Posts Tagged ‘Crime Fiction’

Crimezine-Empowering Seniors

Hetty NCIS

Behold: the Crime writers demographic personified

Crimezines Compadres at the London based Crimewriters Association. Have been checking you out Crimeziners. And their research is showing them that you are a woman sixty–plus, with no children living at home. News to us too, but bear with us.

The research carried out on behalf of the CWA by Bowker market research, focused exclusively on the English market for Crime fiction. No research was carried out in much larger American Market, an oversight maybe, but the research has clear implications for crime writers everywhere.

The CWA found that Crime fiction showed a year-on-year increase from 2010 to 2011 with £112.9m spent on books and 75% of that on paperbacks. The criteria which most prompts readers to buy a book is having read the author before (48%), while  25% decide whilst browsing. One imagines the other 27 percent wandered home for a warm milky drink, but couldn’t remember where they lived.

70% cent of crime books are bought by people over the age of 45. Which is no surprise to Crimezine, as large thumbed youngsters are often too busy twitterbooking to involve themselves with traditional media, and most  novels break the 140 character twitterbook limit by a considerable margin.

41% of the overall crime readership work full-time and 28% are retired buyers. Which leaves an astonishing 31% of the population who need to either smarten their ideas up, or get working on that new crime novel.

In addition the research showed that 60% of the burgeoning ebook crime market is made up of women buyers.

So there you go Crimeziners, if you want to be a best selling Crimewriter, you ignore the silver-haired oldsters at your peril. Especially if they are sixty plus women with an e-book

The CWA  will be awarding Crime legend Fredrick Forsythe the CWA Diamond Dagger on July 5th for a life time of good chapdom. Crimezine congratulates.

Wild One Tribute

Crimezine Loves The Wild One

John Grisham Baseball

Home run, or home help?

Crimezine chum the Judge, is a Southern gentleman amongst Southern Gentlemen, and big noise in the Texas legal scene. Some years ago, he made the acquaintance of a squitty young lawyer moonlighting as a writer. The aforementioned Lawyer hawked copies of his premier effort Time to Kill to everyone he met, the Judge included. The young squit had to—he had a garage full of the self published tomes—so many, he eventually had to toss them in a dumpster so he could park his car.

And so a dream would have ended. The young squit however was John Grisham and his next book the Firm became a publishing legend. The kind of book that big five publishers still discuss in revered tones over brunch at fashionable eateries from Manhattan NYC to Soho London.

Being a small town dreamer Grisham never really wanted to be a lawyer, hell no. Never wanted to be a writer either. Tell the truth, what he really wanted to be was a ball player. Oh dear. Harken to the sound of silver spoons dropping from the gaping gobs of literary yahoos in brasseries everywhere.

Time to meet Calico Joe Readers—a surprising and moving novel of fathers and sons, forgiveness and redemption, set in the world of Major League Baseball…

Zzzzzzzzz—Really? Now Crimezine loves the tactics of major league baseball particularly the tactics of gorging on smuggled whiskey and overpriced hotdogs, but Johnny Grisham writing an actual book on the noble game? YG2BFK we believe is the phrase.

John Grisham

Major League?

Witness the pinch-faced discomfort of Grishers as he poses rigidly in front of an unrealistic Baseball diamond, burning with the painful knowledge that he could never have the talent to swing that bat in anger. Chortle.

As for Calico Joe, Crimezine suspects the resulting train-wreck will lead to a Moneyball meets chick-flick weepie that will have Crimeziners barfing in their cornflakes.

Stick to what you know Grishers, publishers and the reading public everywhere will thank you for it.

As for the Judge, he commented wryly that Grishers, ‘made a much better writer than he did a lawyer’, but he lost touch with the young squit after Grishers fled town. He woke up famous one day, found Japanese tourists getting married on his lawn,’ said the Judge. Fame is a cruel, cruel mistress.

Crimezine Raylan


Elmore Leonard is eighty-six years old, you would think by this stage of his writing career he wouldn’t much care  what people thought of his work. A thought that may have occurred to many Crimeziners, who read Leonard’s last off-the-boil novel Djbouti, a tale of modern day African piracy, that had Crimezine snoozing.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, America’s greatest living crime writer is back on form this year, with Raylan. A tale involving US Marshal Raylan Givens, a character first introduced to us in the classic early nineties Leonard novels, Pronto and Riding the Rap.

Crimeziners will no doubt remember that the last Raylan Givens story was the 2001 novella Fire in the Hole, which inspired the cult FX television show Justified. Apparently Leonard found fresh inspiration in the show and felt compelled to advance the Raylan milieu himself.

Which is terribly nice of him.

Crimezine understands that Graham Yost, Producer of Justified, forces writers of the series are to wear WWED bracelets [What Would Elmore do?] Crimezine suspects Octogenarian Leonard would these days enjoy a warm milky drink, mid-afternoon followed by a long nap. Crimezine hopes Mr Yost is enforcing this edict rigorously.

Justified has in many ways subsumed the world of Raylan Givens, to such an extent that when Leonard’s narrative diverges from the structure the show has created, the reader is distracted. Which is unfortunate, but perhaps understandable, given that Television’s narrative demands are often different to those of crime writers, such as Mr Leonard.

Raylan the book is classic Leonard, in terms of its laconic plot driven dialogue. It is also episodic. We get lame brained stoners the Crowe brothers, who have decided to branch out into the lucrative world of human organ theft: stealing human kidney’s, then selling them back to the owner—genius. We also get fugitive Poker ace Jackie Nevada and a trio of bank robbing strippers. Last but no means least there are dark doings afoot at the local coal company. These nefarious shenanigans make for a glorious and good humored crime romp, in classic Leonard style and Crimezine looks forward to the antics outlined here appearing in the TV show, for no doubt they will.

Crimeziners may know that Elmore Leonard was an acclaimed writer of Westerns for years, he turned to crime writing when the market for Westerns dried up. Crimezine suspects that quick-draw Ralyan, played to great effect in Justified by Timothy Olyphant provides a trip down memory lane for Mr Leonard. Perhaps that is why he is returning to this character so late in his career? Crimezine wishes him luck and many more years of successful writing too.

Crimezine-Jo Nesbo

The Leopard: Grusome

Here comes The Leopard, by hot shot flavor of the month—the Nebuchadnezzar of Nordic Noir, Jo Nesbø.

Now Mr Nesbø, is the author of the serial killer schlocker The Snowman, which is not exactly Crimezines cup of fijord flavored hot-fondue. But legendary filmmaker Martin Score-sleazy is in disagreement, and he has decided to make The Snowman into a movie [As Exclusively reported in Crimezine] Well, hurrah to that! We are sure Marty will tune up the story considerably.

Crimezine has been impressed by previous Nesbø efforts, The Devils Star and The Red Breast and we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend these tales to Crimeziners everywhere.

Why then should The Leopard be any different? We hear you ask. Well— fans of films such as The Saw, Final Destination and the charming Hostel series, will no doubt love this book.

But for others, this bloated shock fest of serial killer torture and mindless splatter core pukiness will have you chocking into a barf-bag after page four, and this gory-borey tome is five hundred —count ’em—pages long.

No doubt you will hear marketeers try and convince you that Jo Nesbø is the new Stieg, Girl With a Dragon Tattoo Larson. This is not true. He is Thomas Harris with a chainsaw and a tool-kit full of sharpened screwdrivers.

So what of the story? Well, Harry Hole has made an opium-smoking sojourn to Hong Kong, after his gruesome encounter with The Snowman, only to be persuaded back to Norway by the piranha toothed Kaja, who tells him his father is dying. What follows is a web of inane chat, dumb gags and half-baked memories, from touchy feely childhoods, that it’s hard to give a damn about.

Layered throughout this, we get a collection of gruesome torture killings seemingly related to a meeting at a ski-lodge. Confusion reigns. The plot is by turn nonsensical, then preposterous, and just when you think respite is heading your way, Harry heads to the Congo, where further scenes of carnage ensue: rape, gore, genocide, mutilation. But all is not lost Crimeziners. Heroic Harry Hole rushes to the rescue, saving the innocents who are the subject of his mission of mercy from death in a fiery Volcano. We kid you not. We hoped Tarzan would swing in to cheer things up. Unfortunately he never did.

Jo Nesbø can do much better than this, his public expects it and so does Crimezine.


Crimezine-watch me die

Lee Goldberg: Watch Me Die

Lee Goldberg has been compared to Elmore Leonard. That is a big compliment to live up to for any writer. Problem for young Lee is he has trouble being Karl Hiaasen and that is on a good day.

Don’t get us wrong Crimeziners, we like his latest book Watch Me Die, we even liked his last book My Gun Has Bullets, even after Goldberg promised us that it would make us cackle like a TV laugh track—that good eh?

Young Lee has written a bazillion books it would seem, Crimezine wonders how he finds the time, especially as he is so deeply involved writing scripts for bottom of the barrel TV shows such as Seaquest, Martial Law and Baywatch [They have scripts?] a genre he calls T&A. [Chortle]. In his bio Goldberg also refers to a show he has written called Highwayman, which he lovingly refers to as utter crap.

Still, back to the task in hand. Watch Me Die is an unusual book, it concerns the adventures of a fictionally obsessed Security Guard, Harvey Mapes, who is tasked with following the beautiful wife of one of the residents who lives in the Spanish Hill community which he guards.

Mapes may have aspirations to be a Private Detective, like the fictional hero’s he idolizes, but he doesn’t quite have the skills required for the job. He is certainly no tough guy and in one confrontation gets beaten so badly he cries and wets himself. Oh dear.

While there are many jokes and allusions to the likes of Travis McGee, Shaft, and Jim Rockford to be found in this book, it is a quirk that can be annoying, rather than entertaining. The story does have redeeming features however, namely Mapes’ determination to tenaciously solve the mystery behind the death of his clients wife, when she inexplicably leaps from a bridge.

Humor is deeply subjective , it may be that you are a Goldberg veteran, if so you will no doubt reward yourself with the hardback $26 version of this book, complete with it’s eye wateringly repellant cover. If however you want to dip your toe in the waters of Goldberg’s comedic oeuvre, you would be well advised to try the kindle version, which retails at an altogether more reasonable $3.77.

According to Lee Goldberg, he:  lives in Los Angeles and still sleeps in “Man From UNCLE” pajamas. Hilarious.


Hollywood Crows Joseph Wambaugh

Hard to believe Joseph Wambaugh was ever a cop, he is slight, quietly spoken and youthful for his seventy-five years. When he speaks of getting liquored up for the Johnny Carson show back in the seventies there is the distinct glow of mischief in his eyes. This streak of devilry comes through in his writing too, and his book Hollywood Crows is no exception.

Joe Wambugh was always a maverick, even as a Hollywood police sergeant, back in the days when a crack in the kidneys with a nightstick was a panacea for miscreants who wanted to get smart with the LAPD. From reading his writing, one can certainly picture old school Wambaugh, his breath hot with whiskey, administering swift justice to street corner stoners without any sense of irony.

The bureaucratic Federal Consent Decree that followed the Rodney King beating, the LA Riots and the Rampart scandal, spoilt things for ever for the LAPD’s style of maverick justice and free thinking ‘initiative’. Wambaugh views the decree with outrage and incredulity. He looks back nostalgically to the days of yore with petulant fondness.

Welcome to the world of the Hollywood Crows (CROS-geddit?)—LAPD’s community relations office, the liaisons who take the weight off real cops, by dealing with parking disputes and the myriad picayune community based niggles that would other wise swamp the departments crime fighting elite.

Hollywood Crows is the sequel to Hollywood Station. Many of the characters are the same: Hollywood Nate Weiss, the Surfer Cops, Flotsam and Jetsam and Bix Ramstead. The style is very familiar too, dark comedy, endless squad room anecdotes with wise guy pay-offs. Wambaugh is a master of this kind of writing. The dark humor may intrude in the verisimilitude of his tales, but so what, Wambaugh is an entertainer now, not a duty sergeant.

There are gripes with this story however, the crack-head stoner is very similar to the central character in the first book, as is the seedy nightclub proprietor who hires him to break into his ex wife’s house. Murder is of course the crime at the bottom of these ugly shenanigans and the convoluted way in which it is executed never truly satisfies, but the quality of Wambaugh’s writing is so deliciously engaging it almost doesn’t matter.

Crimezine is a big fan of Wambaugh, he has the Hollywood milieu nailed. Mulholland Drive Community liaison, Sergeant Lex Polański agrees: That Wambaugh is a son of a bitch he opines. I arrest anyone these days I got to fill more paperwork than a dime store detective novelist god damn it. Crimezine agrees, the esteemed world of crime fighting is not what it used to be, we did find it somewhat unsettling however that Sergeant Polański was looking towards the Crais residence when he made this somewhat acerbic comment. Cops.


crimezine Marihuana

Marihuana! Beware cheap and evil girls!

Bill Irish the dope peddling fiend! Greetings Crimeziners, all you noir lovers out there no doubt know that the highly strung Bill Irish was a pseudonym for hardboiled hero Cornell Woolrich. Perhaps the great man used the cheesy  nom de plume, to throw his dope dealer of the scent [pun intended] and thus avoid castigation amongst his reefer toking compadres as a witless hack and Fed suckling money whore?

Still, the 1940’s were a time when it was suggested, in fearful tones on the floor of the house of congress that ‘Reefer’ could cause normal, god fearing, white people to fall under the influence of Jazz Music. Heaven forfend. A nit-wit notion that was added to in the following decade by fear mongering US commissioner of narcotics Harry Anslinger [veteran of Volstead prohibition] who said marihuana was as dangerous as a coiled rattlesnake. Attitudes of Anslinger and his axe grinding right-wing cohorts did much to alarm and misinform a public who was largely ignorant of the Marihuana ‘Menace.’

Woolrich’s overblown and wildly inaccurate book provides much amusement  in stoner circles these days, as does the famous Anslinger hate tract Assassins of Youth and the 1937 exploitation film by Elmer Clifton of the same name, that followed it. Crimeziners who are in the mood for a double feature chuckle should also seek out the equally ludicrous 1936 film Reefer MadnessWomen cry for it-men die for it, squeals the lurid poster. Today the even sadder truth is revealed at last: Marihuana is a gateway drug to a life of Domino’s Pizza and X-box. Like, wow man—that’s way awesome!

Proud owners of an original Woolrich paperback as pictured, can expect it  to fetch an astonishing $100— you can buy a lot of pot with that Crimeziners but beware, you will be listening to Coltrane  and The Miles Davis quintet before you realize what is happening.

John le Carré  Writer

John le Carré

English writer John le Carré was born David John Moore. After an international education, at Lincoln College Oxford and The Shelborne School, in Berne Switzerland, where he studied German literature, le Carré became a schoolteacher, at posh English school Eton, before joining the British Foreign Service.

From 1959 to 1964 le Carré worked at the British Embassy in Bonn Germany and as Political Consul in Hamburg Germany. It is here, if we are to believe the hype, that le Carré became a spy for British Intelligence at the very height of the Cold War spying era.

It is this much vaunted experience, that gives le Carré’s work it’s authenticity. There is one problem however. le Carré denies he was ever a spy. He calls his works fabulations. He says he despises himself as a ‘fake guru’ and says that his writing is the ‘stuff off dreams not reality.’

le Carré’s pops was a confidence trickster, an associate of notorious London Gangsters the Kray Twins. Moore senior spent time in Jail. It is conceivable that the man called Dave is telling the truth regarding his spying career, or he might be engaged in an elaborate confidence trick of his own. When you are dealing with an author who has spent decades writing about deep-cover bluff and double bluff, you can never be sure what is truly real. It is no surprise then that le Carré the writer remains as enigmatic as his deeply plotted fiction.

The reader will always consider le Carré’s denials a cover story however. If he was a cold war super spy he would deny it, wouldn’t he? Wouldn’t he also hide away on a rural Cornish cliff top, eschewing media attention? Such is the life of the man called Dave.

But is le Carré a crime writer? Although he writes principally about the world of spies, his descriptions of political intrigue, moral turpitude, and criminality are linked in such baffling webs of complexity and ambiguity, it is often impossible to decide who is right and who is wrong, in the traditional sense of crime writing. le Carré is therefore the master of a genre he himself created.

The Crime Writers Association awarded le Carré their Diamond Dagger award in 1988, so clearly they consider Dave to be a crime writer, though Crimezine would suggest that le Carré might more accurately be described as a mystery writer and a damn good one at that.

So why John le Carré? Dave started writing in 1961. He was still working for the British Secret Service when his first books A Murder of Quality and The Spy Who Came in from the Cold were published. The pseudonym, literally John in the square in French, was a required condition of his continued service.

Reportedly Dave left the service when he and many other agents had their cover blown to the KGB, by British traitor Kim Philby. To date le Carré has written 22 novels, the majority are complex spy stories, but others such as 1993’s excellent Night Manager are not and no matter what Dave would have us believe, the man is a genuine legend.