Thursday, March 27, 2008

Three Books

I recently finished April Smith's Judas Horse and was blown away by her command of character and language. The book is rich and sophisticated and yet never overdone. There's not a sentence in there that's a stretch. She does something I admire very much; she can give us a perfect understanding of a character in a few paragraphs, while never resorting to stereotype. It's a fine line, and she walks it beautifully.

I also finished Marcus Sakey's The Blade Itself -- such an impressive novel, particularly for a debut. He really knows how to ratchet up the suspense, one step at a time. It's a very capable, tight, well-constructed thriller. He unafraid to locate flaws - and fault - within his protagonists, something a lot of writers shy away from. And that makes his protag so much more easy to identify with. We really feel his predicament. It's also such a lean book. Everything in the service of plot. And yet he still manages to cover his bases and get in enough character work to make it a compelling read. I can't remember the last time I read a book that quickly.

Finally, my boy Ross Macdonald's Black Money. And with him, it's best to let him speak for himself:

"They were innocent eyes, not youthful but innocent, as if they perceived only pre-selected facts."

"He was retreating angrily into bad grammar."

"The pictures on the wall were all religious, and there were so many of them that they suggested a line of defense against the world."

"It was a moral hardship for me to walk away from an unclosed case."

Monday, March 24, 2008

From Russia With Love

The Rackley books have been getting some nice attention in Russia, where The Kill Clause and Troubleshooter have already come out from my excellent publisher, Geleos. In 2008, The Program and Last Shot will be published. A few months ago, I posted the Russian Troubleshooter cover, one of my favorite foreign covers ever. Here's The Program.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

International Thriller Writers Announces 2008 Nominations

ITW just picked their five bests in three categories. Lovely news, and great to be nominated along with my buddy, Robert Crais.

No Time For Goodbye by Linwood Barclay (Bantam)
The Watchman by Robert Crais (Simon & Schuster)
The Ghost by Robert Harris (Simon & Schuster)
The Crime Writer by Gregg Hurwitz (Viking)
Trouble by Jesse Kellerman (Putnam)

Interred With Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell (Dutton)
Big City, Bad Blood by Sean Chercover (William Morrow)
From the Depths by Gerry Doyle (McBook Press)
Volk's Game by Brent Ghelfi (Henry Holt and Co.)
Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill (William Morrow)

The Last Nightingale by Anthony Flacco (Ballantine)
A Thousand Bones by P.J. Parrish (Pocket)
The Midnight Road by Tom Piccirilli (Bantam)
The Queen of Bedlam by Robert McCammon (Pocket)
Shattered by Jay Bonansinga (Pinnacle)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Spring Training

Ah, there is a new bounce to my step with the return of the smell of freshly mowed outfield grass. Baseball is art. It is opera. With its delightful nine-act structure -- meticulous strategy punctuated by bursts of action -- it is the best sport for the (criminally) literary minded.

I give you two quotations from -- of all people -- George Will:

"Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. Not all holes, or games, are created equal."

And to counter the naysayers:

Football combines the two worst things about America: it is violence punctuated by committee meetings."

The prosecution rests.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Mitch Hedberg on Screenwriting

"I wrote a script and gave it to a guy who reads scripts. He said he loved it, but I had to rewrite it. I said, 'Fuck that, I'll just make a copy.' "