Monday, June 30, 2008

Where's the Sun?

The Famous Author and I visited eastern Pennsylvania this past weekend, the conclusion of our spring Big Money World Tour. Bloomsburg, Wilkes-Barre, and York, PA all opened their hearts and wallets. The boss and I are now officially on vacation, ready to work on our tan, not book promotion. Look out, Monmouth Beach.

Only one problem. No sun today. TFA forgot to email Mother Nature and tell her we were on vacation.This could put us back at the computer, rewriting Big Mojo, and I'm not ready for that. TFA keeps asking me all these questions. I need some time off. A breather.

Where's the sunshine when you need it?

Friday, June 27, 2008

BIG MONEY, Chapter 47

Understanding and maturity often arrive late in a boy’s life. Like youth, dreams are hard to leave behind.

But when dawn comes, and he finally grasps his life will never involve Big Money; that $500,000 European sports cars, million-dollar yacht parties, and famous beauties like Shania Twain are forever beyond his reach...well, that’s when a boy becomes a man.

At least I sure the hell hope so. Because it’s about time I grew up. Way overdue, in fact. See, worrying about my testimony tomorrow before a special state grand jury, it occurs to me, were I rich like I always figured I should be, I’d have a hotshot attorney postponing my appearance, or otherwise devising some totally legitimate loophole to excavate my ass.

But no, Big Money is not mine. I can’t afford an unbeatable mouthpiece. I never will. Nice things like top-shelf defense attorneys are forever beyond my reach. So is Shania Twain. I believe I understand this now. The Fast Lane down Easy Street is closed to Austin Carr.

Tomorrow, I can either identify Mama Bones and make Franny happy, or I can somehow not identify Mr. Vick’s gray-haired mother and make Bluefish Mr. Smiley Face.

The consequences of both are obviously the subject of some concern. If I please Franny, Bluefish might kill not only me, but probably Beth, Ryan, Susan, Susan’s friends and neighbors, not to mention everybody's lawns, dogs, and goldfish. On the other hand-job, if I fulfill my verbal agreement with Bluefish and refuse to point the finger at Mama Bones, Franny has promised me jail-time for perjury and conspiracy to commit murder.

Why can’t one of my options be careful and supervised use of a reliable time machine? Why can’t I go back to that afternoon in Luis’s restaurant and tell Bluefish “fine” when he first mentions doing business with Shore?

At least it’s nice to know I’ve reached maturity.


I take my mattress off the bed in my Trooper mansion bedroom and lean that sucker against the wall. I start with a few kicks, then step closer and start punching, right, left, right, left, until my arms are tired and I go back to kicking, kicking, kicking until my legs feel like wet cement.

I take up punching again.

I go on like this for, I don’t know, half an hour. When all four of my limbs are numb with exhaustion, I crumble to the floor. My mouth is open. I’m panting. Sweating.

Tears slowly fill my eyes. When the water finally overflows and tickles my cheeks, I stand up, fists trembling, and bellow like a wounded bear for all my lost dreams.

“Shania!”

______________________________

Next Friday, Another Chapter of BIG MONEY

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Only the Best Places

The Famous Author may not see his novel in too many big chain stores, but by golly, he winds up getting hand sold in some fancy independents. Last month it was Murder by the Book in Houston. This week, its Mysterious Bookshop in New York City, maybe the most famous mystery book shop in the world. Manager Sally Owen asked TFA to sign ten hardbacks for her, and this week she pumped them online. Right under Janet Evanovich.

Check out their newsletter:

The Mysterious Bookshop
58 Warren Street
New York, NY 10007
Ph: 212-587-1011
Fax: 212-587-1126
Open Seven Days, 11.00 a.m. - 7.00 p.m.

Weekly Update 6/20/08
 
UPCOMING EVENTS
Tuesday, June 24th 6.30 p.m. - 8.00 p.m.
Final Theory by Mark Alpert
who will discuss his new book and sign.
Light refreshments will be served.
 
SIGNED COPIES NOW AVAILABLE
John Connolly was here this week signing the US edition of The Reapers. The story concentrates on Louis and Angel, the men who in the past have assisted troubled detective Charlie Parker. One of Connolly?s best, and that?s high praise. $26.00

Hell?s Gate by Richard E. Crabbe is set in New York in 1904. Detective Mike Braddock must deal with river piracy and gang wars all set against the backdrop of "the greatest tragedy to strike New York until 9/11." That would be the sinking of The General Slocum which caught fire in New York?s East River killing more than 1,000. $24.95

Janet Evanovich stopped by to sign Fearless Fourteen, her latest Stephanie Plum novel. A Crime Collector?s Club Selection. $27.95

Big Money by Jack Getze is the second book featuring Austin Carr, suspended stockbroker. This time Austin is the prize in a war between two crime crews and a powerful state investigator. He also stumbles into the lives of three women, one of whom is a killer. $28.95

Notice I'm getting the same space as TFA.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Redhead of the Week

On May 12 this year, 41-year-old Michela Brambilla became Italian undersecretary to the Presidency Council with special responsibility for Tourism. We're not sure what her duties are, but all my political instincts say this gig is Michela's payoff for delivering some crucial votes in the recent Italian election.

Back in August of 2007, Michela set up the new Liberty Party, much to the happiness of Italy's Boss Berlusconi, because it merged many of his right wing allies. A highly successful former business woman, our Michela knows how to grease the boards, and has become extremely popular.

Anybody who says its because of those black stockings is a sexist pig.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Big Little Mystery Conference

As he warned me he would, The Famous Author packed me in his computer case Friday afternoon and drove us to Parsippany. Our mission: Participate in New Jersey's home-grown mystery convention, Deadly Ink.

What's fun about Deadly Ink is the size. It's a small conference, less than 100 people, and half seem to be authors. You don't feel swamped by crowds and cliques. Everybody becomes an acquaintance, if not a friend. TFA says he learns more about the business at this conference than all the others put together, just because he has so much opportunity to chat.

"I found out today, for instance, that the entire publishing industry is owned by James Patterson," TFA said last night. "He controls every book and bookstore."

"Really? All five corporate giants? Every single chain store and independent?"

"Every single one," TFA said. "If they don't sell enough of his books, he closes them."

When I suggest that TFA might have spent too much in the hotel tavern, perhaps spoken to the wrong people, he folds me up and sticks me back in the computer case. The truth hurts, pal.

Jane K. Cleland, the Agatha, Macavity, and David nominated author of the Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery Series, which include CONSIGNED TO DEATH, DEADLY APPRAISAL, and ANTIQUES TO DIE FOR, is this year's Deadly Ink guest of honor. We know Jane from Mystery Writers of America. She's a peach, and also president of MWA's New York Chapter.

LATE BULLETIN: Go, Jane! Ms. Cleland last night was awarded Deadly Ink's David Sasher prize for Best Mystery of 2007. I hear she's buying the drinks at MWA's next meeting.

Friday, June 20, 2008

BIG MONEY, Chapter 46

The electronic phone chime doesn’t slow me down. Neither does Franny plucking a slick, black Motorola cell phone from the inside pocket of her business jacket. What works is Franny saying, “Carr. Shut up.”

It’s the story of my life, really. Always talking too much. Even when I’ve asked for the order and I know the sales manual says to keep quiet and wait; even when I should just embrace a woman and kiss her. No, whenever patience is most at a premium, whenever silence is truly golden, you can count on Austin Carr--Mr. Blabbermouth--to deliver entirely pointless and mood-busting oratory.

I get nervous, I suppose. I tend to run on, delay the moment of rejection or acceptance. It’s a major flaw in the old Gift of Gab.

Franny pushes the cell phone against her ear. “Chapman.”

Illegible blue symbols flash across the telephone’s glossy-black screen like a stock-market tape. The late afternoon sun glows like a florescent orange ball in the louvered kitchen windows. Stuart’s browning a whole chicken on an eight-burner, cast iron stove. In his white dress shirt and tie, the pot-holder mittens, Stuart could be taping a half-hour show on the Food Network.

Another Arresting Recipe from Cooking with Cops.

That’s right, I’m back at Trooper Bat Cave, being bullied by Franny and cooked for by Stuart. By her own order, I was describing to Franny, for the third time, exactly how Bluefish and Jerry killed my golf-partner Al. Although I suppose I was still specifically elaborating in some detail about my wild first putt when Franny’s cell phone rang.

“Repeat that,” Franny says to her Motorola.

El Cap-i-tan wears her strawberry blonde hair differently tonight, kinda pushed over to one side like a 1940s movie star. Remarkably symbolic of her general mood, actually. Obviously bent out of shape. Like the Queen of New Jersey Cops already suspects I reached some tit-for-tat with Bluefish.

Listening to her cell, whatever it was the poor man or woman had to repeat, Franny’s forehead wrinkles. Now she glances at her diamond-studded Rolex. “You’re certain about the subject’s condition?” Her gaze lifts, finds mine. Her eyes are unreadable. Cop eyes. “I’ll make sure he gets there.”

I swear my heart stops. “What?”

Franny slips the phone back in her jacket on her way over. “Your daughter walked into the Rumson New Jersey police station fifteen minutes ago. Beth says she’s fine, safe and sound.”

My heart restarts right into double-time. “She’s all right?”

“A bruise or two. Scratches on her back she says came from being locked in a car trunk. She’s on her way home right now in a State Police cruiser. If you want, Stuart and I will drive you to meet her.”

I throw off the anger about her being mistaken for a spare tire. She’s alive. Not even seriously hurt. Thank God. Thank God. Relief chases a rock of tension from my neck and shoulders. Beth’s sunny-morning blonde hair fills my mind’s eye, then her untrained but genetically true, someday-famous Carr smile.

Thank God. Oh, thank God.

“You made a deal with Bluefish, didn’t you?” Franny says. Her voice is a growl. Her green eyes are Fury. By the stove, Stuart slides a step farther away from us.

“I didn’t make any deal.” For my purposes--that is, to produce a better lie--I choose to think of my arrangement with Bluefish as an offer I couldn’t refuse. Offer and deal are not the same thing. I did not make a deal.

Franny shows me a Mona Lisa smile, then grabs my forearm. She leans in close, so close her breath warms my neck. “If you don’t testify against Mama Bones tomorrow, Carr, you...are...fucking dead.”

I don’t know why she’s whispering. Stuart’s far enough away to have different GPS numbers.



When she sees me step onto the porch, the one I built with my own hands, my ex-wife Susan becomes a gargoyle. Her nose flares. Her lips, eyes, and ears pull back into a mask of ferocity. Fangs flashing.

Reminds me of our infrequent sexual encounters.

Susan saying, “You are dead to these two children, Austin. Do you hear me?”

I think the ex-wife might be upset.

“What happened to Beth is your fault, you miserable, slime-sucking worm,” she says.

Definitely upset. But Susan never cursed like this before. Her only four-letter word was dead. Must be that new boyfriend Ryan told me about at dinner a few weeks ago. Can’t remember the turkey’s name. The Presbyterian minister that goes to AA meetings.

Susan lets Ms. Strawberry inside the house, but blocks my path. Well, this could be a problem. Not only does Susan weigh enough to give me a good wrestle, but if I’m forced to push past her, lay hands on her, I’d be in violation of my court order. Possibly committing a crime.

A surreptitious elbow may be needed to precipitate my crossing of the threshold. There. And a wee-bity little shove. I came to see my daughter Beth and that’s exactly what--

Franny knees me in the nuts. Then she throws a forearm under my chin, grabs my belt, and throws her weight into my Adam’s apple and my belly at the same time. Whoa. She governs my center of gravity like Tom Glavine controls a baseball. Lifting and pushing...oh, my...back we go.

Franny’s bum rush forces us both outside, narrowly missing Susan, but El Cap-i-tan doesn’t stop until I’m sailing off the porch, a stooge in this unfilmed version of the World’s Greatest Bartender. Even my kids know who Mr.T is, but I remember when he won the rowdy-customer toss championship hands down.

And what a shove by Ms. Strawberry. I’m on the cement walkway leading to Susan’s porch, looking up at Franny Dahler. Franny Chapman. El Cap-i-tan.

“When you feel like getting up, go wait in the car, Carr,” she says.

Fun-ny.
___________________________________________________________
The Crimes of Austin Carr prints chapters of BIG MONEY each Friday.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Beefed Up Rear End

Ok, ladies, what are we looking at below? Can any of you guess? Hint: You and hubby are coming home from a late night out (when you were young, remember?), there's a noise and the car stops. This is what your husband sees when he crawls under the car to check out the problem.

That shiny round thing is called a differential. It has gears in it that turn driveshaft rotations into turning wheels. Or at least when things are working right.

What are those red thingies? Two, very special shock absorbers and one big, electric fuel pump that can feed what makes this puppy go.

There is a big engine going in this old Oldsmobile. It would rip out the standard rear end.

And why should you care what cars look like underneath? Well, you shouldn't actually. In fact, the only reason I ran this picture was because, the last time I ran car photos, the Crimes of Austin Carr had a record 91 hits.

Who knew you people liked powerful automobiles?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Redhead of the Week

Bonnie Raitt is a nine-time Grammy winner, a singer-songwriter born in Burbank, California, the daughter of Broadway musical star John Raitt.

While attending Radcliffe in the 1960s, Raitt met and befriended blues promoter Dick Waterman "much to the chagrin of my parents, who didn't expect their freshman daughter to be running around with 65-year-old bluesmen," says Raitt. "I was amazed by his passion for the music and the integrity with which he managed the musicians."

During Raitt's sophomore year, Waterman relocated to Philadelphia, and Raitt moved there, too. "It was an opportunity that young white girls just don't get, and as it turns out, an opportunity that changed everything." Raitt was soon playing clubs alongside established blues legends like Howlin' Wolf, Sippie Wallace, and Mississippi Fred McDowell, all of whom she met through Waterman.

Her first album came out in 1971, but Miss Bonnie didn't have a hit single until her 1977 remake of Del Shannon's "Runaway." A year after that, The Famous Author actually met her.

"My friend Buddy Deal is an incredible sax player," TFA said last night. "Buddy was asked to play in her band for a gig at the Los Angeles Forum, and Buddy took me down for rehearsal."

"And Buddy introduced you to Bonnie?"

"Well, we shouted at her and she waved back."

Touching.

Thanks to Wikipedia, Bonnie, and Buddy. You can go to Bonnie's website by clicking the Redhead of the Week headline.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Big Thumbs Up

Many exciting things happened to The Famous Author and me on our recent trip to Caliornia--saki and sushi, that pigtailed waitress, the Giant ballgame--but none topped a recommendation we received from Uncle Dick about another author.

Besides being a character, and my boss a writer, both TFA and I are pretty big readers, too.

And that's why, when we were in San Francisco, TFA and I decided to have lunch with Uncle Dick. He's not really an uncle, but he's a friend of TFA's oldest son, and an avid mystery and crime reader. More important, it was Uncle Dick who told us to try Robert Crais four years ago. Wow. Best recommendation since TFA's brother gave us Elmore Leonard in the 1980s.

"I wanted to thank you for recommending Robert Crais to me," TFA said to Uncle Dick.

"Glad you liked him. That'll cost you lunch."

"Well worth it, Dick. Got any more writers I might like?"

"Can't think of his name, but he writes about a hitman named Rain."

"Oh, that's Barry Eisler. I've seen his stuff all over. He's very popular."

"There's a reason, dude. Try one. You'll love it."

Ok, TFA and I will. We have a summer break coming, many days scheduled for the beach, and we are going to catch up on some reading, starting with Barry Eisler.

Anyone else out there read these Rain books? What did you think?

Friday, June 13, 2008

BIG MONEY, Chapter 45

Bluefish and I smoke Punch Habanas inside a steel-walled dungeon a mile or two from the country club. Golf, booze, leather recliners, and cigars. Next he’ll want to call some girls.

Bluefish, my buddy in unproductive pursuits.

On the outside, this place looked like his Branchtown horse farm’s flat-roofed tack room, recently whitewashed, with two windows facing the big estate’s house and stables. Inside, however, there are no windows. Plus, the gray-metal floor and walls, the way the heavy door clicks like a Federal Reserve bank vault...well, they give this room the utilitarian feel of a steel rabbit trap. A private kill zone that regularly needs hose-downs.

“When the door’s shut and the alarm’s set, electronic devices can’t send, receive, or record signals in here,” Bluefish says. “Like the commercial says, what happens here, stays here.”

Wonder if Ms. Strawberry’s people are really shut out? If so, true privacy facilitates new possibilities for me. “Jerry checked me before we played golf,” I say. “Including my fillings. I’m not wearing any wires.”

“Of course you’re not,” he says. “But I figure in the course of a private and friendly discussion, when I could admit to say, extortion, kidnapping, or even intended murder, why take chances?”

I nod. “Good point.”

“I figure the F.B.I. or that state-cop Chapman could have some kind of miniaturized shit Jerry couldn’t find, something my so-called experts never heard about.”

“I suppose.”

“Not that I’m callin’ you a liar.”

“Of course not.”

“Anyways. In here, I feel free to discuss whatever.”

“But if they did put some kinda miniaturized wire-thing like that on me, wouldn’t they already have heard you and Jerry kill Al?”

Bluefish removes the cigar from his mouth. “You mean that gunshot? You barfing?”

I blink. Is that all Franny’s implant picked up? Maybe also Bluefish saying, Let’s go see? Shit.

“My pal Jerry killed a rabbit,” Bluefish says. “And if they dig up what’s buried in that clearing near the eighteenth hole, a shot-dead rabbit’s exactly what they’ll find. Our former friend Al ran off the eighteenth green instead of paying off his bet. Cheap bastard. We may never see him again.”

I try not to look disappointed, but this means Captain Strawberry still has nothing she can use against Bluefish. Nothing but me. “Why’d you kill him? Not just to frighten me, I hope.”

Bluefish sucks the mid-size Punch. “Like your former coworker Ragsdale, Fat Al is a degenerate gambler. Ran up his debts but couldn’t pay off. He had it coming. Plus, I wanted to remind you that violence is part of my world, not yours.”

He leans back and blows a fine stream of Cuban cigar smoke straight up. Like a volcano. “So what’s it gonna be, Carr? You playing for my team now?”

“Excuse me?”

“You know what I’m asking. Nothing’s changed.”

“Oh, plenty’s changed. You kidnapped my daughter.”

He twists the cigar in his mouth, savoring the smooth wet tobacco. He makes it dirty, like a sex show in Tijuana. “Exactly. Now you have to do business with me.”

God damned bastard. I swear I could beat him to death with a nine-iron. “Beth is all right?”

“She’s fine. Now tell me what you’re going to say to the state grand jury about Mama Bones? What did you already tell Chapman about me?”

I stare into Joseph “Bluefish” Pepperman’s ebony gaze, a look that recalls the glass eyes in that trophy fish over the bookie’s bed. Shiny black marbles. Sightless and dead. Not the kind of man you really want to do business with.

But I think I must. For Beth. And Ms. Strawberry not listening makes my betrayal a whole lot easier.

“Let Beth go, I’ll say whatever you want in front of the grand jury. I give you my word.”




I’m driven back to the golf course and my Camry by Bluefish’s attorney, Jano Johanson, a cosmopolitan Viking with long red hair, a full red beard. He just asked me where I’m going to be later “in case your daughter is located quickly.”

I should lay this redhead out, get his three-thousand-dollar suit dirty with parking lot dust. Officer of the court, my ass. Bluefish’s Norseman raider is more like it. But getting Beth back safely can be my only priority, and rocking the Norseman’s longboat is not a particularly aces idea now that I’ve made a deal with his boss.

“I’m headed back to protective custody,” I say.

“You’re a suspect or a material witness?” Jano says.

“I don’t know.”

He laughs. “Pal, I suggest you get yourself some legal representation.”

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Picking Up the Pieces

End of the storm.

A writer and friend, Chris, took this shot after a tornado ravaged her midwest town and sent her family packing. Chris stayed behind to help.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Redhead of the Week

Forty-four-year-old Tori Amos is an American pianist and singer-songwriter, at the forefront of female singer-songwriters in the early 1990s, noteworthy early in her career as one of the few alternative rock performers to use a piano as her primary instrument.








She is known for emotionally intense songs that cover a wide range of subjects including sexuality, religion and personal tragedy. Some of her charting singles include "Crucify", "Silent All These Years", "Cornflake Girl", "Caught a Lite Sneeze", "Professional Widow", "Spark", and "A Sorta Fairytale".


Click on the Headline to read more about Tori on Wikipedia.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Writers Write. Then They Pitch...

There's a sweet little bookstore near Pittsburgh, called Mystery Lovers Bookshop, and every year they throw this party. Authors stand behind stacks of their books and sign autographs for buyers, most of the money going to a local charity promoting literacy. Several hundred mystery fans show up. There's a cash bar. Authors exchange all kinds of information while they wait to make their next pitch.

"Stand up or sit down? What do you think?" a first-time author says.

"Stand up, definitely," one author says.

My boss, The Famous Author, agrees. "They taught us selling bonds that you have more energy, more enthusiasm, when you're on your feet."

Truth is, TFA is getting better as a salesman, on his feet and in his chair. Eighteen months on the road has taught him something. Also, the new pitch I gave him seems to be getting a much bigger percentage of smiles. "My stockbroker from New Jersey doesn't SOLVE crimes," TFA says now. "He kinda IS the crime."

Friday, June 6, 2008

BIG MONEY, Chapter 44

I line up a putt I think might win the match.

In case my hunch is right, I should be taking my time, measuring the task from all angles, pretend I’m at the Masters. But it’s impossible to concentrate on anything but my kidnapped daughter, and I thank God this is the last hole. Soon as I finish, I’ll hear how I can earn Beth’s release over cigars and brandy.

Not that I’d mind walking out of here with an extra $20,000. I could buy Susan that living room furniture she always wanted.

I’m crouched fifty feet behind the hole, staring at a slick thirty-foot downhiller, maybe four or five feet of right-to-left break. Jerry shanked his second shot into the water, hit his fourth into a bunker, and then picked up to join Al on the sidelines. Bluefish already tapped in for his par after a nifty sand shot. Lucky bastard.

Everything’s up to me. I have to sink this birdie putt to win the match, two-putt for a tie.

Al, who hasn’t left our electric cart since his ball drowned...well, Al acts like his life depends on me knocking this in. His white lips, the way Al looked back there in the woods, the problem has to be something approaching life or death. His eyes are the size of goose eggs.

My nerves fail. I know the putt’s too hard as soon as I stroke it, the damn Top Flight shooting off my club head like a bottle-rocket.

Oops.

The barking puppy takes about half of the intended four-foot break and races past the hole. Six feet beyond the target, my ball reaches a plateau, picks up more speed, and then dives off a cliff.

Behind me, Al gasps.

When my Top-Flight finally completes its gruesome charge, I lie three feet off the front edge of the green. I have twenty, twenty-five feet back to the hole for par. Gee, nice putt, Carr. What a full-boat fuck-up. You’ve just about guaranteed yourself a three-putt. And a financial hickey the size of a new Buick.

I turn to shrug at my partner, signal Al that I’m sorry for the lapse. But Al’s not in our cart anymore.

Oh, my. There he is. Running toward the forest that borders the country club. Sprinting faster than an old fat man should.




A batch of six or eight crows bursts from the tops of two budding locust trees. A gust of wind rakes my face.

Bluefish and I stand at the edge of the thick forest where Al disappeared, and where Jerry ran in after, waving a pistol and talking on a cell phone. Wonder who he was calling?

“Let’s go see what’s happening, shall we?” Bluefish says.

“I don’t think--”

Bluefish pokes a gun in my ear.




Doesn’t take us long or far to find them. Jerry has his semiautomatic pointed at Al, the two of them inside a living room-size clearing no more than fifty feet from our carts. Al’s collapsed against a tree trunk, ass on the ground, legs extended. His hands cover his face, a reddish nose playing peek-a-boo between them.

He reminds me of Pinocchio, the sad puppet’s nose about grow to the size of a walking stick.

A wave of pity hits me, and my heart ticks louder when I get closer. Al’s shoulders bounce with repeated sobs. Poor old geezer’s whimpering like a baby.

Or is that me?

Bluefish pushes me toward the center of the clearing. The crows are back, circling overhead, squawking at each other for flight space.

When Jerry sees me, recognizes that I’m watching him, he pulls the trigger on Al. Blood and brains gush sideways from Al’s head like someone forgot to cap an electric mixer. An explosion of gore. The sound seems to come later, building, then crashing like a freight train.

Al’s rag-ass body melts onto the leaves and pine needles.

I vomit like a fraternity drunk.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Black Dahlia Stories

On our way home from San Diego, Orange County, Pasadena, Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Francisco, The Famous Author and I read about 120 pages of Mr. Ellroy's justly acclaimed work, The Black Dahlia. We had avoided this novel because TFA's father--a rewrite man for The Los Angeles Mirror at the time of the murder--always said Elizabeth Ann Short's past had been kept from the public, that everything written about the sensationalized case was crap.

TFA picked up Ellroy's The Black Dahlia at his son's house. Immediately engaged by the professional boxer-turned-cop protagonist, and his rivalry and partnership with another pro boxer, my boss and I soon found out that James Ellroy got it right. TFA's father's kind of right. The attractive young woman lived a very dangerous life.

The investigation and personal stuff grips us. We can't wait to finish.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Redhead of the Week

Actress Arlene Dahl is the mother of actor Lorenzo Lamas and grandmother of Shayne Dahl Lamas, recent winner of The Bachelor on TV.

Dahl was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota (1925) and is of Norwegian descent. TFA calls her his Viking Lady, or his Ice Melter.

Dahl was voted the Rheingold Beer Girl of 1946. Anybody ever have a Rheingold? TFA says he remembers the TV jingle.

Arlene began her acting career in 1947, at the age of 22, and reached peak popularity and success in the 1950s. Some of her best films include: Reign of Terror, Three Little Words, Woman's World, Slightly Scarlet, and--the film that made TFA light up as a teenager--Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959).

"The deeper they got into the earth, the more her blouse got ripped," TFA says.

Dahl married actor Lex Barker in 1951, divorced him in 1952, and then married another matinee idol, Fernando Lamas. In 1958, Dahl and Lamas had their only son, Lorenzo Lamas. Shortly after giving birth, Dahl ended her career as an actress, although she still--very occasionally--appeared in movies and on television.

She also became an astrologer, wrote a syndicated column, divorced Lamas in 1960, and is reported to have had a relationship with John F. Kennedy.

Oh, my.

Thanks to Arlene, Wikipedia, and that rascally rabbit, JFK.