Friday, May 27, 2016

Richard Russo

Drove down to Concord last night to meet Pulitzer Prize-winning Richard Russo, get some books signed (I'm a very occasional fan boy), and sit in the front row of an interview taped for NPR. If you listen to this, the inappropriately loud-laughing woman you may hear was seated to my immediate left. That person is always seated to my immediate left.

Russo was a charming guy, two weeks into a three week tour, so he was working. We have the same name and we both go by Rick. I told him my father, who went by "Dick," used to be bothered to no end by my nickname, saying it wasn't my real name. Then one day I pointed out that it was as much a derivative of "Richard" as was "Dick." And that was sort of the end of it, though for the rest of his days his mouth seemed to marble up like Stonewall Jackson eating a lemon when he actually used it.

Rick Russo said he had a theory: Richards born before sometime in the early forties were always known as "Dick," later we were always known as "Rick." Unscientific, I'm sure, but I told him we were both fortunate come down on the right side of that line and not be "Dicks."

"The other kids," whomever that group describes, must have been more tolerant--at least in that regard--back in the old days.

Anyway, if you care to look it up, he had some interesting things to say about his works, and the movies, and people who look like Paul Newman (my dad actually looked a lot like Paul Newman when he was younger; he told me when he first asked my mother out he asked her if she wanted to have dinner with someone who looked like Paul Newman. He finished the story with how surprised she was when it was my dad that showed up).

Friday, May 20, 2016

Excellent review in the new issue of "Deadly Pleaures" magazine

Stark House is mostly known for its reprints of classic crime novels--sometimes in a bargain, two-novel format like the Ace Doubles of old. But apparently it comes out with a paperback original.

TRUTH ALWAYS KILLS by Rick Ollerman, Rating A-

Jeff Prentiss wants to be a good cop, but his bad temper and his willingness to bend the rules often land him in trouble. Transferred from Tampa to St. Petersburg, Jeff finds himself a pariah among his fellow detectives, except for his partner. Luckily, for the time being, the have a "good" case--the murder of a well-known thief with connections to a prominent businessman.

Jeff's personal life is also a mess. His wife Lori and daughter have left him for places unknown. Lori's ex-husband, recently released from prison, began stalking her. Then he disappears and Lori thinks Jeff may have something to do with that disappearance. Questions are starting to be asked and Jeff is able to deflect them for awhile.

I came to this noirish novel with no preconceived expectations and left it with high respect and admiration for the writer's talent. This is definitely not an "everything works out in the end" kind of tale. Good people are killed and maimed and Jeff may be worse off at the end than he was at the beginning. What makes this novel a winner is Ollerman's storytelling chops and his vividly memorable characters. Highly recommended.