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New introductions by Audrey Saunders and Robert Hess
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ALA Reading List Award for Best Mystery

GASLIT LONDON IS BROUGHT TO ITS KNEES IN DAVID MORRELL'S BRILLIANT HISTORICAL THRILLER.

Thomas De Quincey, infamous for his memoir Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, is the major suspect in a series of ferocious mass murders identical to ones that terrorized London forty-three years earlier.

The blueprint for the killings seems to be De Quincey's essay "On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts." Desperate to clear his name but crippled by opium addiction, De Quincey is aided by his devoted daughter Emily and a pair of determined Scotland Yard detectives.

In Murder as a Fine Art, David Morrell plucks De Quincey, Victorian London, and the Ratcliffe Highway murders from history. Fogbound streets become a battleground between a literary star and a brilliant murderer, whose lives are linked by secrets long buried but never forgotten.
Amazon.com Review

Illustrations for Murder as a Fine Art

Illustrated by Tomislav Tikulin
Illustrated by Tomislav Tikulin

A Review by Katherine Neville

NY Times and #1 international bestseller Katherine Neville has been referred to as "the female" Umberto Eco, Alexandre Dumas, and Stephen Spielberg. Her adventure-packed Quest novels have been called a "feminist answer to Raiders of the Lost Ark," (Washington Post) and were credited with having "paved the way for books like The Da Vinci Code" (Publishers Weekly).

At first glance, Murder as a Fine Art--a jewel-like, meticulously-crafted historic detective story, set in the high-Raj period of Victorian England--might seem a complete departure for the king of the Thriller genre and "father of Rambo." It takes a tremendous commitment, not to mention a bit of a risk, for a writer like David Morrell, at the pinnacle of a long and successful career, to decide to create a work in a very different genre.

Morrell's secret weapon, which for decades has placed him at the very forefront of suspense writers, has always been his use of impeccable hands-on research: he has honed the art of seamlessly interweaving rich troves of fascinating detail into his plot lines and character sketches, so that we readers never feel--as so often happens with background research found in fiction--that we are being subjected to a tutorial.

Part of the reason Morrell's research has always paid off so well in his previous works has been his relentless quest to learn and master many of the skills he was writing about: flying the airplanes, loading the weapons, earning the black belts. He has rehearsed his characters' skills much as an actor rehearses a character role. But in Murder as a Fine Art, how would he accomplish this, when the story is set in the 1850s, and his main protagonists are a young woman who is self-liberated from Victorian constraints, including her corset!--and her father, a notorious opium addict! He accomplishes it, and brilliantly, by steeping himself so thoroughly in the context of nineteenth century London that, in his own words, he became "a Method actor," guiding us through the London fog (I never knew it was filled with charcoal!)--while acting out in his mind the roles of these real historic figures.

The "Opium Eater" himself, our lead character, was author Thomas de Quincey, a friend of Wordsworth and Coleridge who wrote thousands of pages that today largely have been forgotten. But his most infamous book of the day, and one that has long outlived him, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, was so scandalous that it topped the charts of that era and was preached against (perhaps with good cause) in the churches. De Quincy helped spawn the school of "sensationalist" literature, with his memoirs and essays influencing fiction writers from Wilkie Collins to Edgar Allan Poe to Arthur Conan Doyle.

Morrell has chosen to open his novel in 1854 because that date marks the publication of the final installment of de Quincey's equally shocking three-part essay: "On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts," a lurid and gory description with pre-Freudian overtones, of East End murders that took place more than forty years before our story begins. The novel opens with de Quincey arriving in London for his essay's publication, accompanied by his daughter Emily, to learn that he himself is suddenly the prime suspect in a murder that precisely replicates those decades-old killings he'd so lavishly described in his book.

This wonderful set-up provides the real historic character, Thomas de Quincey, with the fictional opportunity to match his laudanum-enhanced wits against the villain's, while simultaneously utilizing his vast learning about the first crimes, and his personal understanding of the subconscious and sublimation, in aiding the police to solve the actual crimes. It doesn't hurt that Morrell's own vast learning enlightens us along the way, with asides on little known Victoriana, covering everything from the gutters, sewers and cesspools of the seamy side of London, to the highest echelons (equally seamy) of British political and bureaucratic corruption.

In fleshing out this era for us, Morrell has deployed one of the favorite Victorian novelistic vehicles: an omniscient narrator who can fill us in on "back story" contexts and details--everything from the vast panorama of the the Opium Wars between Britain and China, to fascinating minutiae like the 37-pound costumes that women wore daily, made of yards of fabric over whalebone hoops and corsetry. There is something about using this particular literary technique, in a book like this, that rings truer than a straight narrative because it is a storytelling style so accepted that it appears in nearly every novel of the period. Perhaps for Morrell's use of this particular method of reportage, Murder as a Fine Art has been compared with recent books that are set in the past, like The Dante Club and The Alienist; I would add that it also brings to mind another tour de force: the stunning literary footwork of an author who lured us into another alien era with equal mastery and success: John Fowles in The French Lieutenant's Woman.

But my personal favorite in Murder as a Fine Art is the character of Emily de Quincey. Who could not cherish a girl who can shed her whalebone cinches and don a pair of bloomers so she can dash down streets and leap gutters alongside the London constabulary? A girl with the wits to mess up her hair, rip open her bodice, and stagger into an angry mob that's threatening her police escort, and to divert the rabble to her imaginary "attacker" at the opposite end of the alley? Emily repeatedly saves the day by paying attention to the people around her, their needs and desires; by grasping how the context of their lives alters the roles they are able to play in it; by using her wits and her common sense as a complement to her father's brilliant, if drug-induced, vision.

The vicious psychotic killer may have been thwarted this time around, but I suspect that Emily de Quincey's services will still be needed to keep London streets safe from other threats creeping out of the dank London fog, in future: I vote for a sequel, Mr Morrell!

Product Description
ALA Reading List Award for Best Mystery

GASLIT LONDON IS BROUGHT TO ITS KNEES IN DAVID MORRELL'S BRILLIANT HISTORICAL THRILLER.

Thomas De Quincey, infamous for his memoir Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, is the major suspect in a series of ferocious mass murders identical to ones that terrorized London forty-three years earlier.

The blueprint for the killings seems to be De Quincey's essay "On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts." Desperate to clear his name but crippled by opium addiction, De Quincey is aided by his devoted daughter Emily and a pair of determined Scotland Yard detectives.

In Murder as a Fine Art, David Morrell plucks De Quincey, Victorian London, and the Ratcliffe Highway murders from history. Fogbound streets become a battleground between a literary star and a brilliant murderer, whose lives are linked by secrets long buried but never forgotten.

A Word in your Ear

After we sold half the agency to a Boston outfit in 1983, I used to spend qute a bit of time in a restaurant there called Legal Seafoods . I always assumed its name originated from having to highlight the fact that the catch had been legally... This seemed to me a good place to start, because the person who dreamed up the title may not have known it, but he or she was a born adman: the rule ‘take the generic satisfaction of the sector, and set out to own it’ isn’t the only strategy for a... but saying your seafood is ‘legal’ – legal being allegedly a term without gradations – means that you are pukka, but the others might be bootleggers trying to sell you everything from poisonous ink to Hepatitis A. It kind of says you are the safe... It says ‘legal is indivisible’. When you dive into Google looking for idioms using the word ‘legal’, it’s amazing how few there are. Far more common are idiots using it – as in, “Well OK, if you want to get legal, I’ll see you in Court”. ‘Legal’ is, stictly speaking, an absolute. One can say that there should be no further comparative levels between legal and illegal, and linguistically that’s true. But legally, whether something is legal or not is based on um, a legal intepretation of usage and precedent. They are natural, whereas laws are man-made. Everything man-made reflects, for good or bad, somebody’s personal agenda. And when laws are made (a) by a person ignorant of, or uncaring about, consequences – and/or (b) by those concerned to protect their privilege rather than the rights of the citizen…. well, hmmm, yes – quite. Then the term ‘legal’ will continue to mean ‘being in conformity with the law of the land’…. In a world where the entire concept of legality has been perverted by politico-corporate ends and philosophical fashion, we can ‘take legal action’: but the legal outcome may well lack both wisdom and natural egalitarian justice. We may apply for ‘legal aid’, but if ruthless ideology fails to fund the process, then an unjust outcome will almost certainly be the unhappy fate of the accused or complainant who lacks the funds of the powerful. “I am here in a purely legal capacity” is, almost certainly, a lie the second it departs the speaker’s lips. Source: The Slog.

Latest News

  • NBA Insider: David Blatt's firing will suit James just fine

    01/30/16 ,via Minneapolis Star Tribune

    The Cleveland Cavaliers' decision nine days ago to fire David Blatt and promote associate head coach Tyronn Lue despite a 30-11 record was done for numerous reasons, including one intended to speed up a Cavaliers team that rules the East but must 

  • SVG: Lue will be fine; Cavs' fate rests with GM Griffin

    01/30/16 ,via Detroit Free Press

    So in Van Gundy's mind, the onus falls on Cleveland Cavaliers general manager David Griffin for the recent decision to fire David Blatt and insert Lue into the head coaching spot. “Ty's going to do a good job, a really good job,” Van Gundy said Friday

Twitter

Another.Fine actor! https://t.co/CdLQT5yKj7 02/01/16, @davidbswift
Moon Knight #1 Variant Directors Cut Special Edition David Finch Marvel Comics https://t.co/Z1nBhV09rm https://t.co/siIBQfyHaP 02/01/16, @item_fine
RT @AndyLangert: Under appreciated David #Bowie career. Fine podcast tributes by @soundopinions & @AllTimeTopTen. Add Life on Mars to Deser… 02/01/16, @shannonhurley

Recipes

  • David's Yellow Cake

    baking powder, butter, flour, egg yolks, milk, salt, vanilla extract, sugar

Books

  • Imagining Los Angeles

    University of Nevada Press. 2016. ISBN: 0874176034,9780874176032. 293 pages.

    The literary image of Los Angeles has evolved since the 1880s from promotional literature that hyped the region as a New Eden to contemporary visions of the city as a perplexing, sometimes corrupt, even apocalyptic place that foreshadows and reflects all that is wrong with America. In Imagining Los Angeles, the first literary history of the city in more than fifty years, critic David Fine traces the history and mood of the place through the work of writers as diverse as Helen Hunt Jackson, Mary Austin, Norman Mailer, Raymond Chandler, Joan Didion, Carolyn See, and many others. and used the image of the city as an element in their work, and on how that image has changed as the city itself became ever larger, more complex, and more socially and ethnically diverse. First published in 2000, Imagining Los Angeles is available now for the first time in paperback. This is essential reading for anyone interested in the literature and changing image of Southern California.

Bing news feed

  • UK landlords must check tenants’ immigration status or face fine

    01/31/16 ,via Financial Times

    David Smith, policy director of the Residential Landlords Association ... “Faced with [the risk of] a £3,000 fine and, under the current Immigration Bill, a criminal sentence, landlords will just want a quiet life.” The “right to rent” scheme ...

  • David Petraeus to receive no further punishment for sharing classified files

    01/31/16 ,via The Guardian

    US defense secretary says former US military commander and CIA director will not be punished beyond a $100,000 fine and two year’s probation The US defense secretary, Ash Carter, has decided not to impose further punishment on David Petraeus, a former US ...

  • David Petraeus will not face further discipline for leaking classified info to mistress and biographer Paula Broadwell

    01/30/16 ,via New York Daily News

    David Petraeus is not going to face further discipline for leaking ... He received two years of probation and a $100,000 fine as part of a plea deal. No charges were brought against Broadwell. Petraeus resigned from the CIA in 2012, soon after the ...

Directory

David Fine - IMDb

David Fine, Actor: The Pursuit of Happyness. David Fine was born on January 11, 1955 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. He is known for his work on À Procura da ...

David Fine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

David Sylvan Fine (born March 18, 1952) [1] is an American anti-Vietnam War radical who was one of four perpetrators of the August 24, 1970, Sterling Hall bombing on ...

David Fine - IMDb

David Fine, Writer: Shaun the Sheep. David Fine was born on September 13, 1960 in Toronto, Canada. He is a writer and director, known for Shaun the Sheep (2007), Bob ...

Top 25 David Fine profiles | LinkedIn

View the profiles of professionals named David Fine on LinkedIn. There are 190 professionals named David Fine, who use LinkedIn to exchange information, ideas, and ...

david fine bio david sylvan fine was one of four perpetrators of the ...

david fine bio david sylvan fine was one of four perpetrators of the ...

david-fine-sm - The Spot

david-fine-sm - The Spot

David Fine Picture

David Fine Picture
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