Muller, who is fondly remembered for his noirish twosome of novels, The Distance (2002) and Shadow Boxer (2003), uses his first monthly newspaper column to applaud both Megan Abbott’s new The Song Is You and Jim Nisbet’s Dark Companion, and confides that “Yours truly was the last person to meet with embattled publisher Judith Regan before she was unceremoniously fired in December.” He also lays out his terms as a book reviewer:
I’ll be tackling the role of critic from a slightly different angle, because I don’t read books for a living, I write them. I’ve got enough respect and empathy for the struggle writers face getting a story finished (let alone published) that I can’t take any pleasure in ripping their work in a public forum.I look forward, especially, to those “opinionated asides.”
On the other hand ... I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the mystery shelves are overstocked with mediocre books created, often from a precise and uninspired recipe, by untalented people who would sell their souls to be published. Expect the more egregious examples to be duly noted, perhaps excoriated. In the main, however, readers are better served by being steered toward books that deserve not only recognition but also purchase.
I’ll do my best to fill this space the way old-school newspapermen like Damon Runyon, Mark Hellinger, and (dare I say it?) Herb Caen filled a column--by attempting a vivid mix of reportage, reviews, hot tips and opinionated asides. ...
(Photograph by Craig Merrill.)