Archive for the ‘Crime Fiction Books’ Category

Cocktail noir

Cocktail Noir—Gangsters, Gin joints, Gumshoes and Gimlets

Greetings Crimeziners, it is time once again to uncork the office bottle and enjoy the enchanted thrall of the shimmering golden optics, as we throw back a five-fingered helping of Scott Deitche’s boozetastic quaffing companion Cocktail Noir.

Connoisseurs of crime will undoubtedly know Scott from his marvelously named column Libation Lounge, a regular feature in Cigar City Magazine and his books such as The Silent Don a study of Floridian crime capo Santo Trafficante Jr.

It was with great pleasure therefore that Crimezine cocktail wrangler Consuela served up Mr. Deitche’s delightful tome along with our customary glass of smooth sipping breakfast Cognac.

This is an ambitious book and fast with it. We are treated to a mixocological methodology of every noirish cocktail you can imagine. If Bogart drank it, it’s in. If Chandler drank it, it is in. In fact, this book contains the recipe of every bad-assed beverage you can shake an AA meeting at, and more besides.

Given that just about every noir fan you can mention is an inveterate boozehound, one wonders if this service is necessary. But Deitche ups the ante, by giving us a fascinating run down of gangster bars, big screen boozing and favorite crime author tipples.

We get the usual suspects of course Hammett, Chandler, and Jimmy Cain. It is no secret these cats were hardcore boozers, as Chandler wrote in The Lady in the Lake—“I smelled of gin. Not just casually, as if I had taken four or five drinks of a winter morning to get out of bed on, but as if the Pacific Ocean was pure gin and I had nosedived off the boat deck. The gin was in my hair and eyebrows, on my chin and under my chin. It was on my shirt. I smelled like dead toads.”

Dead toads indeed—on a Bouchercon morning perhaps?

By way of contrast, author Dennis Lehane of Gone Baby Gone fame confesses, rather anticlimactically, that he enjoys an occasional bottle of Becks beer. One wonders what achievements Chandler et al could have made if they had forgone their dedication to the sacred sauce in favor of literary achievement.

Fear not though Crimeziners, Cocktail Noir is entirely devoid of killjoy questioning. Instead we get a breathlessly fast paced super-session of boozy indulgence. Czar of noir Eddie Muller is quoted as saying “Nobody made getting loaded look more glamorous.” He is talking about Dashiell Hammett’s sleuths Nick and Nora Charles, who swill back cocktails like they are practicing for a three-day weekend with Ernest Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald—but he could equally be talking about this crimetastic little book.

Like any good boozy session, this book is over too fast. For those unfamiliar with the noir scene Cocktail Noir will provide many revelations and deliciously sizzling starting point for further investigations; while more experienced boozehounds will no doubt value this tome as a compendium of crimeish cocktails that will jumpstart the very blandest of mornings.

As a postscript it should be mentioned, that the term Noir was coined by French film critic Nino Frank, while talking about the work of legendary author Cornell Woolrich. Many of Woolrich’s books, and the multiple films that were based on them, had black in the title—most notably Black Angel (1946), The Bride Wore Black, and The Leopard Man (1943) based on the book Black Alibi. In keeping with the Noir tradition, Woolrich died of alcoholism in 1968.

Cocktail Noir Crimezine

Cocktail Noir by Scott M. Deitche


Cocktail Noir is available November 2015 from Reservoir Square.
ISBN 978-1-94194-700-5

Crimezine Treasure Coast with Tom Kakonis

Crimezine cruises the Treasure Coast with Tom Kakonis

Calabasas crime fiction kingpins Lee Goldberg and Joel Goldman, co-founders of boutique publishing venture Brash Books have been publishing a veritable of crimewave of cult-tastic classic-crime novels of late.

Edgar-nominated, Goldberg is no slouch in the crime fiction department himself. A prolific TV writer/producer and novelist, he has scripted more cult crime shows than you can shake a .38 special at, including Diagnosis Murder and the frankly nutso Monk. Most recently he teamed up with the pulchritudinous and multi-talented Janet Evanovich for the bestselling Fox & O’Hare novels, The Heist and The Chase. International best-selling crime author Joel Goldman meanwhile, is best known for his Alex Stone, Lou Mason and Jack Davis Thrillers.

Cult crime legend Tom Kakonis is widely lauded by many as the natural heir to the Elmore Leonard throne. His first book Michigan Roll was published in 1988 when the author was 57. Kakonis is now 83 and has certainly had an eventful life. He served in the Army in Korea, before swinging a sledge on a railroad section crew and perhaps most useful of all for fiction writing, teaching inmates at Stateville Prison in Joliet, Illinois. Then there were the decades he spent as a struggling college professor, before he finally managed to break into the world of crime fiction.

Kakonis’ work has been out of print for many years, so crime fans are understandably excited that Brash Books is republishing the Kakonis oeuvre in its entirety—Michigan Roll, Criss Cross, Flawless, Blind Spot and perhaps most exciting of all, Treasure Coast a work that has been sitting on the shelf for years.

Comparable to the aforementioned Leonard, and with an added exuberance/kookiness reminiscent of Carl Hiaasen, Treasure Coast pulses with the kind of beaten down low-lifes that have made Kakonis’s work so special.

When waster Jim Merriman makes a death bead promise to look after his sisters twenty-one year-old son Leon, you just know there is going to be trouble and pretty soon there is—lots of trouble—as the hapless duo rampage their way along Florida’s Treasure Coast—loan sharking, thuggery, kidnapping—a mail order tombstone con and then there is the whacko psychic who channels the dead and a monster hurricane spinning closer with every passing second. Treasure Coast by Tom Kakonis, you just got to read it to believe it Crimeziners.

Crimezine The Galton Case.

Ross MacDonald The Galton Case

California Crime writing legend Ross Macdonald has frequently been compared to Chandler, Hammett, and James M. Cain. A darling of crime writers and readers of discernment, Macdonald’s prowess as a crime writer has been highly influential down the years.

But there are others who consider his work difficult, and rather intellectually superior for their tastes, preferring instead the work of others such as the similarly named John D. MacDonald. [Of Travis McGee fame]. The startling reputations of both writers are unassailable. But of all the Macdonald’s writing in the crime genre—Ross Macdonald can be unquestioningly called, The thinking mans crime writer.

The Galton Case is a densely plotted psychological detective mystery featuring Macdonald’s hardboiled private eye Lew Archer. Macdonald once said it was his favorite novel, the best he ever wrote. Which is certainly saying something as he wrote some of the most influential and highly readable detective fiction of the 1950s and 1960s, a time when detective fiction was big news.

Macdonald’s work is highly complex and yet startlingly concise. At just under 240 pages The Galton Case is a cunningly distilled masterpiece. Most modern novelists are pushed to devise such swirling and mysterious conspiracies at anything under 400 pages. The Galton Case also contains some startlingly beautiful language, that is far subtler than Chandler’s frontal assault to the senses; less brutally hardboiled than the work of Hammett, and more thoughtfully intellectual that the gritty nastiness of the Cain oeuvre.

—How intellectual, we hear you ask. Well, there is reference to Rimbaud’s theory of the violation of the senses; there are also many subtly pertinent allusions to Greek myths layered deeply inside the kind of murderously devious plot that will send your head spinning.

The Galton Case kicks off in the fictional California town of Santa Teresa, (A thinly disguised Santa Barbara) when the aging and incredibly wealthy Mrs. Galton hires Archer to find her long lost son. But, what seems at first like a staggeringly impossible missing-persons case quickly evolves into a murderous trail into the past, where everything we understand as real quickly melts away into the swirling mists of the Pacific. Deep delve into the mysterious past, discover beat poetry, gangsters, swindlers and strong-arm racketeers. Discover also, the depths of human frailty and a morally complex imbroglio of family life gone horribly and irrevocably awry.

Written in 1959 The Galton Case is charmingly old fashioned in many respects, but the wit and the intelligence of Ross Macdonald’s writing will remain for many long years to come. You too can be a part of it Crimeziners. Check out The Galton Case. Tell them Crimezine sent you..…/rossmacdonald-a-biography-by-tomnolan/


Kill the Messenger Film

Kill The Messenger the story of Gary Webb

Some stories are just too true to be told. At least this is what new movie Kill the Messenger tells us about investigative reporter Gary Webb.

But who is Gary Webb? We hear you ask. Simply put he is the man who blew the lid off the CIA plot to secretly fund the right-wing terrorist death squads in Nicaragua.

They did this, according to Webb, by importing billions of dollars of drugs and guns into inner city America, an act that was almost singularly responsible for the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980’s

Kill the Messenger is a cinematic re-telling of the Webb story on crack cocaine and the CIA. The movie follows Webb [Jeremy Renner] in his mission to break the story of the century, it also follows the subsequent implications of “the little man” coming up against the full might of the US governments covert policy in Central America.

Crimeziners who have not heard of Gary Webb, or his book Dark Alliance should immediately follow the link below as the story is not only an astounding piece of journalism it is also one of the bravest and perhaps foolish stands against the kind of “big government” that it is currently so fashionable to criticize.

As for the movie, well this is a grim little piece of cinema. Renner is marvelous throughout, but this is not a date night movie by any stretch of the imagination. Brief cameos by Ray Liotta and Michael Sheen and Andy Garcia sadly don’t help much.

If you are a fan of politics or current events you will no doubt be familiar with the train-wreck repercussions of US government policy in Central America. You  may also be aware that Webb’s story—although widely rubbished at the time by the CIA and their establishment media puppets—has become a matter of historical record—too late for Gary Webb unfortunately, after his journalistic career was ruined by the fallout from this sensational story he was found dead in 2004. Although he had been shot twice in the head, his death was ruled a suicide.



James Ellroy, Perfidia, Crimezine

James Ellroy: palaverous, pleonastic, perpetrator of Perfidia

Good evening peepers, prowlers, pederasts, panty-sniffers, punks and pimps. It is time to bark like a Demon Dog. James Ellroy, self-styled White Knight of the far right is back, with a perfidious new purveyance of faithlessness, treachery and betrayal. Perfidia is the fourteenth full-length Ellroy offering. A seven hundred page donkey choker of a novel set in the 23 days surrounding the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in 1941.

A prequel to The L.A. Quartet, that includes The Black Dahlia and LA. Confidential and the Underworld U.S.A. Trilogy of American Tabloid, The Cold Six Thousand and Blood’s a Rover. Ellroy threatens from the very outset that this will be the first in a new quartet, featuring a cast of crimetastic characters from his earlier bestsellers.

All the gang are here: Bucky “Tojo teeth” Bleichert, Lee Blanchard, Dudley Smith, Kay Lake. Mickey Cohen—on and on. According to the Dramatis Personae at the end of the book, there are at least 87 characters, and it seems like we meet a new one on every page. That’s right Crimeziners—Perfidia pops, purrs and pontificates as the benzedrine buzz of perverse pomposity and brass-knuckle beatings hit heavy from page one. Things get ugly fast. But you knew that would happen. This is Los Angeles, City of Angels, the hardboiled home of James Ellroy, and he rules baby.

Racist epithets bounce like bullets. Note the rampaging right wing revelry. Kough as the Kitchy Kreator Koos Konstantly about a Karnival of KKK Kooks. Thrill as he creates a swirling nexus of bad ju-ju. Observe as he ravages the reader with ribald repetition: J@P. J@P. J@P. J@P; CH¡NK. CH¡NK.CH¡NK. JEW, JEW, JEW, Short sentences shift, as his nomenclature of nastiness runs out of control. Jews we learn are Commies who started the Russian Revolution. They are cynically responsible for World War II. No doubt many suspected this. Seig-heils abound. Nazi uniforms abound. Preposterous far right posturing goose-steps across every page.

Item: Hideous Hari Kiri. Seppuku slashings. J@p murder most horrid.

Japanese criminologist Hideo Ashida plays a central role in Perfidia. As do very many homogenous white LAPD cops—every one of them savage booze-addled haters and bitter racist homophobes. “Queer” humor features heavily. African Americans do not. They are called C**NS, Jigab**s, Nigg@s. They live in “Darktown or the “Jigab** Jungle.”

Item: Benzedine. Opium. Benzedine. Opium. Benzedine. Opium Benzedine. Opium.

But this is just a bit of fun, right? Raping rectums with right wing rhetoric. It is not to be taken seriously, is it? Ellroy is after all the Dr. Seuss of gross abuse. When he heaps on the homo hate and the perverted panty peeping putrescence—It is just dear sweet uncle Jim isn’t it? The night stalker of crime noir. You would invite him over for a slumber party sleepover with your troop of teenaged girl scouts in a New York second wouldn’t you? Of course you would. Squeeeeeeeeee.

But what’s this? A perverted peep inside the diary of Kay Lake? A narrative noodling? A feminist faux pas? A cynical sop to the bull-dagger community?

No need to worry Crimeziners the leitmotif is lusty and lascivious. We get lots of lovely “lesbos” and Kute Kate schleps schlong plenty long[time] with every man she meets—and tells us everything. [Pant!]

Item: Terpin Hydrate. Benzedine. Terpin Hydrate. Benzedine.

But the sexy shenanigans don’t end there my round-heeled friends.

Slanderous salaciousness swims forth as Ellrovian characters rut with real-life screen divas: Joan Crawford features. Bette Davis features—on and on. This is not a work of love. It is a work of megalomaniacal obsession, bordering on insanity.

Item: Booze-addled room-spin. Pints of Whiskey and Mezcal. Terpin Hydrate. Benzedine. Opium. Chained-cigarettes on booze and bennies.

Staccato sentence structures twist taboos with verboten verbiage—ravaging the reader with ribald repetition. Boo-coo big-words and kanji characters come rápidamente. Hep-cat crime slang and cop-jargon are trowelled across every page. Bow down the malignant milieu of the monstrous mensch. Submit to the power of his poetical dialecticism. He is verbose, putrescent and marvelously malfeasant.

Blood gout, brass knuckle work, beaten bloody with a beaver-tail sap and lead-lined gloves—when willllllllll it ennnnd? More pages to go—lots of them—many of them in italics. Bombastic. Grandiloquent. Loquacious. Circumlocutional. A veritable bow-wow’s breakfast of tautological rambling. A palaverous and pleonastic police procedural to end all others. Do you dig it nowwwwww? Of course you do. You worship. You kow-tow. You indulge his every whim. Ellroy is the master. He rules over your every waking breath and commands your nightmares. He is the man—the god—the bestial second coming—and he conquers all.

Only another three novels to go Crimeziners, unless the white-coated men with butterfly nets capture the old goat first. But even then, you just know Ellroy will be there in the Los Angeles home for the criminally priapic, scratching out his DeSadeian prequels until the Faustian muse snatches him from us. James Ellroy the deranged and garrulous king of crime fiction long may he reign.


The Alberto Domínguez song Perfidia popularized by Xavier Cougat (1940) and Desi Arnaz plays throughout the novel. Dig the “flashback to Paris” scene in Casablanca—Perfidia plays again—and more recently in the Wong Kar-wai flick Days of Being Wild. Crimezine prefers the Julie London version.

Black-eyed Blonde

John Banville as Benjamin Black with the Black-eyed Blonde

Top of the morning to you Crimeziners. It is over sixty years since Raymond Chandler’s last great novel the Long Goodbye kicked out the stained glass windows of metaphorical bishop’s residencies everywhere. But now, just as you thought it was safe to go into the confessional, there is a new blonde in town.

The last hired gun to tackle a Chandler reboot was Robert B. Parker with Poodle Springs & Perchance to Dream. And now once again, those nice people at the Chandler estate are opening up the great mans casket to see if there is a dime or three they missed. As luck of the Irish would have it, the pennies on the corpses eyes are pure gold this time out.

As Crimezine has previously mentioned Benjamin Black is the mystery-writing pseudonym of award winning Irish novelist John Banville, a man whose elegantly crafted noir mysteries set in 1950’s Dublin feature a grouchy pathologist known only as Quirke.

Now, Banville cuts an elegant figure in a fedora, but can he cut it when it comes to emulating -one of the most idiosyncratic—and widely copied—authors of the 20th century? Banville certainly follows the Philip Marlowe formula closely, almost too closely on occasion. Then, there is the phenomena of Humphery Bogart to contend with; without question the actor casts a long shadow that over the idea of just who and what Philip Marlowe is, so we should perhaps not be surprised to discover on occasion that Banville is channeling Bogart rather than Chandler. There are perhaps some folks who would argue that is a good thing, because genius though Chandler was, he also had certain faults as a writer, for example, his love of convoluted adverbs, and his ad hoc often whiskey addled, plotting. Thankfully Banville manages to keep such excesses in check.

A popular perception has developed that Chandler’s style consists entirely of clever metaphors and music-hall witticisms. In fact, his language is often far more complex and Banville does an admirable job of emulating the many idiosyncrasies found in Chandler’s work. He keeps the repartee brisk and well timed. This is to be admired but it also draws the clearest distinction between the work of Banville and Chandler as the great Raymondo was never shy of excess—in all its forms.

Hardcore Chandler fans will no doubt have a number of grumbles with this book, but given the quality of the novel as a whole, such complaints can be “walked off” as quickly as Marlowe tackles a crack on the noggin from a boulevard tough guy. Similarly, linguistic aficionados may spot a number of stylistic clangers but these niggle rather than annoy. Historical pedants will likewise find themselves computing the veracity of certain details. But the 1950s, that was a long time ago right?

Then of course there are the Angelenos. It is not clear if Banville has ever been to Los Angeles. He hired native help to “fill in the details”, but cold hard facts are never enough to compensate for the lyrical intensity of a city as complex and enigmatic as The City of Angels; chapter 13 of Chandler’s book Little Sister is a case in point. It is here that Chandler goes off into one of his famous digressions about the city he loved so much; The writing is so good, it made some dude called Michael Connelly want to be a writer—many others too no doubt.

But what of the Black-eyed Blonde, we hear you ask. Well, the trouble starts when hot strutting heiress Clare Cavendish hires Marlowe to hunt down her extra marital man-squeeze Nico Peterson. Unfortunately it transpires that Peterson has gotten dead in a street corner accident but whadya know—young Nico might not be as dead as we think. Marlowe says to the gorgeous young heiress, “As a private eye I’m not completely unknown, but why would a daughter of Dorothea Langrishe of Ocean Heights… choose me to find her missing man?” Why indeed Crimeziners, but we quickly find that this missing persons case leads to murder, betrayal, and the kind of corruption that the Bay City bretheran are only too familiar. Naturally, the wonderful Bernie Ohls makes an appearance, as do a gruesome collection of pugnacious toughs and feckless toffs. Naturally the crumpled and tenacious Marlowe runs rings around all of them with his usual brand of hardboiled wit and double-distilled deduction.

No doubt this book will draw new readers to the Chandler oeuvre, which is no doubt the intention behind this charming time-slip into the world of Philip Marlow. Hurrah to that we say. Start with The Little Sister, The Long Goodbye, and The Big Sleep, also try the short stories Chandler wrote for Pulp magazines like Black Mask—you can get them in collections now, such as the excellent Trouble is my Business. But first, you might want to dip your carefully manicured tootsie in to the brackish waters of nouveau noir from Dublin Ireland—buy The Black-eyed Blonde by Benjamin Black.

We leave you—as it is St Paddy’s day, with a Blackism worthy of Chandler himself. “I can’t decide which are worse, bars that pretend to be Irish, with their plastic shamrocks and shillelaghs, or Cockneyfied joints like the Bull. I could describe it, but I haven’t the heart.”

Crimezine Lee Child

Child (left) & “Dyson” one and the same person?

They are both called Jim, they are both British and they are both best sellers the world over, just a little bit too much of a coincidence Crimeziners? We think so.

Surely no coincidence either that Jim “Dyson” as he likes to call himself, has just brought out a new Cyclone Super Reacher. Obviously this is a blatant reference to Jack Reacher hero of nineteen crimetastic mystery novels penned under Dyson’s pseudonym Lee Child. Bestselling writer Child is no stranger to pseudonyms of course, born plain old Jim Grant in Coventry England, he figured that if he had a nice Ch-sounding name his crime thrillers would fit very nicely alongside the works of Raymond Chandler and Agatha Christie in the book store. Smooth work Jim.

Of course when Child isn’t penning bestselling fiction, he is dreaming up crazy-assed inventions to inflict on the great American public. The Ball Barrow, the Airblade hand dryer, and the bagless big-bucks vacuum cleaner have all been invented by Child. And in 2013 he received a CWA Diamond Dagger award for his outstanding contribution to the world of household appliances.

Child’s new Jack Reacher book, Twenty Seconds Ago is out soon, And if you see Child/Dyson at a bookstore signing, tell him the blades have already fallen out of Crimezine’s brand new Air Multiplier fan.

Raymond Chandler is an almost sacred figure to Crimeziners everywhere. But many have not read his final works, Playback and

Playback Raymond Chandler

Playback—started life as a screenplay

Poodle Springs. ‘Disappointing’ is a word commonly used when these books are reviewed. But given a little historical context both books make fascinating reading.

Chandler’s first professional work, “Blackmailers Don’t Shoot”, was published in Black Mask magazine in 1933 he was 45. His first novel The Big Sleep was published in 1939. By 1943, Chandler began working for Paramount, consorting over the next years, with both Billy Wilder and Alfred Hitchcock. In 1946 the same year that Humphrey Bogart starred as Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep, Chandler moved away from Los Angeles to La Jolla, California, [pronounced Lahoyer] It is there that he wrote his final works.

The genesis for Playback & Poodle Springs starts with Chandler’s 1953 novel The Long Goodbye, for it is here Marlowe meets feisty sexpot Linda Loring, daughter of irascible moneybags Harlan Potter. Chandler considered [Edgar Award winning] The Long Goodbye, his best book. He wrote it whilst his wife Cissy was terminally ill. In 1954 Cissy, aged 84 [who was 18 years older than Chandler] died of fibrosis of the lungs—A tragic personal milestone that marked a dramatic decline in Chandler’s creative prowess.

Chandler was 70 when Playback, a story of murder, blackmail and revenge was published in 1958. The book started life as an original screenplay written for Universal some 10 years earlier. Chandler famously cannibalized many of his novels from short stories he wrote for Black Mask and other pulp magazines. But Playback was never a classic pulp story, which is perhaps why it failed to make it onto the big screen. Stylistically, Playback differs widely from Chandler’s other novels, the language is blander and less ambitious and the location—the fictional coastal town of Esmeralda [A thinly disguised La Jolla] is a very long way from the dirty boulevards of downtown L.A.

During the 30’s and 40’s, when Chandler wrote his classic works, America’s twin obsessions were the glamour of Hollywood and the demonic underside of that dream—the world of gangsters and organized crime. It is no accident that Philip Marlowe the fast-talking, hard-drinking private eye from Hollywood Boulevard epitomized the spirit of the age.

By contrast Playback has a curiously old fashioned—even Victorian edge to it.[Born in 1888, Chandler was a Victorian] In a country that had just been through two world wars, the Korean war and such horrific abuses as the MK ultra LSD experiments. The central premise of Playback seems oddly quaint. Would a man really pursue someone “to the ends of the earth” to seek revenge? Perhaps they would, but the way it is served up here it vibes like a handlebar moustaches at dawn dueling match, with a less than climactic third act.

In his early books Chandler clearly identifies with, and channels his wry humor through Marlowe. But, in the Long Goodbye—there is a curious divergence. In a personal and literary crossroads, three characters now emerge. Marlowe observes two variants of Chandler’s personality—Drunken author Roger Wade, a writer on the ropes and war scarred alcoholic Terry Lennox, a man who like Chandler had lived much of his life on the edge and spent a good deal of time in England. Perhaps, like Dickens Chandler was examining the ghosts of the past—Lennox, Present—Marlowe and future—Wade?

Unfortunately for Chandler, the prophecy of doom came true. Whilst he was writing The Long Goodbye his wife died and he finally became the kind of breaks-off alcoholic he long feared he would become. With age, booze and ill-health creeping up on him. Chandler must, in a similar way to his character Roger Wade, have sensed that his creativity was in steep decline.

In his booze addled desperation to regain creative inspiration, it must have been tempting for Chandler to imagine that he could shoot a jolt of life into the flat-lining screenplay for Playback, by turning it into a novel. He was quite wrong however. Whilst it must have seemed natural to use the story-arc skills he picked up in Hollywood and send Marlowe to a quiet little coastal town where “a dog could lay down in the road to sleep” This was most emphatically not what readers wanted. They wanted fast talking Hollywood gangsters and whiskey-soaked histrionics. Perhaps Chandler feared a descent into self-parody? Perhaps he believed readers would understand the personal transition he had made from the Hollywood fast lane, to the quiet suburbs of La Jolla?

Sadly, if Chandler still imagined himself as Marlowe, the public didn’t. Ever since The Big Sleep in 1946, the name and image of Humphrey Bogart was now synonymous with Phillip Marlowe.

Meanwhile, writers like Ross MacDonald had moved into Chandler’s territory and bloodthirsty pulp sensationalist Mickey Spillane had distilled the hardboiled genre, transforming it into a money-spinning formula for the modern age.

Raymond Chandler died in 1959, leaving behind four rather insipid chapters of a book he named Poodle Springs. In 1988—the hundred-year anniversary of Chandler’s birth, the Chandler estate hired American crime writing legend Robert B. Parker to complete the book. In the last chapter of Playback feisty little rich girl Linda Loring rings from Paris to propose marriage to Marlowe, a narrative anomaly that gongs louder than the untimely plunge of Sherlock Holmes over the Reichenbach Falls.


Robert B. Parker—We thought it was Poodle Springs Bob? Not Corgi sits.

The snidely titled Poodle Springs—a reference to the wealthy and pampered desert town of Palm Springs, where many Angeleno’s choose to retire, starts with Marlowe and Loring setting up home. The first chapters, exclusively written by Chandler, are entirely devoid of the wit and drama we expect. Worse, the ‘marital bliss’ of the Marlowe household seems unnatural and phony, leaving our hero gasping like the proverbial fish out of water.

Luckily,  Parker, who devoted part of his doctoral dissertation to the study of Chandler, leaps into the drivers seat after chapter four and begins ripping through the narrative gears.

Marlowe is quickly hired to find a gambler who skipped town, leaving a $100,000 debt. Marlowe finds the man’s rich, neglected wife, and is quickly back in Los Angeles where he discovers the missing gambler has a history as a seedy photographer and blackmailer. The labyrinthine plot is typically Chandleresque in construction, containing a heady mix of blackmail, betrayal and murderous intrigue. There is even an ingenious double identity plot sewn lovingly into the story line, which must surely be a jocular tip of the hat to Chandler’s involvement in the legendary screenplay for Double Indemnity.

It is a testament to Parker’s skill as a writer that he transformed the unpromising start of Poodle Springs into a novel of such stature. Fans of Parker’s Spenser series will be perhaps less surprised, as Spenser is unquestionably cut from the same cloth as Marlowe. Parker is a man who knows plot. He also did an admirable job inserting the kind of one-liners of which Chandler would be proud. But to the discerning reader, Parker’s work lacks the lyricism of the original. Chandler was so much more than a gag-man. He worked his audience like a music hall comedian, juxtaposing tragedy and pathos with complex sentence and paragraph structures—such as tricolon, laundry-list payoff gags and acerbic one-liners. He was also the master of the philosophical digression and he knew how to mix this formula up in a way that many have imitated, but few [including Parker] have succeeded in replicating.

So there we have it Crimeziners, Playback is strictly for completists only and Poodle Springs is an admirable effort that falls short on style and the noir milieu of the original Marlowe stories. And if we learn anything we must remember, “Guns never settle anything they are just a fast curtain to a bad second act.” And whilst we insist that all Crimeziners [unlike Chandler] drink responsibly, we remind you also that, “A real gimlet is half gin and half Rose’s Lime Juice and nothing else. It beats martinis hollow.”

In 1991 Robert B. Parker followed up Poodle Springs with a sequel to The Big Sleep, which went by the grandly Shakespearean title, “Perchance to Dream”.


Cocaine glamorous, surely not?

Martin Scorsese has done cocaine before. He did it in the crimetastic 1990 masterpiece Goodfellas based Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi, a book loosely based on the life and crimes of Lucchese crime family foot soldier Henry Hill.

Now, the diminutive Director is doing it again, this time in The Wolf of Wall Street a film based on the life and crimes of rogue stockbroker and professional asshole Jordon Belfort. This is no mean achievement, as Belfort’s book on which the film is based, is as cretinous and self-serving slice of drivel you are ever likely to read. Heavy larded with profanity, this semi-literate litany of stupidity is an A-Z glorification of vice and depravity in all its forms. “Oh goody” we hear you cry, Vice and depravity are the cornerstones of any successful weekend. But wait, there is more. This story, offers a distasteful glamorization of drugs and greed and demonstrates an understanding of the needs of women that falls somewhere between a gangster rapper and a priapic teenager.

But stop— We also get amusing anecdotes, smashed cars and helicopters, a sunken super yacht and more drug addled shenanigans than a night out with Ozzy Osbourne. And that means cocaine—lots of cocaine, in every scene, on every available surface, up every available nose and orifice and it is fun, fun, fun—at least that is what The Wolf of Wall Street would have us believe. Forget the swindled seniors, forget the monetary malfeasance and the spiral of personal tragedy—because glamorous Leonardo DiCaprio [Wolfie] and Jonah Hill, [as loudmouthed sidekick Donnie Azoff,] are the Laurel and Hardy of drugs & debauchery. What harm can come from such sleazy cinematic nonsense?

According to the United Nations, the global cocaine trade generates $92 billion per year, $20 billion more than the combined revenues of Microsoft, Kellogg’s and McDonald’s. The cocaine trade has destabilized national economies throughout Southern and Central America, causing a crisis of corruption at every level of government and law enforcement. The drug is largely responsible for the epidemic growth of Narco-trafficking and the emergence of the new breed of ruthless of super cartels who have murdered tens of thousands of people in order to ply their trade. In Mexico alone, there have been 47,515 Narco murders during the past two years.

For most cocaine users, Mexico and the Narco nations of South America seem very far removed from a weekend tootski. Forget about the decapitated bodies, the machine-gunned innocents and the Narco malaise that infects every level of economic, judicial, and governmental life. It’s just a little something for the weekend right? What harm can it do?

Cocaine permanently damages the heart, the brain, the lungs and the gastrointestinal tract; it can cause heart attack, stroke, intestinal ulcers, kidney failure and permanent sexual dysfunction. Habitual use leads to delusions, hallucinations & paranoia. Cocaine changes not only the chemistry of the brain but its actual physical structure, reordering normal priorities such as the need to eat, sleep, procreate and survive. The drug subjugates these needs, creating only one overriding priority—the need for more cocaine.

Of course naughty Jordon Belfort gets his comeuppance in The Wolf of Wall Street, after many long years stealing from the gullible and foolish and spending his ill-gotten gains on a heady mixture of drugs, hookers and luxury living, he gets a slap on the wrist prison sentence of three years, at what appears to be some kind of health spa/tennis club—if Martin Scorsese’s movie is to be believed.

Meanwhile, that other Scorsese stoner Henry Hill star of Goodfellas became a government fink, went straight and joined the witness protection program, living life out in the suburbs, to the soundtrack of Sid Vicious’ My Way. Right?

Not really. Hill got kicked off program due to his continued criminal activity and addiction to cocaine and other drugs. By his own admission, Hill was not only dealing cocaine during the Goodfellas period, but heroin too. No doubt that fact was missed out of the screenplay, as heroin—it’s not that sexy, is it Crimeziners?

Crimezine, Tony Bulmer

Welcome to Club Fed Mr. Wolf

Meanwhile, 50% of the US prison population is drug related. Almost 800,000 people incarcerated due to drug use, that is a $40billon cost to the US taxpayer last year alone, and the problem is increasing exponentially. Add the fact that Mexican cartels who murder an average of 50 people a day—every day, are importing 90% of cocaine into the United States and that little tootski at the weekend doesn’t seem like such good value does it?

As cocaine use is virtually unheard of in Hollyweird, Crimezine is certain that Mr. Scorsese and his lawyers have never “done” cocaine themselves. If however you are looking for a “good hit” this weekend, we would encourage you to see Scorsese’s new movie The Wolf of Wall Street. Consider it a cautionary tale.

Die Hard, Nothing Lasts for ever, Crimezine

Roderick Thorp, Nothing Lasts For Ever

Yuletastic Crimbletide greetings Crimeziners. Here at Crimezine HQ on the world famous Mulholland Drive, we often find there is no better way to kick off the Christmas holidays than with a good old-fashioned hostage situation.

We therefore invite you to don your soiled wife-beater singlet and join us at Klaxon Oil’s Christmas Party at the very top of their 40 story HQ in snowbound, reindeer-infested Los Angeles California, for a meeting with retired fighter pilot and NYPD Detective Jo Leland—or John McLane/Bruce Willis, as you might more readily know him.

Die Hard the movie, is based on the 1979 novel Nothing Lasts Forever by pulp novelist Roderick Thorp. It is the sexy sequel to Thorp’s earlier bestselling novel The Detective. Rat Pack aficionados will no doubt be aware that Sam Giancana associate and some time cabaret singer Frank Sinatra starred in a lukewarm movie of the same name. What you may not know is that 20th Century Fox were contractually obligated to offer the superannuated crooner the role in Die Hard—[Sinatra was 73 at the time] unsurprisingly Frank passed on the kind offer and the role was dangled before Arnold Schwarzenegger, who also turned it down, as did every other action star of the day, from Sly Stallone to er-herm Don Johnson. Bet Donnie is kicking himself now—eh, Crimeziners?

Roderick Thorp thought up the idea for Nothing Lasts Forever after seeing the hit movie Towering Inferno—after watching the movie he had nightmares of being chased through a burning building by men with guns and thus a masterpiece of crime fiction was conceived.

The book relates the story of former Detective Leland, who is visiting his daughter at Klaxon Oil’s Christmas gathering, when a ruthless band of Kraut terrorists move in with their Stalag 13 accents and a list of demands, which include exposing Klaxon’s corrupt dealings with a nasty government in Chile. They also think it will be a cool idea to dump $6,000,000 in cash out of the towers windows. Vive la Revolution.

Course it turns out that Leland has history with gang leader Gruber that dates back to WWII, so we just know things are going to end badly. Add to this a rich, pulpish undertow of alcoholism, guilt and the twisted psychology of the human mind and you have a Christmas read that will have Granny pounding the sweet Sherry until well into the New Year.

As for the movie, you have seen it a bazillion times already, but once more never hurts. Filmed for the most part at 20th Century Fox’s HQ in Century City, Los Angeles, the building was still under construction during filming, hence the building equipment scenes. The city backdrop was provided by a 380 foot background painting, complete with fully functioning lights, a prop that tight-wads FOX have used on many movies since. The helicopter scene took six months of preparation, but the production was given only two hours above Fox Plaza in which to film it. It took three attempts to get the shots and nine camera crews. And if you were wondering why Alan Rickman looks so surprised when he takes a plunge off the building, it is because naughty John McTiernan tossed the hapless thesp’ off the building without warning. Apparently the RADA trained limey was “boiling with anger” Bet the Royal Shakespeare Company never treated him with such a cavalier attitude. Still Rickman can no doubt take solace in the fact that McTiernan changed the films original three-night time line to one, after watching Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Nights Dream.

Merry Christmas Crimeziners Hope Santa visits you with his bulging sack.