Category: Books

RIP Mickey Spillane

Mickey Spillane died yesterday. He was 88 years old and had cancer, so the news shouldn’t come as quite a shock. It’s just that Mickey Spillane was one of those guys that seemed like he could live forever.

Although Mr. Spillane started his career as a comic book writer, it was his Mike Hammer novels that made him a superstar. The first, “I, the Jury” was a hit with readers everywhere, critics be damned. Spillane followed up with 12 other Mike Hammer books… 9 other novels… and a bunch of short stories. Most folks don’t realize that Mr. Spillane also wrote two young adult novels [one which won a prize from the Junior Literary Guild].

As much as I enjoyed Spillane‘s books, I liked his attitude even more. He considered himself a writer, not an author. Spillane was more concerned with royalty checks than reviews… and his fans dearly loved him.

I miss him already.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mickey Spillane‘s family, friends and fans.

They’re Coming to Get All of Us, Bar-bar-a!

Better watch your step. Zombies are everywhere this week.

Just this week it was announced that Brad Pitt beat out Leonardo DiCaprio to see who could bring World War Z to the silver screen. Seems kind of strange that two of the biggest stars in the world would be in a bidding war over a zombie movie. But there you go… World War Z is Max Brooks‘ follow up novel to his cult classic The Zombie Survival Guide.

It was also announced this week that Josh [”Lucky Number Slevin”] Hartnett is set to star in the movie adaptation of 30 Days of Night. I think that Harnett is an excellent choice for the lead and so does 30 Days author Steve Niles. Filming is set to begin in early August.

Long Live the King… Or Off With His Head?

There was a time when I loved all things Stephen King. It started with Carrie which I read in 8th grade. I thought it was a really cool book. When I was a junior in high school I saw Carrie at a Midnight Movie. I loved it. It was my introduction to Brian DePalma. I still laugh when I think that I nearly jumped into the next row when Carrie‘s bloody hand came shooting out of the grave.

In college I got into King in a big way. I was reading everything that he published. The Shinning [great book — I read it in a single night! and a pretty scary movie], Salem’s Lot [another excellent novel with a cool, modern twist on vampires — and a decent tv mini-series] The Dead Zone [perhaps the best movie adaptation of a King novel] … and the hits just kept on coming [although the movies weren’t always as good]… The Stand, Cujo, Pet Sematary, Firestarter, Christine, It, etc. etc. etc.

Then for some reason, I stopped reading King. I really don’t know why. It just happened. I have a bunch of his novels and even some short story collections sitting on the shelf waiting to join the other King novels in a place of honor on my bookcase. But there they sit.

I did buy and immediately read Cell when it came out in hardcover. I was hoping for a more traditional zombie story, but never the less, I did really enjoy it.

Tomorrow night ABC is presenting a three hour adaptation of Desperation. For some reason, I’m really looking forward to it. Most likely I’ll record it for viewing some late weekend night. I haven’t read the book, but if the movie is works, perhaps it’ll give me just enough reason to pull it off the shelf and see if the novel is good enough to make it to the book case.

Charlie Huston – We Have a Problem!

I discovered Charlie Huston‘s work a month ago when I read his first novel, Caught Stealing. Last night I finished Huston‘s second novel, Six Bad Things. Both books are among the best that I’ve read in the last year and both tell the tale of Hank Thompson.

Ten years ago Hank was a hot prospect to play some college baseball. A broken leg and some bad choices killed any shot of college ball and so Hank drifted up to New York where he found work as a bartender.

Things were going smoothly untl one night when two guys pulled him over the bar and beat him nearly to death. The next thing Hank knew he was on the run from the Russian mob, two Black cowboys, and a dirty cop. If Hank can figure out what’s going on, he just might get out of this alive and with some of the $4.5 million that everyone thinks that he has!

On the strength of Caught Stealing, Charlie Huston jumped onto my “Author’s to Watch for List.” Seeing that Six Bad Things was just as good, he’s now on my “Buy It Now List.”

I’m putting in my pre-order for the final book in the Hank Thompson trilogy, A Dangerous Man, and also ordering Already Dead, Huston‘s novel about a detective who happens to be a vampire!

That means that I’ll have all of his novels. He’s just going to have to start writing faster.

Soloman & Hunter… Now Thorn

James Byron Huggins is one of my favorite authors. I’ve enjoyed every book that I’ve read by him, and two [Cain and Hunter] are all-time favorites. In fact, I’ve always wished that Huggins would do a sequel teaming the two heroes, Soloman and Hunter, in a new adventure.

Although Sorcerer, Huggins‘ latest novel, doesn’t bring back either Soloman or Hunter, it does introduce us to a new hero, Michael Thorn. Thorn is an ex-cop, ex-Airborne Ranger who, at 45, has opted for early retirement after seeing more than enough action in the military and as a decorated detective. Thorne, his wife, and two children move to a remote New England town where they buy a house in the country.

Any hope for a peaceful retirement is gone when Thorn discovers a hidden room in his basement. In the room he finds a skeleton chained to the wall. The manacles are engraved with an ancient writing. When the skeleton disappears and people start turning up dead, Thorn suddenly finds himself allies with Assassini sent from Rome to do battle with the ancient evil that has returned from the grave!

Huggins has the ability to make a story move, but never at the expense of character development. He also has the talent to make the unbelievable believable. I must admit that before reading the book,. I was worried that the villain would be some kind of wizard like in Harry Potter or King Arthur. Boy, was I wrong. This sorcerer is an ancient evil who dared to challenge Moses himself!

I thoroughly enjoyed Sorcerer and wouldn’t mind a sequel. Hmmm… maybe Thorn could team with Soloman and Hunter on a new adventure?

The Walking Dead – Pick Your Edition

If you’ve been searching for missing back issues to The Walking Dead, thinking about picking up the graphic novels, or looking for a great starting point to join in on this classic series by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard; then wait no more.

The Walking Dead: Book One is a 304 page hardcover that reprints the first 12 issues. It’s a great bargain since prices for the original comics, if you can find them are through the roof. Of course, if you don’t want the hardcover edition, but still crave even more zombie action, you can take advantage of this special and get 4 trade paperbacks collecting the first 24 issues for just $32.23!

Price that low are to die [and reanimate] for!

Samuel Hiti and Two of his Rambo Drawings!

Samuel Hiti is a 30-year-old artist, who made his graphic novel debut in New York with his Xeric Award-winning End Times/Tiempos Finales.”

Mike Mignola, creator of the cult favorite “Hellboy,” said it was the best graphic novel of the year.  Samuel was nominated for “Best New Talent” for the 2005 Harvey Awards. Samuel has worked for major companies such as Nike, The New York Times, Disney, and adapted The 2004 Paramount/Dreamworks movie of “Lemony Snicket – SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS” into comic book form for Nickelodeon magazine.

I discovered Samuel’s site while surfing the web. While enjoying Samuel‘s art, I also learned that he’s a Rambo fan. Samuel recently drew a scene from Rambo and had so much fun with it, that he now does a Rambo Quote of the Week. Samuel graciously agreed to me posting a couple of examples here on the SZ.  – Craig

The Creature from the Black Lagoon is Back!

As many of you know, I’m a big fan of monster movies. Especially the classic monstersFrankenstein, Dracula, The Wolfman, and of course, The Creature from the Black Lagoon.

So you can imagine my reaction when I found out that a new series of original novels based on these characters was coming out later this year. You can read about The Creature from the Black Lagoon‘s novel HERE.

Don’t worry, I’ll keep you posted on new additions to the series.

Blue Belle Scores Two

While thinking about some of my favorite comic book covers yesterday, my mind switched gears and began to ponder about some of the covers to novels that I also love.

The first one that came to mind was the art on the hardcover to Andrew VachssBlue Belle. The jacket design is by Carol Devine Carson and the photograph is by William King.

This was the first Andrew Vachss novel that I ever read and of course he quickly became one of my favorite authors. I don’t know what it is about the cover that I love so much. Maybe it’s the noir-mystery vibe that it gives off. My guess is the cover would still be a favorite even if the novel wasn’t.

How ‘Bout Some Free Cell?

Remember last week when I was telling you about how cool Stephen King‘s new novel, Cell, sounded? [If not click you can click HERE.]

Anyway, if you think that Cell is something that you MAY like, then you might want to pick up the current issue of Entertainment Weekly [the 2006 Preview issue]. It features the first two chapters of Cell with some cool illustrations by Tomer Hanuka.

My guess is if you’re interested enough to read this far, you’re going to love the novel.

Stephen King and Zombies

Civilization doesn’t end with a bang or a whimper. It ends with a call on your cell phone.

So begins the book description for Stephen King‘s latest novel, Cell, which will be released later this month.

I first talked up Cell last August. At that time I posted:

King describes Cell as “a violent piece of work, which comes complete with zombies set in motion by bad cell phone signals that destroy the human brain. Like cheap whiskey, it’s very nasty and extremely satisfying.” Stephen King and zombies! Count me in.

This is the first Stephen King book that I’ve been excited about in years. I can’t wait to read this bad boy.

Stephen King and zombies. Why that’s a combo right up there with M&Ms and peanuts.

Another Can’t Miss Blockbuster

The DaVinci Code was on the best seller list for years. Even people who didn’t normally read books picked it up… and most loved it. The buzz was huge. Except for Jaws and Harry Potter, I can’t think of any other novels that instantly became a part of popular culture like The DaVinci Code.

Next summer The DaVinci Code will make the transition to the big screen. My guess is that the movie will also be a blockbuster. Ron Howard‘s directiing it and Tom Hanks is the lead.

How can it go wrong?

If the trailer is any indication, it can’t.

Like Cheap Whiskey, Very Nasty and Satisfying


Today while surfing the net I came across a couple of items that should interest most ZONErs.

The first is that several authors [including Stephen King, John Grisham, Peter Straub, Neil Gaiman, Lemony Snicket, Michael Chabon and others] are participating in an auction for charity where the winning bidders will get to name a character in each author’s novel. How cool is that?

The second item of interest is directly related to the first, in that Stephen King‘s participation in the auction involves a new novel titled Cell. King describes Cell as “a violent piece of work, which comes complete with zombies set in motion by bad cell phone signals that destroy the human brain. Like cheap whiskey, it’s very nasty and extremely satisfying.” Stephen King and zombies! Count me in.

And come to think of it… maybe I should take a shot at the auction as well. A zombie named “Big Beatty” is just too cool not to give it a go.

A Story About a Valuable Stolen Property

If you’re like me or any of the other 36 million people who’ve read Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code, then you probably love a good conspiracy story.

If that’s the case, then whoo-boy, do I have a doosey for ya.  Lewis Perdue has not only accused Dan Brown of plagiarizing from Perdue‘s books The DaVinci Legacy [published in 1983 ] and Daughter of God [published in 2000], but he has taken his case to court and the Internet.

A recent court ruling by Judge George Daniels of U.S. District Court in New York says that “Any slightly similar elements are on the level of generalized or otherwise unprotectable ideas.”

Still, Perdue plans to appeal this decision and argues that there are over 300 significant similarities between his book and The DaVinci Code. Perdue further argues that “in an analysis of more than 50 pivotal plot events, sixty-five percent of these – 65%occur in the same order.

In his latest blog post, Perdue says despite Judge Daniels’ ruling, Perdue’s battle to show that Brown plagiarized his work isn’t over, in fact, “It’s hardly begun.”

You can find more of Perdue’s thoughts HERE.

I’ve read and enjoyed Brown’s The DaVinci Code.

I haven’t yet read Perdue’s The DaVinci Legacy or Daughter of God, but I should since they sound like good conspiracy stories.

Then again, maybe I should just follow Perdue’s Battle Against Brown.