First is Dan Luft's essay on Max Allan Collins, "The Nolan Series: Part 1," which appeared over at The Violent World of Parker. Luft examines Collins' series character, the professional thief Nolan, and considers the first three books in the series (Bait Money, Blood Money, and Mourn the Living), Collins' influences, and the pros and cons of each of the novels. Here's a taste:
The first book in Collins’s series, Bait Money, owes its plot and pace to many crime writers of the ’50s and ’60s. It begins with Nolan stuck in a room recuperating from a bullet wound in his side. This could be a nod to Dan J. Marlowe’s The Name of the Game is Death, which Collins had certainly read growing up. The next big scene has Nolan walking alone in the rain sizing up a hired thug that might just be tougher than he is. The ponderous scene plays quite a bit like the opening chapter to Peter Rabe’s The Out is Death. Collins isn’t using just Stark for inspiration, he’s using the generation of crime writers he grew up reading.
It's a supremely badass and well-informed critical essay, very thoughtful and insightful into Collins' work. I'm greatly looking forward to Pt. 2 of Dan's essay.
Second is Ethan Iverson's epic multi-part piece, "I Was Looking for Charles Willeford." Iverson is not only the amazing pianist behind The Bad Plus, but he's one heck of a great noir scholar. If you're a crime fiction fan, you owe it to yourself to browse the backlog of his blog and check out all he has to offer. His latest piece is a three-part investigation into the life and work of Charles Willeford. The first part is "Nothing is Inchoate, or, "When Did You Get Interested in Abused Children, Helen?"" which considers Willeford's novels. Second part is an interview with Willeford biographer Don Herron," which I had the pleasure of helping transcribe this conversation. Part three is an Interview with Ray Banks. If you're like me, after reading these you'll be driven to bust out your Willeford books and re-read them, or to catch up on the ones you still haven't read.
Great work Dan and Ethan, truly a pleasure to read these articles.