The Silver Bear

How does a young writer get his first thriller published with a bang these days? First, you coauthor a sharp remake of a classic western movie, 3:10 to Yuma, the 2007 version starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. Next, you come up with a concept so high that it might give publishers and readers a nosebleed: An ace hit man hired (no spoiler here: it's in the book jacket copy) to kill his own father. Then you do such a good job of bringing this high concept to life that early readers compare it favorably to Graham Greene, Lawrence Block, Richard Condon's The Manchurian Candidate, and Frederick Forsyth's The Day of the Jackal. The Silver Bear -- which is what the Russians call a world-class hit man -- is almost as good as they say it is. Sure, there are five or ten too many flashbacks to old cases or to childhood mistreatment and retribution, but some of them (like the time the killer, known as Columbus, murders a federal judge with Saran Wrap) have great power. And a lot of Columbus's inner dialogue, though beautifully crafted, is also frequently pretentious. "I spin with a whirl part tornado and part grace, and before an inhale can become an exhale, I have a pistol up and raised in my hand..." Haas, who seems to have a Columbus series in mind, has another job to finish first -- the screenplay of The Materese Circle, by another suspense explorer and pioneer named Robert Ludlum.

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.