Arrivederci

Hope you all have a restful and loving Holiday Season and a great New Year.

As I won’t be blogging again any time soon, this is something of a farewell. Perhaps only temporary but probably not. Thank you all so very much, it’s been a great pleasure getting to know you.

Most especially (in alphabetical order): Bev (and her amazing challenges), Brad, Chris, Colin (respondent extraordinaire), Curtis (who literally got me into a book), Elgin, Jim (keep up the good work, sunshine), Jeff (father of the amazing Kenji), John F (who it turns out is not sinister at all), John/Paul (top bloke all round whatever the moniker), Jose Ignacio (bilingual blogger and Simenon fan of repute), Just Jack, George, Karen (and her ramblings), Les, Margot (first responder among all bloggers), Martin (who is making new GAD fans of us all), Matt, Michael, Mike, Moira (who got me looking at clothes in fiction for the first time), Neeru, Noah, Patrick (who should be a cardinal soon), Piero, Prashant, Rich, Richard, The Ripster (who I hope makes a good recovery), Santosh, TomCat (lover of all locked things), TracyK (who has never reviewed a book positively that I also didn’t like), and the redoubtable and lovely Yvette. And a special nod to Steve and Mrs P, who inspired me to take the plunge, all those years ago.

And as always, special thanks to Todd and Patti for making Tuesdays and Fridays always a bit more special.

Just reading that long list of names makes me realise what a privilege this has been, especially with the recent news about Bill Crider’s ill health and the loss of such gents as Ed Gorman and Randy Johnson along the way.

It’s been grand. And in the words of the great Patrick McGoohan, be seeing you!

Posted in 'In praise of ...' | 64 Comments

2017 Vintage Mystery Scavenger Hunt Wrap-up

Bev over at My Reader’s Block has been hosting her vintage mystery reading challenges for much longer than I’ve been blogging and it’s been a pleasure to take part all these years.

So how did I do this year? Well I managed to review books from both the Golden (up to 1959) and Silver (1960-89) ages though, in a sign of things to come, I did far fewer than in years past. But here is what I found:

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Posted in 2017 Golden Age Vintage Mystery Scavenger Hunt, 2017 Silver Age Vintage Mystery Scavenger Hunt, Agatha Christie, Anthony Berkeley, Carter Brown, Carter Dickson, Colin Dexter, Gideon Fell, Graham Greene, Helen Nielsen, Henry Merrivale, Inspector Morse, Jim Thompson, John Dickson Carr, John Lange, Michael Crichton, Poirot, Stark House Press | 18 Comments

Buon Natale 2017

So, what’s 2017 been like? Well, about this big as James Stewart might have said in that dark example of Film Noir that bizarrely seems to everyone’s favourite feel good Christmas movie … And on the mystery front? Well … I managed to participate in both the Golden and Silver Vintage Mystery Challenges set by Bev at My Reader’s Block as well as Todd Mason’s Tuesday’s Overlooked Film meme and Patti Abbott’s Friday’s Forgotten Book celebration over at Pattinase – special thanks to all of these fine folks for looking after us. But who else has helped make this a memorable year?
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Posted in 'In praise of ...', 2017 Golden Age Vintage Mystery Scavenger Hunt, 2017 Silver Age Vintage Mystery Scavenger Hunt | 50 Comments

ZERO COOL (1968) by Michael Crichton

Crichton-Zero-Cool-open-road_This is one of the ‘John Lange’ adventures written by Michael Crichton during his apprenticeship as a purveyor of paperback thrills. Reprinted in paper by Hard Case Crime, it is also available as an e-book from Open Road in what they refer to as the author’s ‘Med School Years’.

“Listen,” he hissed, his voice low and harsh. “If you do the autopsy, we will kill you. Do you understand? Kill you.”

I offer the following review for Patti’s Friday’s Forgotten Books meme at her fab Pattinase blog and Bev’s 2017 Silver Age Vintage Mystery Scavenger Hunt.

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Posted in 2017 Silver Age Vintage Mystery Scavenger Hunt, Barcelona, France, Friday's Forgotten Book, Hard Case Crime, John Lange, Michael Crichton, Paris, Spain | 42 Comments

Crime at Christmas

As Britain gets ready for a very chilly yule indeed (and no, I don’t just mean the weather), my mind inevitably turns to the comforts of fictional crime!

There are some splendid books being made available for crime aficionados this season and I wanted to share with you some of the ones that have got my pulse racing – some are brand new and some are classic reprints in the wake of the great success of the British Library Crime Classics range so lovingly curated by Martin Edwards.

So here are a dozen of the ones I am certainly most looking forward to – in alphabetical order:

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Posted in 'In praise of ...', Albert Campion, Cosy Cozy, Edward D. Hoch, England, Locked Room Mystery, Margery Allingham, Mike Ripley, Ngaio Marsh, Peter Lovesey, Philip MacDonald, Simon Brett | 45 Comments

Callan is back … on audio

Callan, the classic spy drama television series from the Sixties, returns with a star-studded cast in brand new audio adaptations from Big Finish Productions. Ben Miles stars as the titular Callan, with Frank Skinner joining him as small-time thief Lonely.

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Posted in Audio Review, Big Finish, David Callan, James Mitchell, Nicholas Briggs, Ostara Publishing | 10 Comments

SHOTGUN SATURDAY NIGHT (1987) by Bill Crider

Today Patti Abbott is hosting Bill Crider Day over at her fab Pattinase blog. Crider has been remarkably prolific over the decades, managing to publish an average of two books a year while also working full-time as an academic until his retirement. As well as his mysteries, he has also published Spy, Horror and Western books as well as some YA fiction.

My modest contribution to today’s celebration is a review of his second published novel. It was also the second in the series of two-dozen mysteries featuring Sheriff Dan Rhodes, who is kept very busy in this one with boxes of human remains found dumped on a farm and then a dead body turning up, all in one piece this time (just about).

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Posted in 2017 Silver Age Vintage Mystery Scavenger Hunt, Bill Crider, Ed McBain, Texas | 35 Comments

The Prisoner – volume 2

Following the deserved success of the first volume of this intelligent re-imagening for audio of the classic TV show of the 1960s, now comes its sequel – and it is even better than the first. Mark Elstob is our hero, a kidnapped secret agent, while Deirdre Mullins, Michael Cochrane (and another, who must remain a secret) play the ‘Number Twos’ trying to make him talk.

The following review is offered for Todd Mason’s Tuesday’s Overlooked AV Media meme over at his fab Sweet Freedom blog.

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Posted in Audio Review, Big Finish, Espionage, Nicholas Briggs, Patrick McGoohan, Tuesday's Overlooked Film | 8 Comments

Ranking the 87th Precinct Mysteries

Six years ago I set myself a challenge: to read (or, in most cases, re-read) all 55 of Ed McBain ‘s books in his 87th Precinct series of police procedurals, and then review and rate them here at Fedora. It took a while, a lot longer than planned in fact, but I finally got it done!

And now, in what I hope is just a bit of harmless self-indulgence, I thought it would be fun to look back and list my favourites – and list some of the clunkers too! I offer the following post for Friday’s Forgotten Books meme run by Patti Abbott at her fab Pattinase blog.

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Posted in 87th Precinct, Ed McBain, Friday's Forgotten Book, Police procedural | 55 Comments

Dressed to Kill (1946)

The Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce series of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson mysteries came to an end with this, their 14th entry, in which the Baker Street duo battle suave criminals searching London for the secret hidden within three music boxes. No prizes for guessing who the victor will be – but then, the fun is in the journey.

“It’s so fearfully awkward, having a dead body lying about. Don’t you agree, Mr. Holmes?”

The following review is offered for Todd Mason’s Tuesday’s Overlooked Film meme over at his fab Sweet Freedom blog.
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Posted in Arthur Conan Doyle, London, Scotland, Sherlock Holmes, Tuesday's Overlooked Film | Tagged , | 32 Comments

FIDDLERS (2005) by Ed McBain

So six years and 55 books later, we come to the end of the road. This would prove to be the final 87th Precinct mystery by Ed McBain and was released posthumously. It was rumoured that he had, in advance, already written a concluding novel, Exit, to be published after his death. But it was not to be. So what kind of send off does the series get? We begin with a seemingly random series of murders …

“Remember me?” he said. “Chuck?”
And shot her twice in the face.

I offer the following review for Friday’s Forgotten Books meme run by Patti Abbott at her fab Pattinase blog.
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Posted in 87th Precinct, Ed McBain, Friday's Forgotten Book, New York, Police procedural | 30 Comments

Torture Garden (1967)

The great Robert Bloch (1917-1994) supplied stories and screenplays for six films made by Amicus Film, the only serious rival to Hammer in the 1960s and 70s when it came to horror cinema. The first three – The Skull (1965), The Psychopath (1966) and The Deadly Bees (1966) – were all directed by Freddie Francis and Bloch considered them a bit disappointing (I quite like The Skull myself). He was a little happier with their fourth and final collaboration, Torture Garden, an anthology (an Amicus speciality) adapted from four of his tales.

I submit this review for Todd Mason’s Tuesday’s Overlooked Movie meme at his fab Sweet Freedom blog.

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Posted in Amicus, England, Robert Bloch, Tuesday's Overlooked Film | Tagged , | 32 Comments

GREEN FOR DANGER (1944) by Christianna Brand

Easily he best-known of Brand’s Inspector Cockrill mysteries, this clever and funny book was turned into a clever and funny film that is also one of the most atmospheric whodunits you will ever see. The setting is a secluded hospital now seconded to the war effort at the time of the Blitz.

“You think there wasn’t any murder, but there was, and I know who did it and how it was done and everything …”

I submit this review for Bev’s Vintage Mystery Challenge; and Tuesday’s Overlooked Film meme hosted by Todd Mason over at Sweet Freedom.

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Posted in 2017 Golden Age Vintage Mystery Scavenger Hunt, England, Five Star review, Kent, World War II | Tagged , | 45 Comments

Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

Just released in the cinemas, this new adaptation of the classic Agatha Christie novel seems to be dividing critics and viewers. In fact, I have now been to see it twice – the first time with a friend who is a big fan of the book and really liked it, especially for its passionate depiction of the detective. I then saw it again with a different group of friends, all of whom found it disappointing and cold. What did I think and why the divergence of opinions? Well, here’s what I think really happened …

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Posted in Agatha Christie, Poirot, Turkey | Tagged | 60 Comments

I AM MARY DUNNE (1968) by Brian Moore

Karen of Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings and Simon of Stuck in a Book regularly celebrate work published in a particular year. And this time it’s 1968, which I couldn’t resist as it’s when I was born. My choice is the thirteenth novel (though some would say sixth, see below) by Brian Moore, a meditation by a thrice married woman on her life thus far.

I offer this review for Simon and Karen’s The 1968 Club at Stuck in a Book; and Friday’s Forgotten Books meme run by Patti Abbott at her fab Patinas blog.

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Posted in Brian Moore, New York | 25 Comments

THE WENCH IS WICKED / BLONDE VERDICT / DELILAH WAS DEADLY by Carter Brown

This omnibus by ultra-prolific paperback writer ‘Carter Brown’ (in private life Alan Geoffrey Yates) – courtesy of those very nice people at Stark House Press – features the first three cases of Al Wheeler, the unorthodox and wise-cracking Lieutenant working in the California police department of (the fictional) Pine County, not far from L.A.

“Wipe the lipstick off, Lieutenant. It looks sort of silly on a cop.”

I submit this review for Bev’s 2017 Golden Age Vintage Mystery Scavenger Hunt; and Friday’s Forgotten Booksmeme run by Patti Abbott at her fab Pattinase blog.

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Posted in 2017 Golden Age Vintage Mystery Scavenger Hunt, California, Carter Brown, Friday's Forgotten Book, Stark House Press | 20 Comments

SINGLE & SINGLE (1999) by John le Carré

John le Carré (born David Cornwell on 19 October 1931) is 86 years old today – and to celebrate here is a quick review of a title that is perhaps unfairly neglected. This is one of the later books that sees the author stretch beyond his standard spy environment, though in truth what we have is a pretty close equivalent for a story dealing with international finance and the way that it shields criminals by creating impenetrable money-laundering structures and how a man goes undercover to thwart it.

I offer this review, one day early, for Patti Abbott’s Friday’s Forgotten Books meme at her fab Pattinase blog.

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Posted in England, Espionage, John le Carre, London, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey | 16 Comments

TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT (1937) by Ernest Hemingway

A tale of smuggling between Cuba and  Florida, this is generally considered one of Hemingway’s lesser works, which may actually explain why it made surprisingly good movie fodder. The hardboiled story of downtrodden boat-owner Harry Morgan was famously filmed with Bogart and Bacall in 1944 and later with Audie Murphy too. However, my favourite version is the one that came in between, The Breaking Point, starring John Garfield, Patricia Neal and the great Juano Hernandez, now available from Criterion.

I submit this review for Bev’s Vintage Mystery Challenge; and Tuesday’s Overlooked Film meme hosted by Todd Mason over at Sweet Freedom.

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Posted in 2017 Golden Age Vintage Mystery Scavenger Hunt, Cuba, Ernest Hemingway, Film Noir, Friday's Forgotten Book, Miami, Michael Curtiz | Tagged , , | 26 Comments

The Manny deWitt trilogy by Peter Rabe

This omnibus – a secret review copy of which arrived, via three drop boxes and as many couriers in disguise – comes courtesy of those very nice people at Stark House Press. It brings together the trilogy of decidedly off-beat adventure capers by Peter Rabe featuring Manny deWitt, a lawyer by trade who also acts as a troubleshooter for his wealthy and mercurial boss, Dutch industrialist Hans Lobbe.

“The girl in the painting was a trollop”

I submit this review for Bev’s 2017 Silver Age Vintage Mystery Scavenger Hunt; and Friday’s Forgotten Booksmeme run by Patti Abbott at her fab Pattinase blog.

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Posted in 2017 Silver Age Vintage Mystery Scavenger Hunt, Africa, Cold War, Espionage, Germany, Paris, Peter Rabe, Stark House Press, The Netherlands | 15 Comments

Homecoming

This riveting psychological thriller dealing with returning American servicemen has just completed its second season and I am here to sing its praises – of course, without divulging any spoilers. An audio drama available as a free podcasts, it features a stellar cast headed by Catherine Keener, Oscar Isaac, David Schwimmer, Amy Sedaris and in season 2, Michael Cera.

I submit this post for Tuesday’s Overlooked Media meme hosted by Todd Mason over at his Sweet Freedom blog.
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Posted in Amnesia, Audio Review, Florida | 8 Comments

THE NOISE OF TIME by Julian Barnes

Julian Barnes is a celebrated author of novels, short stories and literary criticism. He also wrote four thrillers (1980-87) as ‘Dan Kavanagh’ (named for his late wife, Pat Kavanagh), featuring bisexual private eye Duffy. Though recently reprinted by Orion, you wouldn’t know that from the bibliography in Barnes’ most recent volumes as Duffy has been expunged from these.

He had been a mistake, swiftly corrected: a face in a photograph that went missing the next time the photograph was printed.

The Noise of Time, while containing references to murder, espionage and blackmail, is not crime fiction.

I submit this short review for Friday’s Forgotten Books meme, hosted today by Todd Mason over at his fab Sweet Freedom blog.

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Posted in Julian Barnes, Moscow, New York, Russia | 22 Comments

Terror by Night (1946)

The Holmes and Watson series picked itself right up again with this train-bound adventure that comes as very welcome after the disappointment of Pursuit to Algiers. It was also the swansong for Dennis Hoey’s Lestrade.

Holmes: The Inspector’s going to Scotland to fish for salmon!
Watson: Oh really? The season doesn’t start for another month, but you wouldn’t know that, would you?
Lestrade: ‘Oo says I’m gonna fish fer salmon?
Watson: ‘Oo? ‘Im!

The following review is offered for Todd Mason’s Tuesday’s Overlooked Film meme over at his fab Sweet Freedom blog.
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Posted in Arthur Conan Doyle, London, Scotland, Sherlock Holmes, Tuesday's Overlooked Film | Tagged , | 20 Comments

PAST TENSE by Margot Kinberg

kinberg_past-tenseYou all know Margot Kinberg, the indefatigable mystery author and academic who blogs over at Confessions of a Mystery Novelist and who cheerleads for the detective genre here, there and everywhere. Past Tense is the third in her series of mysteries featuring Joel Williams, an ex-cop who now is an academic at (the fictional) Tilton University, somewhere in Pennsylvania. It’s exam time but there is more excitement than normal when remains of a man who died some 40 years earlier are found on campus. Was it murder?

Don’t forget to check out Friday’s Forgotten Books meme run by Patti Abbott at her fab Pattinase blog

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Posted in Campus crime, Friday's Forgotten Book, Margot Kinberg, Pennsylvania | 16 Comments

TILL DEATH DO US PART (1944) by John Dickson Carr

This classic Golden Age detective story tends to get a little lost among the multitude and enthralling mysteries that John Dickson Carr was producing at such a prodigious rate at that time. It begins with a superb set piece in the tent of a fortune-teller at the end of a village fete that is being enveloped by thunder and lightning. Before long a shot is fired, a recently engaged couple find their happiness under threat and Gideon Fell has to investigate a complex locked room mystery. As a reader, I couldn’t be happier …

I submit this review for Bev’s 2017 Golden Age Vintage Mystery Scavenger Hunt; and Todd Mason’s Tuesday’s Overlooked Media meme over at his fab Sweet Freedom blog.

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Posted in 2017 Golden Age Vintage Mystery Scavenger Hunt, Audio Review, England, Five Star review, Gideon Fell, John Dickson Carr, Locked Room Mystery, London, Tuesday's Overlooked Film | 65 Comments

EIGHT MILLION WAYS TO DIE (1982) by Lawrence Block

This fine private eye novel is first and foremost a powerful character study, depicting the slow recovery of an alcoholic but it also provides the requisite crime thrills too. It was the fifth in the Matthew Scudder series of New York mysteries and something of a breakthrough for the author. It was also loosely adapted into a problematic movie starring Jeff Bridges, Rosanna Arquette and Andy Garcia, which recently made its way to Blu-Ray in a special edition.

I submit this book and film review for Bev’s 2017 Silver Age Vintage Mystery Scavenger Hunt; and Tuesday’s Overlooked Film meme hosted by Todd Mason over at his Sweet Freedom blog.

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Posted in 2017 Silver Age Vintage Mystery Scavenger Hunt, Lawrence Block, New York, Private Eye | 23 Comments

PIETR THE LATVIAN (1931) by Georges Simenon

This novel marked the official literary debut of Detective Chief Inspector Jules Amédée François Maigret of the Paris Police Judiciaire when it first appeared in serial form in the summer and autumn of 1930. It was however the fifth in order of book publication when the series started to appear at the extraordinary rate of one a month the following year. But that is just one of the many headaches that befall anyone trying to keep chronological sense of the series of 75 novels, especially in translation.

I offer this review for Bev’s Golden Age Vintage Mystery Scavenger Hunt; and Todd Mason’s Tuesday’s Overlooked Film meme over at his fab Sweet Freedom blog.

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Posted in France, Friday's Forgotten Book, Georges Simenon, Maigret, Normandy, Paris, Police procedural, Scene of the crime | 30 Comments

NINE-AND DEATH MAKES TEN (1941) by Carter Dickson

I fell in love with John Dickson Carr’s work via his  ‘Carter Dickson’ alter ego when I chanced across his classic The Reader is Warned back when I was 14. Nine and Death Makes Ten (aka Murder in the Submarine Zone) was the next book of his I was able to find, and it confirmed for me what a great author he was. Here’s why (without spoilers):

“They are not the finger-prints of anybody aboard this ship”

I submit this review for Bev’s Golden Age Vintage Mystery Scavenger Hunt; and Friday’s Forgotten Books meme run by Patti Abbott at her fab Pattinase blog.

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Posted in 2017 Golden Age Vintage Mystery Scavenger Hunt, Carter Dickson, Five Star review, Friday's Forgotten Book, Henry Merrivale, John Dickson Carr, Locked Room Mystery | 94 Comments

DEATH IN PARADISE (2001) by Robert B. Parker

The next year should be a good one for fans of Jesse Stone on screen and on the printed page as we are promised two brand new entries in these parallel series.

Jesse is a compelling character, built along traditionally heroic lines redolent of the Old West. Formerly a Homicide Detective in LA, when his wife cheated on him his drinking got worse until he had to resign in disgrace. But he has been given one last chance, as Chief of Police in the small (fictional) town of Paradise in north Massachusetts.

The following book vs movie review is offered as part of the Tuesday’s Overlooked Film meme hosted by Todd Mason over at his Sweet Freedom blog.

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Posted in Jesse Stone, Police procedural, Robert B. Parker | 14 Comments

HARK! (2004) by Ed McBain

The Deaf Man, the cold-blooded super-criminal whose antics plagued the boys and girls of the 87th Precinct for decades was last seen, in 1993’s Mischief, being tied naked to a bed and being shot twice in the chest by Gloria, his two-timing confederate. But it seems that you just can’t keep a good arch-nemesis down, and after a decade to recuperate he returned for what would prove to be his final appearance, in the penultimate book in the series. And this time he teases and frustrates the squad by quoting from the works of Shakespeare. But what is he really up to?

I submit this review for  Patti Abbott’s Friday’s Forgotten Books meme over at her fab Pattinase blog.
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Posted in 87th Precinct, Ed McBain, Friday's Forgotten Book, New York, Police procedural | 18 Comments

HARDBOILED, NOIR AND GOLD MEDALS by Rick Ollerman

Bringing together new essays with material published over the last decade, this new volume in the Stark House Reference range more than lives up to its subtitle: Essays on Crime Fiction Writers from the ’50s through to the 90s. Part of the material first appeared as introductions to earlier Stark House reprints for such hardboiled authors as James Hadley Chase, Peter Rabe, Wade Miller, Charles Williams, WR Burnett and the recently departed Ed Gorman. But it is also a personal look at the trials and tribulations experienced writing such material .

I submit this review for Friday’s Forgotten Books meme run by Patti Abbott at her fab Pattinase blog.

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Posted in Charles Williams, Donald Westlake, Ed Gorman, Friday's Forgotten Book, Harlan Ellison, Hollywood, Los Angeles, New York, Noir, Stark House Press, Wade Miller | 17 Comments