Book Review – A Walk Among The Tombstones (Lawrence Block)

A Walk Among The Tombstones

Lawrence Block

1992

You hear it all the time now. Cops, DAs, everybody. There’ still DEA guys playing the same old tune, ‘We’re winning the war on drugs. Give us the tools and we can do the job.’ I don’t know, maybe they believe it, but you’re better off believing in the Tooth Fairy. Least that way you might wind up with a quarter under your pillow.”

 

The tenth book in a series is rarely advisable as a suitable entry point into a new series. Still, with the 2014 film adaption starring Liam Neeson, that is how Lawrence Block’s 1992 novel A Walk Among The Tombstones has been marketed. So with that in mind, I took the dive into the series here and I have to say, came out surprisingly impressed.

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An Interview With Simon Maltman

An Interview with Simon Maltman

 

Following on from his recent release of short-story compilation More Faces, Irish writer Simon Maltman, author of 2016’s A Chaser on the Rocks is back with a new series of crime stories, based around amateur sleuth, part-time drug dealer and full-time music store owner Jimmy Black. The debut entry, the titular Bongo Fury, has just been released, and on the eve of release, Simon graciously took the time to answer a few questions from ourselves – Continue reading

Book Review: The Little Sister (Raymond Chandler)

The Little Sister

Raymond Chandler

1949

“Who am I cutting my throat for this time? A blonde with sexy eyes and too many door keys? A girl from Manhattan, Kansas? I don’t know. All I know is that something isn’t what it seems and the old tired but always reliable hunch tells me that if the hand is played the way it is dealt that the wrong person is going to lose the pot. Is that my business? Well, what is my business? Do I know? Do I ever know? Let’s not go into that. You’re not human tonight, Marlowe. Maybe I never was nor ever would be.”

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Book Review – The Goodbye Look (Ross Macdonald)

The Goodbye Look

Ross Macdonald

1969

“There was a bald spot on the crown of his head, with a little hair brushed over to mask his vulnerability. The beatings that people took from their children, I was thinking, were the hardest to endure and the hardest to escape.”

One of the later entries into the Ross Macdonald’s series of novels to feature the private detective Lew Archer, The Goodbye Look is a complex crime novel looking into the lives of two American families, bound together by secrecy, crime and murder. Continue reading

Book Review – If The Dead Rise Not (Philip Kerr)

If the Dead Rise Not

Philip Kerr

2009

Grief: I no longer had patience for it. What did it matter when you grieved for people when they died? It certainly couldn’t bring them back. And they weren’t even particularly grateful for your grief. The living always get over the dead. That’s what the dead never realize. Even if the dead did come back, they’d only have been sore that somehow you managed to get over their dying at all.”

The sixth book in Philip Kerr’s series of novels focused around German PI Bernie Gunther, If the Dead Rise Not is another strong entry into the series, and returns to the compelling highs set by earlier entries A German Requiem and The One from the Other. Continue reading

Film Review – Angels With Dirty Faces (1938)

Angels With Dirty Faces

1938

Director: Michael Curtiz

Whaddya’ hear whaddya’ say?”

 

One of the genre’s most renowned works, Angels With Dirty Faces is a classic gangster film which gives James Cagney one of his most memorable roles, and which makes a true attempt to present something different and take a new look at the role of gangsters in a post-prohibition society.

Released in 1938 and directed by Casablanca and Yankee Doodle Dandy director Michael Curtiz, the film centres around Rocky Sullivan (Cagney), a life-long tough guy who has spent lift in and out of various prisons since childhood, and the story picks up following his latest prison release, having taken a fall for a $100,000 armed robbery so that his ‘associate’, a crooked lawyer called Jim Frazier (played by a young Humphrey Bogart) can set up a criminal outfit with the proceeds from their past endeavours, only to find himself double-crossed and eventually forced to blackmail his gang in order get his ‘cut’, setting him up for inevitable conflict amongst his former associates. Continue reading

Farewell, My Lovelies: Three Faces of Philip Marlowe

 

Following on from a re-read of Raymond Chandler’s Farewell, My Lovely (reviewed here), I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed reading it again. One of Raymond Chandler’s best works, it’s a mean, dark story of a detective working his way through the rotting streets of Los Angeles. Tasked to find an ex-con’s former fiancé, a nightclub crooner called Velma Valento, Marlowe is dragged into a tale involving gangsters, crooked cops, psychic consultants, rich politicians, mysterious hold-ups and not to mention quite a few beatings around the head…

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it made a fairly swift transfer to the big screen – beginning with 1942’s The Falcon Takes Over – and holds the honour of being the Chandler novel which has been adapted the most times, with three film versions to its credit (The Big Sleep and The High Window scored two adaptions, with all the others having the one, save for Playback which never was made – rather ironically, given that it started life out as a screenplay rather than a novel). Owing to having a free weekend, not to mention a bit of a hangover to also work through, I nobly committed myself to spending a Saturday re-watching these three films with the view to doing a small comparison piece.

Here goes… Continue reading

Book Review: Farewell, My Lovely (Raymond Chandler)

Farewell, My Lovely

Raymond Chandler

1940

“I filled a pipe and reached for the packet of paper matches. I lit the pipe carefully. She watched that with approval. Pipe smokers were solid men. She was going to be disappointed with me.”

The second novel to feature private eye Philip Marlowe, Raymond Chandler’s Farewell, My Lovely is a defining piece of hardboiled detective fiction – a dark tale of love, violence and corruption in a world gone bad.

As with many of Chandler’s novels, Farewell, My Lovely came about as the result of his ‘cannibalising’ of three earlier short stories (which I have to admit to having yet to read): The Man Who Loved Dogs, Try the Girl, and Mandarin’s Jade. Each being self-contained stories, Chandler worked them into one complete narrative, and in doing so produced one of the finest books of his career. Continue reading

Book Review: More Faces (Simon Maltman)

More Faces

Simon Maltman

2017

God loves you” she said after me.

“God loves a trier.”

Traditionally, short stories are quite often the arena where writers learn their trade, cut their teeth and introduce audiences to both themselves and a number of characters who may or may not go on to feature in later works. Crime writers are particularly noted for establishing their careers in this way, and much of this is true for Irish author Simon Maltman, author of 2016’s A Chaser on the Rocks (reviewed here), which served up an entertaining slice of modern crime fiction. Continue reading

‘Laura’ – On Page and On Screen

‘Laura’ – On Page and On Screen

Novel by: Vera Caspary

Film directed by: Otto Preminger

1944’s ‘Laura’ is typically considered one of the highlights early film noir. A murder mystery based around a detective’s investigations into the death of the titular character, Laura Hunt, the story is an engaging study into the twisted love and irrational obsession over the mere existence of another human being, and is considered a highly influential entry within the genre.

After having seen the film some months before, I stumbled across a copy of the original novel and decided, having quite enjoyed the movie, to give it a go. It’s a fairly short book (much like the film) and makes for suitable travelling reading. Upon reading it, I was surprised my how much I enjoyed it and followed it on with an immediate re-watching of the movie. Given how popular the film adaption is, I thought a comparison of the two might be of interest, particularly for those less familiar with the original novel. Continue reading