Friday, July 4, 2008

So much to read, so little time

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (August); Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine (September):

I admired Mickey Spillane's chutzpa. He once famously said, "I'm the most translated writer in the world, behind Lenin, Tolstoy, Gorki and Jules Verne. And they're all dead..." When he was lambasted for his writing, he'd sling back, "Those big-shot writers could never dig the fact that there are more salted peanuts consumed than caviar... If the public likes you, you're good."

Spillane, who passed away in 2006, left behind a total of six Hammer novels in progress that Max Allan Collins, a Spillane aficionado, is preparing for posthumous publication. EQMM’s Black Mask section features Mickey Spillane's There's A Killer Loose!, a short story adapted by Collins from an unproduced radio script from the early 1950’s. I found Killer a bit predictable and dated, but I give Mr. Collins credit for seamlessly finishing Spillane's work. I'm looking forward to their next collaboration with the return of Mike Hammer in The Goliath Bone.

By contrast, I enjoyed AHMM's mystery classic The Leopard Man's Story by Jack London. I'm not alone in my opinion that London's short stories are superior to his novels. Western writer Dale L. Walker writes: "London's true m├ętier was the short story... London's true genius lay in the short form, 7,500 words and under, where the flood of images in his teeming brain and the innate power of his narrative gift were at once constrained and freed. His stories that run longer than the magic 7,500 generally—but certainly not always—could have benefited from self-editing." [Wikipedia]

EQMM's Department of First Stories features Shooting the Moon by lawyer-turned-writer Thomas Humphrey. A business lawyer comes to question whether his defense attorney and best friend is interested in helping him or framing him for murder. A good read that had me guessing who's the murderer up to the last paragraph. According to the blurb this notable story is not only Humphrey’s first published story but his very first effort.

John C. Boland's Sargasso Sea (AHMM) is a clever breezy tale. A bored school teacher gets what's coming to him after he contemplates murdering his wife on a cruise ship -- in Twilight Zone style.

A Nice Old Guy by Nancy Pickard (EQMM) is an easy going mystery that pulled the rug out from under me a couple times. The nice man of the title meets a wealthy, sweet old woman in a Florida coffee shop, but there is more going on then discussing grandchildren and Van Gogh art.


Anonymous said...

You should have been a writing critic. I think you missed your calling!

David Cranmer said...

Thanks anonymous!