Terry Zobeck is a participant in a Yahoo members-only newsgroup centering on magazine fiction, and a devoted reader and collector with particular expertise on Dashiell Hammett. Recently, and with some reticence as I don’t see the group as a proper vehicle for self-promotion, I posted a brief pitch for The Crime of Our Lives. Terry posted this in response:

I’ve been meaning to post a message to the group regarding Larry’s new book, The Crime of Our Lives, which I recently purchased from Otto. How good is it? I opened the package and checked out the table of contents and didn’t put it down until I’d read the whole book. As a completist collector of Larry’s work there were several pieces of which I was unaware, including an excellent article on Dashiell Hammett from the Japanese issue of Playboy (this is combined with a second piece on Hammett that is to appear as the introduction to a new edition of the Maltese Falcon coming from Orion in the UK), a 1986 introduction to Edward Anderson’s (of whom I’ve never heard) Thieves Like Us, a lengthy 1994 GQ piece on Raymond Chandler, an intro to a collection of Ed Gorman’s stories (I hope Ed will soon be released by his kidnappers so he can get a copy), an intro to an ASAP collection of Gar Haywood’s stories (I’m a fan of Haywood’s and don’t know how I missed this collection), a couple of short pieces on Edgar Allan Poe, an intro to a collection of Spider Robinson essays (another author with whom I am not familiar), a 1990 article on Jim Thompson from the NYT Book Review, and his MWA newsletter obituary for Donald Westlake. There are even a few previously unpublished pieces, including articles on Joseph Conrad and the superb and much missed Ross Thomas. About half of the entries are from his Mystery Scene column or special tribute issues of the magazine, including essays on Charles Willeford, Evan Hunter, Al Nussbaum, Henry Kane, and Mary Higgins Clark. The longest piece, and the one perhaps of most interest to the Chums, is his recollection of his time with the Scott Meredith Agency, originally published in three parts in Mystery Scene.

It was especially interesting for me to read Larry’s thoughts on Hammett and Chandler, two of my all time favorite writers. He has this to say about Hammett: “In sentences that were flat and uninflected and remarkably nonjudgmental, he did much the same thing Hemingway did. I would argue that he did it better.” Not that it matters one bit, but I couldn’t agree more with that assessment. Hammett hit his peak with this style with The Glass Key. I’ve read that novel at lease a half dozen times and am repeatedly impressed with Hammett’s ability to sustain the objective, unemotional, nonsentimetal, almost brutal tone for the length of the book. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that matches it in this respect.

I’ve very much enjoyed Larry’s recent spate of recollections/memoirs; to have the best of the short pieces collected between hardcovers is a treat.

I can’t imagine more a heartwarming review than that, or a source from whom I’d rather receive it. I should add that Ed Gorman has not in fact been kidnapped; Terry’s reference is to a particularly inane piece of Russian-produced spam in which our beloved Mr. Gorman laments his troubles in the Philippines, where blackguards have robbed and otherwise discomfited him, while hotel management has impounded his luggage. As it would take hitherto unprecedented flooding of the Mississippi River to get Ed out of Cedar Rapids, let alone float him all the way to Manila, the message does strain credulity.

I should add that TCOOL is scheduled to receive a laudatory notice Sunday in one of this country’s leading newspapers. I can’t say more until it appears, at which time I’ll shout about it. (The downside of self-publication is that traditional media ignores you, so this forthcoming endorsement is a great coup, and cause for a lot of intemperate rejoicing here.) I don’t know what this will do to demand for the book, but I doubt it’ll put the brakes on it, and if you’re interested in a hardcover copy, you might want to pick it up sooner rather than later. We only printed 1000 of them, and while we certainly reserve the right to go back to press, I have to say it’s unlikely.

The simplest way to get a TCOOL hardcover is to order it from Amazon. The price is $24.99, with order fulfillment by Amazon, and if you’re an Amazon Prime member, shipping is free.

If you’d prefer a signed copy, we have them in LB’s Bookstore. Same price, plus an additional $4.99 for shipping. Several specialty booksellers also have signed copies in stock, including The Mysterious Bookshop, V J Books, and Murder on the Beach.

It’s only the hardcover edition that’s in limited supply. Both the trade paperback (signed from LB’s Bookstore, unsigned at Amazon and Barnes & Noble) and the ebook are renewable resources.