Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Back for an Encore Performance ...

As most of you probably know by now, The Rap Sheet is conducting a poll that asks readers to vote on which of 10 long-missing crime novelists they’d most like to see producing new books again.

Among the choices is A.E. Maxwell--the joint nom de plume of Ann and Evan Maxwell--who published eight action-filled books about a Los Angeles-based troubleshooter named Fiddler (beginning with Just Another Day in Paradise, 1985), before effectively disappearing after the publication of Murder Hurts in 1993 (although former Los Angeles Times reporter Evan has turned out at least a couple of novels on his own since, Ann continues to write romance novels under the pseudonym “Elizabeth Lowell,” and together they’ve produced suspense stories under the name “Ann Maxwell”).

Now, however, comes word that Busted Flush Press, the Houston, Texas-based publisher best known recently for bringing to print Damn Near Dead, Duane Swierczynski’s anthology of “geezer noir,” is going to republish what BFP owner David Thompson calls the “very underrated” Fiddler novels. Explains Thompson: “My plan is to reprint all eight Fiddlers in four omnibus editions, starting with Just Another Day in Paradise and The Frog and the Scorpion in the spring [of 2007].” Might this lead to the Maxwells resurrecting Fiddler and his investment banker ex-wife, Fiora Flynn? “At this time,” Thompson explains, “they’re not interested in doing more Fiddlers, but maybe I can sell so many, they’ll change their mind.”

Which would be good news, indeed. I have fond memories of the Fiddler and Fiora novels, even if former smuggler and sometime private eye Fiddler (whose first name was never revealed, and whose moniker may in fact have derived from his onetime fondness for a certain stringed musical instrument) could be rather inhumanly tough at times; and even though “torchy” Fiora’s evolutionary re-entry into her ex’s life meant that Fiddler’s sexy dalliances with other women ended after a few installments of this series. Regardless of whether the Maxwells can be persuaded to turn out any new Fiddler novels, rediscovering their old ones could be time well spent in 2007.

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