Sing a Worried Song
The first (real) review. From Publishers Weekly
It’s not due to hit the shelves (and cyberspace as an ebook) until spring, but Goodreads, which can never be accused of being a slouch, already has it up on its site. The plot was drawn from a headline murder case the author prosecuted some years ago: a thrill killing with bizarre literary nuances–the accused was inspired, copycat fashion, by the serial killer portrayed in Lawrence Sanders’s First Deadly Sin.
Here’s the back-story:
“Any resemblance to persons living or dead…”
Though I practised mainly as as a criminal defence counsel, I was on occasion retained by the Attorney-General of British Columbia to prosecute homicide trials, some of which attracted wide public attention.The trial featured in the opening section of this novel roughly recreates one of them, an alleged thrill killing in Vancouver of a lonely down-and-outer.
… of Sing a Worried Song
Well, the first review is in and, inevitably, with my luck, it’s from the pen of my bete noir, Horace Widgeon.Somehow the old bugger got an advance copy and persuaded the editor of The Squib, a pretentious literary quarterly, to allow him to eviscerate Sing a Worried Song.
Or rather, eviscerate its author. Maybe the people at The Squib thought it would be novel and fun to run a review by a fellow who sued the author for libel and plagiarism.
The attacks border on the personal. “I believe I read somewhere that Deverell has a ‘cult following.’ One can only imagine what strange beliefs this cult holds.”
He writes: “An over-inflated ego is mirrored to us from his pages.” Well, if you’re looking at a mirror, Horace, aren’t you looking at yourself?
The Blog: August 1
My Grovelling Apology
Pursuant to Article 3 (a) of the Terms of Settlement in the matter of Widgeon v. Deverell, executed this date, I hereby issue the following public statement:
I, William Deverell, sincerely and without reservation apologize to Horace Widgeon, OBE, MBE, (a) for infringing copyright of his various works and writings and (b) for this blog’s many hurtful and unsparingly insensitive comments about his character and his abilities and reputation as a writer, and express my deepest regrets over the distress thereby caused.
There. That was hard to swallow. But Brian Pomerantz, my counsel—and a notorious reprobate—warned that my chances were so bleak that I might walk out of a courtroom stripped of everything but my socks and underwear. (I’d been reluctant to hire such a wild man as Pomerantz, knowing he had just served out a suspension by the Law Society, but no reputable lawyer would take it.)
The Blog: July 6
On Thrill Killing, Libel, and Writers Block
Where was I? Well, obviously not looking after this sporadic blog.
In my defence, I’ve been driving to complete a first draft of an Arthur Beauchamp novel, a kind of horror sendup, a thrill killer stalking our anxiety-ridden hero. Does he survive? I won’t spoil the ending.
Still looking for a title. The Last Days of Arthur Beauchamp, something like that.
As well, I’ve been distracted by my personal horror show: that grumpy old fellow pictured in my posting of March 19 just won’t let up. To my astonishment, Horace Widgeon has discovered crowd-funding, and is exhorting his fans to kick in for the doubtless atrocious fees of his supposed hotshot counsel, Ballentine J. Bingham, Esq.
Regrettably, my guard dogs (see below) turned out not to be as ferocious as I’d hoped, and were nuzzling and crotch-sniffing Bingham’s pretty student lawyer as she thrust a writ at me through my open studio window. I wasn’t checking my security camera – too busy enjoying a scene where Beauchamp gets busted for pot trafficking.
Mesmerized by the sweet scene of face-licking dog love, I accepted the writ. It accuses me of libel and copyright theft. They’re starting at $500,000.
Come on, fellows, why can’t we settle this the old-fashioned way. A gloved slap. Muskets at fifty paces. Otherwise, I have a friend in Sicily (pictured here) prepared to make a counter-offer you can’t refuse. We would be saddened to see your client embarrassed by a public revealing of his terrible secret.
Enough said. Back to work. Here’s a lovely, long-winded tip about writers block from my nemesis’s masterwork, Secrets of the Whodunit.
“Do not mentally exhaust yourself. Before chance (and whatever small talents I possess) favoured me with literary success, I too had a day job, as inspector for Her Majesty’s Customs, and I would often arrive at work exhausted after scribbling till three in the morning. Many a smuggled item must have slipped through on my watch! So please, when you see nothing but rot on your page, take a deep breath, pack your pages away, and make a soothing cup of Earl Grey while you climb into your pyjamas.”
I prefer Chandler’s Law: “When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand.”
In my last posting, on suspects, I overlooked this delicious advice from the vigilance-challenged former customs officer:
“The tardy entrance of your final suspect must not be seen as an afterthought, idly tossed off. Even the dullest of readers should exclaim: ‘Eureka!’ as they realize they ought to have paid more attention to the boring parts.”
Next posting: how to skip over the boring parts. (For instance, the entirety of Widgeon’s short-story collection, Stiff in the Freezer.)
The Blog: May 27
On Suspects, Villains, and Masturbation
Six weeks ago, I wrote: “Next week, hopefully, advice from the master in creating the ideal suspect…” Okay, but, things got out of hand. It would take a terabyte of information to explain why and how – the end result is that I have taken in four homeless strangers threatened with eviction.
This is how I found them, behind bars, loo0king for a new home
So far, they have done an admirable job of keeping process servers from the door. Widgeon’s solicitors in England have finally found some supposedly hotshot Vancouver counsel willing to stifle my right of free expression. I know this guy. Ballentine J. Bingham, Esquire. A loudmouth. Sadly for him, his registered letters and writs of summons don’t make it past the “Premises Protected by Attack Dogs” sign.Anyway, on to my next lesson. From his masterwork, The Art of the Whodunit, here is Widgeon on suspects: “The author must offer an array of suspects, and dress them up with strong motive—or at least clothe them with the proper accoutrements of suspicion.”