Monday, January 05, 2009

Death of the Book is 'way overstated

And so is New Year’s Eve. At least I hope it’s a memory for you.

Nice getting together with old friends we see so seldom, and making new acquaintances.

The world churns and things change. Donald Westlake, a top prolific crime fiction writer died in Mexico of an apparent heart attack. We’re lucky at least one more novel from his ancient typewriter (!) will be forthcoming.

Karen Spengler, a marvelous woman and owner of I Love a Mystery in Mission, Kansas, died recently, a great loss to the mystery community. I have fond memories of ribs and that atmospheric store. She will be sorely missed.

I’ve just finished a dark moody, enthralling novel called Pavel & I, by a transplanted Canadian named Dan Vyleta. It is set in the winter of 1946 in Berlin, an awful place to be, where Russian, British, American and of course German military and civilians try in desperate times to survive. The author chose a weak, even slimy, apologist to tell his tale. Peterson is a man who takes little joy playing the role of torturer for a fat Brit colonel, but he only apologizes for his inability to tell a complete story about the mysterious Pavel, a man of honor who sacrifices many to achieve his end as he wades through unbelievable horrors of brothels, double dealing , murder and a truly nasty monkey. Bloomsbury Press is the publisher, a most interesting enterprise.

Other readings of note in the past few months include,

HOLLYWOOD BUZZ by Margit Liesche,GREEN MONSTER BY Rick Shefchik,THE ANTEATER OF DEATH by Betty Webb, all from Poisoned Pen Press along with THE ESSENTIAL MYSTERY LISTS, edited by Roger Sobin.

Then there was A WEDDING TO DIE FOR, BY Radine Trees Nehring, a St. Kitts Press issue, FLESH & BLOOD, by John Harvey from Harcourt,

Also COURTROOM 302 by Steve Bogria, a fascinating look at one of Chicago’s criminal courts. From Vintage Books.

You wouldn’t go wrong spending time with any of these.

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