RARA-AVIS: Blatant self-promotion once every thirty years

From: Frederick Zackel ( fzackel@wcnet.org)
Date: 10 Oct 2006

Today I hold it in my hands; it came by UPS. Yes, on 1 November 2006 the hardboiled imprint Point Blank Press is bringing back out my first book, 1978's "Cocaine & Blue Eyes." I know most of you never heard of it, most mystery fans never did, but I might be able to give you four good reasons why you might want to stock a few copies to give as Christmas presents..

The reasons ...

Here is Ross Macdonald's old (1978) blurb for that same book:

"Fred Zackel's first novel reminds me of the young Dashiell Hammett's work, not because it is an imitation, but because it is not. It is a powerful and original book made from the lives and languages of the people who live in San Francisco today."

Here is Loren Estleman's new (2006) blurb for that same book:

"The American private eye story was in the Dumpster when Fred Zackel fished it out at the point of a gun. He revived the form, electrified readers and critics, and started the juggernaut that shoved aside the paperback romance to establish the mystery as the most popular category in the world. Finally, the generation that grew up since COCAINE AND BLUE EYES has the chance to meet Michael Brennan. An event like this ought to have a national holiday connected with it."
--Loren D. Estleman, author of NICOTINE KISS

(Loren's such a fuckin' sweetheart! Full of shit, but such a sweetheart.)

Here is Tom Nolan's new (2006) blurb for that same book:

"The American private-eye novel enjoyed a resurgence in the 1970s, and Fred Zackel's "Cocaine and Blue Eyes" was a unique part of that literary blossoming. Set in the Bay Area of Northern California, this fast-moving 1978 novel speeds through an eventful Christmas and New Year's season with all the energy of a classic genre bursting with new life. From page one, it's clear the book's author is a born story-teller, one who brings a personal vision to the templates of the past.
            "Cocaine and Blue Eyes" - the tough tale of a semi-pro detective hunting high and low in San Francisco society for a missing person who maybe isn't missing, on behalf of a client who is without a doubt dead - evokes some of the tone and terrain of Dashiell Hammett, some of the seductive cadences of Raymond Chandler, and some of the poetic flashes of Ross Macdonald (who enthusiastically supported its publication). What seems most Zackel's own is the sensibility of investigator-protagonist Michael Brennen: a man coming up through the underside, to find his own moral center.
            "Fred Zackel's novel reads today with the same raw vigor as when it was written. If some of its slang, social-sexual attitudes, and pharmacological lore now ring out of date, such jarring notes only validate the book's integrity as an honest time-machine: a beat-up-cab-ride back some 30 years to when parking-meters took pennies, cigarettes were smoked in restaurants, cocaine was thought to be neither addictive nor fatal; and when - then as now - "Only the lucky solve cases."

            -- Tom Nolan, author of "Ross Macdonald: A Biography"

(Tom, I'm still trying to find that moral center. I know it wasn't in that bar we just got home from. Nice bar, though.)

The Time magazine review from November 28, 1978, said:

"Drugs and thugs, a missing person and a backchatting investigator also dominate Cocaine and Blue Eyes. Fred Zackel's sprightly first novel, set mostly in the San Francisco Bay Area, combines the story of a Pacific Heights dynasty, corporate shenanigans, Chinatown gangs, a spectrum of sex, aging flower children, Mafia money and the houseboat life in Sausalito. The result is as nerve-rattling as a full-throttle auto chase from Grant Avenue to Fisherman's Wharf."

Oh, and there is even a fifth reason. The murderer who found it in an airport paperback rack and decided to make a movie of it.

"Cocaine and Blues Eyes" was made into a so-so 1983 NBC made-for-TV movie co-produced by and starring O. J. Simpson. Say what you want, but his check cleared; in 1983 that's all anybody cared about. Which explains why you also never see it on television.

Want a sixth reason? The editor at Coward, McCann in 1978 who fell in love with it, bought it and published it was Joseph Kanon, who retired to write thrillers.

What follows is the info from the catalog. It will be available in the US and UK.

Wildside Press LLC Imprint: Point Blank ISBN/SKU: 0809562138 ISBN Complete: 0-8095-6213-8 Title: Cocaine and Blue Eyes Publication Date: 11/1/2006 Language: English Book Description (formally called "Annotation"): Contributors:
  Last Name First Middle Role
  1: Zackel Fred Author Order Types:
    Short Run Other Title Information:
    Large Text Edition: N ISBN/SKU: 0809562138 ISBN Complete: 0-8095-6213-8 Book Type: 5.5 x 8.5 in or 216 x 140 mm (Demy 8vo) Perfect Bound Page Count: 264

I am new to all this promotion biz. But, thank you, Lord, for this glass of wine. Best wishes to you and yours.


Fred Zackel

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