My books can be purchased as e-books for only $1.99. If interested, just click here: Books.
Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
In case anyone is interested in any of my past posts, an archive list can be found at the bottom of this page.
My newest novel, Happy Valley, can be found here.
Thursday, March 27
Wednesday, March 26
We finished the last Netflix disc of Breaking Bad, Season 4, and both can hardly wait to see what they do with Season 5. Now that bad guy Gus is dead and the elaborate meth lab in the laundry blown up, where can it go? Will Hank ever catch up with brother-in-law Walter? Will Jesse stick it out with Andrea and her son? Will Skylar continue to launder money in the car wash? I can’t wait to find out. Breaking Bad has unanimously been hailed as one of the best ever. Maybe even THE best ever. We heartily agree. The plots are unexpected, the characters all developed to a remarkable degree, the actors all doing Emmy-worthy work, especially that of Bryan Cranston as Walt White, Anna Gunn as Skyler, and Aaron Paul as Jesse. And all the rest are superior. Thank you, Netflix.
Sunday, March 23
The Arizona Lottery likes to say in its tv ads, “You can’t win if you don’t play.” I like to think that the obverse is also true, “You can’t lose if you don’t play.” In fact, I like to think that over the last thirty or so years, I’ve won a bunch of money by not buying any lottery tickets. If I bought one a day, as a lot of people do, “d have lost almost $11,000. That makes me an $11,000 winner.
Talking Stick Resort, in Scottsdale, Arizona, has an ad that plays over and over whenever I’m watching a Phoenix Suns game. What’s so memorable about it is a quick shot of a young woman whispering sweet nothings into a man’s ear. Then her eyes shift to the right, directly into the camera. All male viewers must feel as I do: She’s looking right at me, the eternal come-on by the eternal flirt. Every time the ad comes on, I wait for that look, eternally susceptible to that glance as old as Eve.
In my essay on mystery/suspense series (March 21), I forgot to mention a few very good ones. C. J. Box has 15 novels about his Wyoming game warden, Joe Picket. Good action, great characters. P. J. Parrish (pseudonym for Kristy Montee and Kelly Nichols, two sisters who write collaboratively) has written ten novels starring a biracial p.i named Louis Kincaid. Well worth looking at. Stephen White, despite some fights with publishers, gave me a bunch of novels about the Boulder psychologist Dr. Alan Gregory and his police pal, Sam Purdy. Jeffrey Deaver began with The Bone Collector in which the forensic genius Lincoln Rhyme did his thing despite being a paraplegic. David Wiltsie provided the rock climbing FBI agent John Becker in a good series about catching really bad psychopaths. Lawrence Block, whom I mentioned as the author of the Matt Scudder series, also gave us the anti-hero Keller, a hit man who, despite his occupation, makes us side with him. Laura Lippman wrote a bunch about Tess Monaghan. And, how could I forget one of the masters of prose, James Lee Burke, who introduced me to the Louisiana cop/private eye, Dave Robicheaux. All of these, as well as those mentioned in my earlier blog, are worth reading, more than worth reading. Find them. Read them. You won’t be disappointed. You’ll be as intrigued as I am with that Talking Stick lady.
Friday, March 21
I read quite a bit, but for the last twenty years or so I’ve read exclusively in the mystery/action/suspense genre. Except for all the British horse racing novels by Dick Francis, my wife was mostly too busy or too disinterested to read, but lately she’s taken it up. Nasty habit, reading. When you get hooked that’s about all you want to do. She had never read any of the Ed McBain stuff, so I started her on the Matthew Hope series, thirteen novels about a Florida lawyer who just can’t seem to stay out of trouble. Or trouble keeps finding him. She raced her way through that series and then I started feeding her the 87th Precinct series with McBain’s memorable cast of characters set in a fictional New York. She’s now starting the 44th with ten to go. Keeps her out of mischief. The 87th Precinct series was always one of my favorites, and as I do with most writers I like, I read them and then re-read them, sometimes more than twice. I’ve read both McBains twice, the John Sandford Prey series twice, the Parker Spensers and Jesse Stones and Suunny Randalls all twice, the Lee Child’s Jack Reachers twice, all of the Dick Francis books twice, the Lawrence Block Matt Scudders twice, and my favorite of all, John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee series four times. Yeah, you could say I’m compulsive. I read the McGee series so often because I was trying to get a handle on MacDonald’s style and all the biographical details of Travis McGee in order to write the final in the series about this iconic tough guy, a novel I would call The Black Widow. But MacDonald’s son didn’t want anyone to touch his father’s legacy. I couldn’t feel too bad about his denial since he’d also said no Stephen King about doing the same thing. Right now I’m just beginning my second reading of Robert Crais’s series about Elvis Cole and Joe Pike, an obvious West Coast copy of Parker’s Spenser. I’ve read nearly all of what Stephen King has written, but he seems to be able to write faster than I can read. And Dean Koontz the same. A long time ago I began James Patterson’s Alex Cross series, but Patterson became so stupidly bloody that I gave him up, and he’s since become so commercial he writes four or five a year in collaboration with four or five other people. No thanks. I still have Michael Connelly and his Harry Bosch, Jonathan Kellerman and his Alex Delaware, James W. Hall and his Thorn, Kathy Reichs and her Temperance Brennan. What more do I need? I need more young authors with tough guy main characters. All the authors of my past preferences are dead or dying. If you’re looking for something to read and have never encountered any of the people I’ve mentioned, go there and rejoice.
Monday, March 17
Thursday, March 13
Monday, March 10
Saturday, March 8
Tuesday, March 4
Sunday, March 2
A rimshot comment about the upcoming Oscars: Dustin Hoffman claims his Tootsie role is better than Jay Leto’s Rayon in The Dallas Buyers Club. Leto seeks redress for the remark. But Jaye Davidson cries out that his role as Dil in The Crying Game takes them both by surprise.
Tonight’s Oscar show may be the most exciting in years, exciting in that so many of the films are all so good and the race for best actor/actress and supporting actor/actress are all so close. Let’s just say that all of them deserve to win. The buzz in the news seems to suggest that 12 Years a Slave will clean up in most of the categories. I hope not. 12 Years was a powerful examination of our nation’s most disgraceful chapter, our willing enslavement of other human beings. It needed to be said, and it was said powerfully, graphically, painfully. But was it the best film of 2013? I don’t think so. I’ll say gravely that Gravity should win it. I’m also looking forward to seeing Ellen as host. This isn’t her first time hosting the show, and she’ll certainly be better than the forgetable host a year ago, Seth MacFarlane, or three years ago with James Franco and Anne Hathaway. Now, there was a double stinker. Or maybe in the future they should just go with a proven winner as host, Billy Crystal, who has run the show eight times and made us laugh every time.
Quick note about a reasonably good film that should have been better, The Monuments Men, with a great cast that got misused—George Clooney, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Bill Murray, and Jean Dujardin. This film was based on a true story about a small squad of older men who tried to save the art stolen by Hitler during WWII. Clooney directed, and he went wrong by using a humorous tone, especially at the beginning, when a humorous tone wasn’t needed or necessary or effective. Great actor and director that Clooney is, I’d have thought he’d know better.
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