Pulp Macabre: The Art of Lee Brown Coye’s Final and Darkest Era

pulpmacabreLate, great horror illustrator Lee Brown Coye certainly has his following; otherwise, Feral House would not be publishing this beautiful, haunting retrospective of his work. But I wonder if being familiar with the man before reading PULP MACABRE is the best way to experience it. Because I had not heard of him prior to this release, I was gifted with the joy of discovery.

But the rest of you already know what you’re getting. Still, that chalks up as a win.

To quickly recap, Coye, who passed away in 1981, was an artist who worked for decades in a variety of media, yet is best-known for his illustrations for horror pulps such as the iconic WEIRD TALES and fiction collections of fantasists H.P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith.

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Bragg V1

braggv1Newspaper reporter Jack Lynch moved from Seattle to San Francisco in the 1960s and, following several years working at the San Francisco Chronicle, left reporting to write crime fiction full time. He produced a series of eight paperback originals featuring PI Peter Bragg during the 1980s. They were popular in their day and earned Edgar and Shamus Award nominations. Lynch died in 2008 and, like way too many worthy authors, his work went out of print and into obscurity.

Fortunately, the folks at Brash Books are republishing Lynch’s series, starting with BRAGG V1, a compilation of the first three titles of the series in one trade paperback edition. It’s a perfect opportunity for crime and mystery fans to discover this highly talented author.

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The Square of Revenge

squarerevengeI wasn’t overly fond of Pieter Aspe’s THE MIDAS MURDERS, the second in a series featuring Bruges, Belgium Inspector Pieter Van In. I thought the text emphasized over-emotional reactions (everyone was “outraged,” or “huffing”) and wasn’t sure if it was Aspe’s stylistic tic or something to do with the translation by Brian Doyle. I hoped for more from THE SQUARE OF REVENGE, which was actually the debut novel for the Van In character.

And I got more, I’ll admit. There’s still some strangeness with the dialogue. No one ever just “says” anything, they “explode with rage.” But the action scenes, and by action I include investigative legwork, are fairly thrilling, taut with tension.

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Kill Me, Darling

killmedarlingProlific crime author Max Allan Collins continues his role as literary executor and posthumous collaborator for the late Mickey Spillane with KILL ME, DARLING, the first of three intended Mike Hammer novels found among Spillane’s unfinished manuscripts.
As he explains in his brief introduction, Collins noted that Spillane envisioned the novel as a follow-up to KISS ME, DEADLY (1952). So Collins revised the opening chapter and placed the entire narrative in the 1953-54 time frame. And, as has been the case with previous collaborations, Collins does the Mike Hammer creator proud.

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3 New Examples That Prove the More, the Merrier

dollcollectionAnthologies, omnibuses, collections —  whatever you call them, it’s no secret that we at BOOKGASM love them. While they tend not to sell well, we’re thankful the industry still allows them to slip their way to the shelves. Here are three new entries this season worth your support, with publisher-provides synopses.

THE DOLL COLLECTION edited by Ellen Datlow — From Tor Books, this anthology is designed to frighten and delight, featuring all-original dark tales of dolls from bestselling and award-winning authors compiled by one of the top editors in the field, a treasured toy box of all-original dark stories about dolls of all types, including everything from puppets and poppets to mannequins and baby dolls. The collection is illustrated with photographs of dolls taken by Datlow and other devoted doll collectors from the science fiction and fantasy field. The result is a star-studded collection exploring one of the most primal fears of readers of dark fiction everywhere, and one that every reader will want to add to their own collection.

rossmacdonaldROSS MACDONALD: FOUR NOVELS OF THE 1950S edited by Tom Nolan — Revered by such contemporary masters as Sue Grafton, George Pelecanos and James Ellroy, Ross Macdonald (the pseudonym of Kenneth Millar) brought to the crime novel new levels of social realism and psychological depth, while honing a unique gift for intricately involving mystery narratives. For his centennial year, The Library of America inaugurates its Macdonald edition with four novels from the 1950s, all featuring his incomparable protagonist, private investigator Lew Archer. Here are THE WAY SOME PEOPLE DIE, a twisted journey through Los Angeles high and low; THE BARBAROUS COAST, an exploration of crime and corruption in the movie business; THE DOOMSTERS, a breakthrough novel of madness and self-destruction; and THE GALTON CASE, the mythically charged and deeply personal book that Macdonald considered a turning point in his career. As a special feature, this volume also includes five pieces in which Macdonald reveals the autobiographical background of his books and describes his distinctive approach to crime writing.

uncannyreaderTHE UNCANNY READER: STORIES FROM THE SHADOWS edited by Marjorie Sandor — From the deeply unsettling to the possibly supernatural, these thirty-one border-crossing stories from around the world explore the uncanny in literature, and delve into our increasingly unstable sense of self, home, and planet. The book opens with “The Sand-man,” E.T.A. Hoffmann’s 1817 tale of doppelgangers and automatons — a tale that inspired generations of writers and thinkers to come. Stories by 19th- and 20th-century masters of the uncanny — including Edgar Allan Poe, Franz Kafka and Shirley Jackson — form a foundation for 16 award-winning contemporary authors, established and new, whose work blurs the boundaries between the familiar and the unknown. Contemporary authors include Aimee Bender, Jonathon Carroll, Kelly Link, Steven Millhauser and Joyce Carol Oates.

Buy them at Amazon.

The Whites

whitesBefore you ask: No, THE WHITES is not some rediscovered work from Richard Price’s early career he wrote under a pen name while experimenting with his style and finding his voice (like Stephen King’s Richard Bachman). This is an entirely new work from the author of such acclaimed and influential works as CLOCKERS and LUSH LIFE.

The story goes that Price planned on writing a series of crime novels more focused on plot and action that he could turn out quicker than his previous novels and publish under the pen name of Harry Brandt. But as he got more into the first of this proposed series he discovered that, as he has been quoted in recent interviews, “I know how to dress down, but I don’t know how to write down.”

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Circle of Shadows

circleshadowsIn the Year of our Lord 1784, in the (fictional) Duchy of Maulberg of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, a man is found during the Carnival festivities. He has a razor in his possession and he seems to have tried to kill himself but failed. He also seems to have successfully killed a young woman, Her Grace Agatha Aralia Maria Martesen, Countess of Fraken-Lichtenberg.

Well, this is awkward. Even worse, the young man happens to be Daniel Clode, the brother-in-law of the inimitable Mrs. Harriet Westerman, the brave and spitfire-y series protagonist of author Imogen Robertson.

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Sweet Nothing: Stories

sweetnothingReaders who first experienced Richard Lange through his 2013 novel, ANGEL BABY, may not know that his first published work was the short story collection, DEAD BOYS. SWEET NOTHING is Lange’s second collection of short fiction and reaffirms his mastery of the form.

Most of the 10 pieces are set in contemporary Los Angeles and, while not strictly speaking crime stories or mysteries, focus on individuals at a crossroads or transition in their lives due to a serious, sometimes illegal transgression or addiction.

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More Bitter Than Death

morebitterSwedish psychotherapist Siri Bergman and her friends Aina and Vijay are running an important research project on post-traumatic stress disorder and how it relates to women who have become victims of physical abuse in MORE BITTER THAN DEATH, another entry in the Bergman series by Camilla Grebe and Åsa Träff (translated by Tara Chace).

This book starts out with a horrific murder witnessed by a little five-year-old girl, then piles on the horrors with a wrenching, and painfully honest, initial meeting of the project where one of the women explains how she was raped and the perpetrator got away.

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The Digest Enthusiast: Book One

digestenthusiastWhen a publication about your obsessive hobby reads interesting even to someone who doesn’t share that obsessive hobby, you’re doing something right.

Clearly, THE DIGEST ENTHUSIAST is doing something right.

Printed appropriately in near-digest form, the magazine devotes itself to — what else? — the world of digest magazines. Carrying the label of BOOK ONE, the new pub debuted in late January. Get aboard now so the out-of-love endeavor may continue.

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