About This Issue


Okay, we’re twenty-five. Now, get over it…

Last issue, we might have mentioned that the THRILLING DETECTIVE WEB SITE had staggered and stumbled its way to its twenty-fifth anniversary (April 1, 2023).

But the long-postponed announcement of the Private Eye Writers of America’s 2023 Shamus Award Finalists seemed like a good reason for a brand new cover. Fortunately, right about the same time our pal Sam Wiebe gave us a lagniappe: a mini-review of Jonathan Latimer’s 1941 noir classic, Solomon’s Vineyard.

That’s the sort of serendipity I can get behind.

I simply lifted the cover of the first edition of Latimer’s novel, did a little retouching, and… voila! It was one of the easiest cover “remakes” I’ve ever done. I found a large enough scan to work from, the typefaces were easy to find and replace, and the original cover boasted a nice clean design that leant itself well to some new text.

Sharp-eyed viewers will notice that I’ve left the original artist’s name on our cover, which is only right. Only problem is that I couldn’t find much info on E. Jeffrey (1898-1978). Seems he was actually Edward Jeffrey, a noted British landscape artist and book/magazine illustrator, best known for his work on the Toby Twirl comic series for kids in the 1940s and 50s, written by Sheila Hodgetts. He started out doing a large number of book-cover illustrations for adult books, and the newspaper strips for Rupert Bear, an obvious inspiration for the Toby Twirl series, which made  Jeffrey an obvious choiceToby was a pig who wore exceptionally large trousers (Rupert was pants, as well), while Karl Craven, the protagonist in Solomon’s Vineyard, was an entirely different sort of pig.

Of course, the goodies from our anniversary issue are still here. Our cover (eyes right) is courtesy of Oregon artist Leslie Peterson Sapp, who does these simply amazing paintings inspired by noir. The one I chose was the most “private-eyish” one I could find, but Leslie’s noir visions go far beyond that. You can read all about her and her work in “Leslie Peterson Sapp: I Paint What I Feel—And I Feel Noir. And be sure to check out some of her other work in My Scrapbook.

I was also jazzed to present a nice little bit of fiction—the first in too long. It’s just an excerpt, but it’s one hell of a excerpt, from one hell of a book. It’s called The Autobiography of Matthew Scudder and it is—naturally—from the one and only Lawrence Block, one of the greatest writers our genre has ever had. He’s created an impressive rogue’s gallery of, well, rogues, over the years, but I think the greatest by far is Matt Scudder, the New York private eye who’s gone through almost as many trials and tribulations as The Big Apple itself. This new one isn’t crime fiction, or at least not really—it’s simply a fictional character relating his life and times, setting the record straight, as it were. Apparently, according to Scudder, that Block guy got a few things wrong… although to the writer’s credit he also managed to create a character so vivid and real that I (and plenty of other readers) actually care about his elementary school experiences or his Uncle Norman. Now that’s writing.

And speaking of writing, for those of you who endlessly scour the streaming menus, remote in hand, desperately seeking something new in the private eye vein, only to settle for yet another decades-old rerun of Rockford? Brother, I feel your pain. and apparently so does bestselling author and TV-writing superstar Lee Goldberg, who chipped in with Magnum P.I. (v 2.4). There has been a lot of grumbling (and even a few think pieces) about the “new” Magnum, P.I. since it made its debut a few years ago, and even more when it moved from CBS to Peacock this year, but none has been so pointed and spot on as Lee’s, who offers us an insider’s view—he’s spent years in the television trenches, both at home and at work, and his critique is well worth the read.

Finally, I announced that I was bringing back The Dick of The Day. Given the personal and professional storms of my life over the last year, I hate to make promises I can’t keep, but I am going to try to deliver a gumshoe to you everyday. That ought to keep some of you (Jeff?) happy. The rest of you can just scratch your head and keep on going…

This year I also hope to finally finish The Big Move, though for the same reasons, I wouldn’t bet the farm on it. Right now, there’s no real rhyme or reason as to what gets moved here, and when–it’s all pretty much impulse and stream-of-consciousness, as I try to figure it all out. But don’t panic–we’ll get there. Likewise, don’t get your panties all twisted about us losing anything. We’re going to save it all. We’re simply tweaking and simplifying and updating it, moving things from one site to another. Yes, it’s taking way longer than I’d hoped (Anyone want to be an intern?), but it’s also sorta fun, as entries that haven’t been touched for years suddenly get tasered back to life, and decades-old typos and run-on sentences get slapped into submission (replaced, of course, by brand new typos and new run-on sentences).

Kevin Burton Smith

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