Wednesday, April 14, 2021
There’s a mystery, too, that is rife with Cold War paranoia. The paranoia reflects the attitude of the American society in the 1950s: Everything’s great! Except we’re all going to die (figuratively through communist assimilation and literally with the hydrogen bomb). But it’s the humanity Matheson uncovers that provides the power and longevity of the work and the great thing about A Stir of Echoes is, it can be read as illuminative literature or as a straight horror novel, and even better, as both.
Thursday, April 08, 2021
My companion to the late-Jack Bickham’s novels, titled Killers, Crooks & Spies: Jack Bickham’s Fiction, is coming out next Tuesday, April 13. Bickham wrote in every popular genre, except horror and romance (although he did write a few “sleaze” novels for Midwood that may be a touch romantic). He started in Westerns in 1958, and finished with a posthumously published traditional mystery in 1998. Bickham wrote The Apple Dumpling Gang, which Disney translated into a 1975 box office hit. He wrote six espionage thrillers, featuring aging tennis pro Brad Smith, and so much more.
Killers, Crooks & Spies includes a brief overview of Bickham’s life. A detailed look at his writing career, including articles about his significant books, series, and publishers. There is a bibliography, and a bunch of book reviews.
Here is a snippet from the Introduction:
Breakfast at Wimbledon was my first experience
with Jack Bickham’s writing. I purchased the paperback on a rainy summer
afternoon in 1992. I was in my teens, lonely and scared, as my mother battled a
cancer that would kill her in less than two years. I escaped this bleak reality
by slipping between the covers of books. I traveled the world with the
superhero-like characters populating the thrillers of David Morrell, Jack
Higgins, and Tom Clancy, and with philosophical outsiders like Travis McGee.
The cover blurb comparing Breakfast at Wimbledon with one of my favorite writers— “Jack M. Bickham is doing for professional tennis what Dick Francis has done for horse racing.” —encouraged a closer look. Those first few paragraphs bounced off the page. I walked out of the store five minutes later with a new book and a jolt of excitement to get home and start reading.