Category Archives: Adrian McKinty

Pulp Friday: British horror pulp

Halloween approaches and, as has been my habit over the last couple of years, I want to mark the occasion with a bit of pulp. Horror pulp, actually. British horror pulp, to be exact.

American horror pulp got a bit of love on this site a little while ago, when I reviewed Grady Hendrix’s Paperbacks From Hell: The Twisted History of ‘70s and ‘80s Horror Fiction, a history of American horror from the 1970 and 1980s.

But I reckon the Brits have always done horror pulp really well. And, if you want proof, feast your eyes on the wonderful selection of British horror pulp from the 1960s and 1970s, all sourced from my collection, including a couple of ultra rare Hammer paperback film tie-ins I own.

Enjoy Halloween.

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

Empty beaches: In search of Australia’s fictional private eyes

Empty BeachSeptember 12 marked the 30th anniversary of the release of a little-known Australian crime movie, The Empty Beach. The film fared poorly upon release and is still unavailable on DVD — you’d have to track down a rare second-hand VHS edition to view it.

Nonetheless, the film is something of an obsession of mine and I have been wanting to write about it in detail for a while now. This is partly because I am a huge Bryan Brown as well as always being fascinated with movies that I thinks are good but which have, for whatever reason, sunk into obscurity.

Also The Empty Beach and its source material, the third book in what has become a long-running series by Sydney writer Peter Corris, feature something largely absent from Australian crime fiction and film: the bone fide, card-carrying, full-time private investigator for hire.

I finally got around to writing a piece on the film and its source book for the Los Angeles Review of Books. You can read the essay, ‘Empty Beaches: In Search of Australia’s Fictional Private Eyes’ in full here.

Melbourne Writers Festival: Adrian McKinty & Australia’s pulp history

GoneThe Melbourne Writers Festival is upon us and I’ve got a a few slots in the program I wanted to pull on your coats about.

This coming Wednesday, August 27, I’ll be in conversation with crime writer, Adrian McKinty at St Kilda Library. I have written a bit about McKinty on this site, including reviews of his books Falling Glass, and his Shane Duffy trilogy, The Cold, Cold Ground, I Hear the Sirens in the Streets, and In the Morning I’ll Be Gone,  and his latest stand alone, The Sun Is God, and I’m looking forward to talking with him in person.

It’ll be a pretty relaxed affair and it is free. Proceedings will kick off at 6.30pm.

Also, join me on August 30 at the Ian Potter Centre, NGV Australia, Federation Square, for a walk down the dimly lit back alleys of the lost world of Australian pulp paperback publishing.

For a few decades in the second half of last century, Australia’s pulp scene burned brightly with tales of jaded gumshoes, valiant servicemen and women, sexually bored housewives, jazzed up beatniks, daring spies, and violent youth gangs.

It was disposable fiction, designed for a coat pocket or bag, to be read quickly, and discarded.… Read more

Mid-year reading report: The Thief, St Kilda Blues, Hanging Devils, In the Morning I’ll Be Gone

Hanging-Devils-Jacket1My reading has been dominated of late by the need to get through a lot of pulp books and material I need to be across for several upcoming literary festival appearances (all of which I’ll also be discussing here in the coming weeks). Between all this, however, I have managed to get through a few books purely for pleasures and I thought it was about time I shared my thoughts on these.

First up is He Jiahong’s Hanging Devils: Hong Jun Investigates. I lamented on this site some time ago about the seeming absence of genuine contemporary crime fiction set in China, written by someone living there. Well, Hanging Devils is just that. According to the back cover blurb, the author is one of China’s foremost authorities on criminal justice, a professor of law at People’s University of Beijing and the author of several best selling crime novels including four featuring the character of Hong Ju.

Hanging Devils (also the slang term given to overhanging tree branches that can fall without warning, potential killing anyone unfortunate to be underneath them) is set in the mid-nineties.… Read more