Beat Not the Bones & the story of an Australian Edgar Allan Poe Award winner

Beat Not the Bones Avon 1955As many of the my US readers will no doubt be aware, America’s foremost crime writing awards, the annual Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allan Poe Awards, will be presented on April 28.

The upcoming awards make it an opportune time to revisit the winner of the Edgar Award in 1954. That book was called Beat Not the Bones, and it was written not by an American but by an Adelaide-born woman called Geraldine Halls, writing under the pseudonym, Charlotte Jay. That the winner the next year was Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye, gives you some idea how prestigious Halls’ win was.

Why some writers and their books go onto achieve lasting literary fame, while others, in this case Halls and her considerable work, sink into obscurity, always fascinates me. In a writing career stretching from 1951 to her last published novel in 1995, she produced fifteen books. Seven of these appeared under the pseudonym of Jay, her maiden name, and seven as Geraldine Halls, Halls being her married name. Another was published under the alias Geraldine Mary Jay.

There is very little information available about Halls, who died in Adelaide in October 1996, and the only image I could find on the Internet is on the Austlit site and is taken from the Adelaide Advertiser, dated May 8, 1853.… Read more

Shilling some new publications

Nightmare Alley

Every now and again one has to do a post that is essentially just one big shill. Well, this is one of those posts. I have been meaning to update you for a while now about current and upcoming publications I am involved in. So, here goes.

Crime Scenes Stories


Crime Scenes stories
I alerted readers a while ago to a new anthology of Australian short crime fiction, published by Sydney based Spineless Wonders, and edited by Zane Lovett, whose debut crime novel The Midnight Promise won best first crime at the 2014 Ned kelly awards.

Last weekend I took part in the Newcastle Writers Festival, at which the anthology, Crime Scenes, was formally launched. I have a story in this collection called ‘Postcard From, Cambodia’, along side pieces by David Whish-Wilson, Leigh Redhead, Carmel Bird, Peter Corris, PM Newton and my partner, Angela savage.

Seriously, anthologies of Australian crime fiction are a rare thing, which makes this anthology something of a special event. You can order Crime Scenes for your Kindle or in paperback from Amazon here or you can buy it directly from the Spineless Wonders site here.

Crime Factory Issue 18

Issue 18 of the award winning magazine Crime Factory, which I co-edit, is out and contains the usual great mix of fiction, features and reviews.… Read more

Thirst: Australia’s first vampire film

Thirst 4Rod Hardy’s 1979 film, Thirst, now re-released by local distributor Glass Doll Films, is commonly referred to as a good example of Ozsploitation cinema, the term given to the wave of Australian low-budget horror, comedy, and action films made after the introduction of the R-rating in 1971. That description and categorisation doesn’t do justice to how good a horror film Thirst is in its own right, not to mention its place in the broader sub-genre of vampire cinema.

As well as being ahead of its time, Thirst borrows from the healthy lineage of vampire cinema in the late sixties and seventies, as well as horror cinema more generally, including the canon of stylish, erotic, vampire films that appeared in the seventies; Harry Kumel’sDaughters of Darkness (1971), Jesus Franco’s Vampyros Lesbos (1971) and Female Vampire (1973), and on the other side of the Atlantic, Stephanie Rothman’s The Velvet Vampire (1971). These fused art house sensibilities and soft-core porn aesthetics with horror tropes and sexual experimentation.

You can read my review of Thirst in full, here at the 4:3 site.

Mike Hodges’ Pulp & mass paperback fiction on the big screen

Caine in PulpThe opening credits of Mike Hodges’ under appreciated 1972 film, Pulp, are a delight for any fan of cheap pulp paperback fiction. As text roles across the screen (in type writer font, of course), the camera pans between the faces of the three female stenographers transcribing the words of sleazy English expat pulp writer, Mickey King (Michael Caine). As Caine’s nasal voice-over recites his latest novel, The Organ Grinder, we see the different reactions of the women, disgust, shock, and excitement. It’s a reminder that once, before it was reduced to an object of outre fascination for its cover art, pulp fiction elicited strong emotions.

The movie shifts to King, in his cheap white suit and big hair, Jack Carter – the character he played in Hodges’ Get Carter only a year earlier – gone to seed, stepping out of the Italian hotel he lives in to hail a cab. As he sits in the reception area waiting for his completed manuscript, King’s voice-over goes: “The writer’s life would be ideal but for the writing. This was a problem I had to overcome. Then I read the Guinness Book of Records about Earl Stanley Gardner, the world’s fastest novelist who would dictate up to the rate of ten thousand words every day.… Read more

Spirit of 96: the story behind Cash Harmon’s Number 96

SpiritAustralian readers who have followed my site for a while will be aware of my interest in 1970s Australian television, including the soap opera Number 96. Number 96, which I have previously written about here, depicted the lives of the residents of a fictitious block of inner Sydney flats. Debuting on March 13 1972, the racy content caused moral outrage on the part of religious groups. It was a huge success with audiences, however, who were keen to dive head first into the warm water of the increasingly sexually liberated early seventies.

When I discovered Melbourne man Nigel Giles was compiling a oral history of the show and pitching for funds on Pozible to publish a book on the subject, I immediately thought it was something Pulp Curry readers would be interested in and might also wish to contribute to.

The book is titled Spirit of 96: the story behind Cash Harmon’s Number 96. You can find the page for Nigel’s Number 96 Pozible campaign here.

Below Nigel discusses why Number 96 was so controversial and successful, and how it deserves recognition as one of Australia’s most significant television shows.

In the 1970s there was one TV show that had the whole country talking. When the adults-only soapie Number 96 debuted on our screens in March 1972 it was hailed as the night Television lost its virginity!… Read more