Sunday, 10 August 2008

Jon L. Breen

I was heartened by a very positive review of Waterloo Sunset, which has just appeared in ‘Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine’, for a number of reasons. EQMM published my very first short story in the States, at an exciting early point in my writing career, just before my first novel appeared. It’s a great magazine, a must-read for lovers of the crime short story. And Jon L. Breen is not only a highly regarded reviewer but also a crime writer, and commentator on the genre, of renown.

I’ve never met Mr Breen, but I first came across his name when he contributed to EQMM a number of incisive and witty parodies of famous crime writers. These were eventually collected in Hair of the Sleuthhound, a book that isn’t easy to find but worth searching high and low for. I wish he’d write a few more parodies of some of the celebrated detectives of the present day. He also wrote an excellent book called What about Murder? This provided a very reliable guide to books about the genre. I often consult it, and can recommend it for those wanting to expand their personal crime reference libraries. And he is, as well, the author of Novel Verdicts, a book about crime fiction with a courtroom element.

Mr Breen compared Harry Devlin’s Liverpool to Bill Pronzini’s San Francisco, by the way. It’s a coupling that I appreciate, because although Pronzini is not especially well-known in the UK, he is one of the genre’s real craftsmen, creator of the Nameless Detective and prolific author of high calibre short stories. And his evocation of San Francisco is marvellous.

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