Posts Tagged ‘Crime writing’

Ah! Thank goodness you are here Crimeziners! There has been a veritable crimewave frenzy on Mulholland Drive this week! First, there was the now infamous lawn sprinkler incident over at Postman Always Rings Twice star, Jack Nicholson’s residence. Crimezine was not party to the inciting incident—but, according to local dogwalker/Cesar Milan look-a-likkeeee and Edgar Award-winning Crime poobah, Bonzo Bob Crais, it all started with an innocent delivery—

Unfortunately, delivering to the Nicholson residence is fraught with danger at the best of times. The Prizzi’s Honor star is well known locally for his large collection of military paraphernalia and armored vehicles—an obsession which has lead to several run-ins with real-estate leafleteers, xmas carolers, and the portly, super-annuated members of the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.

Crimezine, I am Death, Chris Carter

I am Death: The latest splatter platter from Crime Kingpin Chris Carter

According to Bonzo Bob, things kicked off big time when the parcel delivery dude got spritzed in the crotch area by an ill-timed burst of the Acadamy Award winning thesps rain-bird super soakers. Natch, the Missouri Breaks star rushed out directly, and the ensuing altercation resulted in the hapless delivery dude being Medivaced to a Cedar’s Sinai Proctologist, so that he might have several airmail packages and a full set of Augusta National match-play golf clubs removed from his alimentary canal.

Thoroughly shocking, we are sure you will agree. Then, of course, there were the murders—thirty or more, at last count—that’s so LA, right?

First off, there was the local babysitter: nice girl, so we understand, generic blonde college student studying to be a lawyer or doctor or something like that. Apparently no one really got to know her before she was brutally abducted and murdered by a “savage psychopathic home-invasion serial predator” There is a lot of it about these days. The Mulholland Drive Neighborhood Watch Association has petitioned the local authorities countless times to erect signs warning of such dangers—but still no action, what do you do?

Sadly, the aforementioned nanny/ babysitter/childminder, or whatever, was found at a generic murder scene over at LAX in a “fully naked” pose reminiscent of some pseudo-satanic pulp novel, with Thomas Harris style touches added to give those hopeless hacks in the LAPD ACRONYM unit some kind of chance of finding the perpetrator.

Crimezine was suspicious right away, of course. Who would do such a thing? Murder an innocent young woman, then transport her halfway across town, through the gridlocked streets and freeways of America’s busiest city, so that they could arrange the satanically defiled corpse in a “grass field” adjacent to the 24 hr traffic and law enforcement Hades that is Los Angeles International Airport?

Luckily, Detective Robert Hunter and trusty sidekick Garcia are the brainbox Holmes and Watson of the LAPD ACRONYM Unit. Phew, thank goodness for that Crimeziners, because frankly, Hieronymus Harry Bosch is getting a little long in the tooth for such cases these days. Especially now that he has been admitted to the Twilight-years-senior rest home for done-to-death crime protagonists.

But back to the case in hand: I Am Death is, as the title suggests, a dripping paper bag of anatomically correct ghoulishness. There is a schizophrenic tip of the hat to all the bowl-churning big-hitters of the genre—from the aforementioned Harris, to Cornwell, Reichs, Nesbo and many, many more. Aspirational author blah mentions Jeff Deaver, but Chris Carter is definitely on the nouveau edge of the crime-writing mainstream. So buckle on your gore-proof plastic wind-cheater, you will need it.

I am Death is Carter’s seventh book, and his reputation for visceral excitement is steadily building, but it appears marketeers are having trouble defining who the author is. Almost apologetically they describe him as a former criminal psychologist who ran away to LA to become a “bandana wearing rock guitarist”, before returning to London, England weeks/months/years later, to settle down to the serious business of writing crime fiction.

Clearly, Chris is more “heavy metal” than a night out with Gene Simmons’ flamethrower codpiece, although you would never know from the rather coy author photo that is provided with his publicity material. One wonders why it is so essential for authors to be “interesting” these days, especially when their writing is as fast-revvingly frenetic as Carter’s. There are burred edges to the language certainly—clanging Limeyisms that need to be eradicated by a good American Editor. But, for lovers of the high-octane police procedural, injected with the squealing splatter of power tools on human flesh, Chris Carter is the man to watch.

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.

Connelly & Gould talk Chandler

Crimezine-Chandler Connelly-Gould
Michael Connelly & Elliot Gould

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.


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.

Crimezine-Hard Case Crime

Hard Case, Soft centre

Crimezine loves classic crime fiction, particularly the seedy, seamy hardboiled variety, from the noirish 1940’s and 50’s. Well now you can revisit those days Crimeziners, courtesy of Hard Case Crime.

Hard Case Crime is the brainchild of bazillionaire internet whizz-kid Charles Ardai who decided to throw his big-bucks nouveau-riche-dom into the world of retro Crime publishing. Well done that man! Fresh faced Ardai 36, missed the great wave of pulp writing the first time around, and is rapidly making up for lost time now.

Crime fiend Ardai has signed up modern writers like Madison Smartt Bell and Steven King, alongside old favorites


Hard Case: Salacity

such as Laurence Block, Ed Mc Bain and Donald Westlake.

Crimezine feels that Hard Case Crime’s biggest triumph however is the signing of pulp art legend Robert McGinniss, a man who painted more than 1,000 legendary book covers in pulp’s heyday. Every piece of just oozes retro seediness. Lust. Fear Anger and Murder, these were the ideas that drove the pulp paperback forward.

Times change of course. Pulp’s lurid plots and hyperventilating cover art, were supplanted, by electronic boxes that pumped sleaze and salacity into homes worldwide, offering on demand titillation at the flip of a switch. Can Pulp

fiction ever compete? The jury is out. The decision is yours, but Crimezines verdict is a resounding Yes!