Monthly Archives: September 2011


Ghost Guns is the first W. C. Tuttle screwball western I’ve ever read, but it won’t be my last. Henry Harrison Conroy, former vaudevillian, is Sheriff of Tonto City, Arizona. Although Henry takes a comic view of the world, he’s smart. And he needs all of his intelligence to solve a series of murders that involve a blonde angel who packs a rifle, a gambler’s ghost, a stage-coach robbery, a sale of a gold mine, and some wild gunplay. If you’re looking for a completely different kind of Western, Ghost Guns delivers. I want to thank James Reasoner for touting W. C. Tuttle on his blog. James’ remarks lead me to seek out and read this fine book.


Donna Summer, the Queen of Disco, still sounds great after all of these years. I owned all of Donna Summer’s albums. Now, you can buy Bad Girls, her best album, on CD for a mere $8.48 on AMAZON. Giorgio Moroder knew how to infuse songs with infectious hooks. You’ll remember plenty of these songs like “Hot Stuff” and “All Through the Night.” Of course, “Bad Girls” led to a TV special. Nowadays, few people listen to Donna Summer songs anymore. But, maybe they should.
1. Hot Stuff 5:15
2. Bad Girls 4:55
3. Love Will Always Find You 3:59
4. Walk Away 4:29
6. Journey To The Center Of Your Heart 4:36
7. One Night In A Lifetime 4:12
8. Can’t Get To Sleep At Night 4:41
9. On My Honor 3:33
10. There Will Always Be A You 5:02
11. All Through The Night 5:58
12. My Baby Understands 3:58
13. Our Love 4:53
14. Lucky 4:37
15. Sunset People

k. d. lang IN CONCERT

This was our third k.d. lang concert. As usual, k.d. entertained the crowd with her humor and good nature between songs. She sang two of her biggest hits, “Hallelujah” (the Leonard Cohen classic) and “Constant Craving.” The crowd called out for “Crying,” but k.d. didn’t sing it this time. She did sing several songs from her 2011 CD, Sing It Loud. Grumpy Brit, Teddy Thompson, was the solo warm-up act. All in all, a satisfying evening of wonderful music.


Colm Toibin’s latest collection of short stories is a mixed bag. My favorite story is “Silence.” A woman marries an older, richer man. While on trip to Egypt, she has an affair with a poet. Later, back in London, the woman is seated next to Henry James (Toibin adores James) and she tells him a variation of her affair with the old “a friend of mine…” preface. Henry James writes down the details. I also liked “The Pearl Fishers” which is a complicated menage a trois involving the sex lives of students. Some of the stories in The Empty Family explore gay relationships and feature some graphic sex. Toibin is a crafty writer and capable of surprising the reader. Unfortunately, he didn’t do it enough in The Empty Family. GRADE: C+

SCI-FI ART NOW By John Freeman

Yes, I’ve been on a bit of a SF artwork binge. John Freeman’s collection features a different mix of artists: Brett Norton, Liam Sharp, Paul McCaffrey, Klaus Hutter, and John Picacio. But the artwork is top-notch and the package is nicely done. I’ve enjoyed all three of the collections of artwork I’ve posted about the last three days. If you enjoy SF artwork, check these books out. You’ll be glad you did!

Masters of Science Fiction and Fantasy Art: A Collection of the Most Inspiring Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Gaming Illustrators in the World By Karen Haber

Masters of Science Fiction and Fantasy Art: A Collection of the Most Inspiring Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Gaming Illustrators in the World is another terrific collection of SF and fantasy artwork. Karen Haber has attempted to show the range of genre art and for the most part I think she succeeds. Some of my favorite SF and fantasy artists are represented: Brom, Jim Burns, Ken Wong, Greg Spalenka, Galan Pang, Marta Dahlig, and James Gurney. If you’re a fan of these talented artists, or if you’re just interested in genre artwork in general, you’ll find Masters of Science Fiction and Fantasy Art a wonderful book.

HARDWARE By Chris Foss

Back in the 1970s, I discovered some fabulous SF artwork on some British editions. They were later termed “industrial” covers. Massive starships, giant alien structures, and weird (but colorful) futuristic craft. Very cool. Later, I learned the artist was Chris Foss and I looked for his work in Canada where I could find plenty of British paperbacks. Now, a new coffee table book of the best of Chris Foss artwork has just been published. Hardware is a terrific collection of Chris Foss’s best SF covers. If you like this style of artwork, you’ll be delighted by this eye-popping collection.


You can read all about how Lawrence Block (writing as “Jill Emerson”) came to write Getting Off: A Novel of Sex & Violence at on Patti Abbott’s blog. Hard Case is publishing plenty of older crime novels that appeal to a certain market segment. Getting Off is a hybrid, part crime novel and part sleaze novel from 50 years ago. It works for me. I bet you’ll enjoy Block’s off-beat novel, too.


The panel was called HOT ICE (Caper Novels). As most of you know, I’ve been a big fan of caper novels all of my life. I grew up reading Donald Westlake’s comic capers and his darker capers in the Parker books. Loved Lionel White’s noirish capers. So I looked forward to Benjamin Whitmer, Eoin Colfer, Sean Doolitttle, Chris Ewan, Peter Spiegelman, and Keith Thomson to discuss the caper genre and perhaps suggest some more current caper novels I may have missed. But, no, it was not to be. The participants merely talked about their own books (which didn’t appear to be caper novels). After 20 minutes of this blatant self-promotion, I walked out of the panel. Beth Feydn, who stayed, told me later that someone in the the audience finally stood up and said, “Have any of guys ever heard of Donald Westlake?” Over the years, I’ve seen this creeping (and creepy) phenomenon of using panels to boost the authors’ books, but this caper panel was the most egregious example yet. Mystery fans go to panels to meet new writers and to learn more about the various aspects of the genre. They are not a captive audience for authors promoting their books!


Yes, I know the Renaissance Grand Hotel is an older hotel. But no Wi-Fi in the hotel rooms (other than a bogus connector that doesn’t work with an iPad) is inexcusable. The hotel needs to upgrade pronto. If I can get Wi-Fi on a plane, I should be able to get it in my hotel room. The Wi-Fi that was available in the Lobby and (for some people) on the Mezzanine was hard to access. And, once logged on, the network was slow, slow, slow. That needs to be upgraded, too. And, I admit I’m spoiled, but I can’t understand why a classy hotel like the Grand has toilets three inches off the floor. Very annoying!