Saturday, February 13, 2021

Snowy Saturday Smatterings

• It was three years ago yesterday, on February 12, 2018, that prolific Texas mystery novelist Bill Crider died, brought down by prostate cancer at age 76. But only this week did Down & Out Books release a volume of short stories in tribute to that Anthony Award-winning creator of Sheriff Dan Rhodes. Titled Bullets and Other Hurting Things, and edited by Rick Ollerman, it features 20 original short yarns, all penned by Crider’s friends and fans. As the publisher explains, “William Kent Krueger (Ordinary Grace, the Cork O’Connor series) brings us a story of romance and grift. Bill Pronzini (the Nameless Detective and Carpenter & Quincannon series) offers a taut episode of a midnight raid. Joe R. Lansdale (The Bottoms, the Hap and Leonard series) tells a tale of two hit men working through their differences. James Sallis (Drive, the Lew Griffin series) shows us how a deadly figure once helped out a man called Bill. Charlaine Harris (the Sookie Stackhouse and Midnight, Texas series) reminds us to be careful of what we wish for. Sara Paretsky (the V.I. Warshawski series) shows how truly deadly a terrible storm can be.” James Reasoner, who describes Crider as “one of my best friends for more than 40 years,” says, “The story I wrote for this anthology is a sequel to ‘Comingor,’ the first story ever published under my name, and my second published story overall, 43 years ago. It’s set in the same part of Texas as Bill’s Dan Rhodes novels, in the next county to the east, in fact. I also think it’s one of the best stories I’ve written.” Angela Crider Neary, the late author’s daughter and a fictionist in her own right, supplies this volume’s introduction.

• Yesterday, February 12, brought us Chinese New Year, marking the start of this latest Year of the Ox. (The last Ox year was 2009.) By way of celebrating, Mystery Fanfare brings us this short list of “mysteries that take place during Chinese New Year.” Included are The Shanghai Moon, by S.J. Rozan, and Kelli Stanley’s City of Dragons, both of which I have enjoyed, without recalling their spring festival links.

• In Reference to Murder notes that submissions to the McIlvanney Prize/Scottish Crime Book of the Year contest are now open, “with a deadline of Friday, April 9. The winner of Crime Book of the Year will receive £1,000, while the winner [of] the Debut of the Year will receive £500. Entries come from full-length novels first published in the United Kingdom between August 1, 2020, and July 31, 2021. When considering the entries the judges will take into account quality of writing, originality of plot and potential durability in the crime genre.”

• I’m a sucker for posts about vintage paperback covers, so George Easter’s new collection—at the Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine site—of dusty softcovers bearing “great titles” drew me immediately. My favorite of his bunch: Don Von Elsner’s Don’t Just Stand There, Do Someone (1962). Von Elsner (1909-1997) was, in fact, known for his clever titles. Among his series of novels starring lawyer David Danning, for instance, are Those Who Prey Together Slay Together (1961), Just Not Making Mayhem Like They Used To (1961), Pour a Swindle Through a Loophole (1964), and A Bullet for Your Dreams (1968).

• In Too Much Horror, Will Errickson brings the sad news that artist Rowena Morrill, known for her science-fiction and fantasy illustrations, has “died at age 76 after a long illness.” (She passed away on February 11.) Not surprisingly, given his blog’s name, Errickson’s post showcases various Morrill horror-fiction fronts, including “her stunning debut, 1978’s Jove paperback original Isobel,” by Jane Parkhurst.

• And was Body Heat, director Lawrence Kasdan’s 1981 neo-noir picture, really “the greatest erotic thriller ever made”? Literary Hub’s Dan Sheehan certainly thinks so.

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