August 25, 2011 |
We sure have come a long way since Out of Africa and The Flame Trees of Thika . In the second decade of the 21st century, some of the most compelling contemporary crime-fiction novels are either set in or coming from Africa. Much as Scandinavia became associated with the genre a few years back - thanks in large part to Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy - Africa may become a new capital of literary crime. At the forefront is Roger Smith, a director and screenwriter who lives in Cape Town, South Africa, and writes with the brutal beauty of an Elmore Leonard in a very bad mood.
August 14, 2011
By Benjamin Black Henry Holt & Co. 310 pp. $25 Reviewed by Peter Rozovsky John Banville distinguishes between the artistic pleasure he derives from the literary novels he writes under his own name and the craftsman's pleasure he gets from the crime fiction he writes as Benjamin Black. This makes it fair to ask a craftsman's questions about the Black books: How well do the parts fit together? How smoothly does Black execute them? Are they beautiful? Do they work?
December 22, 2012 |
Somewhere in this newspaper this week, you'll find reviews of concerts and recordings by "indie" rock bands. Critics, fans, and musicians seem comfortable with the designation, the belief implicit that indie bands and record labels offer something better than, or at least different from, what bigger labels do. The same is true of independent, "little" movies. But what about crime fiction? Why do too many readers not know that some of the world's best crime writing is published by Stark House Press, Serpent's Tail, Seventh Street Books, Counterpoint, Hard Case Crime, ECW Press, Liberties Press, Hersilia Press, and other smaller houses in the United States and abroad?
November 2, 2014 |
Deen Kogan and her crowd are drawn to crime. Good thing it's fictional crime, because this is a clever bunch, adept at thinking up all manner of mischief for book and film, even for art and poetry. For the last few days, they've been meeting at Kogan's Society Hill Playhouse and other Philadelphia venues for the 2014 edition of NoirCon, a biennial celebration of the dark literary and film genre called noir. The conference winds up Sunday with a closing ceremony at Port Richmond Books, 3037 Richmond St. Kogan, 84, who opened Society Hill Playhouse in 1959 with her late husband, Jay, is one of the prime movers behind NoirCon, which traces its roots to a 2007 celebration of the late Philadelphia crime author David Goodis.
June 8, 2010
David Markson, 82, a revered postmodern author who rummaged relentlessly and humorously through art, history, and reality itself in such novels as Wittgenstein's Mistress , and wrote crime fiction, poetry and a spoof of Westerns made into the Frank Sinatra film Dirty Dingus Magee , has died. Mr. Markson's two children found him on June 4 in his bed in his Greenwich Village apartment, the author's literary agent and former wife, Elaine Markson, said Monday. She did not know the cause of death or when he died, but said he had been in failing health.
August 23, 2009
By Fred Vargas Translated from the French by Sian Reynolds Penguin. 256 pp. $14 (paper) Reviewed by Peter Rozovsky Fred Vargas' novels amble far from the investigations that are the staple of the traditional police procedural. At the same time, few crime stories are as apt to leave a reader wondering so ardently: Whodunnit? That's because Vargas' near-constant emphasis on her characters' quirks communicates the old French message that everyone has his reasons.
December 7, 1997 |
Just in time for holiday gift-shopping, here's my Heinous Half-Dozen for 1997, the cream of the crime-fiction crop. TANGLED JUNE By Neil Albert Walker. $20 PI Dave Garrett unwillingly takes on a particularly thorny case. He has to investigate himself. EVEN THE WICKED By Lawrence Block Morrow. $23 Here's the bleak and battered but compelling world of Matthew Scudder, who brilliantly tracks a publicity-hungry serial killer. MUSCLE BOUND By Liza Cody Mysterious Press.
July 1, 2013
The Ghost Riders of Ordebec By Fred Vargas Translated from the French by Sian Reynolds Penguin. 368 pp., $15 Reviewed by Peter Rozovsky Fred Vargas' novels are sold as crime fiction, and she has done well for herself under that label, winning three International Dagger Awards for best translated crime novel from the Crime Writers' Association in Great Britain and topping best-seller lists in several European...
June 18, 2006 |
Raymond Chandler didn't publish books with intros by Gandhi. Dashiell Hammett never collaborated with U.N. do-gooder Dag Hammarskj?ld. But pick up I Die, but My Memory Lives On (New Press), a short book on the international AIDS crisis by Henning Mankell, Europe's most popular mystery writer, and the foreword is by none other than Archbishop Desmond Tutu. In it, the South African prelate praises the Swedish author for having "the courage and the passion to challenge the affluent First World not to be so obsessed with their own issues . . . to be concerned about poverty, about hunger, about violence.
July 4, 2013
By Timothy Hallinan Soho Crime. 336 pp. $25 Reviewed by Bruce Desilva Junior Bender is a professional burglar, and he's very good at it. He's been breaking into houses and making off with valuables for a long time and has never been arrested. Along the way, though, he's also picked up a sideline, moonlighting as a private eye of sorts, whose clients are all fellow criminals; and in this line of work he's a magnet for trouble. In The Fame Thief , Timothy Hallinan's third novel in this series, Bender is scooped up by a couple of thugs and driven to the estate of Irwin Dressler, a 93-year-old mobster who's had a piece of just about everything that's happened in Hollywood for as long as anyone can remember.