Posts Tagged ‘Crimewriter’

Crime_writer Tony_Bulmer_The Fine Art of Murder

Crime writer Tony Bulmer at the world famous Voodoo Lounge in Las Vegas Nevada

Crimezine: So what brings you to Las Vegas Tony, you are from Los Angeles right?

Yeah, I drove in through the desert.

Crimezine: Like Hunter S. Thompson?

[Laughs] Yeah, Hunter would be proud. I drove through bat country to test fire automatic weapons—a pleasure trip flimsily disguised as research for my next book.

Crimezine: No machine guns in California right?

You got it. Despite what Hollywood might tell you, full auto weapons are illegal in the City of Angels—and throughout the State of California.

Crimezine: Not in Nevada though—

Yeah, they got it all here, Uzis, AK 47s, MAC 11s the whole nine yards. But I was specifically interested in test firing the Heckler and Koch MP5, a weapon used by Police and Special Forces throughout the world. It’s a real sweet gun, small and accurate, with low recoil and very rapid rate of fire.

Crimezine: So you are gun crazy?

Guns are a very serious business and they need to be treated with respect. I have trained with US Army Rangers and the LAPD. Unfortunately there are very many people who think the right to bear arms trumps not only personal responsibility, but the necessity of law enforcement to do it’s job. So while I am a gun advocate, I also believe society, particularly American society should do more to keep weapons out of the hands of bad guys.

Crimezine: What about the right to bear arms?

If you are a bad guy the only right you got is to put your hands in the air, end of story.

Crimezine: You have a new book coming out soon?

Yeah, The Fine Art of Murder. It’s the story of an old master painting that gets stolen from a Beverly Hills art collector. The narrative starts in the present day then trips backwards and forwards in time, tracing the murderous provenance of the painting and its owners.

Crimezine: Sounds very different from your previous books.

That’s right. I wanted to take a break from the Danny Costello series. I wanted to work with a wiser more time worn protagonist, so I came up with the idea of Professor Cornelius Franklin, an art recovery expert who is hired by the Vatican.

Crimezine: Is there a religious aspect to this book?

I wanted to discuss more than murder, or the resolution of murder in this book, I wanted to explore the redemptive aspects of characters conflicted by greed, obsession and the murderous conspiracy into which they are thrown. So there are religious analogies in this book, but they are subtle and thought provoking.

Crimezine: The book also has an historical aspect, and you deal with some very well known characters…

Yeah, history is an obsession for me, so is art. I wanted to create a crime novel that had never been done before, and I figured that if I was going to do something as crazy as travel five hundred years through time, I might as well explore characters and situations that would be known, although not overly familiar to readers.

Crimezine: For example?

Well, I start by discussing the way Niccolò Machiavelli commissions Renaissance legends Michelangelo Buonarroti & Leonardo da Vinci to compete in a paint-off, in the famous Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, Italy. Machiavelli, uses this opportunity to bribe/blackmail Leonardo into painting a portrait of his mistress, Lucretzia Sfarzoso, A scenario that is based on actual historical events. Greed, treachery and murderous conspiracy are themes through out the book, and I follow the paintings subsequent provenance down the years as it effects and influences a whole succession of fascinating characters.

Crimezine: Like who for example?

Two of the biggest art thieves of all time are Napoleon Bonaparte and the Nazi leader Hermann Göring. I had to include them, as their impact on the history of European art is pivotal. But rather than retelling their story verbatim, I tackled their contribution tangentially, viewing their crimes through the eyes of strong minded female protagonists. In Bonaparte’s case I used Josephine de Beauharnais, who is perhaps even more fascinating than Bonaparte himself, plus her story is largely untold. In the case of Göring I used fictionalized secretary, Eva Bergen, to see events as they really happened and bring the story back into the modern age, where to a large degree art theft of the Nazi and Napoleonic era remains unresolved.

Crimezine: Really?

Where do you think all those cool Italian paintings in the Louvre come from? Napoleon stole them when he invaded Italy. Then the British stole a bunch of stuff from Napoleon, including many works by Leonardo da Vinci. Art theft is an eternal cycle. Plus, greed and acquisition are cornerstones of any criminal enterprise and it seemed to me that a book about art theft was not only a really natural and fascinating vehicle to discuss criminal motivation, but also cool way to create an original and unexpected murder story.

Crimezine: Sounds fascinating, we hear there has been movie studio interest?

That’s right, there is a good chance that will happen, but the gears grind slow in Hollywood, so we shall see.

Crimezine: When is The Fine Art of Murder released?

There have been a number of delays, but it should be available by the end of the month [September 2013]. Meanwhile, I am into my next project already.

Crimezine: Cool. Thanks for your time Tony. To close, what is your favorite gun?

Tony Bulmer

The new book by Tony Bulmer

Guns are like books, you show favoritism they get jealous, [laughs] but fun wise I would have two say the Chinese AK-47, it has a muzzle flash two feet wide and rears up like a King Cobra when you fire it. The AK certainly puts the lie to the idea that assault weapons are a means of home defense. If you unleashed an AK-47 in your living room it would cut your house in half, probably your neighbors house too.

Crimezine: So you don’t have an AK under the bed?

Hell no. If you can’t put an intruder down with a handgun or a Mossburg pump, you aren’t fit to carry a gun in the first place. As for this ludicrous idea we all need to carry assault weapons in case the government gets “out of hand”—guess what, the government is already out of hand, has been years and they have way sexier hardware than you can buy at your local gun store—even if you do happen to live in a full-auto State like Nevada.

The Fine Art of Murder by Tony Bulmer is available in paperback in September.

Cornell Woolrich

Portrait of the writer as a young man—The youngCornell Woolrich

Let’s get this straight right from the get go Crimeziners, Blues of a Life Time, The autobiography of Cornell Woolrich is many things, what it most emphatically is not is an autobiography of the godfather of Noir Fiction.

What we do get is five posthumously published short stories, that throw a deeply sanitized glimpse into the bizarre and dysfunctional world of one of crime fiction’s most influential writers.

Remington Portable NC69411 is an episodic account of how Woolrich became a writer whilst still at Colombia University in the 1920’s. We hear about the writer’s nerdish innocence, his writing habits and his hollow craving for companionship. For a 21 year old man living in New York City, at the height of the roaring twenties, poor Corny’s life seems unbearably dull.

Next up, we get The Poor Girl, a story of Woolrich’s “first love” with a young woman, a story made all the more poignant, as Woolrich was a life long homosexual, who’s three month marriage to Violet Blackton—daughter of silent film producer J. Stuart Blackton—ended in disaster. Woolrich is reputed to have used their honeymoon cruise as an opportunity to pick up sailors. Of course none of this is mentioned in this coy autobiography, which is something of a missed opportunity, given its posthumous release.

Just as one thinks things cannot get any worse for poor old Corny, they inevitably do. In the story Even God Felt the Great Depression, we hear a shocking first hand account of how bad things could get in the early thirties.

It is here we realize for the first time how close Corny was to his mom—they were close—very close. He lived with her in a succession of seedy hotels, most notably the Hotel Marseilles on Broadway and West 102nd street. In President Eisenhower’s Speech, we find mom listening to the radio, whilst Corny paces the corridor as the Hotel is on fire—should he disturb his mom’s favorite show and evacuate the building—or present a face of stoicism despite the advancing danger? The results are farcical and anticlimactic and we never get to know the inside angle on his true relationship with mom, but by this time, the dedicated reader is peering closely between every single line. The relationship with his mom proved all consuming, Woolrich lived with her for 25 years after his failed marriage and specified that he share a double crypt with his her when he died in 1968.

In the last story in the book The Maid Who Played the Races, the entire premise for the story is a misunderstanding. While staying in a Seattle hotel, a maid asks  Woolrich about his profession. Corny replies he is a writer, which in his broad east coast accent is mistaken for Rider, and the maid assumes he is a Jockey. Oh, the hilarity.

The frustrating thing about this book, is it tells almost nothing about Woolrich the man. There is no talk of the Hitchcock movie Rear Window, which was based on the Woolrich story, “It had to be Murder” Although Corny whines at length about Hollywood—and the raw deal it gave him.

Nor is there any mention made of Film Noir, a term that was coined by the French after Woolrich’s “black” titled stories, such as The Bride Wore Black and Black Angel, and Black Alibi.

No mention either of Woolrich’s yellow alter ego the commie hating, dope bashing, William Irish. That’s right Crimeziners closet case Corny was bashing stoners, homo’s and reds wayyyyyy before the fashionable fifties. And yet he claims no credit here, nor does he make any mention at all of the very many excellent and genre defining stories he wrote under his own name, which for a writer who is often mentioned in the same breath as Chandler, Hammett, and Cain—is more than an oversight, it is unforgivable.

It is often mentioned that Woolrich died due to sepsis caused by wearing ill-fitting shoes. This is only partially true. Woolrich was a life long Alcoholic, an attribute that exacerbated his diabetes-which in turn led to the sepsis. He died alone in a New York City hotel room, weighing in at only 89 pounds, Woolrich was so ill at this point, that he failed to attend the 1968 premiere of Truffaut’s classic film, The Bride wore Black. He bequeathed his estate of almost a million dollars to Colombia University.


Harlan Coben hams it up on CBS Morning show: Hot hand indeed…and even hotter tie

As Crimezine was enjoying a delicious glass of breakfast cognac this morning, our poolside cocktail wrangler Consuela assailed us, with the kind of shrieking hysterics normally reserved for her favorite daily telenovela Pablo Escobar: El Patrón del Mal. Turns out the poor, dear woman had just seen Harlan Coben’s appearance on the CBS Morning Show.

After much fanning with a well used copy of True Detective magazine, it turned out that Consuela had confused Coben’s hairless cranium with that of real life Crime Super Villain Doctor Evil, as portrayed by Saturday Night Live ‘funny man’ Mike Myers, in the ‘hilarious’ comedy spoof Austin Powers. An understandable error, as Coben does bear more than a passing resemblance to the aforementioned Doctor Evil.

Naturally Cobie hammed it up with Gayle King and Nora O’Donnell for the required five hot minutes, talking about his ‘must read’ Young Adult novel Seconds Away and other topics, such as always having to play third on the bill, after  Bruce Springsteen and Chris ‘who ate all the pies’ Christie, for the title of most popular Jersey Boy. [Surely BonJovi beats him too?—Crimezine Editor]

Full credit to Cobie though, for explaining Christie was a ‘childhood friend’ and that he ‘rides the subway’ just like the rest of us… Chortle.

Robert Crais is the man when it comes to crime fiction. He started out his writing career penning scripts for such classic TV crime shows as Hill Street Blues, Cagney & Lacey, Quincy, Miami Vice and LA. Law. In the Eighties he started writing crime novels featuring a fast talking if strangely named private investigator called Elvis Cole (King Cole geddit?) Along with his brooding muscle bound sidekick Joe Pike. The early  Pike and Cole novels in particular are crime fiction classics, mixing humor, action and mystery with sharp writing that is bubbling with panache.  Check out The Monkeys Raincoat or LA. Requiem. There has been comment that Crais’ (rhymes with grace) fiction is becoming darker of late, this is almost certainly true and many of his goofier lines from the early days are sorely missed, but trends change in crime fiction and Crais is undoubtably changing his personal and editorial vision in line with market demands. It must be said however  that Crais’s naughties novels such as Demolition Angel, Hostage, Chasing Darkness and The Two-Minute-Rule are among his best. The latest Cole and Pike Novel First Rule is out now.