Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Miles to Go

Gideon Miles is getting some serious love this week. First, it's great to have Cullen Gallagher back from, well, wherever great reviewers go to take a much deserved break. He has chosen to spotlight Miles to Little Ridge which was Heath Lowrance's first take on this U.S. Marshal. And Chris Leek takes a look at Heath's current Miles adventure, The Axeman of Storyville, over at his terrific blog, Nevada Roadkill.

Thank you, both.

Update: After I posted the above I see Kevin's Corner has his own thoughts on Storyville.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Women in Westerns

I'm at Criminal Element with my fifteen picks for strong performances by women in Westerns. Who are some of your favorites? Stop over and let me know.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

And Speaking Of...

Ron Scheer and Vladimir Nabokov (in my last two posts), Ron is at The Fall Creek Review with his thoughts on The Real Life of Sebastian Knight by Nabokov. April 22nd is the Russian born author's birthday and a perfect time to take a look at his first English novel.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

How the West Was Written: Frontier Fiction, 1880-1906 by Ron Scheer

This book began as a question about the origins of the cowboy western ... how it grew from Owen Wister’s bestseller, The Virginian (1902), to Zane Grey’s first novels a decade later. A reading of frontier fiction from that period, however, soon reveals that the cowboy western was only one of many different kinds of stories being set in the West.

Besides novels about ranching and the cattle industry, writers wrote stories about railroads, mining, timber, the military, politics, women’s rights, temperance, law enforcement, engineering projects, homesteaders, detectives, preachers and, of course, Indians, all of it an outpouring between the years 1880–1915. That brief 35-year period extends from the Earp-Clanton gunfight in Tombstone, Arizona, to the start of the First World War.

The chapters of How the West Was Written tell a story of how the western frontier fed the imagination of writers, both men and women. It illustrates how the cowboy is only one small figure in a much larger fictional landscape. There are early frontier novels in which he is the central character, while in others he’s only a two-dimensional, tobacco-chewing caricature, or just an incidental part of the scenery.

A reading of this body of work reveals that the best-remembered novel from that period, The Virginian, is only one among many early western stories. And it was not the first. The western terrain was used to explore ideas already present in other popular fiction—ideas about character, women, romance, villainy, race, and so on. A modern reader of early western fiction discovers that Wister’s novel was part of a flood of creative output. He and, later, Zane Grey were just two of many writers using the frontier as a setting for telling the human story.  Ron Scheer
Currently available in ebook format for Kindle and in paperback. A second volume is in the works for the years 1907 - 1915.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Hour of the Gun (1967)

I'm working on an article about the many Wyatt Earp films and I watched Hour of the Gun (1967) for the first time. I liked James Garner's hardboiled performance as Wyatt and found the overall film quite entertaining. Though for a movie that opens with "This Picture Is Based On Fact. This Is The Way It Happened," goofs in a very big way by portraying the legendary marshal catching up with Ike Clanton (the superb Robert Ryan) in Mexico. And there are many other inaccuracies but as a Western it's quite well done. I recommend Hour of the Gun to anyone who may have missed this John Sturges classic.

A Review of Interest (To Me, Anyway) *

Check it out.

*Swiped from Bill Crider.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Education of a Pulp Writer

http://www.amazon.com/Education-Pulp-Writer-other-stories-ebook/dp/B008DL2F6U/ref=sr_1_8?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1397560117&sr=1-8&keywords=David+CranmerThe Education of a Pulp Writer & other stories* contains some of my earliest, darkest, and most demented characters on the fringe of society. These four shorts were selected from my crime fiction with a bonus story, "Kid Eddie," taken from the noir Western collection Adventures of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles written under my pen name, Edward A. Grainger.

“Blubber” -- A morbidly obese shut-in hires a cheeky “lady of the evening” college girl, leading to a deadly encounter.

“Clouds in a Bunker” – An old man holes up in a fallout shelter, preparing to end it all for himself and his long-gone dementia-ridden wife, but the police are there to foil his plan.

“Cold Gray Dawn” -- A rebuffed man plots revenge against his ex-wife and her new-born baby.

“The Education of a Pulp Writer” -- Neighbors in an apartment building don’t really know as much about each other as they think.

“Kid Eddie” -- While bringing a youthful criminal in for justice, US Marshal Cash Laramie begins to doubt the innocent-looking kid is guilty of any crime.

*This rebooted collection appeared in a slightly different form a couple of years back and is only, currently, available as an ebook.

Monday, April 14, 2014

On a Roll: The Drifter Detective Series

http://www.beattoapulp.com/bk-drifter.htmlThe Drifter Detective series is now up to three titles and I gotta say I'm very excited where Garnett Elliott is headed with the next two. And Hardboiled master Wayne D. Dundee will add an adventure of his own, "Wide Spot in the Road" sometime next month.

All stories, thus far, are standalones featuring detective Jack Laramie, grandson of Western legend Cash Laramie, who roves the 1950s landscape in his DeSoto and living out of the attached horse trailer. He carries Cash's old Colt and has much of his granddaddy's grit but his adventures are very much his own as he scrapes along, wandering from town to town, to eke out a living.

If you like hard-boiled noir adventures with a touch of mystery, well, here's "The Girls of Bunker Pines" to get you started that Mr. Dundee says has, ".. all the ingredients you need for some very satisfying reading entertainment."

Pierce Brosnan’s Ventures West

I'm really enjoying the heck out of writing articles on various Western books and films over at Criminal Element. I may even take a shot at some noir titles in the near future. My latest (writing as Edward A. Grainger) is called Pierce Brosnan’s Ventures West: Grey Owl and Seraphim Falls. C'mon and stop by when you get a moment.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Strange Letter from a New Orleans Serial Killer

Ninety-five years ago a killer was striking fear in New Orleans. His spree claimed at least twelve known victims though that number could be a great deal higher. "The Axeman" was never identified and like London's Ripper before him, endless theories abound as to his identity. His most famous and very odd letter follows:

Hell, March 13, 1919

Esteemed Mortal:

They have never caught me and they never will. They have never seen me, for I am invisible, even as the ether that surrounds your earth. I am not a human being, but a spirit and a demon from the hottest hell. I am what you Orleanians and your foolish police call the Axeman.

When I see fit, I shall come and claim other victims. I alone know whom they shall be. I shall leave no clue except my bloody axe, besmeared with blood and brains of he whom I have sent below to keep me company.

If you wish you may tell the police to be careful not to rile me. Of course, I am a reasonable spirit. I take no offense at the way they have conducted their investigations in the past. In fact, they have been so utterly stupid as to not only amuse me, but His Satanic Majesty, Francis Josef, etc. But tell them to beware. Let them not try to discover what I am, for it were better that they were never born than to incur the wrath of the Axeman. I don‘t think there is any need of such a warning, for I feel sure the police will always dodge me, as they have in the past. They are wise and know how to keep away from all harm.

Undoubtedly, you Orleanians think of me as a most horrible murderer, which I am, but I could be much worse if I wanted to. If I wished, I could pay a visit to your city every night. At will I could slay thousands of your best citizens, for I am in close relationship with the Angel of Death.

Now, to be exact, at 12:15 (earthly time) on next Tuesday night, I am going to pass over New Orleans. In my infinite mercy, I am going to make a little proposition to you people. Here it is:

I am very fond of jazz music, and I swear by all the devils in the nether regions that every person shall be spared in whose home a jazz band is in full swing at the time I have just mentioned. If everyone has a jazz band going, well, then, so much the better for you people. One thing is certain and that is that some of your people who do not jazz it on Tuesday night (if there be any) will get the axe.

Well, as I am cold and crave the warmth of my native Tartarus, and it is about time I leave your earthly home, I will cease my discourse. Hoping that thou wilt publish this, that it may go well with thee, I have been, am and will be the worst spirit that ever existed either in fact or realm of fancy.

The Axeman

A few New Orleans residents were not intimidated and one brave soul, in particular, even said he would leave a window ajar, giving instructions for a showdown. And local tune writer Joseph John Davilla wrote,"The Mysterious Axman's Jazz (Don't Scare Me Papa)". The cover depicted a family playing music with frightened looks on their faces.

Somehow all this colorful history was lost to me until Heath Lowrance sent THE AXEMAN OF STORYVILLE my way that weaves the serial killer's history with my fictional hero Gideon Miles. Now it's 1921, a new world for former U.S. Marshal Gideon Miles, retired and running one of the most popular jazz clubs in the city. But when a deranged axe murderer strikes at the prostitutes of Storyville, and the Black Hand takes up arms, Miles is drawn back into the world he knows so well--the world of evil men, buried secrets, and violent death. Just like old times.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Available Now: The Axeman of Storyville (Cash Laramie & Gideon Miles Series) by Heath Lowrance

New Orleans, 1921. It's a new world for former U.S. Marshal Gideon Miles, now retired and running one of the most popular jazz clubs in the city. But when a deranged axe murderer strikes at the prostitutes of Storyville, and the Black Hand takes up arms, Miles is drawn back into the world he knows so well--the world of evil men, buried secrets, and violent death. Just like old times.

THE AXEMAN OF STORYVILLE by Heath Lowrance is available as an ebook for $0.99. Please note the print version follows in about a week. Both formats contain an excerpt from Wayne D. Dundee's The Empty Badge, the latest Cash Laramie adventure, found in Trails of the Wild. Trails also contains six short stories from the talents of Patti Abbott, Evan Lewis, Matthew Pizzolato, James Reasoner, Kieran Shea, and Chuck Tyrell.

So, there you go, Cash & Miles are back!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Heath Lowrance, Hawthorne, and Gideon Miles

Heath Lowrance has an insightful post called The Sloppy Beginnings of Hawthorne. I enjoyed reading more of the backstory on a character I've had the pleasure to publish through BEAT to a PULP. Tales of a Weirder West collects all the Hawthorne titles in one compact collection. And, very soon, Heath takes another stab (unintended pun, really) at Gideon Miles in The Axeman of Storyville. Here's the description:

New Orleans, 1921. It's a new world for former U.S. Marshal Gideon Miles, now retired and running one of the most popular jazz clubs in the city. But when a deranged ax murderer strikes at the prostitutes of Storyville, and the Black Hand takes up arms, Miles is drawn back into the world he knows so well-- the world of evil men, buried secrets, and violent death. Just like old times...

Saturday, April 5, 2014

A Wild West Primer

I'm at Criminal Element (writing as Edward A. Grainger) with an article titled From Henry Fonda to Jeff Bridges: A Wild West Primer. I've come up with a list that represents something better than the preconceived notion of the dusty, old genre. You know, a primer of sorts for beginners, or hardened vets. Of course, I'd like you to drop a few of your favorite titles in the comments section.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Year I Died Seven Times Book #3

Dying twice hasn’t deterred Ridley from finding the love of his life. The mystery deepens and the action increases as Ridley enlists the help of old buddy CJ for a return trip to New York. There, he’ll encounter vicious gun dealers, some familiar faces (not in a good way) and an old friend who may be able to help find Miho.

This time he’s walking straight into the Lion’s den in search of answers. Death awaits, but that’s just the kind of year Ridley’s having.

The Year I Died Seven Times Book #3 is now available and will be offered as a free download beginning 4/6/14.

Get caught up with books 1 & 2 and be on the lookout for book #4 in June.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Next Day

I was cleaning out my word documents and found this 'review' I wrote  last May and never posted. I played The Next Day again and stand by that its a solid piece of music. Here's my belated (fairly rough draft/no polish) take:
Review: THE NEXT DAY by David Bowie

I’ve learned to not review music because since I can’t carry a tune I will end up giving tribute like “this album (hell I’m not even sure what to put there) is really, really good” or “it sucks” or something equally inane. But Mr. Bowie’s latest helped me quite a bit over a long Memorial Day weekend and if I begin by saying this isn’t a musical review but a post for like-minded fans who may not have picked up his latest assortment of songs—then that would be ok, right? So with that aside, and since I can’t see you nodding, here we go:
My first two CDs I bought was Rewind by the Rolling Stones and ChangesBowie. I was working at Ames Department stores and this had to be 1989/1990 or thereabouts. I had been a fan of David Bowie, like everyone else of my generation with the Let’s Dance (1983) LP. And yes, that was bought as an album. (But CDs were the new rage and, let’s digress even farther, I remember they came in these long cardboard cases that were eventually declared a waste of tree and eventually shrink wrapped in nothing but plastic. So I purchased them with my pathetic pay check and once I got off the swing shift and headed home around 9:30 and played “Changes,” “Suffragette City,” and “Heroes” to… well not death because this was a CD after all the new music form was billed as indestructible. )

Out of all the phases of Mr. Bowie’s career it was that late 70’s period referred to as the Berlin era that cut the deepest with this fan. Though I appreciated the earlier glam and later 80’s pop it was the 1976-’79 era that I related to the most. I just checked Wikipedia to find this sentence, “Like Low, "Heroes" evinced the zeitgeist of the Cold War, symbolized by the divided city of Berlin.” Yeah, that and I thought the songs were really, really damn good. Since ChangesBowie I have bought every release hoping to find an album that returned to that style but Bowie, like Dylan, doesn’t retread and instead created new landscapes with Heathen, Hours, Reality, and now The Next Day.
I played his latest (bought on the Kindle Fire) in an endless loop for three days. Days of long, long deliberations on my part and where Mr. Bowie’s vision of the now came through on a wave of pulsating positive rhythmic beats.* My favorite is “The Stars (Are Out Tonight” with the heavens bustling with activity: "We will never be rid of these stars,” Bowie sings “But I hope they live forever."

What keeps David Bowie relevant to me is he continues to write adult lyrics that doesn't resort to entertaining the teen set or fall in the overly wrought sugar sentiment of the adult radio scene.  Bowie writes for the over forty set who still appreciate the guitars and drums of our youth. With the release of his latest his website stated “David is the kind of artist who writes and performs what he wants when he wants ... when he has something to say as opposed to something to sell.” Working on this not a review I see that Tony Visconti who produced those Berlin era LPs worked on The Next Day. Well there you go. No wonder it hits the mark so well.
The New York Times called the album "Bowie's twilight masterpiece". Well he’s only 66 and I’m hoping he’s productive for another forty years. So were halfway there.
*no clue where I was going there.