Monday, December 31, 2007

Goodnight 2007

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Top Books of 2007

My top three books of 2007 are posted at David J. Montgomery's Crime Fiction Dossier. Check them out here.

And make sure to read the rest of the selections at David's blog, from an incredible array of authors, reviewers, and other literary luminaries.

Friday, December 21, 2007

THE GUILTY--The first review is in!!!

The Guilty
by Jason Pinter
Still relatively fresh out of J-school but already a hot scribe at the New York Gazette, Henry Parker (from Pinter’s The Mark) files another hair-raising story in the Big Bad Apple. This time the juicy journo’s on the trail of the Boy, a sharpshooting serial killer who kills his prey using an antique Winchester 1873, “the gun that won the West.” The first victim is celebrity diva Athena Paradis, and the killer leaves a note quoting a piece of Henry’s. Henry’s research reveals a bizarre connection between Henry and a long-dead outlaw of the American West, and, as victims pile up, Henry wonders if the Boy is out for vengeance. The intrepid journalist must think fast on his feet to stop him, even if it means asking for help from a rival Dispatch journalist, the lovely Paulina Cole. Tension mounts, bullets fly and Pinter’s cool fusion of a new outlaw with blood ties to an old one hits the mark. The resolution is a ripsnorter, leaving thrill fans ready for the next Henry Parker newsflash.
--Publishers Weekly

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

My Favorite Movies of 2007

This is a very truncated list since I haven't seen many films that likely will be up for award consideration, so maybe a more apt title is "Favorite Movies of 2007 that I Happened to See."

Anyway, in no particular order...

Another gem from Pixar, though not quite in the league of "The Incredibles" or the "Toy Story" films. Still, a merely good Pixar movie is still better than 99.9% of what's released every year. Can Peter O'Toole please be nominated for his deliciously role as Anton Ego? Bonus points for the hilarious short film "Lifted," maybe the funniest five minutes in film this year.

Michael Clayton
This isn't really an "issue" movie, and it isn't really a mystery or thriller, but what I loved about this film is its grim portrait of a man who has lost his way and knows it. The opening scene sets the tone, where Clooney's Michael Clayton is summoned to fix a sticky problem for a powerful client, only he's so weary of being on the wrong side of the morality line he can barely life a finger to "help." Tilda Swinton is fantastic and, most importantly, believable as a woman so terrified of her own ambition that she resorts to horrific actions to protect her career. Maybe the most chillingly realistic villain in film this year.

Yes, the script is often goofy and laughable. Yes, the title might be the answer to the question "How gay is this movie on a scale of 1-10?" (credit SNL). But as Leonidas says to the orator Delios midway through the film, "Tell them a story. Something to get their blood up." That's what 300 did, got your blood up for two straight hours of bloody mayhem. The kind of movie football teams will watch before a big game. And yes, that's a compliment.

Knocked Up
Judd Apatow is the Pixar of live action comedy. He doesn't cast the biggest stars, has a reliable stable/family/freakshow of actors (Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann), he creates simple premises and milks them for all they're worth, and every picture, no matter how dirty, has heart beneath the smut. His movies make stars, a nice change of pace since most actors tend to rely on tabloids over talent to get them noticed. And Kristen Wiig, probably the most consistently funny SNL cast member, nearly steals the show as a subversively underhanded producer. "Oh no, we're not asking you to lose weight. That would be illegal. We just want you to be healthy, by eating less."

No Country for Old Men
A great movie, but I actually wish I'd seen it before reading the book. NCFOM is a perfect example of minimalism at its finest; I don't think there's a single piece of music until the end, and it probably sets the modern movie record for least dialogue per minute. Not knowing who will live after having met Javier Bardem's sociopathic, cattle gun-carrying page boy Anton Chigurh. Not knowing just how quick-witted--or witless--Josh Brolin's Llewelyn Moss can be when put to the test. A story that makes perfect sense because its characters, namely Tommy Lee Jones's Sheriff Bell, can't make sense of the world they inhabit.

Not as "warm" as Knocked Up, but probably the movie I laughed the hardest at all year. Michael Cera takes awkward confidence to new heights, and damned if Jonah Hill didn't play a clone of one of my best friends from high school. Surprisingly one of my favorite characters in the movie is Emma Stone's Jules. Finally we get a popular high school girl who isn't either a volcanic bitch or neurotic mess. Jules is Best line in the movie? "F*ck you bum!"

Gone Baby Gone
I wrote a lengthy review of this movie here. I sincerely hope this isn't forgotten come awards time. I'll just be happy if Amy Ryan gets a nod. 

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Weekend Reviews

Note: if you have access to a physical copy of the 12/16 Lincoln Journal Star, please email me at jason(at) I'll exchange a signed copy of THE MARK for a copy of the newspaper (shipping and paper on me!).

‘Mark’ tells tale of man on the run from cops, mob
by Anthony Rainone
Lincoln Journal Star
(“The Mark” by Jason Pinter, MIRA Books, 384 pages, $7.99).
The story excels with its characterizations, particularly the refreshing Parker and his companion-in-harm’s-way, law student Amanda Davies. There is chemistry between these two companions on the lam. The writing is solid throughout the novel, and the dialogue is peppered with humor. There are poignant stretches where Parker reveals deep emotional conflict and longing. He’s a man-in-a-hurry, with a heart. Pinter is a native of New York City, and he paints a town he knows intimately. He treats the city like a big backyard and brings the reader down to street-level observations.
Befitting a novel of quick tempo populated by angry law enforcement and wiseguys, the ending packs a punch of fire power, and unexpected results. There are more Henry Parker novels coming, and it’s worth the price of admission to find out what life has in store for this honest journalist.
read the full review here

The Strand magazine
by Andrew F. Gulli, managing editor
Top Books of the Year
1. RUMPOLE MISBEHAVES by Sir John Mortimer (Viking)
2. ANATOMY OF FEAR by Jonathan Santlofer (William Morrow)
3. THE MARK by Jason Pinter (MIRA)
4. THE SLEEPING DOLL by Jeffery Deaver (Simon and Schuster)
5. THE WAR AGAINST MISS WINTER by Kathryn Miller Haines (HarperCollins)
6. CHASERS by Lorenzo Carcaterra (Ballantine)
7. NEON DRAGON by John F. Dobbyn (UPNE)
8. UP IN HONEY'S ROOM by Elmore Leonard (William Morrow)
9 END GAME by Michael Dibdin (Vintage)
10. LADYKILLER by Lawrence Light and Meredith Anthony (Oceanview)
11. JUMP CUT by Max Allan Collins (Obsidian)
12. MAJESTIC DESCENDING by Graham Mitchell (Forge)


Friday, December 14, 2007

"This is a man with an agenda"

So said John Kruk yesterday on ESPN in regards to Brian McNamee, the former Yankees coach whose testimony, along with that of former Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski, is the platform for much of George Mitchell's damning report on steroid abuse in baseball. In a sea of hyperbolic newspaper headlines, photoshopped illustrations of veiny baseballs and holier-than-thou outrage from sports reporters who consider themselves our nation's beacons of hope, Kruk's words were, sadly, some of the few that put yesterday's bombshell in proper perspective.

McNamee and Radomski allegedly supplied and/or injected numerous players with steroids since the late 1990's, including Roger Clemens, arguably one of the top five pitchers in baseball history. Like Barry Bonds, Clemens is one of the best players not just of his generation but of all time, and finds his Hall-of-Fame resume in jeopardy. Clemens has already gone on record vehemently denying the allegations, calling McNamee, "a troubled man." 

See, that's what everyone, the sports reporters most notably, is forgetting. Most of the Mitchell Report is based on the testimony of two admitted scumbags. Scumbags who testified to escape jail time. Are these really the kind of guys we want to be our primary witnesses to history? Who are judging dozens of men whose careers and reputations are forever, whether vindicated in the future or not, in the toilet?

Yes there is much damning evidence, and more likely than not most players whose names appeared in the investigation did take performance enhancing drugs. (BTW, 'performance enhancing drugs' has become a more reviled phrase than 'weapons of mass destruction' at this point). But much of the "evidence" is largely circumstantial, a case of he said/he said where at least one party (McNamee or Radomski) has the integrity of a sewer rat. I think sports reporters, to a large extent, are happy with the turn of events. They prefer to believe the sewer rat because the rat's story is more interesting. The rat gives them a lot to talk about. And nothing sells more newspapers and has more people watching SportsCenter than big, juicy scandal. Scandal is what turned Jose Canseco from clownish afterthought in the annals of baseball history into a bestselling author, and marked JUICED as the ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN of the steroid era. This from a "Surreal Life" cast member who now supports himself in part by auctioning off his various awards and career mementos. Total received for his 1987 Rookie of the Year ring and his 1988 MVP plaque? $35,100. 

Are we really prepared to throw away the reputations and careers of many people based on the testimony of these "men"? I sure hope not. If Clemens, David Justice, and the others who deny the allegations are innocent, I hope they challenge the report and regain whatever credibility they have left. If they're guilty, I sincerely hope more proof comes to light to bolster the claims.

McNamee and Radomski did not come forward due to a sudden attack of nobility, but because a sharpened axe was poised above their heads. Taking their words as gospel is like the Feds using Salvatore Bompansiero as a CI. You're going to get a lot of dirt on some really important people, but you're also going to get a hell of a lot of fish tales.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Sports Blog

Time for a regular cleansing of sports-related issues that have been on my mind. This has been an interesting (read: not necessarily good) year for New York sports. So here's my take on it. Note, hockey is absent, because I honestly don't care about it. Sorry Rangers/Islanders fans.

The Mets
A flat out a heartbreaking year for my team, the Amazins. Not just because of the unheard of late-season collapse, but because things aren't looking up for next year. 2007 was their year. Going into 2008, they've yet to replace Tom Glavine's 13 wins and 35 starts. Orlando Hernandez was very good when healthy, but nobody really knows how old the guy is and his injury-plagued '07 might have been proof that he's closer to 50 than 30. It remains to be seen whether John Maine and Oliver Perez can repeat or improve on their impressive seasons. Perez is the ultimate hot or cold guy. 12 K's and a two-hitter when he's on. Gone by the third when he's off. Between Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and David Wright, the Mets haven't had a young core this good since the heyday of Darryl, Nails and Doc. And if Beltran can stay healthy (a major if) that's an unmatched top of the order. Carlos Delgado seems to be on the downside of a terrific career, but his contract means the Mets will be stuck with a .250 average, 25 homers, 80 RBIs and $17 million a year to a guy the DH was made for. But hey, at least he's not Jason Giambi. I'm also worried about Pedro, as there aren't a whole lot of pitchers in their mid-thirties who regained their form after major shoulder surgery. Pedro at 75% is still a top-20 pitcher, but his durability, always a concern, is in big neon lights in '08. Can the Mets squeeze 25-30 starts from his 165 pound frame? They also horribly overpaid Luis Castillo, who used to be a fine player, but is now the proud recipient of the Carlos Baerga "over-the-hill second baseman getting paid a boatload based on name recognition alone" memorial trophy. I'm not too upset at losing Paul "Tony Manero, Jr." LoDuca, but Brian Schneider and Johnny Estrada don't bring a whole lot more to the table. And considering how long the Mets refused to include Lastings Milledge in any trade talks, they'd better be right that Milledge's character issues will undermine his talent, or that Ryan Church is ready to break out. Otherwise it's Scott Kazmir all over again. And all those Billy Wagner 9th innings where he gives up a single and a walk (or a leadoff homer) before closing the door? Wags's surgically-repaired elbow will be 37 next summer. Deep breaths...

The Giants
The most confusing team in all of sports. They're 9-4, assured of the 5th seed in the NFC, have a defense that strikes fear into the hearts of opposing QBs--yet every game has Giants fans pulling their hair out. Eli Manning has looked as accurate as Nuke LaLoosh, and if you take away the first game of the season Eli has thrown 14 TDs and 16 INTs this year. Not exactly what you hope for in a franchise quarterback in his 4th year in the league. Yet despite Eli's troubles and an injury-prone running back-by-committee, they're still 9-4. They never win convincingly, but they do win. One of the NFL maxims is "good teams win close games on the road." Well, the Giants have won 6 straight on the road. Plus they beat the teams they're supposed to beat. Their four losses have come against Dallas, Green Bay and Minnesota, who are a combined 30-9. Whether or not the Giants can advance in the playoffs is one thing, but the they're definitely the most underrated overrated 9-4 team in the league.

The Knicks
Back in high school, any time one of my friends got tickets to a Knicks game, everyone else was insanely jealous. It was like saying you'd scored 50 yard line seats to the Superbowl, just got a dial-up modem, or had a date with Claire Danes (who went to my high school for one semester). In college I watched just about every televised Knicks game I could. Now, I haven't watched a game in, I'd say, three years. I just don't care any longer. The Knicks are too depressing to even think about.  I honestly don't hate them for being bad. Every franchise has its ups and downs, and true fans stick with their teams through the tough times. But I hate this Knicks team for being unlikeably bad. They're like a new version of those early-mid 90's Mets teams with Bobby Bonilla, Eddie Murray and Vince Coleman, the teams that won 70 games in a good year, then threatened reporters and set off firecrackers in the parking lot. There's nothing to root for on this Knicks team. They have five guys (Marbury, Randolph, Lee, Crawford and Curry) who are arguably among the top 8 players in their position in the league. Yet it's a team full of "that guy" from the playground. You know, the guy you play pickup ball with who's the most talented player on the court, yet you're miserable when you play with him. He refuses to pass the ball because he thinks he can take it to the rack every possession, always dribbles through triple teams, doesn't play defense because it's 'beneath him', and launches 35 footers instead of passing to the wide open guy under the basket. And when you lose, he's the one complaining about having to carry everyone. That's the Knicks, times twelve. Not to mention the fact that nobody, not even James Dolan, can explain why Isiah Thomas still has his job, other than the fact that Isiah must have naked pictures of Dolan stashed in Marbury's jeep. Not only has Thomas been a terrible coach and a terrible GM, he's single-handedly set the Knicks franchise back fifteen years. Due to the horrendous contracts still on the books, the Knicks won't be legitimate contenders until the later side of the next decade. Please, for their own well being, trade Renaldo Balkman and David Lee before their inherent unselfishness is vanquished by this team of malcontents. I'm going to sound like an old man, but bring back the days of Ewing, Starks and Oakley. Back when being a Knick meant something. When you were proud to be a fan. Now being a Knicks fan means putting up ticket price hikes to cover the $11.5 million sexual harassment suit against your GM/Coach.


Monday, December 10, 2007


I haven't discussed this book, my third, much because frankly it always seemed so far off. I'd spent so much time on THE GUILTY--writing the book, going over proofs, preparing for publication--that until recently it seemed strange that I was in the midst of writing book #3. This book was a challenge to write, mainly because I was working a full time job while being contracted for two books per year. I'd figured out the plots for my first two books--THE MARK and THE GUILTY--before I'd even sold one. So in a way this was the first totally fresh book I've written under contract. In order to meet my August publication date for this book, I've been pulling some major late nights and writing 2,000, 3,000, 4,000, and even 5,000 words a day. And these words had to fit into a tight story structure, since I wanted the pacing and feel for this book to be a little different. Fast paced, yet taking a little longer to develop, so the end, I felt, had more of an emotional impact.

Well, as of this morning THE STOLEN is with my editor and my agent. It's an odd feeling, since in a few weeks the whole process will start anew. Going over edits, page proofs, galleys, the whole deal. And much of that will likely take place before THE GUILTY even hits stores. I'll be working on promoting THE GUILTY while my mind is on the nuts and bolts of THE STOLEN, not to mention working on the manuscript for my fourth book. 

I'm extremely pleased with how THE GUILTY turned out. I honestly feel it's a better book than THE MARK. While I wrote THE GUILTY, there was one phrase I literally on just about every page: KSM. Or: Keep Sh*t Moving.

While I love THE MARK, I'm aware that it takes a little while to warm up the engine. Mainly because I wanted the reader to care about Henry. If he was thrust into the action on page one, the reader would be rooting for a cartoon character. I didn't want that. I felt the build up was worth it come pay off. In THE GUILTY, I was able to build upon what we know of Henry and the other characters in his world, embellishing their stories while wrapping them in a much bigger and more intricate story. And I was able to put things in motion right off the bat. 

I've always been intrigued by the "what if" storyline. Where the plot is set in motion by two seemingly unrelated events thrust into conflict. What if this happened here...THE GUILTY has one of those "What if" storylines, and I think it's excited as hell.

Now my first two books I consider to be thrillers with mystery aspects. THE STOLEN I consider to be more of a mystery with thriller aspects. That may sound like splitting hairs, but I could feel the difference while I was writing it. I think fans of the first two will enjoy it, but it feels fresh too. There's more actual 'mystery' than in the first two books, yet I also feel it might be the best-paced story of the three. 

In the meantime, just 78 days remain until THE GUILTY hits stores everywhere. I can't wait. And then things began anew. There's always work to be done.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Finally Finally Finally

And here is today's moment of zen, the final, official cover for my second novel, THE GUILTY, which hits stores everywhere on February 26th. I love this bad boy. Love the coloring, love the type, love that curl of smoke.
And, yeah, I think the book is the bee's knees too.

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Spirit Airlines:
Great marketing, or just never saw "American Pie"?

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Redefining Romance