Hard Word Book Club Discussing THE MAGDALEN MARTYRS by Ken Bruen, Followed By Screening

magdalen martyrsThe Hard Word Book club will meet to discuss Ken Bruen’s Gaelic Noir masterpiece, The Magdalen Martyrs, Wednesday, March 25, at 7 PM, on BookPeople’s Third Floor. We will follow the book discussion with a special screening of “The Magdalen Martyrs” episode of the Jack Taylor series, starring Iain Glenn. Books for book clubs are 10% off in the month of their selection.


The Hard Word Book Club continues to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with its latest discussion of one of Ireland’s finest. The Magdalen Martyrs is considered to be Ken Bruen in top form. The Magdalen Martyrs proves Bruen a master of Gaelic Noir on two counts: the novel is very Irish and very, very dark.

The Magdalen Martyrs is Bruen’s third book to chronicle Jack Taylor. Taylor is an ex-gardi (Irish police) with a major drink and drug problem, issues with his mother, a love of books, and a lot of self loathing. To make ends meet, he hires himself out as a “finder” in Galway; detective being a dirty word in Ireland.

Jack has two jobs in The Magdalen Martyrs. A young man hires him to find out if his mother murdered his father like he believes. This taps into Jack’s toxic relationship with his own mother. The second involves a favor called in by local badman Bill Cassell. Taylor’s second case quickly connects to the dark history of the Magdalen Laundry: a place where, for decades, the Catholic Church took in unwed mothers, adopted out their babies, and kept the unwed mothers for years as slave labor. A woman helped Cassell’s mother escape decades ago before she met his father and wants Jack to find the lady to thank her. Both cases turn up dark history that folks want left alone and some are willing to kill to keep secret.


The Magdalen Martyrs provides a lot to talk about, including Ken Bruen’s style of writing and what his subject matter. Join us on the 25th of March at 7 PM, on our third floor. The book is 10% off to those who attend. Following our discussion, we will also be viewing “The Magdalen Martyrs” episode of the Jack Taylor series staring Iain Glenn from Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones.

Double Feature: THE LONG GOODBYE

This Wednesday, July 23, at 6 pm, we will be screening Robert Altman‘s film adaption of Raymond Chandler’s novel The Long Goodbye as part of our double feature film series. At each double feature event, we screen a film version of a roman noir we know and love. Each screening is free and open to the public, and takes places on BookPeople’s third floor.

Ask any Raymond Chandler aficionado about Chandler’s best book and most will say The Long Goodbye. Rich in Southern California detail and somber meditations on friendship, it is the the closest we get to understanding his private detective, Phillip Marlowe. Although The Long Goodbye, as a novel, has achieved near-universal acclaim, Robert Altman’s film version has drawn controversy for its unconventional interpretation.

While Playback is technically the last book in the series, The Long Goodbye feels like Chandler’s true farewell to the character. In The Long Goodbye, Chandler uses the classic noir structure of two seemingly unrelated cases that soon become intertwined. One case deals with his friend, Terry Lennox, whose wife is found dead after Marlowe gives him a lift to Mexico. Soon Terry is also assumed dead, but Marlowe thinks the truth is otherwise. As he tries to figure out Terry’s whereabouts, he takes on the job of hunting down a drunken novelist, Roger Wade, to whom he ends up acting as part-time nursemaid.

With the Lennox mystery, Chandler looks at Marlowe deeper than ever before. This is the first time Marlowe is truly personally involved in a case. We watch him try to balance his friendship with Terry and his famous personal code. We also get  a stronger sense of his loneliness, making The Long Goodbye one of the most existential private eye novels out there.

What makes the book even more personal is Marlowe’s relationship with Wade. Wade and Marlowe share a similar history, especially when it comes to his drinking and marriage. Even when he’s reading one of Wade’s books, Marlowe criticizes him for overusing similes, the simile being something he was known (and often parodied) for. It was as if he was using his detective to investigate himself.

“It’s certainly his most character-driven book, and a lot more ambitious than the other Marlowe novels,” said crime novelist Wallace Stroby when I asked him about the book and movie.  “And Terry Lennox is a unique creation. I can’t think of any other crime novel beforehand, except maybe for Dashiell Hammett‘s The Glass Key, in which male friendship is so central to the plot. It’s probably Chandler’s most autobiographical novel as well. It deals pretty straightforwardly with alcoholism. It’s also been hugely influential on the genre. James Crumley‘s The Last Good Kiss is in many ways his take on The Long Goodbye.”

In Altman’s film version, Marlowe is at a distance. Shot in his famed long takes in large frame with a flashing technique he developed with cinematographer Vilmos Zigmund, the movie has a hazy feel about it. Altman said he approached the material as “Rip Van Marlowe”, with the detective coming out of a twenty year sleep that he started right after World War II and then woke up post Vietnam. This time lapse matches the twenty years difference from the release of the book to the premiere of the film. Gould plays him as if he’s sleepwalking through the cases, getting sharper as he figures out he’s getting played, ending in a confrontation far different from the book.

The movie has become a form of debate among Chandler fans. Some believe the film portrays Marlowe in way respectful to the original, while others feel that the film trashes the novel completely.  Some place Altman’s cynical depiction of L. A. as in keeping with the Chandler tradition. Some, like myself, have a different reaction each time we see it.

“It’s a love or hate proposition,” says Stroby. “I love it. But I think you have to look at it more as a Robert Altman movie than a Raymond Chandler adaptation. It’s ridiculously entertaining, and very much of its time, but it has some real noir cred, too. It was written by Leigh Brackett and has a great late-career performance by Sterling Hayden (as Wade). In fact, the whole ensemble cast is terrific. I’d much rather the filmmakers took the approach they did, than to just make another Marlowe pastiche set in the ’40s. I think it’s right up there with the best films based on Chandler’s work.”

The major concept that both film and novel share is the idea of Marlowe in changing times. Chandler starts The Long Goodbye in the ’40s, when he meets Terry Lennox, then gets the plot going in the ’50s. Marlowe feels time slipping away and his values slipping with it. With “Rip Van Marlowe” it’s already gone when he wakes up. For both PIs, time is the most dangerous and deceptive femme fatale.

 

DOUBLE FEATURE STATS FOR THE LONG GOODBYE

Adherence To Book (Scale Of 1-5): 2 (The ending is very un-Marlowe)

Adherence To Quality Of Book: 3 (Many will argue I’m being either too kind or unkind)

Suggested Viewing: Marlowe, Chinatown, Devil In A Blue Dress (Which you can see at our next Double Feature Wednesday on August 6th) Suggested Reading- Moving Target by Ross McDonald, Brown’s Requiem by James Ellroy, Concrete River by John Shannon

And for the record: The Long Goodbye is not Wallace Stroby’s favorite Chandler novel. “‘That would be Farewell, My Lovely, for its characters, mood and plot that – unlike the other Marlowes – is actually fairly simple.”

Come join us Wednesday, July 23, for a free screening of Robert Altman’s film interpretation of The Long Goodbye. It’s sure to spark a great discussion! As always, events are free and open to the public. Come join us at 6pm on the third floor.

MysteryPeople Crime Fiction Fest!

MPCFF-logo

7 Crime Fiction Authors

Double Feature Film Series

International Crime Month

 

June is an incredible month for crime fiction here at MysteryPeople. There’s so much going on, we’ve decided to pull out all the stops and celebrating with a month-long
MysteryPeople Crime Fiction Fest!

Join us this month for one of our many free, fun events!

 

AUTHOR EVENTS

7 Authors Are Lined Up To Visit BookPeople this month!
Dates & Info Available Here.

BookPeople events are free & open to the public. 
Books signed at BookPeople events
must be purchased from BookPeople. 

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DOUBLE FEATURE FILM SERIES

Join us for a brand new summer film series!

We’ll screen movies based on some of our favorite crime fiction novels, up on the third floor of BookPeople.

The screenings are FREE & open to the public.
Escape that summer heat & join us!

 

June 25   6PM
Double Indemnity

Double-Indemnity

 

July 9  6PM – Purple Noon
(The Talented Mr. Ripley)

 

July 23  6PM
The Long Goodbye

Long-Goodbye

 

August 6  6PM
Devil in a Blue Dress

Devil-in-a-Blue-Dress

 

August 20  6PM
Winter’s Bone

Winters-Bone

 

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INTERNATIONAL CRIME MONTH

June is International Crime Month! We’re celebrating crime fiction writers around the world with a brand new series on the MysteryPeople blog that delves into the authors writing crime fiction around the globe and the publishers here in America who put those books on our shelves.

International Crime Month is a month-long initiative highlighting internationally acclaimed crime fiction authors, editors, critics, and publishers. Four of America’s most influential independent publishers—Grove Atlantic, Akashic Books, Melville House, and Europa Editions—have joined forces to promote one of the most vital and socially significant fiction genres of our time. We’re happy to join them!

Look for a special in-store display in MysteryPeople highlighting books from these publishers. Watch the MysteryPeople blog for regular posts throughout the month focusing on international crime fiction.