Games, Toys, Collectibles and Other Odds & Sods
HARDCOVERS | PAPERBACKS | DIGITAL | AUDIO | COLLECTIONS & ANTHOLOGIES
NON-FICTION, REFERENCE & TRUE CRIME | COMICS & GRAPHIC NOVELS | TV & FILM
THE THRILLING DETECTIVE GIFT SHOP
I used to do a Holiday Gift Guide every year, and then I didn’t (although I still do one every year for Mystery Scene). But then I started thinking (always a dangerous proposition) that it might be fun to do it again. Plus, it’s a way to list things that might not easily fit into any of my other Word on the Street pages.
- Maroney, Tyler, The Modern Detective: Inside The Secret World Of Private Investigators | Buy this book | Buy the audio | Kindle it!
A real-life private eye Tyler Maroney reveals the tricks of the trade and dishes up the dirt on how corporate intelligence is reshaping the world, for better and worse.
- Standiford, Les, editor, Miami Noir: The Classics | Buy this book | Kindle it!
This entry in the long-running Akashic Noir series is one of the best in years, featuring classic crime from the likes of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Elmore Leonard, Lester Dent, Zora Neale Hurston, Brett Halliday, Damon Runyon, Edna Buchanan, James Carlos Blake, Douglas Fairbairn, Charles Willeford, T.J. MacGregor, Lynne Barrett, Les Standiford, Preston L. Allen, John Dufresne, Vicki Hendricks, Christine Kling, Carolina Garcia-Aguilera, and David Beaty.
- Penzler, Otto, editor, The Big Book of Espionage | Buy this book | Kindle it!
This year’s doorstep from Penzler rounds up recently declassified tales of spies, moles, secret agents, double agents and triple-dog-dare agents, by Lee Child, Jospeh Finder, Ian Fleming, Sara Paretsky, Jeffrey Deaver and other assets.
- Fuller, Ken, Raymond Chandler: The Man Behind the Mask | Buy this book | Kindle it!
Fuller, the author of Dashiell Hammett: Hardboiled Activist, goes for a deep dive into Chandler’s life–his needs, his desires, his politics and yes, his sexuality. Brace yourself.
- Box, C.J., editor, The Best American Mystery Stories 2020 | Buy this book | Buy the audio | Kindle it!
It’s the end of the world as we know it, as series editor Otto Penzler (What? Him again?), with perennial sidekick Michele Slung riding editorial shotgun one last time. Next year, a new series editor steps in, and the series itself gets a (slightly) new title. But the song remains the same: to present the very best crime stories, no matter where they come from. And this year’s edition is no exception—it includes “twenty perfect pearls” from the likes of Sheila Kohler, David Dean, Jeffery Deaver, Robin Yocum, James Lee Burke, Pamela Blackwood, John Sandford and Rick Helms.
- Vorzimmer, Jeff, editor, The Best of Manhunt 2 | Buy this book
A sterling collection of fifties and sixties pulp fiction, might be right up your (dark) alley. Yeah, Black Mask gets all the huzzahs, but Manhunt may have been the better (or at least more consistent) crime pulp of them all, laser-focused on what they wanted: hard, tough stories of people pushed to the very edge. No, the stories didn’t always have happy endings, but fans will bust a grin after plowing though this rollicking collection. Included are stories (many never reprinted before) from such shadowy suspects as Howard Browne, Helen Nielsen, Erle Stanley Gardner, William Campbell Gault, Eleazar Lipsky, Fletcher Flora, Richard Demming, Ira Levin, Donald Westlake, Jack Ritchie, Wade Miller and Frank Kane. Plus an essay on Manhunt’s history by Robert Turner, and and a fine tribute by Jon L. Breen. Suggested accompaniment: Cheap Scotch. Neat. Possibly in a dirty glass. Essential.
- Ace Harlem: The Ultimate Articulated Cardboard Comic Book Action Cut-Out | Get it!
Now here’s a real collectible! The kick-off item in a one-time series of figurines based on indie comic book characters is Ace Harlem, the classic golden age detective from the 1940s, arguably this first-ever Black hero featured in comics. Available only through his Kickstarter page, and limited to just twenty-five pieces, each figure is meticulously hand-cut, glued, trimmed, and assembled right in artist Lue Nuwame’s living room, and shipped off to you in a custom box. You want Real! Live! moveable and magnetic cardboard action? I thought this was really cool, but sadly, they pulled the plug at the end of September!
COMICS & GRAPHIC NOVELS
- Richard Stark’s Parker: The Martini Edition–Last Call | Buy this book
The long-awaited, equally lavish second volume is finally out, slipcased and hardbound for trouble, collecting Darwyn Cooke’s last two adaptations, The Score and Slayground, featuring Richard Stark’s (aka “Donald Westlake’s) hard-as-nails professional thief Parker, plus more than 100 pieces of never-before-seen art by Cooke; a round table squawk with comic book greats Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, Bruce Timm, and Scott Dunbier on Parker and Cooke; and a brand-new 17-page Parker story by Brubaker and Phillips.(December 2020)
DVDs & BLU-RAYS
- Perry Mason: The Complete Series | Buy the DVD
Can’t get HBO’s gloomy, doomy, misguided noir “re-imagining” of Perry Mason out of your head? Now might be the time to invest in this massive, 72 disk collection, which collects all 271 episodes of the classic, Emmy-winning TV legal drama starring Raymond Burr as Erle Stanley Gardner’s cocky, tricky criminal defense layer; the man who not only never lost a case, and never had a client who was guilty, but also shaved and bathed regularly? John Grisham? Scott Turow? Nice guys, but they tremble when the Big Man (and let’s face it—Burr was a Big Man) approaches the bench.
- P.J.| Buy the DVD | Buy the Blu-Ray
Finally, this hard-to-find P.I. flick from 1968, starring a surprisingly boyish, pre-Bancek George Peppard as NYC P.I. P.J. Deweiler., and directed by John Guillermin (The Blue Max, The Bridge at Remagen, Skyjacked, The Towering Inferno, Death on the Nile, etc.) is available. Peppard plays down-on-his-luck New York private eye P.J. Detweiler who’s roped into bodyguarding the mistress of a not-quite-right millionaire (Raymond Burr).
- Blacksad: Under The Skin | Buy this game
(2019, Pedulo Studios/Maximum Games)
Look what the cat dragged in! An all-new case, set in the comic book series’ seedy, retro-noir world of 1950s New York City. Blacksad’s called in when the owner of a boxing club is murdered, and his star boxer disappears just before a big fight. the games a beauty to behold, perfectly recreating the comics with jaw-dropping graphics (the splash at the top is a screen grab from the game). Gameplay features investigations, puzzles, quick time events and multiple-choice dialog, while jazz warbles in the background, and danger beckons at every turn. And for collectors, the Limited Edition includes four art prints, 3D Lenticular artwork, and a limited edition sleeve. Available for Playstation Four, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.
- Clue: The Scooby-Doo! 50th Anniversary Board Game | Buy this game
Sure, you can always go out and buy one of the four zillion currently available licensed versions of Clue, which turns 70 this year (Game of Thrones? Downton Abbey? Harry Frickin’ Potter? Really? What’s next? The FOX and Friends edition?), but if you’d rather not, may I suggest one of the few licensed versions of the beloved classic to be released this year that is actually mystery-related — and just happens to mark another monumental anniversary in mysterydom: the fiftieth anniversary of the debut of the one of the most beloved cartoon canines ( I call it a dog) on television, the one and only Scooby-Doo! You can play as your favorite character (Who wants to be Velma?), searching Mrs. White’s haunted mansion to figure out who was snatched and solve the mystery (with occasionally Scooby Snack breaks). Suitable for adults and meddling kids.
- Clue: The Luxury Edition | Get it now!
(2014, Winning Solutions/Hasbro)
For the mystery fan who has everything… here’s something else! This super-duper deluxe version of the classic mystery game is simply the most gorgeous version I’ve ever seen, a full-fledged 3D delight, not so much a board game as a chunk of fine furniture– a handsome, burl-finished wooden cabinet, with the actual rooms of Tudor Mansion in three dimensions, topped with a glass playing surface and attention to detail, from the weighted die cast base and weapons to the gold foil stamped cards– and everything can be tucked away neatly in an almost-leather storage box.