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An Excerpt From The Lincoln Lawyer

Mar 11, 2011 in Books, Film, Guest Posts

On March 18, Michael Connelly’s bestselling legal thriller The Lincoln Lawyer is set to hit movie theaters, starring Matthew McConaughey, Ryan Phillippe, Marisa Tomei and more.  Over the next week, Mulholland Books will excerpt the first three chapters from the book, accompanied by stills from the film, as well as some surprises along the way. Visit Michael Connelly’s Facebook page to learn more about The Lincoln Lawyer and the next book in the Mickey Haller series, The Fifth Witness (in bookstores April 5, 2011).

ONE

The morning air off the Mojave in late winter is as clean and crisp as you’ll ever breathe in Los Angeles County. It carries the taste of promise on it. When it starts blowing in like that I like to keep a window open in my office. There are a few people who know this routine of mine, people like Fernando Valenzuela. The bondsman, not the baseball pitcher. He called me as I was coming into Lancaster for a nine o’clock calendar call. He must have heard the wind whistling in my cell phone.

“Mick,” he said, “you up north this morning?”

“At the moment,” I said as I put the window up to hear him better. “You got something?”

“Yeah, I got something. I think I got a franchise player here. But his first appearance is at eleven. Can you make it back down in time?”

Valenzuela has a storefront office on Van Nuys Boulevard a block from the civic center, which includes two courthouses and the Van Nuys jail. He calls his business Liberty Bail Bonds. His phone number, in red neon on the roof of his establishment, can be seen from the

high-power wing on the third floor of the jail. His number is scratched into the paint on the wall next to every pay phone on every other ward in the jail.

You could say his name is also permanently scratched onto my Christmas list. At the end of the year I give a can of salted nuts to everybody on it. Planters holiday mix. Each can has a ribbon and bow on it. But no nuts inside. Just cash. I have a lot of bail bondsmen on my Christmas list. I eat holiday mix out of Tupperware well into spring. Since my last divorce, it is sometimes all I get for dinner.

Before answering Valenzuela’s question I thought about the calendar call I was headed to. My client was named Harold Casey. If the docket was handled alphabetically I could make an eleven o’clock hearing down in Van Nuys, no problem. But Judge Orton Powell was in his last term on the bench. He was retiring. That meant he no longer faced reelection pressures, like those from the private bar. To demonstrate his freedom—and possibly as a form of payback to those he had been politically beholden to for twelve years—he liked to mix things up in his courtroom. Sometimes the calendar went alphabetical, sometimes reverse alphabetical, sometimes by filing date. You never knew how the call would go until you got there. Often lawyers cooled their heels for better than an hour in Powell’s courtroom. The judge liked that.

“I think I can make eleven,” I said, without knowing for sure. “What’s the case?”

Continue reading ›

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Time is Limitless

Mar 10, 2011 in Books, Film, Guest Posts

Film ReelA week is a long time in politics. In the movie business not so much. In the movie business ten years isn’t necessarily a long time. In real life it’s probably somewhere in between. When I first sold the film rights to my novel The Dark Fields in 2001 I was warned not to expect anything to happen quickly – that is, if anything was going to happen at all. So I figured, what, two, three years? Tops? But if someone had told me it was going to take a full ten years to get a movie made, and that that would be good going, I’d have laughed, or cried, or both.

Back then everyone was still getting used to how preposterous it seemed that George W. Bush was actually the president. Back then my PowerBook G3 had a 2-gigabyte hard drive. Back then I didn’t have any children.

But back then I was very happy to sell the rights. The Dark Fields was my first novel to be published and before it even hit the shelves it was being sent out to various film companies. This was exciting stuff, and it wasn’t long before it got even more so, because names started being mentioned. Weirdly enough, one of the first was Robert De Niro’s. Word filtred through that someone at Tribeca, De Niro’s production company, had read the book and was “interested”. Then it transpired that Scott Rudin was “interested”. Then it was others. Then it was Harvey Weinstein of Miramax, who ended up being so “interested” that he actually took out an eighteen-month option on the book. Which at the time, of course, seemed like an eternity to me. Because how could they not get it all together in that space of time? What were these people, complete slackers?

I think it was at the second or third renewal of the option that I began to experience something I would subsequently become very familiar with – excitement fatigue. The fact that they were renewing was surely a good sign, and it also provided a much needed revenue stream, but was anything ever going to happen?

Continue reading ›

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An Excerpt from Limitless: Part II

Mar 10, 2011 in Books, Film

In 2002, Alan Glynn wrote the celebrated suspense novel The Dark Fields. On March 18, The Dark Fields will come to theaters as the film Limitless, starring Bradley Cooper, Robert DeNiro and Abbie Cornish.  To celebrate, Mulholland Books will run a three-part series: three chapters from the book (generously provided by Picador from their Limitless movie tie-in edition), accompanied by stills from the film. As well as some forthcoming extras. Get ready for Limitless, the author’s cut.

Missed Part 1? Read it first.

We went to a bar over on Sixth, a cheesy retro cocktail lounge called Maxie’s that used to be a Tex-Mex place called El Charro and before that had been a spit-and-sawdust joint called Conroy’s. It took us a few moments to adjust to the lighting and the decor of the interior, and, weirdly, to find a booth that Vernon was happy with. The place was virtually empty—it wouldn’t be getting busy for another while yet, not until five o’clock at least—but Vernon was behaving as though it were the small hours of a Saturday morning and we were staking our claim to the last available seats in the last open bar in town. It was only then, as I watched him case each booth for line of vision and proximity to toilets and exits, that I realized something was up. He was edgy and nervous, and this was unusual for him—or at any rate unusual for the Vernon I’d known, his one great virtue as a coke dealer having been his relative composure at all times. Other dealers I’d been acquainted with generally behaved like ads for the product they were shifting in that they hopped around the place incessantly and talked a lot. Vernon, on the other hand, had always been quiet and businesslike, unassuming, a good listener—maybe even a little too passive sometimes, like a dedicated weed smoker adrift in a sea of coke-fiends. In fact, if I hadn’t known better, I might have thought that Vernon—or at least this person in front of me—had done his first few lines of coke that very afternoon and wasn’t handling it very well. Continue reading ›

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Black Lens: Part VIII

Mar 09, 2011 in Black Lens, Guest Posts

Story by Ken Bruen and Russell Ackerman

Ken Bruen is one of the most celebrated crime novelists of our time.

Black Lens is his most secret project.

Read on as the unveiling continues.

Every Wednesday on Mulholland Books.

With art by Jonathan Santlofer.

Fade in…

Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6 and Part 7.

THE GUARD.

Manson screamed.

A single evil phrase designed to let the entire prison know that once again he was going to be on
TV.

Colbert, the head guard, massaged his temples, counting the minutes to his break and the Willie Nelson songs he had cued up on his iPod.

Long ago, Ransom had ceased to surprise him, his predecessor, a grizzled hack, had said

‘Kid, Manson doesn’t follow any logic, he’s not so much Anti-Christ as ass backwards. In our time we tried

Thorazine,

Then beating the living fucking crap out if him,

trust me, nothing………….

nothing works, the clown is……………

indestructible.’

Continue reading ›

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Ten of Crime Fiction’s Leading Ladies

Mar 08, 2011 in Books, Guest Posts

Reto #17 “Contraluz”In our ongoing series of  columns by  frequent Mulhollandbooks.com commenters, Jen Forbus takes a trip back through the annals of crime fiction to discuss her favorite female characters.

I am always on the lookout for great female characters in crime fiction. Few things will turn me off a book faster than the cliché damsel in distress or the bumbling idiot who solves a mystery by tripping over the answer while simultaneously gossiping on her cell phone and putting on make-up. Come on, you’ve read them too. Which is not to say a female character can’t find herself in hot water and need assistance. But when she needs a “big strong man” to take care of all her problems – no thanks. On the flip side, she doesn’t need to be Wonder Woman, rescuing the whole world with her unbelievable superpowers, while dressed to the nines with nary a hair out of place.

No, I’m looking for real women. Women who have strong character, are intelligent, can exercise independence but also appreciate the value of relationships. These women have goals and dreams, flaws and imperfections. I guess these are the women I would like to know and be friends with. The women I’d enjoy spending hours with.

So who in crime fiction have I found to fit this bill? I’m glad you asked. Here are my ten favorites.

10. Ree Dolly – Daniel Woodrell puts poor Ree through the wringer in WINTER’S BONE and she continues to fight back, determined to overcome her fate at any cost. Ree is passionate about her goal and despite her hardened exterior, she is capable of tremendous love and compassion. Maybe it’s the resiliance of youth, but Ree Dolly is a character to admire.

9.  Fiona Kenshaw – Ridley Pearson has created a fiery, down-to-earth character in Fiona. Her interests are varied, she’s a compassionate character, and she has a spirited sense of humor. Fiona experiences a range of emotions as most any human would, but she doesn’t wear those emotions on her sleeve. She’s smart and she’s tough – she’d have to be to photograph Pearson’s crime scenes!

Continue reading ›

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A Conversation with the Breakout Kings: Nick Santora and Domenick Lombardozzi

Mar 04, 2011 in Guest Posts, Mulholland Authors, Television

Nick Santora is the author of SLIP AND FALL and FIFTEEN DIGITS both forthcoming from Mulholland Books. He is also the co-writer, co-executive producer and co-creator of Breakout Kings which premieres this Sunday, March 6th at 10PM on A&E. Here, Santora and Domenick Lombardozzi (star of Breakout Kings, The Wire, Entourage and more) discuss their collaboration on the show, the concept of literary TV and, most importantly, which New York borough is the best.

Mulholland Books: Nick, you’ve described shows like The Sopranos, The Wire, and now Breakout Kings as “literary TV.” What does the phase mean to you?

Nick Santora: I think to me, and there are other shows that I think fall into that category as well like Boardwalk Empire. But to me, it’s trying to take television to a different level of storytelling -when you’re doing stuff that you have not necessarily seen before. There’s television out there that is absolutely great; and that makes a lot of people happy and makes a lot of people a lot money, but it’s definitely, for lack of a better term, I guess, a bit old hat. It’s the straight case of where character dialogues are interchangeable and it just doesn’t make a difference who says what. I can state from experience: I’ve worked on shows where I’ve been on set, and I’m not going to name the show; but, where one actor was having trouble with his lines, and his buddy, another actor has said don’t worry, I know that line. I’ll take it and you take my line, it’s shorter. And my writer brain and my producer brain both cramped at hearing that until, I actually saw them play the scene and I realized- it just doesn’t make a difference, who says what.

Because the whole entire episode is about the case and the characters are nothing but meats puppets that give exposition. It really bothered me, and I swore that if I could ever get my own show on the air, I would try at least to make the show about something other than just the case of the week. And on Breakout Kings, that’s what I and Matt Olmstead, my co-creator on the show, have tried to do and I think that we have been relatively successful.

MB: Domenick, your Wikipedia entry claims that your main inspiration as an actor is the film State of Grace. While the film is a cult classic, it’s also kind of a narrow choice, so I thought I’d ask…

Domenick Lombardozzi: No, that’s not true. Although, I do love the movie. Gary Oldman. Fantastic. Although I did A Bronx Tale when I was fifteen, it wasn’t until I did a movie called Kiss me Guido that I really fell in love with acting– just the whole process, the learning what other people do, the camaraderie. It was that experience for me because we actually took that movie from nothing, and got funding, did readings to get money, to get that movie we made for Tony Vitale, and it was just that whole process that really inspired me.

NS: Kiss Me Guido is another example of literary film–Tony Vitale is really a talented writer. You know we can all go out and see a movie that is a lot of incredible special effects, and the star of the movie frankly is what’s done in the editing biz with the incredible talented editors, and the CGI, and all the incredible technology that is available today. Those movies are great and I love those movies; and I’ll be the first one to go and see one of those films, but, I also love a film where the star is the story, and the actors are bring the story to life.

Continue reading ›

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An Excerpt from LIMITLESS

Mar 03, 2011 in Books, Fiction, Film

In 2002, Alan Glynn wrote the celebrated suspense novel The Dark Fields. On March 18, The Dark Fields will come to theaters as the film Limitless, starring Bradley Cooper, Robert DeNiro and Abbie Cornish.  To celebrate, Mulholland Books will run a three-part series: three chapters from the book (generously provided by Picador from their Limitless movie tie-in edition), accompanied by stills from the film. As well as some forthcoming extras. Get ready for Limitless, the author’s cut.

[1]

IT’S GETTING LATE.

I don’t have too sharp a sense of time any more, but I know it must be after eleven, and maybe even getting on for midnight. I’m reluctant to look at my watch, though—because that will only remind me of how little time I have left.

In any case, it’s getting late.

And it’s quiet. Apart from the ice-machine humming outside my door and the occasional car passing by on the highway, I can’t actually hear a thing—no traffic, or sirens, or music, or local people talking, or animals making weird nightcalls to each other, if that’s what animals do. Nothing. No sounds at all. It’s eerie, and I don’t really like it. So maybe I shouldn’t have come all the way up here. Maybe I should have just stayed in the city, and let the time-lapse flicker of the lights short-circuit my now preternatural attention span, let the relentless bustle and noise wear me down and burn up all this energy I’ve got pumping through my system. But if I hadn’t come up here to Vermont, to this motel—to the Northview Motor Lodge—where would I have stayed? I couldn’t very well have inflicted my little mushroom-cloud of woes on any of my friends, so I guess I had no option but to do what I did—get in a car and leave the city, drive hundreds of miles up here to this quiet, empty part of the country . . . Continue reading ›

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Black Lens: Part VII

Mar 02, 2011 in Black Lens, Guest Posts

Story by Ken Bruen and Russell Ackerman

Ken Bruen is one of the most celebrated crime novelists of our time.

Black Lens is his most secret project.

Read on as the unveiling continues.

Every Wednesday on Mulholland Books.

With art by Jonathan Santlofer.

Fade in…

Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6.

THE COP

Jimmy Scott, pulled himself from the sweat ridden mattress.

His graying hair was plastered to his skull, he muttered

‘Jesus, panic attacks.’

Getting worse.

If that was fucking possible.

He sat on the edge of the dreaded bed, grabbed the Valium bottle, took out the ten, dry swallowed them, prayed to a God he no longer believed in that the pills still his beating heart.

Moved to the shower, got in there and lost himself in icy water for five minutes.

Emerging, frozen, he grabbed his NYPD sweatshirt, pulled it on, then moved to brew the coffee.

Just the ritual calmed him, like normality was close.

The pill was kicking in.

Continue reading ›

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Criminal Favoritism

Mar 01, 2011 in Books, Guest Posts

Spiral staircase, The Long Room, Trinity College DublinIn our ongoing series of  columns by  frequent commenters on Mulhollandbooks.com, today’s piece is from Elizabeth White. When asked to report on her favorite crime novels, she came up with this list.

Ask a group of crime fiction enthusiasts to name the best crime fiction books of all time and you’ll get a varied list and vigorous debate. Some will tell you it’s the tried and true classics from legends like Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Dashiell Hammett, and Raymond Chandler. Others will lobby for more recent big hitters like Ed McBain, John le Carré, Joseph Wambaugh, and Michael Connelly. Hell, if people are feeling feisty enough the very definition of “crime fiction” can turn into a bone of contention.

I can’t say for sure what the “best” crime fiction books are, but it felt a bit more manageable to present a list of my favorite crime fiction books. There being no right or wrong answer to that since it’s my opinion, how difficult could it be?

Tremendously, as it turns out. But after several days of hair pulling and apologizing to inanimate objects for leaving them off the list, I finally narrowed it down to ten. In no particular order, my Top 10 Favorite Crime Fiction books.

L.A. Requiem by Robert Crais
When his ex-girlfriend is murdered, former Force Recon Marine Joe Pike is called upon by her father to investigate the crime. Pike in turn enlists his best friend Elvis Cole, a private detective, and things quickly go from complicated to deadly. L.A. Requiem is the book that took an already great series to epic level, and changed the way a lot of people looked at crime fiction. Crais broke all the rules, wrote a few news ones and, most importantly, gave readers their first real glimpse behind the shades of the enigmatic Joe Pike.

A Place of Execution by Val McDermid
For my money, A Place of Execution is grand dame of crime fiction Val McDermid’s masterpiece. Told in two parts, in the first half McDermid presents – and seemingly resolves – the case of a missing child in early 1960s northern England. In part two she then revisits the case and its players 35 years later and turns everything you thought you knew on its ear. Quite possibly the most intricate, tightly crafted plot I’ve ever read.

The Wheelman by Duane Swierczynski
When the bank job Lennon is serving as the getaway driver for goes wrong, it goes seriously wrong. Like betrayed, beaten, and left for dead kind of wrong. But he wasn’t killed, and Lennon cuts a deadly path through dirty cops, multinational mobsters, and assorted thugs who have the misfortune to cross him on his quest to find out who set him up. Oh, did I mention Lennon is a mute? Yeah, our narrator can’t talk, but that’s ok because his actions speak volumes.

Continue reading ›

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Shafted: On Ernest R. Tidyman and the Makings of Shaft

Feb 25, 2011 in Books, Film, Guest Posts

Shaft - 0020By all accounts, 1971 was a great year for former newspaperman- turned-pulp novelist Ernest R. Tidyman. Along with the paperback release of his hardboiled debut Shaft, the Cleveland, Ohio native co-wrote the film version for MGM as well as the screenplay for The French Connection. The year before, French Connection producer Philip D’Antoni and director William Friedkin read Shaft in galley form and was impressed with Tidyman’s gritty gumshoe story.

“I was shocked when he (Tidyman) walked into my office, because I was expecting a black person, because Shaft was about African-Americans,” D’Antoni recalls in the documentary Making the Connection: The Untold Stories. “Not only was he white, but a very WASPy person from Ohio.”

At the time, Tidyman was a 42-year-old former New York Times reporter who began his career as a teenaged journalist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. After Tidyman’s stint at the Times, he started thinking about writing Shaft. “The idea came out of my awareness of both social and literary situations in a changing city,” Tidyman told a writer in 1973. “There are winners, survivors and losers in the New York scheme of things. It was time for a black winner, whether he was a private detective or an obstetrician.” Continue reading ›

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