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Blackmailer (Hard Case Crimes) [Unabridged] [Mass Market Paperback]

George Axelrod
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
RRP: 6.99
Price: 5.29 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

6 May 2011 Hard Case Crimes
It's the story of a big-game hunter, fisherman, fighter, drunk, and Nobel Prize-winning author, recently deceased of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, whose final unpublished manuscript could fetch a mint ... and it's the story of Dick Sherman, intrepid New York publisher, on the trail of the literary find of the century and the killer who will stop at nothing to keep it from being found.

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Blackmailer (Hard Case Crimes) + Songs of Innocence (Hard Case Crime) (Hard Case Crime Novels)
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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Titan Books; Unabridged edition (6 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857683071
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857683076
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 11.4 x 18.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 910,936 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

A smash hit ... original and funny. --New York Times

Tricky and ingeniously devised. --Chicago Sun-Times

Always sophisticated ... very amusing. --Screen Reviews

About the Author

The son of silent movie actress Betty Carpenter, George Axelrod was the author of "The Seven Year Itch," which became the classic film starring Marilyn Monroe, and the screenwriter of "The Manchurian Candidate" and "Breakfast At Tiffany's". He also wrote numerous other stage plays, radio plays, films, and TV series episodes, as well as novels.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Hapless publisher Dick Sherman stumbles into a story straight out of Hollywood noir. He gets beaten up, knocked out and pushed around and manipulated, but he doggedly tries to get to the bottom of the labyrinthine case of the missing last masterpiece of a Nobel Prize writer.

Screenwriter Axelrod's story moves with a fast pace and is peppered with all the wisecracks you could hope for in this type of novel. My only complaint was that too much of the story was verbal exposition, which is not what screenwriters should be doing - they should be showing, not telling.

Still, plenty of good moments, a couple of rather unpleasant characters and the likeable Dick playing at private dick. The cover by Glen Orbik is a classic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure Brilliance 10 Oct 2008
By M. Dowden HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Mass Market Paperback
George Axelrod, who wrote The Seven Year Itch, and was the screenwriter for both The Manchurian Candidate and Breakfast at Tiffany's pulls out all the stops in this prime slice of pulp.

Dick Sherman, partner of a small publishing firm suddenly finds that people are offering him a novel. Not just any novel, but the last novel of Charles Anstruther, a Nobel Prize winning author.

Gradually Dick is pulled into a world of fraud, deception, avarice and, unadulterated ambition. Why do people keep dying over this book? Does the book even really exist? Is Dick's old flame, the actress Janis Whitney just an innocent pawn, or something more sinister?

I won't answer any of these questions because I don't want to spoil the book for you. If you like quick pulpy reads that are fast paced and fun, you will love this book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cracking, relentless, fun 9 Aug 2007
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Axelrod, an acclaimed (and in his time, the highest paid) Hollywood scriptwriter, wrote a few books, and applies the rules of the screen to the page - don't give 'em time to draw breath. His crack at a hardboiled noir mixes all the requisite ingredients to exquisite effect - an increasingly Byzantine plot, an increasingly drunk and battered hero, hot women in towels that keep dropping off, and a curious little bald man with a penchant for one way mirrors and hidden mics. It is, as they say, unputdownable. Read it or else - that's not a threat, it's a promise
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A lot of fun 6 Jun 2007
By Craig Clarke - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In the middle of an ordinary day, something extraordinary happens to publisher Dick Sherman: a beautiful woman mysteriously offers to sell him the last manuscript of the late Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Charles Anstruther (a thinly veiled Ernest Hemingway). Mere moments later, an unknown literary agent offers to sell him the very same manuscript. That afternoon, he sees his old flame accompanying the literary agent to lunch.

Many questions are posed in the opening to George Axelrod's Blackmailer: Why do both people have access to the same book? Why are they offering it to Sherman, whose company's best-selling book is a collection of modified crossword puzzles? How is his old girlfriend connected to it? And why do people keep beating him up over it?

George Axelrod was best known for his screenplay work, specifically his work adapting other writers' novels into two indisputable classics: The Manchurian Candidate and Breakfast at Tiffany's. The latter led to an Academy Award nomination, which you'll understand if you've both seen the film and read the novel. Axelrod also wrote the play (his first) that he later adapted with Billy Wilder into The Seven-Year Itch (which led to work on Marilyn Monroe's next film, Bus Stop).

Surprisingly, the character who suffers (if you can call it that) from the title "itch" is none other than publisher Dick Sherman (If you're lost, read the first sentence of this review again.), which makes this book a kind of sequel to one of cinema's most famous films (certainly the source of one of its most iconic images). Combine that with the sensational opening and the author's pedigree, and Blackmailer begs to be read by fans of the stage, screen, and both mainstream and genre fiction. It's a can't-miss proposition -- so here's another question: Why hasn't this book been reprinted since it was first published?

I don't know the answer to that, but I imagine that it is, at least in part, because Blackmailer doesn't really take off until the second half. The first hundred pages are filled with the aforementioned questions (among others) and exposition that could have easily been set up in less space. Luckily, Axelrod's voice and style make Dick Sherman an engaging fellow who I didn't mind following along.

As the novel wraps up, answering all the questions and then some, and revelation after revelation take place, the proceedings border on the unbelievable, but Axelrod keeps things well in hand and even serves up emotional depth along the way. Though Blackmailer has its ups and downs, the whole experience was generally positive, and I feel it fits securely into the Hard Case Crime canon.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Full of fun 27 Jan 2008
By Jeff - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Blackmailer overflows with colorful characters and a suspenseful plot with a well done twist at the end. The protagonist is a publisher in a down and out New York shop who is offered the chance to publish a sure fire best seller which would catapult his firm into the top ranks.

Twice. And that's just in the first few chapters.

After that, we get the usual goons, gams, and gunsels so popular in 1950's noir. However, there is a lot more here than just a clever plot. The author understands the publishing business and wiretapping quite well, and the reader will learn a bit about both in several well-turned passages.

The plot moves quickly enough to keep us from not questioning it too much. The profusion of unusual characters keeps the book interesting all the way through. And just when we think we know what's going on, we get another twist.

This is not great literature, but it is a fine way to while away a rainy Saturday afternoon.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars All the wisecracks you could hope for 19 Jan 2009
By Nik Morton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Hapless publisher Dick Sherman stumbles into a story straight out of Hollywood noir. He gets beaten up, knocked out and pushed around and manipulated, but he doggedly tries to get to the bottom of the labyrinthine case of the missing last masterpiece of a Nobel Prize writer.

Axelrod's story moves with a fast pace and is peppered with all the wisecracks you could hope for in this type of novel. My only complaint was that too much of the story was verbal exposition, which is not what screenwriters should be doing - they should be showing, not telling. Still, plenty of good moments, a couple of rather unpleasant characters and the likeable Dick playing at private dick. The cover by Glen Orbik is a classic too.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars classic pulp fiction 13 Oct 2008
By Agent Scully - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Definitely an old-fashioned pulp thriller from the noir era, and that's a good thing. Immerse yourself in the atmosphere, not 1 but 2 beautiful deadly dames, a valuable last manuscript from a deceased Hemingway-esque blowhard author, thugs and goons, and a well-meaning but outgunned 'everyman' hero. No HEA here but what did you expect?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mystery and Intrigue In Manhattan 30 Mar 2014
By Dave Wilde - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Who is George Axelrod? He is not one of the legion of forgotten pulp writers from the fifties being resurrected by modern publishers, at least, not primarily. Axelrod was well known on Broadway and in Hollywood. He first became famous in 1952 for writing a Broadway play, The Seven Year Itch, which later was adapted for the big screen, starring Marilyn Monroe and containing the famous scene on the subway grate where her skirts blow up, the scene that pissed off Joe D. Axelrod also adapted Breakfast at Tiffanys and the Manchurian Candidate for the big screen. He wrote numerous screenplays that were well-received and starred well known actors and actresses. Axelrod only wrote three novels, Blackmailer, Beggars Choice, and Where Am I Now When I Need Me? Of the three. Blackmailer was the only crime novel.

Blackmailer was first published in 1952 and, if you didn't know that, you wouldn't have guessed it. The plot revolves around a publisher, Dick Sherman, of a small little-known publishing house, who often gets stuck entertaining authors' wives. Jean Dahl visits him and offers to sell him the last unpublished manuscript of a now-deceased but famous author, Charles Anstruther, who appears to be like Hemingway, a big game hunter, a traveler, a legend. Dahl "had thick, honey-colored blonde hair that she wore a little longer than this winter's styles dictated." She wore a beaver coat and a little black dress. Sherman thinks the whole thing is quite strange and thinks it over. An agent, Max Shriber, then sends him a letter offering to sell the same book. The whole thing is quite preposterous.

Turns out that Sherman ten years earlier, had dated Janet Whitney, who was now Hollywood's brightest, sexiest star. Between Whitney and Dahl, Sherman's head is spinning around. Ten years earlier, he had fallen for Whitney, but you know even then that she was going to be a big star. "She was a beautiful girl with soft, dark hair, greenish eyes, and a wide, exciting mouth" and "driving, compelling ambition." She had left him behind and never looked back.

It gets even crazier when two hoods follow Dahl to Sherman's apartment and tear the place apart looking for something. Tearing the place apart even includes stripsearching Dahl. With his head still spinning, Sherman sees both Dahl and Whitney at a party thrown at a mansion and bodies and blackmail start flying around.

Although it doesn't necessarily sound like much of a plot, it is a damn good book that is very hard to put down. The voice that Axelrod uses to narrate works quite well, an innocent man who can't quite comprehend what he has gotten mixed up in. Throw in movie starlets, mysterious dames, mean hoods, and rich people who have two-way mirrors and recording devices all over their houses and you have the makings of something real interesting. There are great fight scenes in the book and mysterious parlor games played at parties with the lights out. There is intrigue and mystery here.
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