Saturday, November 20, 2010

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“Hitch was with this great, high-heeled monster of a woman and the only reason I was along, I spoke Italian and Hitch did not. It turned out that the woman was not Italian at all, she was Sicilian, and her glue-voiced accent was so heavy that I understood almost as little as Hitch. Not that it mattered.”

Hello Everyone--
Stark House Press is happy to announce the long-awaited publication of the late, great Peter Rabe’s final manuscripts, The Silent Wall and The Return of Marvin Palaver. Along with a very rare Rabe short story, “Hard Case Redhead,” the books will appear in a single volume this coming January. The above passage is the opening from The Silent Wall, which Booklist calls “a claustrophobic noir, at times almost unbearably tense.” And it is certainly that. Matty Matheson has the run of an entire town but he is not allowed to leave, held captive by the Mafia for reasons he only thinks he knows.

The Return of Marvin Palaver is a darkly comic, highly complex short book about a swindle, payback and the incredible lengths one man will go to get his revenge against the man who ruined him. Rabe never wrote the same book twice and even with his talent for writing different kinds of crime fiction, the story will leave you breathless with its unique voice and dark sense of humor.

Shortly before his death in 1990, Rabe had sent these manuscripts to friend and author Ed Gorman, who’s had them in his possession until now. We’re ecstatic to be the ones who are finally bringing these books, along with the short story “Hard Case Redhead,” into the world. In “Redhead,” two thieves and their uninvited guest try to wait out the aftermath of a troublesome heist. It’s hard-boiled and noir and shows that Rabe could write just as well at shorter lengths.

Donald E. Westlake named Rabe and Hammett his two major genre influences, Bill Pronzini called him “a kind of fictional surgeon,” and Bill Crider said, “Few writers are Rabe’s equal in the field of the hardboiled gangster story.” If you’ve never read Peter Rabe, there’s no better time to start.

We’re also announcing the creation of the Stark House Book Club with a special offer of free shipping on all our books to everyone who signs up now. No minimum to buy, no obligation, just sign up and you’ll receive each new release, hassle free and with no shipping, as they are published. For a limited time, each new member can order as many backlist titles as they’d like for 15% off list price and again, free shipping. To sign up for the club, e-mail us at And to check out our list of authors and titles, visit our website at

On tap for the near future are a two-in-one volume of vintage sleaze crime novels from the famous (under his real name) Don Elliott and a nice trio from Day Keene, and many other exciting titles. So sign up now and don’t miss a book!

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Greg Shepard, publisher
Stark House Press

Been a while...

Someone pointed out to me that I was writing a lot about e-books and related issues which I took as a sign that they were tired of it, too. So I stopped for a bit and spent some time devaluing the rest of my opinions as well. I'll try to stay away from e-books, at least for a while.

When I was a kid if I wanted to go to a book store I'd have to hop on a city bus, transfer once, then walk a bit, and I could get to a shopping mall with a B. Dalton in it. I remember picking up "Doorways in the Sand" by Roger Zelazny and giggling like an out of control stoner on the bus ride home as I read the first chapter. Imagine a young teenaged boy on a city bus, laughing so hard but trying desperately not to make a sound, tears streaming down a bright orange face, body vibrating faster than the bus's big diesel. Couldn't have been pretty.

I just had nearly the same experience but this time as an adult and safely in the privacy of my own home. Steve Hely's "How I Became a Famous Novelist" is funny. Very funny. The first hundred pages are really, really funny.

It's sort of a combination Nick Hornby, Brock Clarke's "An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England," and another third just plain funny. To a book person, the fictional bestseller list on the back cover is hilarious by itself.

The title tells the basic plot, the comparison to Hornby and Clarke indicate a bit more if you're familiar with them, and the book itself just won the 2010 Thurber Prize. I don't really know what that is but since Thurber is a famous humorist and this book is really funny, I can guess.

So not so much a review as an endorsement. If you want to laugh out loud, really, while reading a book, pick it up. If you're a bibliophile or anything close, it'll be just that much better. Just keep the beverages in the fridge while you're reading. We all know they come out the wrong places when we're not properly prepared.