Monday, March 2, 2015

Smiley’s Reckoning

I am still working my way through the George Smiley spy series and am up to the laconic Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. My article is live at Macmillan's Criminal Element. Here's a sample:
In 1974’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, we finally have an account of George Smiley as a full-fledged intelligence officer after thirteen years on the scene. In the first two novels of the series—Call for the Dead (1961) and A Murder of Quality (1962)—Smiley functioned more as detective that could have easily fit into a G.K. Chesterton Father Brown mystery as he pieced clues together to solve murders. Entertaining, mind you, but not the sort of exploits you expect from a master spy. In the groundbreaking The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1963), the door was cracked open a little farther and we see him functioning as a ‘puppeteer’ of sorts pulling the surreptitious strings to bring down a communist agent. The Looking Glass War (1965) is almost a footnote; Smiley makes what amounts to an extended cameo that his creator John Le Carré concedes (in a 1991 forward to the then latest paperback) was miscast. It would be a nine-year break between Glass War and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy but Le Carré wasn’t resting, and he delivered in a very big way.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Literary Mysteries: Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Light-House”

A sample of my latest article that can be found at Criminal Element:
Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) remains a giant within the horror set with renowned classics such as The Raven, The Tell-Tale Heart, and The Pit and the Pendulum. He’s also acknowledged as the architect of the contemporary detective genre with his French investigator, C. Auguste Dupin, who first appeared in 1841’s "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" and later in "The Mystery of Marie Rogêt" (1842) and "The Purloined Letter" (1844).

It is these main ingredients of horror—or, more precisely, impending doom—and mystery that fused a minor but intriguing literary coda to his legacy. A last shot, if you will, across the bow that enticingly leaves many questions unanswered. I’m speaking of the roughly 800 word, untitled (though now commonly referred to as “The Light-House”) manuscript that is presented in diary form beginning on New Year’s Day 1796 and features journal entries for the next couple of days.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Last Days of the Condor by James Grady

Do you remember THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR (1975) starring Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway? It's the movie where Redford reads books for the CIA, steps out for lunch, and returns to find all of his co-workers assassinated. A topical paranoid thriller in the aftermath of Watergate that stills holds up in the modern Snowden age. Well, that character has returned in LAST DAYS OF THE CONDOR that I take a look at over at Macmillan's Criminal Element.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Hard Side of Heartbreak

A few years back, I remember how elated I was when Wayne D. Dundee sent me a Joe Hannibal tale for the BEAT to a PULP webzine. I've been a fan of Wayne's work—since almost the beginning—and here I was publishing one of my favorite private eyes. That was a very big deal. Plus there’s not enough exclamation points to the added bonuses of having Wayne write several, to date, Cash Laramie novels and one Drifter Detective.

And, once again, I’m pleased to have my friends Wayne and Joe back at the zine with "The Hard Side of Heartbreak."