Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Book: Deadly Beloved, by Max Allan Collins (2007)

Every month Hard Case Crime has a drawing to give away advance reading copies of their newest book. Every month I enter. Every month I lose.

I really wanted to win the latest one, so I could be among the first to get my hands on Money Shot by Christa Faust. Christa is the first woman to be published by Hard Case, her blog is a regular stop, and the plot – ex-porn star left for dead seeks vengeance – had me at ‘ex-porn star.’

Surprise. I didn’t win. But I can steer you toward someone who did get an early look.

It turns out Hard Case held a second drawing using the Money Shot entries when they realized they had additional ARCs of Deadly Beloved by Max Allan Collins. I finally win a Hard Case book, and it’s the one title I’d already decided to take a pass on. Collins’ stuff has been hit-or-miss for me, and I knew nothing about Ms. Tree, the graphic novel character making her prose debut in Beloved.

Naturally, I read the book as soon as it arrived and enjoyed the hell out of it. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.

Collins is a well-known disciple of Mickey Spillane; he had a hand in completing the Mick’s Dead Street for Hard Case. Spillane provided the inspiration for Ms. Tree. Suppose Mike Hammer finally married his bombshell secretary Velda only to be gunned down on their wedding night? And further suppose that Velda took over Mike’s business?

I don’t know about you, but I find that premise irresistible.

Michael Tree’s husband – also named Michael – has been in the ground a year when Beloved begins. Ms. Tree is hired to look into the open-and-shut case of a woman who murders her cheating husband. The investigation points toward a shadowy professional killer nicknamed “The Event Planner,” whose long list of victims might also include Ms. Tree’s spouse.

Collins, who wrote the Dick Tracy comic strip for several years, doesn’t shy away from the character’s cartoon origins. The good guys have names like Steele and Valer, while the evil Mafia family is called the Muertas. Collins also finds a way to bring the larger-than-life tone of graphic novels to the page. Deadly Beloved bounds along at a furious clip, providing loads of fun along the way. Another winner for Hard Case, in more ways than one.

News: Strike Stuff

Look, I don’t want to link to it, people. I have to.

John August explains residuals. Craig Mazin backs him up with another metaphor. Mmmmm, cake.

Patrick Goldstein of the L.A. Times has a message for the moguls: “If you don’t believe in the future, you shouldn’t be in show business.”

Who says there’s no money in the internet? Not these guys:

Miscellaneous: Links

Meet the best reason to watch HBO’s Flight of the Conchords: Kristen Schaal.

Hey, did somebody say Ruben Studdard?