibly visceral poetry of Ken Bruen as he will be the first recipient of the David Goodis Award. The David Goodis Award is given to that individual who upholds the Goodis’s writing style. We will also be celebrating the incomparable Dennis McMillan’s 25 years in the publishing business. Dennis will be the recipient of the Kogan Award for Literary Excellence. The first Kogan Award was given this year posthumously to David Goodis at GoodisCon.

   We plan to have panels of writers, editors/publishers, screen writers and movie aficionados of the Noir. Other panels include true crime specialists and various Noir trips in Philadelphia.

   However, we will not just sit back and passively observe the “dark, bleak and lonely” side of life, rather we will actively try to help the down trodden and the forgotten by having an auction to benefit a very worthy charity. Out of the darkness, we will bring light and hope to those in need not only in words, but through action!

   There will be ample time for people to meet, to discuss and to share each others company. NoirCon is a symposium in the truest sense of the word. Be a part of it! Do not miss out on the opportunity to say you were part of the event that everyone will be talking about! Register today!

Lou Boxer and Deen Kogan


   info [at] noircon.com

GEORGE D. SHUMAN – 18 Seconds. Nominated for Best Private Eye First Novel of the Year, 2007.

Simon & Schuster, hardcover, March 2006. Pocket Star, paperback, March 2007.

   Book Description:

18 Seconds

Investigative consultant Sherry Moore is blind and stunningly beautiful, with the extraordinary ability to “see” the deceased’s last eighteen seconds of memory by touching the corpse. At age five, she was found near death on the steps of a city hospital. A head injury had left her without sight and prevented her from remembering her past. When Sherry discovers she does have sight — sight that transcends death — she learns to use her gift to help others solve mysteries that only she can tap into.

Serial killer Earl Sykes was never caught for his vicious murders. Instead, a deadly traffic accident landed him in prison. Now, almost thirty years later, he returns to the seaside town of Wildwood, New Jersey — and to abducting young female victims from desolate areas of the boardwalk for his gruesome games.

Wildwood police lieutenant Kelly O’Shaughnessy is stymied over the disappearance of young women from the boardwalk — crimes horrifyingly reminiscent of unsolved cases from the seventies. When an old man’s untimely death leads Sherry Moore to Wildwood, O’Shaughnessy’s desperation to stem the bloodshed forces her to accept Sherry’s help, but not without consequence. As the two women join forces to discover the killer’s identity, they unwittingly become the hunted, marching deeper with every step into the monster’s lair.

A law enforcement veteran himself, Shuman packs a realistic style and authentic investigative detail into this taut tale filled with pulse-pounding tension that will send readers right to the edge.

   About the Author:

George Shuman is a twenty-year veteran of the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police force. This is his first novel.

   Review excerpts:

Publishers Weekly: “Beautiful, blind Sherry Moore is matter-of-fact when telling two police detectives about her agonizing gift – the ability to see the last 18 seconds of a dead person’s life. It’s not supernatural, in her telling; it’s science imperfectly understood. […] Narrative relief from a litany of horrific crimes comes when the scene shifts to Sherry’s tender relationship with a married police detective, and to police lieutenant Kelly Lynch-O’Shaughnessy’s marital struggles. While the large number of characters and cross-cutting of their perspectives leads to occasional confusion, the vividly drawn central figures and authoritative voice keep the reader grimly committed.”

Booklist: “Here’s a high-concept thriller that, in places, could almost sink under the weight of its own premise. Sherry Moore is beautiful, blind, and psychic. But she doesn’t read minds; Sherry’s gift — although some might say it’s more of a curse — is this: if she touches a dead person, she can see the last 18 seconds of that person’s life. […] Unfortunately, Shuman, a veteran police officer, spends so much time justifying his premise that he tends to sound like he doesn’t quite believe it himself. Sometimes you just have to let readers suspend their own disbelief.”

DECLAN HUGHES – The Wrong Kind of Blood. Nominated for Best Private Eye First Novel of the Year, 2007.

William Morrow, hardcover, February 2006. Harper, paperback, February 2007.

Book Description:

The Wrong Kind of Blood

After twenty years in Los Angeles, Ed Loy has come home to bury his mother. But hers is only the first dead body he encounters after crossing an ocean.

The city Loy once knew is an unrecognizable place, filled with gangsters, seducers, hucksters, and crazies, each with a scheme and an angle. But he can’t refuse the sexy former schoolmate who asks him to find her missing husband – or the old pal-turned-small time criminal who shows up on Loy’s doorstep with a hard-luck story and a recently fired gun. Suddenly, a tragic homecoming could prove fatal for the grieving investigator, as an unexplained photograph of his long-vanished father, a murky property deal, and a corpse discovered in the foundations of town hall combine to turn a curious case into a dark obsession – dragging Ed Loy into a violent underworld of drugs, extortion, and murder … and through his own haunted past where the dead will never rest.

   About the Author:

Declan Hughes has worked for more than twenty years in the theater in Dublin as director and playwright. In 1984, he cofounded Rough Magic, Ireland’s leading independent theater company. He has been writer in association with the Abbey Theatre and remains an artistic associate of Rough Magic. He lives in Dublin, Ireland.

   Review excerpts:

Publishers Weekly: “In this overly busy and bloody crime thriller from Irish playwright Hughes, Edward Loy, an Irish PI transplanted to L.A., returns home to Dublin for his mother’s funeral. […] When the pace momentarily slackens, the author supplies some nicely observed pastoral views of Dublin and the Irish countryside, but the ongoing cacophony of violence deafens one to all but the most sanguinary details. Hughes has talent, but this caper, his first, doesn’t whet one’s appetite for more of the same.”

Booklist: “Loy is the sort of brash PI who would as soon use his head for inflicting blunt-force trauma as for cogitation. Hughes lacks his countryman Ken Bruen’s knack for making such feral types compelling, and his fine turn of phrase is marred by a proclivity for long expository speeches. On the other hand, he vividly conveys the sights, sounds, and smells of the Dublin streets. He’s clearly a cut or two below such gritty Irish bards as Bruen, John Connolly, and Adrian McKinty, but he bears watching.”

   Newly released and forthcoming Ed Loy novels:

The Color of Blood. William Morrow, hardcover, April 2007. Harper, paperback, March 2008.

The Price of Blood. William Morrow, hardcover, March 2008.

   On March 17th, while discussing the new Ellery Queen radio program I’d discovered, I stated on this blog:

    “… I’ve just come across an Australian radio series called Carter Brown Mysteries. As part of the introduction to the first story, interviewed is none other than Carter Brown himself. I’ll make it available here as soon as possible.”

   And I never took the time to do anything more about it. Until this morning, when Toni Johnson-Woods left a comment at the end of that post which I really thought should be made more visible. Hence this new blog entry for it. First Toni, an expert in Australian pulp fiction, has transcribed the entire interview that I’ve previously mentioned. She also suggested a web site where I could find another example of the Carter Brown radio series. Links at the other end. Thanks, Toni!    — Steve

      Carter Brown Interview:

Carter Brown

Opening:    [Music]    Carter Brown Mysteries! Adventures in excitement and suspense based on the best-selling novels by the slick story-telling sensation Carter Brown.   [Music]

   We take pride in bringing you the first in a new series a program drawn from the celebrated books by Carter Brown which have sold more than ten million copies and continue to sell at the rate of over one million copies a year. Each week you’ll hear a complete story dramatised in the smooth modern style which has been responsible for Carter Brown’s enormous popularity both in Australia and abroad. And here to introduce the Carter Brown Mystery Theatre is Carter Brown himself.

   How do you do, ladies and gentlemen. I am very pleased indeed, and I must admit flattered too, to have been asked to bring my stories to you.

   Mr Brown, I know you’ve led a pretty adventurous life yourself you’ve travelled around the world yourself as a salesman, publicity writer, film technician. And now finally as a best selling author. And quite a number of people seem think that the heroes in your stories are really yourself, now is that true?

   No, it’s not and if I sound very definite about that it’s because my wife’s listening to me and I don’t think she’d like the idea of my running into so many blondes, brunettes and redheads as the gentlemen in my books do.

   Nooo, nor as much trouble as they do.

   No I don’t think she’d like that either, I hope.

   Yes, your heroes certainly do wind up strife. Like Johnny Lane, for instance. Johnny’s a newspaper columnist and they’ve got a premium on problems. Not that they all run into the same bother as Johnny. They wouldn’t want to. Well, he’s a cocky character with an eye for a beautiful babe and printer’s ink instead of blood. But suppose you find out for yourselves, here’s Johnny Lane to tell the story which we’ve titled, “Call for a Columnist.”

   I am currently working on the Carter Brown Mysteries/Mystery Theatre. Is anyone interested in my findings? I’m happy to submit a summary for y’all.

   Can I also recommend “Swimsuit Sweetheart” for anyone who wants to get a ‘feel’ for the less hardboiled/later style of Carter Brown?    — Cheers,  Toni from Down Under   🙂  

   Click on the following for MP3 recordings of:

          Call for a Columnist, Part 1.

          Call for a Columnist, Part 2.

          Call for a Columnist, Part 3.

          Call for a Columnist, Part 4.

          Swimsuit Sweetheart.

JOHN R. FEEGEL – Autopsy.

Avon 22574. Paperback original, 1975.

Feegel: Autopsy

   When a Florida tomato salesman apparently commits suicide in a second-rate Connecticut motel, the insurance company naturally refuses to payoff, and off to court they go.

   A lot of book is summarized in that one line. Feegel is both a lawyer and a practicing forensic pathologist, quoting from inside the back cover, and he lovingly fills in all the clinical details of embalming, funeral procedures, exhumations and so on that any of us would ever want to know. His courtroom expertise is equally evident, but may I say that the insurance company’s defense attorneys do a hopelessly inadequate job, and that’s a tremendously difficult premise to swallow.

   The detective story aspect rings completely false as well, which is surprising, since this book won an MWA Edgar as the best paperback mystery of the year. Again if I may, I’d say that Feegel is guilty of [literary malpractice] in his portrayal of the killer’s [deliberately misleading] post-mortem behavior, and the way he handles the questioning of the girl in the next room is most singularly strange. In fact, while Feegel, a Floridian, obviously doesn’t think much at all of coroners and policemen up here in good old Connecticut, that’s hardly a reason to make every one of his characters from this state a completely stereotyped caricature. How can a book so eminently readable also be so woefully inadequate?    (B minus)

– From The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 3, No. 3, Mar-Apr 1979.

[UPDATE] 07-22-07. It’s far too late, I know, but I’ll issue the author an apology anyway for misspelling his name as “Fleegel” throughout this review, and it’s been corrected. I also said earlier that I wouldn’t change anything in these old reviews, but in this case I overruled myself and made an exception, as you’ll see above.

   The following was taken from an online obituary for the author:

    “John R. Feegel, a Florida medical examiner who became an award-winning novelist, died on Sept. 16, 2003. Cause of death was not released. He was 70.

    “The son of a police officer, Feegel grew up to become a forensic pathologist, a trial attorney and the chief medical examiner in Tampa. He performed thousands of autopsies; the death of Elvis Presley and Atlanta serial killer Wayne B. Williams were two of his most famous cases.

    “Feegel also wrote seven mystery novels. In 1976, he won the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for his first book, Autopsy.”


   From Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin, here’s a complete list of his fictional work that qualifies as crime-related, slightly expanded:

      o Autopsy (n.) Avon, pbo, 1975.
      o Death Sails the Bay (n.) Avon, pbo, 1978.
      o The Dance Card (n.) Dial Press, hardcover, 1981. Avon, pb, 1982.
      o Malpractice (n.) New American Library, hardcover, 1981. Signet, pb, 1982.
      o Not a Stranger (n.) New American Library, hardcover, 1983. Signet, pb, 1984.

[Later.] I’ve just noticed that the obituary said that John Feegel wrote seven mysteries, but Al Hubin lists only five. Hmm. That’s something that should be looked into.

[Still later.] Aha. I’ve found both of the missing titles:

      o Eco-Park: The Al-Hikma Legacy (n.) Authors Choice Press, softcover, March 2001.
      o Death Among the Ruins (n.) Writers Club Press, softcover, September 2002.

John R. Feegel[UPDATE] 07-23-07.   In my original post I included a comment that cover images for Feegel’s books were difficult to come by. The only one I could find yesterday was the one for Malpractice.

   In this morning’s email Bill Crider, whose supply of old mystery paperbacks is nearly endless, sent me two additional ones, both of which you now see here. Unfortunately the silver reflective covers don’t scan well, so the results are not up to either Bill’s or my standards, but I think they will do.

   I also asked Bill if he’d ever read one or both. His reply: “I read the first one because it won the Edgar. I remember nothing at all about it except that I was impressed by the forensic details. I thought of the book back when Patsy Cornwell was becoming famous and wondered if it was one of the first to introduce that kind of stuff.”

   Not being a fan of forensic details myself, it hadn’t occurred to me before, but I really think that Bill is onto something here.

STEVE HOCKENSMITH – Holmes on the Range. Nominated for Best Private Eye First Novel of the Year, 2007.

St. Martin’s, hardcover, February 2006. Trade paperback, February 2007.

   Book description:

Holmes on the Range

1893 is a tough year in Montana, and any job is a good job. When Big Red and Old Red Amlingmeyer sign on as ranch hands at the secretive Bar-VR cattle spread, they’re not expecting much more than hard work, bad pay, and a comfortable campfire around which they can enjoy their favorite pastime: scouring Harper’s Weekly for stories about the famous Sherlock Holmes. When another ranch hand turns up in an outhouse with a bullet in his brain, Old Red sees the perfect opportunity to employ his Holmes-inspired “deducifyin” skills, puts his ranch work squarely on the back burner, and sets out to solve the case. Big Red, like it or not (and mostly he does not), is along for the wild ride in this clever, compelling, and completely one-of-a-kind mystery.

   About the Author:

Excerpted from the author’s Web site : “Though the town elders of Louisville, Ky., have yet to acknowledge it with so much as a single commemorative plaque, Steve Hockensmith was born in the Derby City on August 17, 1968. […] Hockensmith is also the creator of mystery-solving cowboys Big Red and Old Red Amlingmeyer. The Amlingmeyer brothers first appeared in Ellery Queen in the story ‘Dear Mr. Holmes,’ which was voted the fifth most-popular story of 2003 by the magazine’s readers. The Sherlock Holmes-worshipping drovers have returned to Ellery Queen‘s pages three times since then. […] Though he considers himself a Midwesterner at heart, Hockensmith currently lives in California’s Bay Area.”

   Review excerpts:

Publishers Weekly: “Sherlockians, western fans and mystery lovers who enjoy their whodunits leavened with humor should all be delighted by Hockensmith’s captivating debut, which features Montana cowboys and brothers Gustav and Otto Amlingmeyer (better known as Old Red and Big Red, respectively). […] The melding of genres will remind some of the late Bill DeAndrea’s western Nero Wolfe pastiches, while the skillful plotting and characterization augur well for the sequel.”

Booklist: “The Amlingmeyers have graced the pages of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, and their initial book-length case is every bit as memorable. At times, they may remind readers of Joe Lansdale’s Hap Collins and Leonard Pine with their smart mouths, penchant for trouble, and unflagging loyalty to each other. This is a great reworking of the Holmes conceit, and one suspects Hockensmith will have a steady readership as long as the Amlingmeyers are on the case.”

   Recently published:

On the Wrong Track: A Holmes on the Range Mystery. St. Martin’s, hardcover, March 2007. Trade paperback: January 2008.

JACK FREDRICKSON – A Safe Place for Dying. Nominated for Best Private Eye First Novel of the Year, 2007.

St. Martin’s Press, hardcover, November 2006.

   Book Description:

A Safe Place for Dying

An extortion letter arrives at Crystal Waters, one of Chicago’s wealthiest gated communities. It makes no specific threats, gives no instructions, demands only that $50,000 be gotten ready – chump change for an enclave where the cheapest house is worth three million. It’s easy to see it as harmless – a note from a nut.

Then a mansion explodes. The homeowners panic, and want it hushed up. If word gets out that a bomber is targeting Crystal Waters, their multimillion-dollar homes will become worthless, a last catastrophe for people strung out from living the good life too well. They hire Dek Elstrom to investigate.

Dek Elstrom used to soar high, too, when he lived with his multimillionaire wife at Crystal Waters, but that was before the dominos of his life tipped over and his ex-wife threw him out. Now reduced to living in a crumbling stone turret, bankrupt of everything but attitude, he’s not even his own ideal choice for the job. He’s too broke, however, to question the motives of a gift-horse client. He needs the money – and the chance to reconnect with his ex-wife. Another bomb goes off, and Dek realizes the culprit must be someone who is angry, needs money, and used to live at Crystal Waters. Then he realizes something else. He himself is the prime suspect.

A sly and clever caper among the richest of the rich, A Safe Place for Dying is for fans of Carl Hiaasen and Robert Crais.

   About the Author:

Jack Fredrickson has had his fiction published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and anthologized by the Mystery Writers of America in Michael Connelly’s Burden of the Badge. He lives with his wife west of Chicago, where he is hard at work on the next Dek Elstrom novel. Visit his Web site at www.JackFredrickson.com.

   Review excerpts:

Publishers Weekly: “In an impressive debut, Fredrickson introduces Vlodek ‘Dek’ Elstrom, an intrepid investigator of Norwegian extraction who has neared bottom with his failed marriage and battered reputation. […] Smartly plotted, briskly paced and laced with humor, this accomplished first marks Fredrickson as a mystery writer to watch.”

Booklist: “Vlodek ‘Dek’ Elstrom is trying to put his life back together. A scandal destroyed his career as an investigator, and no one seems to have read the notice exonerating him. […] As he digs into the case, he wonders why the residents refuse to go to the police. Closing in, Dek suspects an inside job and becomes a suspect himself. Fredrickson has created an engaging new detective in this funny, hard-boiled story that will appeal to readers who enjoy Robert B. Parker’s Spenser.”

R. AUSTIN FREEMAN – The Shadow of the Wolf.

Hodder & Stoughton, UK, hardcover, 1925. House of Stratus, UK, softcover, 2001. Dodd Mead & Co, US, hardcover, 1925. Included in R. Austin Omnibus Volume 3 : Helen Vardon’s Confession;The Cat’s Eye;The Mystery of Angelina Frood;The Shadow of the Wolf , Battered Silicon Box, US, hardcover, 1999.

   One of the Psalms speaks of those who go down to the sea in ships and do business in great waters, but such ventures usually do not involve murder. However, this very crime occurs in The Shadow of the Wolf. The reader knows whodunit and why right away and so the novel relates how Dr Thorndyke reasons out the solution to the case.

Shadow of the Wolf

   Messrs Varney and Purcell, old school and college chums now engaged in forging banknotes, quarrel while sailing in the English Channel. Varney wants to end their joint venture but Purcell will not agree. To make matters worse, Purcell married Margaret Haygarth, the woman Varney loved, while the latter was engaged in the dangerous business of passing forged banknotes abroad. A thick fog descends and Varney takes advantage of its concealment to murder Purcell, weight the body, and toss it overboard near the Wolf Rock lighthouse. Once ashore, Varney cleverly lays a false trail giving the impression Purcell has absconded.

   The Rodney brothers, medical practitioner Philip and solicitor Jack, own the small yacht borrowed for the fatal voyage, being friends of Varney and the Purcells. They are puzzled by Purcell’s apparent abandonment of his wife, and Varney plays along by pretending to investigate possible sightings of Purcell. In due course Dr Thorndyke is engaged to find the missing man since Mrs Purcell wishes to obtain her freedom either by having her husband legally declared dead or obtaining a divorce, for she suspects he has left her for another woman. Then a mysterious tenant disappears from chambers in Clifford’s Inn, almost on Thorndyke’s doorstep, and this event provides Thorndyke with certain information that ultimately leads to the cracking of the case.

   My verdict: A good book for a quiet evening’s read, being slower paced than some Thorndyke novels. Nevertheless the reader’s interest remains engaged while following Thorndyke’s reasoning of the circumstances of the case and how he obtains and confirms the necessary evidence. As a bonus they’ll also learn something about methods of forgery!

   Etext: http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks05/

         Mary R


Shadow of the Wolf    Here is a case where, if you weren’t convinced already, having an etext you can read online is going to be a big, big money saver. The least expensive copy of the Dodd Mead edition that I spotted moments ago on Abebooks will set you back you $60. (It’s not the same one, but it is the Dodd edition that you see to the left.) The asking price for the Battered Silicon Box edition is $65, and the cheapest Hodder & Stoughton edition will cost you around $80, including postage from England.

   I can’t tell you why, but the Stratus reprint is going for $200. Surprisingly enough, though, you can obtain a copy of the Hodder edition in dust jacket for around $120. At that price, it’s probably a bargain.

— Steve

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