First on today’s blog, is an interview with Lenny that was done by Allan Guthrie for his blog, Criminal- E. This interview provides a taste of the humor that makes SHOOTERS & CHASERS a book no one wants to put down. Allan’s terrific interview with Lenny is followed by my far less entertaining review of the book but only Lenny could write a review that does justice to SHOOTERS AND CHASERS.
More on Allan Guthrie, his books, and his blog tomorrow.
Lenny Kleinfeld began his career as a playwright in Chicago, where he was also a columnist for Chicago magazine. His articles, fiction and humor have appeared in Playboy, Oui, Galaxy, the Chicago Tribune, New York Times and Los Angeles Times. In 1986 he sold a screenplay; he is now twenty-five years into a business trip to Los Angeles. Shooters And Chasers is his first novel.
Can you sum up Shooters And Chasers in no more than 25 words?
What was your motivation for writing it?
I have no other marketable skills.
How much difference does an editor make?
Depends on how deranged he or she is.
How much difference does a good cover make?
Same as a good costume does for an actor.
How important is a good title?
I’m not qualified to answer that one; ask Will or Harry.
What’s the best piece of craft advice you’ve been given?
Make it shorter.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve been given?
Be born with a trust fund.
What are your strengths and weaknesses as a writer?
Being born with talent but without a trust fund.
As a reader, how would you describe your taste in crime fiction?
As a writer, how would you describe your ideal reader’s taste in crime fiction?
What makes you keep reading a book?
Being unable to sleep when flying economy class.
What do you look for in a good book?
Techniques I can steal—I mean learn from.
Ever tried your hand at screenwriting?
I wrote a screenplay and Michael Douglas bought it. After which I sold or was hired to write five more. None ever got produced.
Little-known local cultural eccentricity: In Los Angeles County, the term “First-time novelist” is Latin for “Screenwriter over 50.”
Ever tried your hand at poetry?
Just once. Bernie Sahlins, the gentleman who owned the Second City comedy troupe in Chicago, hosted an annual stag dinner and limerick contest. Attendees would all address the same topic. The winners would be judged by a professional writer, who was also expected to contribute a limerick.
The year I was the judge the Cold War was still raging, and the topic was “Post-World War III Humor.” My contribution:
An archbishop survived the big blast
Though his manhood a green light now cast
Till he met a young nun
With huge glowing buns
And she brought him to Critical Mass
That was a quarter of a century ago, and in all that time not one poetry journal has requested a submission.
How do you feel about reviews?
One way or another, every review provides a good reason to open a bottle of wine.
SHOOTERS & CHASERS by Lenny Kleinfeld has everything one would want in a thriller. The shooters are (sort of) identified right at the beginning. The chasers, Chicago Homicide detectives Mark Bergman and John Dunegan enter the scene soon after. The shooters are sociopaths and the chasers are the kind of characters that I want to meet again.
The book opens in August, 2002 with Meelo Garcia prowling restlessly in a motel room. He can’t leave because Oscar told him he can’t.
In the second chapter, Naguib Darwahab, a Chicago cabbie originally from Cairo, picks up famed architect Wilson Willets. As Willets is walking toward his house, he is killed by a mugger. Darwahab risks his life by scratching the mugger down his left arm but the murderer runs off and there is nothing that can be done to help Willets.
From that point the books takes off, introducing a cast of characters that is large but who are so distinct that the reader has no problem keeping everyone straight. The plot moves from street crime to the very richest of the rich in Los Angeles and a contest sponsored by the Los Angeles Fine Arts Museum. Along the way there are other murders, a mysterious Englishman, assassins, a public defender who suggests that the murder has elements of the Kennedy assassination, Oscar, and two police forces, Chicago and Los Angeles, that are not made to look crooked or inept. And…the book is funny. Kleinfeld writes wonderful dialogue even when the dialogue is interior. I don’t know how many times I had to stop reading and laugh.
This is a book that will appeal to just about anyone who likes mysteries and thrillers. This is an author who deserves a wide readership. SHOOTER & CHASERS is a wonderful way to spend a day.