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New Books on James Ellroy and Robert B. Parker

May 21, 2012

A couple of books to cross my desk recently will surely be of interest to crime fiction fans.

First up is Conversations with James Ellroy, edited by Steven Powell and just published by the University Press of Mississippi. The collection surveys interviews with the Demon Dog of American Crime Fiction from 1984 through 2010 — and what’s particularly interesting about the first of these, from The Armchair Detective, is that the supposed author of the article denies having written the piece or ever having interviewed Ellroy for the magazine! Other interviews span highlights of Ellroy’s distinguished career and are drawn from Publisher’s WeeklyNew York Magazine, The Paris Review, and The Guardian, as well as from several other book-length collections; I’m pleased to have one of my own interviews with Ellroy included, an interview I conducted with him in 2009, just before the publication of Blood’s a Rover.

In Pursuit of Spencer: Mystery Writers on Robert B. Parker and the Creation of an American Hero, edited by Otto Penzler and recently released by Smart Pop Books, rounds up a variety of distinguished contributors to remember one of the true greats of the genre. Ace Atkins, who was chosen to continue the Spenser series after Parker’s death, kicks off the collection with the essay “Songs Spenser Taught Me,” and other remembrances and reflections — some personal, some more studious — are offered by Lawrence Block, Reed Farrel coleman, Max Allen Collins, Brendan DuBois, Lyndsay Faye, Ed Gorman, Parnell Hall, Jeremiah Healy, Dennis Lehane, Gary Phillips, and S.J. Rozan — covering topics ranging from supporting characters Susan Silverman and Hawk to the TV series Spenser: For Hire to both Spenser’s code of honor and his culinary skills. Parker’s own essay, “Spenser: A Profile,” originally published by The Mysterious Bookshop, closes the collection. — Art Taylor

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