Coming soon from Ten31 Publishing!
Check out the teaser trailer for my upcoming, all-ages Lovecraftian horror comic THE GRUMPLEDOWNS GANG AND THE CASE OF THE MAILORDER SHOGGOTHS!
Coming soon from Ten31 Publishing!
Big news and I'm very happy to share! I can finally reveal the cover for This Rough Old World, my first true novel!
In the summer of 1968, Los Angeles is a hotbed of social and political change, but for Tom Ahearn, things have been the same for far too long – and he isn’t sure if that’s a good thing or not. While running his late father’s record store, Tom’s passion is his side-business as a “bedroom detective”. He’s no pervert, but it pays better and offers numerous opportunities to observe the human condition as he catalogues broken relationship after broken relationship, seeking the clues to unravel the mystery behind his own failed marriage.
And just as Tom is smack in the middle of the nastiest marital feud he's ever seen, into Ahearn's Audio walks Charlie, a hippy of the lowest order, convinced he's a sinister cabal’s target and terrified of things he's seen. It's not Tom's kind of case, but lured by the prospect of a quick buck, he dives head-first into a world of casual sex, drugs, music and the occult, where he'll rub shoulders with hopped-up hippies, clash with young Republicans itching for war and face off against a cult of slumming socialites bent on nothing less than completely reshaping the cosmos -- all while unknowingly witnessing the nascence of one of the twentieth century's most notorious evils.
The art is by M. Wayne Miller and the book is forthcoming from Electric Pentacle Press (an imprint of Ravenwood Publishing).
More info soon!
As always, not a review, just talking about stuff I like, rattling off from the top of my head.
This time, let's discuss mystery writer Erle Stanley Gardner's Cool and Lam series of novels.
Erle Stanley Gardner, lawyer, journalist and novelist, is most famous for creating Perry Mason - probably the most famous fictional lawyer slash amateur detective in English-language literature. Under the pen-name A.A. Fair, however, he wrote about a different kind of detective(s) - Bertha Cool and Donald Lam. Cool, massive of body, avaricious and utterly amoral when it comes to profit, and Lam, physically scrawny, but wickedly intelligent and with a soft spot for women, featured in about thirty novels Gardner wrote under the Fair pen-name between 1939 and 1970.
I've read the first three, pictured above (click the images to see the gallery), "The Bigger They Come", "The Knife Slipped" and "Turn on the Heat". I don't think I'll read any more - not for a while at least.
Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed the novels very much, individually. However, they all fit a formula that Gardner was clearly very comfortable just plugging pieces into and, while it certainly works, it's already gotten a little old after just three books. I like the characters, the prose is fine and the mysteries perfectly serviceable, but the pattern makes it too easy to see where the plot is going and to pick out how characters fit into the mix as they're introduced. Gardner clearly had a penchant for certain archetypes and liked to use them in very specific ways.
I also don't particularly like how--like a TV sitcom--the two main characters' world apparently resets at the end of every novel.
For example (spoilers, but it's an 80-year-old novel, so cut me some slack), at the end of the very first novel, Donald Lam can never return to California after exploiting a legal loophole that allows one to commit any crime with impunity, so long as he doesn't voluntarily enter the state again (because he can't be extradited back to California legally, so he can only be arrested if he returns of his own volition). In the second novel, he's back in Los Angeles without a mention of that event or, apparently, any consequences thereof.
Also in the second novel, the detective agency's beater car is replaced with a brand-new one, but then at the beginning of the third, Lam is back to driving the original jalopy. However, in order to try and impress a client with how intelligent Lam is, Bertha Cool relates the story of how he got away with a capital crime by exploiting a legal loophole the state senate was now frantically trying to legislate a fix for. So the "reset" isn't even consistent. Granted, "The Knife Slipped" wasn't published until many years after the rest of the novels were, due to William & Morrow initially rejecting it and Gardner refusing to revise it (instead, he simply moved on and wrote "Turn the Heat On", which ended up becoming the second Cool & Lam novel published), but Gardner clearly wrote the three books as sequential pieces, at least in his own mind. This is evidenced by Lam's evolution from disbarred lawyer with no detective experience in the first novel, making many mistakes but trying his best to muddle along, to the way he acts in the second--more sure of himself as an investigator, but still making plenty of mistakes--to the Lam of the third book, who is a smooth operator and a crack investigator. The character's evolutionary missing link, the second chronological novel, is an important piece "lost" for many years.
At any rate, as I said, I like the novels, but I think it's a case of them being best enjoyed occasionally rather than binging.
Recommended, but only one or two at a time.
Just a note to say thank you to everyone who came by and said hi, chatted, bought a book or comic at the first Green Mountain Comic Expo this past weekend. It was great to see friends I hadn't seen in a while and meet new people.
Thanks for Moulton Comic Expo for putting on the show and I hope to you see you all again at Vermont Comic Con this summer!
I'm Brandon and I write comic books, prose and poetry. I own dozens of clever and interesting t-shirts.