Monthly Archives: October 2008

New Kids on the Bloch

I try to be sociable, but each year that passes, I find it harder and harder to gear up for certain things. For example–and this pains me a little, as I’ve always held a special place for Halloween–adult costume parties seem to have drifted well beyond the grasp of my enthusiasm these days.

Tonight my wife involved us in a costume party/fund raiser for a professional organization to which she belongs. Moping on the inside, I sucked it up for the team and played along. As I might have trusted, we had a lot of fun together.

But I was left feeling astonished and old by the number of 20-something professionals who needed us to explain our costume to them. In fact, I am moved to attempt this public experiment:

The following items are components of the last-minute Halloween costume my wife and I assembled:

Me: Drab gray dress, gray wig in a bun, butcher’s knife
Her: Blood-spattered shower curtain (plus shower cap for visual aid)

With no further hintage, can anybody tell me what we meant to portray?

Restore my faith, dear people of the Internet,



Just back from Baltimore and the best Bouchercon in recent memory (thanks to the heroic efforts of Ruth Jordan, Judy Bobalik, and crew). I’d intended to post a recap, wherein I’d have recounted at least a few of the laughs laughed, good meals eaten, and good times had with many of the terrific folks I’ve met over the past several years, as well as a few new friendly faces.


But I returned home to a sad piece of news that takes me back a little farther, back to an even older group of terrific folks and friends–a group that’s a little bit smaller now than it was when I set out for Baltimore, and left with an exceptional vacancy.


If you happened to have an interest in the horror and/or fantasy genres during the 1990s–particularly in the specialty presses which thrived during that time–you’ve probably seen the wonderful artwork of H.E. Fassl. I have two of Harry’s pieces on my own office wall, and every time I look at them, they bring fond memories of times gone by.


           Chief among those memories are my memories of Harry himself. In retrospect, our paths overlapped only for a relatively short walk, but he let me tag along for a bit while I was finding my own way, and his footprints remain. I think of him ambling along, smoking and grumbling, always a curmudgeon of the very best kind: the kind who needs a spiny shell to carry around such a big sweet incorrigible heart.


Meanwhile, his brain was a crooked, sprawling junkshop of wonderments; for years his cameras gave us lingering glimpses into its nooks and crannies. Each of Harry’s works was a bizarre, disturbing, and yet somehow comforting reminder that the world is boundless as long as the imagination runs wild.


Rest easy, sir.



A reader writes, “I was looking around your website and didn’t find any news about your next book. I was curious, are you currently working on something? And if so, when can we expect your next novel?”

Now this is a perfectly legitimate question. Readers of crime and suspense fiction can expect, from those authors they support, a new book each year or so. My last book came out around this time TWO years ago, and counting, which begs the question, “What the hell does that guy do all day?”

I could get into explanations and excuses, but look, it’s really not important. The point is, there’s a new novel coming. Date:  February 24, 2009 (available in unabridged audio, if you’ve got that habit).  It’s called Safer. The story involves a college professor, a retired cop, an overzealous neighborhood watch program, and a shallow grave.

Here’s a look at the cover, which I think is terrific:

Pretty soon we’ll whip up a dedicated page for the book, but for now, I return to preparations for Bouchercon 2008 in Baltimore, by Team Jordan, the honorable Lawrence Block, Laura Lippman, and John Harvey presiding. If you’re going, I hope to see you there.