Thursday, December 30, 2010

2011 Wishes from Hong Kong

As a new year dawns, we like to look backwards in time; so please find the opening credits to one of our favourite exploitation thrillers – Brian Trenchard Smith’s THE MAN FROM HONG KONG [1975] , which starred James Bond’s George Lazenby and Jimmy Wang-Yu. It also featured a typically retro 1970’s theme song by British Band ‘Jigsaw’. The song ‘Sky High’ was a one hit wonder.

So on the eve of a new year, enjoy this bit of 1970’s nostalgia -

See you in 2011

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Stark Winters' Reading

May the Existentialist Man wish you all a happy Christmas Holiday and let’s hope that 2011 will be a good year for us all. So as I finish up, and head out of London, I must let you know what my reading plans are for the holiday.

I’ve had a very hectic year, with great fun at Crimefest, Harrogate and the thrilling time at Bouchercon San Francisco. But now the adverse weather over the last couple of weeks have been challenging due to my work in Logistics. I am looking forward to a week and a half off, with my family, and a huge stack of books and DVD’s to relax.

Last night I selected a couple of boxes of books from my review pile for my winter holiday reading. I also selected several books by Richard Stark [aka Donald Westlake] who passed away in January 2009 as books for re-reading as I have been collecting the University of Chicago re-issues, as well as the Graphic Novels The Hunter and The Outfit from Darwyn Cooke.

To show how important Westlake / Stark’s work was to the genre, Jeff Peirce published at the Rap Sheet comments from the community and my humble offering -
I first discovered Donald Westlake thanks to the movie version of The Hot Rock with Robert Redford, which led me to explore more of the Dortmunder books, as well as muttering “Afghanistan, Bananistan” to strangers from time to time. But my true love was the Richard Stark series featuring Parker. I loved the spartan style of Stark, and was overjoyed when I read Stephen King’s tribute to Stark in his brilliant novel about split personalities, The Dark Half. (“Anyway, for reasons you’d have to ask Westlake about, he eventually stopped writing novels about Parker, but I never forgot something Westlake said after the pen name was blown. He said he wrote books on sunny days and Stark took over on the rainy ones ...”) It was an apt tribute to a great man.

I only met Westlake once when we came to the CrimeScene convention in London in 2005. I was humbled in his presence, despite his modesty and gentle nature. I find it surreal that when I heard of the awful news [of Westlake’s death], the first words that came into my head were “Afghanistan, Bananistan,” which echoed as a lament for our loss. I miss his words already, as the world just darkened a tad, knowing that he is no longer with us.

So let me leave the last word to Donald Westlake on the lead up to Christmas. This paragraph is rather apt as I survey the year because the word ‘family’ should be viewed in the widest possible context -

“Christmas reminds us we are not alone. We are not unrelated atoms, bouncing and ricocheting amid aliens, but are a part of something, which holds and sustains us. As we struggle with shopping lists and invitations, compounded by December's bad weather, it is good to be reminded that there are people in our lives who are worth this aggravation, and people to whom we are worth the same. Christmas shows us the ties that bind us together, threads of love and caring, woven in the simplest and strongest way within the family.”
Donald E. Westlake

Have a great holiday and thanks for reading.
If you haven’t read Richard Stark, perhaps curl up on the sofa and try one of his books, but beware, these are VERY dark novels.

Graphic © 2009 Darwyn Cooke from 'The Hunter'
If you are looking for something to read, head off to January Magazine who have their best of 2010 - plenty of great books to chose from -

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Man from Laramie comes to Yorkshire

Some great news for thriller readers, as Wyoming based C.J. ‘Chuck’ Box is confirmed to attend the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate.

I’m a long time follower of Box’s Joe Pickett novels, as well as his standalones and interviewed him at Bouchercon Indianapolis in 2009

As unlikely as this may sound, I made the town of Laramie, Wyoming, my home for a time in the 1980s, when I was traveling around America’s West and Midwest. Fortunately for you, I’m not going to go into all of the reasons why I landed in that once lawless frontier burg. But I will say that I had a good time there and made some “interesting friends” at a bar called The Buckhorn. It was there that I met my first real cowboys, and for a time, was a rather unusual regular--a swarthy man with a clipped English accent, who drank gin-and-tonics and talked incessantly about books.

My Laramie days were still very much on my mind in 2003, when I attended my first Bouchercon, in Las Vegas, Nevada, and met C.J. “Chuck” Box. A Wyoming native, Box by then had had two novels published: Open Season (2001) and Savage Run (2002), both of which starred game warden Joe Pickett. Reading Box’s yarns took me back to my time in the West, when I wandered around the Black Hills and attended the Frontier Days celebration in Cheyenne, an event that offered me my first opportunity to ride a bucking bronco. (Yes, my time in America was filled with action!)

Read The Full Interview Here

Corvus Publishing sent me a press release as they are releasing all of Box’s work in 2011 -

Corvus today announces an unprecedented roll-out of twelve new books by the multi award-winning US crime writer C.J. Box in a single year. Corvus is set to publish one book a month from Box’s New York Times bestselling ‘Joe Pickett’ series in 2011. Together with the paperback publication of the 2009 Edgar award-winning Blue Heaven in January and a new stand-alone novel in August, the ground-breaking venture shows a major commitment by Corvus to publishing C.J. Box in the UK. It will be supported by an intensive year-long publicity and advertising campaign and major book trade promotions.

Publisher Nicolas Cheetham says:

‘Every crime writer needs a series character, and Corvus has the great pleasure of introducing Joe Pickett to the growing number of C.J. Box’s British fans. The Joe Pickett books are addictive, each instalment surpasses the last, and that’s saying something when the first book, Open Season, won nearly every crime writing award in the USA. You shouldn’t have to wait for something this good, so we’re publishing the Pickett novels in quick succession. The best way to watch a hit TV series is to buy the box set and watch them all at once… Why shouldn’t it be the same for books? In more ways than one, this is the ultimate Box set.’

Cheetham first introduced C.J. Box to the UK, acquiring three stand alone novels, when he launched the Corvus list in 2009. Box’s use of very normal everyday characters placed in extraordinary situations has already proved a big hit with male and female readers in the US. Now, his captivating, morally complex and exceptionally written series featuring Wyoming game-warden Joe Pickett should find a broad and dedicated fan base – and as Cheetham says ‘should catapult him into the major league of thriller writers in the UK.’

C.J. Box will make his first ever UK tour in July 2011 and will appear at Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate in the run up to the publication of his new stand alone book, Back of Beyond.


January 2011 Blue Heaven [paperback] £7.99
February 2011 Open Season [Joe Pickett #1] £7.99
March 2011 Savage Run [Joe Pickett #2] £7.99
April 2011 Winterkill [Joe Pickett # 3] £7.99
May 2011 Trophy Hunt [Joe Pickett #4] £7.99
June 2011 Out of Range [Joe Pickett #5] £7.99
July 2011 In Plain Sight [Joe Pickett #6] £7.99
August 2011 Back of Beyond [hardback] £7.99
August 2011 Free Fire [Joe Pickett #7] £7.99
September 2011 Blood Trail [Joe Pickett #8] £7.99
October 2011 Below Zero [Joe Pickett #9] £7.99
November 2011 Nowhere to run [Joe Pickett #10] £7.99
December 2011: Cold Wind [Joe Pickett #11] £12.99

More information about C J Box is available here