Saturday, November 18, 2006

Here Comes a Falling Angel...

Millipede Press, a new publishing house in Lakewood, Colorado, specializes in crime fiction books that are beautifully designed and shrewdly introduced -- carefully chosen specimens of classics that are often not easily available elsewhere. Two recent additions to Millipede’s list prove how important the house has quickly become:

I first fell under the spell of Fredric Brown when science fiction was my mental drug of choice: his stories in Weird Tales and Astounding were worth paying the cover price for on their own. Then, as crime fiction became my favorite genre, Brown’s “cynical idealism” (as Bill Pronzini says in his new introduction) made me a devout admirer of this aspect of his work. Here Comes A Candle tells of the inner battle fought by a haunted young man who is torn between making a living as a mobster and doing something worthwhile. It uses several stylistic devices to tell its story, and you can see its influences on crime writers in the 50 years since it was originally published.

“This is the literary love child of Raymond Chandler and Stephen King,” says film director Ridley Scott in his succinct foreword to the other new Millipede tribute out this month, and King himself makes a graceful appearance in a 1978 letter to the original hardcover publisher of Falling Angel. A new afterword by author William Hjortsberg, telling how his novel has moved into the land of legend since its early cult days, plus a bonus story and an introduction by his friend and fellow Montana literary giant James Crumley make this book about a private detective named Harry Angel who is literally in over his head a holiday gift for your favorite crime fiction lover.