And what do I have to show for that steady effort?
Well, at least the following: a number of friends I’ve accumulated only as a result of my writing and editing The Rap Sheet; a few high-profile prizes and awards nominations; an abundance of opportunities to talk formally and informally with authors, illustrators, and critics associated with crime and thriller fiction; the chance to also write about this genre for Kirkus Reviews; and of course a blog of which I’m immensely, though mostly modestly, proud. The Rap Sheet is now close to racking up its 5,500th post, and depending on which calculator you watch (one posted on the blog sometime after its debut, or another, perhaps more precise tally maintained by Blogger), this page has clocked in between 1.41 million and 1.69 million page views.
Sure, blogging has presented me with some frustrations over the years. The pay is dreadful and the work hours (including many weekend hours) are long. I cringe every time some recreational scribbler suddenly loses interest in his blog, and kills the thing, leaving links to his posts dead on The Rap Sheet. (I periodically try to catch those and eliminate or replace them, but I am sure there are still more to be found.) Being a professional journalist myself, I’m embarrassed by the marginal quality of many blogs and their tendency to reprint press releases without stating the fact, repost other people’s prose without permission or attribution, and report as true what is nothing better than loose talk. I try not to feel guilty when some aspiring young author sends me her new novel, and I can’t possibly read it because I’m only one person with limited leisure time. And while I’m pleased with what The Rap Sheet has become, I know that if I weren’t devoting such effort to this venture, I’d have many more hours in which to complete that first novel I’ve been plunking away at for years.
But I have done some of my best writing in The Rap Sheet, and that’s an accomplishment that raises a smile on my face every day.
I want to thank everyone who has read, contributed to, helpfully commented on, and otherwise enjoyed this blog over these last seven years. Without your attention, The Rap Sheet might have folded like so many other Web resources before it.
* * *To celebrate this milestone, I have arranged for a special book giveaway. Publisher Random House/Vintage Canada has set aside, on The Rap Sheet’s behalf, seven copies of Miss Montreal. This is Howard Shrier’s fourth novel featuring Toronto private investigator Jonah Geller, but the first to be set primarily in the author’s native Montreal, Quebec. I would like to make those copies available--for free--to this blog’s readers.
First, though, a little information about Miss Montreal. Synopsizing the plot of that book--which is due out next week and is the sequel to last year’s Boston Cream--its publisher explains:
After what happened in Boston, P.I. Jonah Geller can’t show his face in the U.S. again. Which is fine with him. He’s got a new case in Montreal, one of the world’s most colorful and downright scandalous cities. An old [journalist] friend has been brutally murdered there, and the police investigation is stalled. With an election looming and tensions seething, Jonah and former hit man Dante Ryan have to battle religious fanatics, gun runners, and a twisted political dynasty to get to the truth.I’m still in the midst of reading Miss Montreal, but I can tell you that there’s an abundance of humanity and humor in Shrier’s tale. There are also some thoughtful observations about the titular city--Canada’s second largest (after Toronto, Ontario)--which I recently had the opportunity to visit for the first time. Gumshoe Geller and the perpetually armed Ryan make an interesting pair of opposites, and the former’s childhood friendship with that slain journalist, “Slammin’ Sammy” Adler, lends this new novel a dimension of personal commitment and association that’s not often been so credibly offered in detective fiction. I’ve only read one other Shrier book, but if Miss Montreal remains as creative and compelling as it is now, I shall undoubtedly want to find the other two.
So here’s how you can win your very own copy of Miss Montreal. Simply e-mail your name and snail-mail address to firstname.lastname@example.org. And be sure to write “Miss Montreal Contest” in the subject line. Entries will be accepted between now and midnight next Wednesday, May 29. The seven winners will be chosen completely at random, and their names listed on this page the following day.
Sorry, but at the publisher’s request, this contest is open only to residents of the United States and Canada.
On this anniversary, I can’t think of a better way to thank Rap Sheet readers than to send at least a few of you free new books to help expand your knowledge of and interest in crime fiction.