Rogue Males: Conversations & Confrontations About the Writing Life by Craig McDonald. Bleak House Books $24.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-60648-036-6; paper $14.95 ISBN 978-1-932557-45-9

A fascinating follow-up to the 2006 Art in the Blood dialogue with leading crime writers, this collection by journalist and fiction writer McDonald (Head Games) underlines the “rogue male” theme by putting some of the most influential crime fiction wizards under the spotlight. Among the personalities of murder and mayhem interviewed are Elmore Leonard, James Crumley, James Sallis, Daniel Woodrell, James Ellroy, Ken Bruen and Lee Child. There are choice nuggets in the chatter between McDonald and the scribes, Leonard revealing the secret to James Patterson's profitable corporate brand, Andrew Vachss endorsing the merits of print journalism and Ellroy labeling the late poet Anne Sexton “hot but doomed.” Wannabe writers will savor the various tidbits of information about novelization and screenwriting from veterans Max Allan Collins, Stephen J. Cannell and Pete Dexter. The troubadour section of the book has its crowning glory with a howling yuk-fest by singer/ writer Kinky Freedman and an insightful tit-for-tat by literary mavericks James Sallis and Ken Bruen. Informative, compulsively readable and mentally spicy. (May)

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