Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Cornell Woolrich

I read my first Cornell Woolrich Story this weekend. It was a short story in an EQMM from 1962 that someone got for me. The story won a $1500 prize which I can only imagine was major dough in 1962. Not too bad now.

Anyway, here's the problem -- I think I found a plot hole and it's one of those big gaping ones that can sink an entire story. I loved the writing, but on the last page as the detective reveals to the killer how it is that he figured it all out (and how this one crucial piece of evidence means the gas chamber, etc) I just can't see how that works. The story is called "One Drop of Blood" and that names the piece of evidence in question. The detective finds it, but I honestly don't see how it helps him in the slightest -- I mean, if I were the killer, I would have shrugged or yawned at this particular reveal. If anyone knows the story and can set me straight, please, please, please, do so. Otherwise, where do I go to report that Cornell Wollrich made a boo-boo? Is there a form, maybe?

The Watcher in the Pine

I met Rebecca Pawel at the Chicago Bouchercon -- she was manning the IAWC desk in the dealer room. A fellow Stuy High alum (though many years my junior so she never got to attend school at the Incredible Sinking Building on 15th Street. Instead, she went to shiny new builing with indoor swimming pool under a retractable gym floor.

Of course, Frank McCourt didn't teach English at her version of Stuy High, so we'll call it even. (Not that McCourt ever taught me, mind you, still it was an option for artsy students in the know. I was neither artsy nor in the know.)

In any event, I bought her book The Watcher in the Pine. I had her sign it and I've read it, and now I would like to rave about it.

Great Googali-Moogali is this good writing. The mystery takes backseat to the character development, but that is no knock in my reviewing lexicon -- in fact that's about the highest praise I have for a book. In any event, I haven't read the first two books in the series (an omission I hope to rectify soon) but Carlos y su mujer are real people to me. And I like them. And Carlos is a Facist! How do you make a Facist likeable? I don't know. Ask Rebecca.

Now you may ask, "But do I really want to spend money on a book where the backseat is filled with mystery, but character development is in the driver's seat?" Well, first, "Hell yeah." But then second, the plot is top-notch as well. It's just that the characters are... well, they're top-notcher. (Or top-notchest?) In any event, the plot contains a move to a new town (perfectly drawn so that you'll believe you've been there), duplicitous deputies (how often do you get to use that phrase?) and a possible separatist cell getting funds from places unknown. Oh, and there's a dead guy in a river. Go figure. Frankly, I was even suspecting the local priest who, I must say, still doesn't seem quite kosher to me. Anyway, in the words of Siskel and Ebert: Two Thumbs Way Up.

Monday, September 19, 2005


For the past few days, I've been doing a bit a promotional work. First, I did a signing at my local Barnes and Noble. This was in conjunction with Jessica Speart and Lori Avocato and set up dy Donna Calvenese. I sold six copies and spoke to abou six others so I was quite pleased with myself and the way the whole thing went though attendance was light. Jessica thought she might be able to hook me up with a library show going on in Amherst MA, later this month, but there again maybe not. We'll see. The important thing is that if I hadn't donethe signing, there'd be no chance of Jessica thinking of me for this other event since we'd never met before. The snowball effect.

On Friday, I decided to drive to three local libraries, give them free copies of my latest book, and leave my business card. I told the people in charge at each library that I would be happy to participate in any events where they could use a local author, free if I can sell some books or give out promotional material. I'm going to try to get to another three libraries this coming Friday and so on.

I also sent word to the appropriate people at The Mystery Writers of America and The International Association of Crime Writers about my latest short story publications in Alfred Hitchcock and CrimeSpree. MWA will add a line to their next newsletter and IACW will send out a notice as part of their email weekly newsletter.

I'm planning to go to the NYC MWA dinner later this month. I'm also thinking about attending New England Crime Bake in November.

All of this is intended to increase awareness about me and my series within the mystery reading community and the general reading community. Will it work? I'll report back about any evidence that it does. I suppose a lack of such evidence might be construed as a sign of ineffectiveness.

Saturday, September 10, 2005


Chicago is a nice town. It's like Manhattan without the clutter. Bouchercon has so far been a great convention for me to attend. My first was Las Vegas in 2002. I've had fun and learned all along.

This time I had some very nice conversations. John Rickards kept me company on several occasions when it was quite clear I would otherwise have wandered aimlessly. I met Rebecca Pawel -- very nice and a fellow Stuy High graduate, but I'll bet she's too young to remember the Incredible Sinking Building Stuyvesant inhabited when I was a student. Anywa, bought her books and read the last one first. I'll have more to say about "The Watcher in the Pine." Right now, I'll say it was great.

Ran into David Ellis. Great guy as always. Shook hands with Ken Bruen. Now I have to read his books. Met Linda Landrigan who took my UFO story for AHMM. We'll have to do lunch. Con Lehane and Blake Crouch both had time for me. Will Thomas, whose "Some Danger Involved" I enjoyed immensely and whose "To Kingdom Come" I am enjoying, sat by my side to sign books on Sunday. Ted Fitzgerald, gracious as always. Oline Cogdill genuinely wants to know when my next book comes out so I'm psyched. Andi Schechter and SJ Rozan, a dynamic duo.

Spoke with Johnny Temple of Akashic Books. He moderated my panel at Las Vegas and liked my goatsucker book. Akashic is quite cool which reflects on Johnny who is so cool he can make being tableless at the Harlem Book Fair work for him even on a rainy day. Same, of course, goes for his Brooklyn Noir sidekick Tim Mcloughlin.

More later...