Smokey the Cat
Daniel Weizmann

Sixty seconds with Daniel Weizmann...

Grew up in Hollywood, used bar mitzvah money to start the punk fanzine Rag in Chains under the nom de plume Shredder, wrote for Flipside, LA Weekly, and others. Two spoken word CDs for the SST/New Alliance label. Moved to NYC to edit Mad Libs, then did an MFA with the Shaindy Rudoff Program. Back in Los Angeles dreaming up mysteries.

RTE: Describe yourself in a sentence?

Weizmann: I live and breathe on the clickety-clacking music of typewriters, tap dancers, fast drummers, and film noir footsteps in the dark.

RTE: What's the one record you'd take to a desert island?

Weizmann: Les Baxter’s Jewel of the Sea -- I mean, if you’re going to be on an island, be on an island, right?

RTE: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

Weizmann: Like the Beatles sang, a “paperback wri-ter wri-ter wri-ter!”

Peter Robinson

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Anthony Bidulka

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May 30 2023

For a variety of reasons we're a little bit late and slightly thinner this month, but here we are all the same and with some recommendations for what you might want to read in the up-coming summer.

We can begin with a clutch of new releases that prompted a lot of enthusiasm in their occasionally jaded reviewers. They are debuts and that bodes well for the future. The first is Daniel Weizmann's THE LAST SONGBIRD, a 21st century version of 20th century California noir. The author is a veteran punk journalist and his prose is lyrical and compelling. The next is BOY PARTS, by British writer Eliza Clark. Set in Newcastle-on-Tyne, it involves a woman photographer who collects body parts both digitally and on film. Rebecca Nesvet concludes that this part Bret Easton Ellis, part send-up of a current art scene, and part love story is the work of "a writer to watch." Clark's second novel, PENANCE, is scheduled for release in the US later this year and we'll tell you about it when it is. The third entry in our debut stakes is ADRIFT, by Lisa Brideau, a Canadian writer who is also a sustainability expert working on strategies to mitigate the effects of climate change. This is an eco-thriller set in the near future and involving a lone woman who is suffering from a form of amnesia, one who must struggle to develop a new identity in a hostile world. Sharon Mensing reports that she stayed up till the wee hours of the morning, unable to sleep until she'd finished this gripping book.

ROGUE JUSTICE is not a debut, but the second thriller by Stacey Abrams. One wonders where this political activist from Georgia can find the time, but so she does, and Ruth Castleberry reports that Abrams has created a chilling and intriguing thriller informed by her working experience, and one that has well-developed characters and an engaging plot.

It's always hard to find out that one is reading the last in a favourite series, and Jim Napier was dismayed to see that THE LAST REMAINS, by Elly Griffiths was indeed the last installment in her Ruth Galloway series. It is, however, a satisfying conclusion and Jim is confident that Griffiths will continue to entertain although she has put Dr Galloway to rest.

John Banville is very far from a debut author, even if we ignore his literary fiction and count only his ten thrillers, most of which were written under the name of Benjamin Black. His latest is THE LOCK-UP, in which Quirke investigates the death of a Jewish woman historian in the wake of the Second World War. Cathy Downs, who found the previous APRIL IN SPAIN masterful, was underwhelmed.

I too was disappointed by Arnaldur Indriđason's THE GIRL BY THE BRIDGE. I've been following this Icelandic novelist for a long time with pleasure, but this time, the problem lay with the translation, which is excessively literal. Since I don't have a word of Icelandic, there's no way for me to know just what went wrong, but there is enough here that Arnaldur's recurrent themes do poke through and will interest his readers. But this is not the book for those unfamiliar with the earlier books. And, sadly, Sharon Mensing felt similarly let down by the eighth installment in Paige Shelton's Edinburgh bookshop series, FATEFUL WORDS. Sharon says she has always enjoyed the trip to Scotland but this time the formula shows through.

To conclude on a cheerier note, Rebecca thoroughly enjoyed a recent entry in Akashic's City Noir series - AUSTIN NOIR, even though she's never been there. She says that the stories are all so good that it is difficult to highlight only few and despite all the terrible things that transpire in them, this collection makes Austin an attractive place to visit.

Our guest in the Sixty Seconds spot this time is Daniel Weizmann and, trust me, you want to read what he has to say.

We'll be back in June with some suggestions for what to read on your holiday if you're lucky enough to have one or to console you if you aren't.

The Editors:

Yvonne Klein

Rebecca Nesvet

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Our mascot and masthead is Smokey the Cat. Smokey the cat went to the great playground in the sky on April 29, 2008, at 3:30 p.m. He was about 13 years old, had diabetes and only 11 teeth left. He is much happier now. He will remain as our masthead and mascot.

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