Sunday, March 27, 2005

New address -- update your bookmarks!

I set up a new website doman for the Crime Fiction Dossier a while ago and now I'm finally ready to start using it exclusively.

From this point on, the Crime Fiction Dossier can be found at:

I look forward to seeing all of your over at our new home!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Interview with Reed Farrel Coleman

My most recent addition to Mystery Ink is an interview with Reed Coleman, author of the excellent detective novel The James Deans.

We cover such topics as the lure of New York City, his good guy character Moe Prager, and how he got his name.

Very interesting guy. Check it out.

Friday, March 18, 2005

The Return of The Wire

Good news for crime fiction fans and anyone who enjoys quality television. HBO has renewed The Wire for a fourth season.

The critically acclaimed, Peabody Award-winning HBO drama series THE WIRE has been renewed for a fourth season, it was announced today by Carolyn Strauss, president, HBO Entertainment. The 12-episode fourth season will begin shooting in late 2005, with debut set for 2006.

Congrats to David Simon, George Pelecanos, et al. Looking forward to it!

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Interview with Harley Jane Kozak

My latest interview, this time with Harley Jane Kozak, author of the recently published Dating is Murder, can now be seen on Mystery Ink.

I don't know if I've been reading Victor Gischler's interviews too much lately, or just watching too much Inside the Actor's Studio, but check out the last question I asked her:

Q. We end tonight, as we always do, with a question invented by my hero, Bernard Pivot: What is your favorite curse word?

A. The word my children so adore, that I lifted the ban on it last month: poopyhead.

My review of the book will appear in my next Chicago Sun-Times column on April 3.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Another "overnight success" story

I've been posting regular additions to the newest feature of Mystery Ink and the Crime Fiction Dossier, the Overnight Success site.

A new one just went up this morning, from acclaimed writer Robert Ward, and it's a doozy.
I published the first novel I ever wrote, Shedding Skin. Of course, I rewrote it for five years, and almost died in the process.
Don't miss the rest of the story.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Best Paperback Original?

It’s been suggested to me in the past that Mystery Ink should add a category to the Gumshoe Awards to honor the Best Paperback Original. (After all, the Edgars, among others, do it.)

For a long time, I was resistant to the idea. What’s the point, I thought, of creating an award that Jason Starr is just going to win every year?

In recent months, though, it seems that things have changed. With companies like Hard Case Crime and Point Blank Press now publishing some outstanding original novels in paperback form, the field has definitely expanded.

We’re also seeing more traditional publishers issuing books in trade paperback format that previously might have been hardcovers. (Reed Coleman’s outstanding The James Deans is an example that comes to mind.)

So now, perhaps, the time has come. It looks like this year’s candidates could be very strong.

What do you all think? Should we add Best Paperback Original? And should this be an additional category, or should it replace Best European Crime Novel, a category I’m still unsure of. (Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section, or you can email me.)

Friday, March 11, 2005

Save Moe!

I just finished Reed Farrel Coleman's new book, The James Deans. It's the third book with PI Moe Prager, but the first of Coleman's work that I've read. In a word, it's superb.

Moe is a great character, a refreshing change from the typical detective cliché. He's a good man, a devoted father and husband, a successful businessman. Like the rest of us, he's got his share of pain, but he’s not a dark, haunted soul. Even though he runs a wine shop, he only occasionally drinks.

Coleman’s writing is sparse and direct, with great characters and excellent use of setting. There are moments in the book that are very funny, elements of fine suspense, and turns that are touching and even sad.

Coleman launched a campaign at last year’s Bouchercon to "Save Moe," as his publisher was on the fence about whether or not to continue the series. It boggles the mind that this would be in doubt. If writing this good isn’t finding an audience, it’s hard to believe it’s the fault of the work.

Look for more of my thoughts on The James Deans and Reed Coleman in my next Chicago Sun-Times column. He’s definitely a writer to watch.

Myron Bolitar is back!

I just got a hot tip, straight from the horse', the author's mouth. Harlan Coben informs me that Myron Bolitar is back!

Okay, before you get too excited, he's not returning in a novel. But he will appear in an exclusive, original short story, "The Rise and Fall of Super D," to be included in the hardcover edition of Coben's new standalone thriller, The Innocent.

This comes as very welcome news for all fans of Myron Bolitar, and there are lots of them out there. (Including me.)

Thursday, March 10, 2005

A Message from Harlan Coben

Harlan Coben writes:

As you know, on December 26th, 2004, an earthquake under the Indian Ocean created a series of devastating tsunami waves. Over 150,000 people have been reported dead so far, and many survivors have lost everything. In the aftermath of this terrifying natural catastrophe, people from every continent have been affected in some way.

In an unprecedented collaboration, sixteen writers have joined together to create a collection of the first chapters of their forthcoming novels. New Beginnings is available now wherever books are sold in the UK and will be available soon in the US and Canada, with all proceeds going to charities working in the tsunami hit countries.

My contribution to New Beginnings is the first chapter of my upcoming book The Innocent (to be published in April). Other authors involved in this project are Stephen King, Ian McEwan, Margaret Atwood, Mark Haddon, Nick Hornby, Maeve Binchy, Alexander McCall Smith, Tracy Chevalier, Paulo Coelho, Nicholas Evans, Vikram Seth, Marian Keyes, J.M. Coetzee, Joanna Trollope and Scott Turow.

Ask for New Beginnings wherever books are sold or order your copy online.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

2005 Gumshoe Award Winners Announced

Mystery Ink, one of the internet's most popular destinations for readers of mysteries and thrillers, announced today the winners of the fourth annual Gumshoe Awards.

The Gumshoes are given by Mystery Ink each year to recognize the best achievements in the world of crime fiction. The nominees were chosen from books published for the first time in 2004.

According to Mystery Ink's editor, David J. Montgomery, the crime fiction genre is as strong as it has ever been, making the final selections difficult. "Narrowing down the shortlists was difficult enough, but singling out only one book in each category was especially hard.

"All the books nominated were so good that any of them could justifiably have won, but I think we've come up with some outstanding selections. The books that won all show uncommonly fine writing, plotting and characters that help set the standard for fiction of all types."

Mystery Ink is also especially proud this year to award Lawrence Block the Gumshoe Award for Lifetime Achievement. He is among the finest writers that literature has to offer, and there is no one that deserves it more.

The winners of the 2005 Gumshoe Awards are:

Best Mystery:
Jim Fusilli: Hard, Hard City (Putnam)

Best Thriller:
Barry Eisler: Rain Storm (Putnam)

Best European Crime Novel:
Henning Mankell: The Return of the Dancing Master (New Press)

Best First Novel:
Dylan Schaffer: Misdemeanor Man (Bloomsbury)

Best Crime Fiction Website:
January Magazine's Crime Fiction Section

Lifetime Achievement Award:
Lawrence Block

Last year's winners were:

Best Novel: Steve Hamilton - Blood Is the Sky (St. Martin's Minotaur)
Best First Novel: P.J. Tracy - Monkeewrench (Putnam)
Best Crime Fiction Website: Sarah Weinman's Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind
Lifetime Achievement: Ruth Rendell

Online since the beginning of 2001, Mystery Ink features reviews of mysteries and thrillers, interviews with authors, reference information and more.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Overnight Success -- author stories

Mystery Ink and the Crime Fiction Dossier are launching a new feature that we're very excited about.

Overnight Success? collects author's stories, in their own words, about publishing their first novels.

It's still in the formative stages, but we wanted to give you a sneak peek. The responses have been fascinating.

If reading these doesn’t scare you off from wanting to be a writer, nothing will.

Ed Gorman's new blog

Ed Gorman, the uber-prolific crime writer, just poked his head in the door to shout that his blog has a new home:

Okay, Ed, we got the can you keep it down a little? Some of us is just a wee bit hungover...

Check it out when you have a chance. Ed knows books.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

My latest review

In case you're not yet sick of hearing me talk about Lawrence Block's excellent new book, All the Flowers Are Dying, here's my piece on it in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

This morning's Inkie also has a flattering review of Richard Montanari's new book, The Rosary Girls, written by my editor there, Frank Wilson.

Friday, March 04, 2005

An overnight success? Not for most writers.

I'm currently putting together a compilation of stories from a variety of crime fiction authors on how long it took them to write and sell their first novel.

Most of the responses, predictably, reflect a period of years, with considerable rewriting and failed manuscripts, before success was finally achieved.

And then there's Lawrence Block, author of the recently released All the Flowers Are Dying:
"My first novel was written in two or three weeks and sold to the first publisher who saw it."

Fifty-plus novels later and it all looks easy...

Check back periodically for more responses.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

5 Things I've Done That You Haven't

Like Tod Goldberg, I'm never invited to participate in these things either. I'm not even sure I know what a meme is. But here's my list anyway.

5 Things I've Done That You Haven't

1. Got drunk with James Crumley and called him a son of a bitch (in a very good natured way).

2. Sat in a hotel lobby with a half dozen well-known crime writers discussing the best way to handle an anal sex scene for a popular series protagonist.

3. Helped the FBI with their investigation of a crooked company, then received letters from the Department of Justice informing me where the perps were imprisoned and their sentences. (My business cards now read "David J. Montgomery: Crime Writer, Crime Fighter.")

4. Heard the incomparable Frank Sinatra perform in concert, an evening I'll never forget.

5. (echoing Sarah) Reviewed books for the Chicago Sun-Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, Boston Globe and Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

There was also that thing about the blumpkin, but that's best left for another time...

Further thoughts on Left Coast Crime

A few random thoughts on the Left Coast Crime conference that bubbled up through the haze over the past few days:
  • Putting on a conference like this must be a huge amount of work, but these folks did a great job.
  • I'm glad I visited El Paso, but hope I never return.
  • Free beer in the hospitality room is just plain cruel. Wonderful, but cruel.
  • Fried pickles actually are quite tasty.
  • Mexican food in the Southwest is so good that even the stuff served at a hotel banquet is better than most restaurants in the Northeast can manage. (One of the few things I miss about California is the food.)
  • When publishers describe your book as "transgressive," that's not a good thing. (Definition: "Of or relating to a genre of fiction, filmmaking, or art characterized by graphic depictions of behavior that violates socially acceptable norms, often involving violence, drug use, and sexual deviancy.")
  • I'm not the only guy at these things who is living off a woman with a much better job.
  • I missed Victor Gischler dancing, proof that not only does God exist, but He is a loving and merciful deity.
  • Crime writers seem to be an unnaturally tall bunch. I'm 6'2" and am only average at such a gathering.
  • If James Earl Jones ever retires, Gary Phillips can take over as America's Leading Black Man with a Cool Deep Voice.
  • Listening to an author read his/her work aloud can be an incredible experience. (I am still in awe of Jim Fusilli's performance.)
  • As a group, mystery writers are among the nicest people you'll ever meet; which, in a weird way, is almost a little scary.

I just realized that I could be writing Larry King's column. Move over, you old fart!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Signing in Houston tonight

For those of you who might be in the Houston area, there's a great signing at 6:30 tonight at Murder by the Book. Three terrific mystery writers will be there: Reed Coleman, Jim Fusilli and S.J. Rozan.

I had the chance to hang out with them at Left Coast Crime last week and they're terrific people and I'm sure the signing will be a blast. (Apparently it's also being taped for the Texas Live television program.)

Wish I could be there! If anyone's in town, stop by and snap a few pics for the rest of us.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

How NOT to publish a book

I received a letter in the mail yesterday. The letter is from the head of the publishing company and reads:
It has just been discovered that the copy of XYZ* ARC recently mailed to you may have contained a printer error wherein only even or odd numbered pages were bound together.

This is a very small press. (So small that I've never heard of them in any other context.) How many galleys could they be sending out? A couple dozen? And yet apparently they didn't even bother looking at them before mailing 'em out.

I wasn't planning to read the book anyway, but this seals the deal. (For the record, the cover is also one of the most amateurish I've seen.) A book has once chance to make an impression. These folks blew it.

*The names of the perpetrators have been changed to protect the guilty.