Monthly Archives: August 2014

RIP, Jeremiah Healy (1948-2014)


Jeremiah Healy
Photo Jim Norman

Ed Gorman and Bill Crider are reporting that Jeremiah Healy has died. Healy suffered from severe chronic depression, and this (exacerbated by alcohol) led him to take his own life.

Healy was the award winning author of the John Francis Cuddy series of private investigator novels and stories.  He also wrote legal thrillers under the name Terry Devane.  The Cuddy stories are among the best private investigator stories I’ve ever read. If you haven’t read his work, you should.

I never had the privilege of meeting him.  By all accounts he was well loved by all who knew him.  I respectfully offer my condolences to his friends and family.  My deepest sympathies, as well as my thoughts and prayers, are with his wife Sandy Balzo.


Take a Walk Down Blind Moon Alley

Blind Moon AlleyBlind Moon Alley
John Florio
Seventh Street Books
trade paper $15.95
ebook $11.99 Kindle Nook

I love me some Prohibition gangster stories, and with his debut novel Sugar Pop Moon (reviewed here), John Florio created one of the most unique and intriguing characters in that subgenre. Jersey Leo is an albino, a bartender in a speakeasy, and someone who is a whole lot tougher than the looks.

In the sophomore installment in the series, Jersey is working in a speakeasy in Philadelphia when he gets a call from his childhood friend Aaron Garvey. During their days on the playground, Garvey was Jersey’s protector. These days he’s on death row for killing a cop.

It turns out that death row inmates can have one guest at their last meal, and Garvey invites Jersey to dine with him. He needs a favor. Garvey had loaned twenty grand to another childhood friend, Myra Banks, so she could buy into a speakeasy. Now Reeger, the partner of the cop Garvey killed, is putting the squeeze on Myra. Garvey wants Jersey to help Myra with Reeger.

Jersey is understandably reluctant to get involved, but then on the eve of his execution, Garvey manages to pull a breakout and heads straight to Jersey for help. Now, whether he likes it or not, Jersey is involved, so he helps Garvey hide.

Then Reeger comes knocking. Jersey Leo is about to find out that no good deed goes unpunished. Continue reading

RIP, Lauren Bacall (1924-2014)

Lauren BacallEven though most of the coverage out of Hollywood today is about Robin Williams, there was a brief announcement on the news a few minutes ago that Lauren Bacall has passed away in New York.  The legendary actress was 89.

Bacall got her first movie role in 1944 at the age of 19, with Humphrey Bogart in To Have and Have Not.  The sparks onscreen mirrored those off, and they were married the next year.  He was 25 years older than she was.  Their marriage lasted until Bogart’s death from cancer 12 years later.

Bogey and Bacall - To Have and Have Not

Bogey and Bacall in To Have and Have Not

Bacall excelled as a hardboiled woman.  Her sultry voice was perfect for a romantic lead in a noir film.  To this day, she is the epitome of that type of character.

When I was a teenager, my favorite actor was Humphrey Bogart.  (Still is.)  Naturally, that means that Bacall had a major influence on me.  I’ve not seen one of her films for quite a while.  (I hate to be interrupted by anything while watching a film, something my wife, my son, and my dogs refuse to take into consideration.)  That’s a failing I need to correct, and I’ll probably watch To Have and Have Not.

Bogey and Bacall - To Have and Have Not 2

Steve and Slim appraise a sticky situation.

Of the four films Bacall and Bogey made together, this is probably my favorite.  The dialogue crackles, Steve (Bogey) and Slim (Bacall) are both tough and tender at the same time, and Hoagy Carmichael and Walter Brennan between the two of them nearly steal the show.  It’s the movie Bogey  made right after Casablanca (my all time favorite), and there are a number of similarities in the two stories.