Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Down These Mean Screens ...

[[W O R D S]] * I’ve developed quite the schizophrenic life of late. On the one hand, I continue to spend a good portion of my days editing crime-fiction reviews for the literary Web journal January Magazine. At the same time, I have immersed myself in a sea of thoroughly unrelated reading matter, which occasionally inspires a Limbo post or two. Rarely have these worlds intersected, though I did commemorate Raymond Chandler’s 117th birthday last month, and I noted efforts in England to discern whether Sir Arthur Conan Doyle might have had a hand in a real-life, century-old murder.

But now I’d like to draw your attention to the summer 2005 edition of The Thrilling Detective Web Site. Created and edited by Kevin Burton Smith, a Canadian currently living in Southern California’s High Desert region, Thrilling Detective is an ever-expanding database of information, insight, and hard-boiled trivia having to do with private-detective fiction, both modern and historic. A true labor of love, it is an indispensable resource for serious students of crime fiction--books, movies, and television--but can also be a fascinating browsing ground for folks with less academic need than sheer curiosity about how today’s fictional sleuths came into being. The latest update, for instance, offers a lengthy and fascinating interview with Rob Kanter, author of the private eye Ben Perkins series (Concrete Hero, 1994), who has a new book of Perkins short stories, Trouble Is What I Do, out from Point Blank Press. Elsewhere on the site can be found a tribute to the late, lamented Ed McBain, author of the 87th Precinct series (Hark!, Fiddlers); original fiction by Dave White, Ray Banks and Stephen D. Rogers; the site’s first foreign-language entry, a pulpy yarn by Finnish crime novelist Tapani Bagge; and myriad new pages devoted to familiar or forgotten gumshoes such as Ben Jardinn, C.W. Sughrue, and Tough Dick Donahue. There’s enough testosterone here to power a battleship, and sufficient wisecracks to put Bogart’s tongue in a twist. Smith and his contributors never fail to keep things lively, even when their subject is death.

Give it a shot.

ADDENDUM: Also worth reading is Simone Swink’s interview with David Liss, author most recently of the 2005 historical crime novel A Spectacle of Corruption. Texan Liss talks with January Magazine about his published fiction, his upcoming works, and just how much personal research he did on coffee for his second book, The Coffee Trader (2003).

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